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600061 728U 



EDWARD BERTRAM 



a HONTTOR BROUGHT TO B 



EDWARD BERTRAM 

OR 

THE EMIGRANT HEIR 

BY 

GRACE STEBBING 



5.51 , « ^^^- 




CONTENTS. 



CHAP. FAGB 

I. — In thb Ship's Hold, . . .7 

II.— Lawful to hang him, .... 

III.— Reprieved, ...... 

IV. — Too LATE, OR TOO EARLY, .... 

v.— The Dread Verified, .... 

VI. — The Eve of Discovery, .... 

VII. — Hatred, Malice, and all Uncharitableness, 
VIII. — Face to Face with Death, .... 

IX. — " I WANT MY Heir, Sir," .... 

X. — Humble Pie eaten too proudly, . 
XI. — ^A Swimming Match with a Whale, . 
XII.— "Where's Storton?*' .... 

XIII. — Cast Out, ...... 

xrv.— Pineapples for Dessert, but no Dinner, 
XV. — ^The Effect of a Rifle-shot, and ten minutes to 
build a House, .... 

XVI. — Storton Escapes, ..... 

XVII. — " A Battle for a Kingdom : who'll win ? " . 
XVIII. — ^A Cocoa-nut Battle — Monkey wins, '. 
XIX. — "What's for Breakfast?" with a new fashion 

FOR catching Eels, . . . . • 159 

XX. — King Frank likes his Kingdom, . . 170 

XXI. — Leaf Cottage and a Folding-Chair, . • '77 

XXII. — "Seasoning" for a Light Meal, . . .181 

XXIII. — A Morning Performance at Leaf Cottage, . .185 

XXIV. — Seeking a Settlement, they discover Raft Bay, 190 



12 

19 

28 

38 

50 

58 
66 

75 
87 

91 

102 
106 
112 

122 
138 
H3 
'53 



Contents. 



CHAP. PAGE 

XXV. — Wagga saves the Girls' Lives, and provides 

HIMSELF WITH DINNER, . . . .195 

XXVI.— Lost, . . . . . .198 

XXVII.— Ned spends a few hours with a Man's Head, . 201 

XXVIII. — An Awful Alternative, , . . 207 

XXIX. — "Speak for yourself, if you please," . . 212 

XXX. — "Where's the Large Hammer?" . . 217 

XXXI. — Poisoned Arrows, . . . . .221 

XXXIL— "I'm Dead," 230 

XXXIII. — The New Scholar of Newdigate, . . 234 

XXXIV. — Sir Edward Bertram's Hopes, . . . 238 

XXXV. — A Southern Storm, ..... 243 

XXXVI. — Ned and his Companions quit the Island, . 246 

XXXVII. — Hammering a Shark, .... 248 

XXXVIII.— A Startling Climax to Ned's Canoeing, . 256 

XXXIX. — Bill Anderson answers an Advertisement, . 262 

XL. — News at Last, ..... 265 

XLI.— Jeffery Robinson Adrift, .... 269 

XLII.— Tracking an Heir, .... 276 

XLIII. — A Final Escape, and — Home, . . . 277 



Jltustrattoni 



-•♦■ 



PAGE 

The Head Monitor brought to bay, . . (Frontispiece) 64 

Edward Bertram escaping from School, . . (Vignette) 10 

Tony Lumpkin shoots at a Whale, . . . .98 

Cast, up by the Sea, . . . . .112 

Storton's Peril, . . . . . .144 

The Rescue, ....... 187 

A Terrible Moment, • . . . . .253 



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' W- AM^ -V 


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t^Ttv^- MJR>^ ,^/-^- 


J^ K^^, 




L-'^^^/./V^^^r-:^-- 



EDWARD BERTRAM. 



-<»- 



C H AFTER I. 



IN THE SHIP S HOLD. 




SAILING ship for Australia in 1837 was not an abode 
of delight, and the hold of the Good Bess was a perfectly 
horrible place, as young Edward Bertram soon found, 
even before the appalling dread came upon him that he had 
procured for himself a most awful living grave. Ned — or, as 
his schoolfellows always called him, *' good-tempered Ned " — 
had often both heard and read of men and boys getting 
free passages to all parts of the world, and to all sorts of 
glorious adventures, by contriving cleverly to conceal them- 
selves in the holds of ships during their lading, and so he 
had decided that it must be a very sensible and easy thing 
to do. 

The getting on board and hiding, in the midst of the 
coming and going and wild bustle kept up by a set of weeping 
emigrants and half-drunken sailors, had not been a difficult 
matter, certainly ; and after his excitement, and the fatigue of 
the past three days, young Bertram had no sooner crept into a 
comer behind a great pile of agricultural implements, than he 



8 Edward Bertram. 

had fallen into a heavy sleep, too sound to be disturbed even 
by the heaving of the anchor, the shrill shriek of a poor 
woman who was bidding a final farewell to her aged parents, 
or the noisy good-bye songs of the ship's company. Un- 
happily for him, he was not even awakened by the successive 
thuds of flour-sacks, boxes, bales, and casks of every descrip- 
tion that were lowered down, and even occasionally flung 
down into his prison-house. 

The Good Bess had been at sea many hours when Ned 
awoke. He opened his eyes in perfect black darkness. 
For some moments he was in a state of utter bewilderment, 
and could not decide whether he was asleep or awake. The 
school dormitory had never been so entirely devoid of light 
before, and that he was lying in one of the hard, narrow 
school-beds was his first thought. But the wind was rising, 
and the ship was lurching a good deal, and Ned suddenly 
remembered where he was, and how he came there. He sat 
up and put out his hands ; not many inches though, for there, 
close around him, were the stacks of rakes and spades and 
axes and pitchforks. 

" Umph," muttered Ned, " that* s the worst of books, they 
only give a fellow the best side of everything. I don't believe 
there's ever a tale I've read has said anything about its being 
so pitchy dark in a hold that it'll be a thousand times more 
diflicult than the Hampton Court maze to find your way out 
of it And as for stiflingnessl ugh! I can hardly breathe. 
I'll just get up on deck at once. There are so many people 
on board that it is not likely I shall be noticed." 

Having come to this decision Bertram rose to his feet, and 
carefully feeling his way with his hands, he made a couple of 
steps forward. In which direction was his next step to be ? 
He had got past the barrier of tools, but another barrier now 
met his hands, firm, and immovable, and impassable. He 
stepped back into his recess, and tried for egress on the other 



In the Ship's Hold. 



side Again his trembling, eager hands met a barrier, firm, 
immovable, and impassable. On all sides he was hemmed in. 
His arms fell down, and a low cry burst from his lips, as of 
some poor hunted animal who sees the dogs close behind it, 
when its heart is beating to agony, and its breath is almost spent 
Then he leapt forward wildly, and tried in headlong fashion to 
climb up the obstructions. Three times he got up a little way, 
and three times he fell back ; the last time he fell with his leg 
on one of the rakes, and it got a painful wound. The climb- 
ing would have been almost an impossibility even in full 
daylight ; in perfect darkness it was quite so. 

He flung himself down again on the floor of his narrow 
hiding-hole with a groan, and the dash of the waves against 
the vessel seemed to mock his misery. There are some fearful 
dungeons in Venice below the level of the Adriatic, and the 
poor creatures in them, doomed to irrevocable death in the 
former times of the Doges, must have felt the same sort of 
hopelessness that came to young Edward Bertram, when they 
heard the long, quiet wash of the waters against their prison 
walls. 

As Ned lay half-stunned with his sudden, unlooked-for 
calamity, he had plenty of time, poor fellow, to repent of his 
wrong-doing in running away from school. But if ever a boy 
might be forgiven for that fault, it was Edward Bertram. He 
had been an orphan ever since he could remember. His only 
relation and guardian was a very rich old bachelor great-uncle, 
as crabbed as rich, who thought that the two words **boy" 
and '' nuisance " meant the same thing, and who paid extra to 
have his nephew and heir kept at school all the year round, 
not for any advantage to the boy, but to save himself being 
troubled with him. Ned had never known any love but the 
love he won from his school-fellows by his kind-heartedness ; 
and this very kind-heartedness it was that led to his being in his 
present terrible predicament — a big, fierce-tempered monitor 



lo Edward Bertram. 

having thrashed him savagely for giving a rather undue amount 
of help to a sickly little schoolmate in his exercises. 

Ned, according to his own way of expressing the matter, 
had put up with a great deal already, but this, was the last 
straw that either his pride or his patience could bear. That 
same night he waited until all in the school-house were asleep ; 
then he dressed himself, crept out into the corridor, got out of 
the window, made a desperate but successful leap into the 
branches of a pear-tree that grew a few feet in front of it, 
climbed down, and hastened away from the hated neighbour- 
hood as fast as his feet would carry him. 

'' Uncle has often said he wished I was at the other side of 
the world,'' thought Edward Bertram with a smile ; '' now he 
shall have his wish." 

And he made the best of his way to Portsmouth, arriving 
there the third day, footsore and thoroughly tired, but greatly 
delighted at not having been caught by the school authorities, 
and full of the very grandest hopes for the future. 

" And this is how it is all to end ! '' moaned the boy, as he 
strained his aching eyes into the darkness, in the despairing 
longing to discover even the faintest ray that should aid his 
efforts at escape. He was growing faint with hunger, too, for 
it was nearly twenty-four hours since he spent his last penny 
on a roll. He stretched out his hands once more, and felt the 
walls of his narrow dungeon. The barricade on his right was 
evidently composed of sacks. Sacks of grain or flour, most 
likely. Indeed, he fancied that he could detect the pleasant 
odour of flour when he sniffed hard. Flour meant food, and 
food meant more time to live — more time to hope. Ned's 
courage revived a little, as, it is said, the courage of a nearly 
exhausted swimmer comes back to him when he sees a straw 
floating on the waves between him and the shore. 

Our prisoner put his hand in his po<5ket for his knife, to cut 
a hole in one of the sacks. Alas I all things seemed against 



In the Skip's Hold. 



him. He felt in all his pockets. But there was no knire 
forthcoming. 

" No," muttered the unhappy boy bitterly, " of course not, 
I remember now ; that comes of kindness. I lent it to Dudley, 
the day before I ran away, to cut his pencil, and be never gave 
it back." 

Then be set to work with teeth and nails to try to bite or 
tear a hole. He might almost aa well have tried to bite a bit 
oCr one of the iion spades that lay chained and padlocked 
together in great bundles at his feet The sacks were new 
and strong, and resisted all his frantic efforts to get at their 
contents. At length, utterly exhausted in mind and body, 
he sank down, and sleep once more came mercifully to his 
relief from all his woes for another space of some hours. 



CHAPTER II. 

LAVFUL TO HANC HIM. 

THE punfiil, gnawing sensation of starvation awolce Bertram 
at last, and a second time he exerted his faihng strength 
in trying to snap, dr push liis fingers through, the threads 
of the sacks; but darkness and hopelessness are not good 
helpers in any undertaking, and Ned failed, as he had done 
before. He searched in his pockets again, not this time to 
find a knife, but to gather up, if possible, even a few crumbs of 
bread or biscuit to stay his agony of hunger. He found nothing 
but a bit of string, his last copy of Latin verses, pocketed 
because it had a caricature of one of the masters on the back, 
and a bit of wood about four inches in length. Edward knew 
what that was by the feel of it — the smooth, shining, cruel bit of 
cane. That was the bit of cane that Robinson, the monitor, had 
broken across his schoolfellow's bruised and bleeding shoulders; 
and, when his flogging was over, Edward Bertram had fetched 
it from the comer it had flown off to and put it in his pocket, 
muttering passionately that the day should yet come when he 
would give back that bit of cane to Robinson, and it should 
prove as bitter to the monitor as it had done to him. That 
day did come, and Bertram kept his word. 

Meantime, Edward Bertram was dying of starvation, and 
under those circumstances he had little strength to feel deep 



Lawful to hang him. 13 

wrath, and even string, copy-book paper embellished with draw- 
ings and Latin verses, and the bit of wood itself, were regarded 
as eatable treasures, infinitely too valuable to be given away to 
an enemy or kept for him. The sheet of blue paper, with its 
thick lines of writing atid blots, was eaten first, and it was 
bitten and chewed and sucked as though the abominable taste 
of the ink were as good a relish as Batt/s Nabob Pickle or 
apple sauce to a roast goose. That feast ended, the stifling 
air, or rather it should be said the almost utter want of air, 
sent Bertram into a drowsy state again. His next meal con- 
sisted in sucking the string and gnawing the wood. He was 
growing very weak now. And still no human sound reached 
him, no air, no hope, and the waves went on beating against 
the sides of the ship, as though to remind him of their freedom, 
and to mock at his captivity. Once a mouse ran over him, 
and he tried to catch it, but failing in that attempt, he gathered 
together all his remaining strength, and made an effort to dis- 
cover whether its sharp teeth had made a hole that would be 
of any use to him. He might have spared himself the blind 
search. There were plenty of sacks in the hold to afford food 
for any number of mice there might be there, without the 
sensible little wild beasts attacking those that were close to 
one of their human enemies. Poor young Ned's next suffering 
came from intolerable, feverish thirst, that made him crave for 
a long draught of even the salt water of the ocean. 

Now and then scalding tears burnt his eyes at being doomed 
to die such a lonely and such a terrible death so young. Only 
foiuteen years of life, and none of those very sunny ones. But 
yet — O I he could not die — he prayed to live. He would go 
back to school at once, he would let Robinson flog him every 
day — half-a-dozen times a-day — if only he might be delivered 
from his dungeon, and from the agonising death so rapidly over- 
taking his youth and health and strength. 

In some such hopeless, half-fainting way Edward Bertram 



14 Edward Bertram. 

was praying when a sound fell upon his ears. Not a sound 
like that ceaseless wash of the waves which had grown so hate- 
ful to him. It was a sound in the hold, or close to it, and, 
unless there were a whole legion of mice or rats in the place, 
the sound was too firm and loud and distinct to be produced 
by any of their mischievous doings. Then a draught of fresh 
air came down with a rush, and swept over Bertram's fevered 
cheeks, and, with a wildly beating heart, a choking cry burst 
from his parched lips — 

" Help me ! — save me !" 

''Hallo, Bill ! do you believe in ghostesses?" muttered a 
big, broad-shouldered sailor, grasping his companion's arm, and 
hesitating on the steps leading down into the hold. 

Bill shook himself free, and sprang on to the floor, exclaim- 
ing contemptuously, " Hey, Jack, for all your inches ye're 
nobbut a poor fool, I'm thinking, an' the largest cooward oot 
Come awa', man, and let's find out what sort o' a poor, mis- 
guided wretch took upon him to have the bad thought to .steal 
himself a free berth in this dreary, starvashun hole. If he's not 
dead yet, he'll not be far off, I'm thinking." 

So saying, the two men, picking their way by the aid of their 
lanterns amongst the piles of goods, advanced towards the 
spot whence the cry had come, burly Jack keeping himself, 
however, ready for flight, should anything in the shape of a 
white sheet and a broomstick make its appearance. 

But they found no white sheet, only a white face, quite still, 
with shut eyes, and dry, white lips. 

"An' it's nobbut a young lad, neither," muttered Bill, 
huskily, as he knelt down, and gently passed his hand over 
the curly brown hair, while Jack stood by, looking almost as 
scared as if he were really gazing at one of those ''ghostesses" 
that he was always expecting to come upon some day. 

" Be he dead. Bill?" he whispered, and heartily wishing the 
while that anybody had been sent down for the wrongly stowed 



Lawful to hang htm. 15 

flour but himself. Bill did not answer immediately, so he 
whispered again, with a shiver — 

" Bill, I say, BiU, teU un, be he dead ?" 

'^Nay, man, nay," said the other impatiently; 'U' lad beant 
dead, only nigh enough that gate to stand no dawdlin', so just 
ye step aside and baud t' lanterns while I carry un up on 
deck.'' 

So saying. Bill lifted Edward Bertram up in his strong arms, 
and carried him forward. 

** What will captain be saying about this business? " remarked 
Jack, as he followed with the two lanterns. " How'll he take 
it, say you?" 

'* Dunno," was the short answer, and then Bill had reached 
the ladder, and he sang out for a rope, which he fastened round 
Ned under his arms, and then, telling the astonished men above 
to haul away fair and softly, he came up the ladder himself 
behind the apparently lifeless schoolboy. Of course, the 
moment Ned was laid on the deck, a crowd instantly collected 
round him. Crowds always do collect when there is anything 
to be seen out of the ordinary way, just as readily at sea as on 
land ; the only difference is in the things to be seen, porpoises 
instead of Punch and Judy shows, and men overboard instead 
of a house on fire. But Bill had small sympathy with do- 
nothing crowds and their curiosity. He only left Ned to be 
stared at just long enough to undo the knot of the rope from 
about him, and then he picked him up again, and marched off 
with him to the captain's cabin, leaving Jack to tell as long 
a yam as he chose. 

'^ What in the name of goodness and patience have you got 
there, Anderson ? " exclaimed Captain Pender, as Bill Anderson 
stood in the doorway with his burden, awaiting permission to 
enter. 

'' A young lad, captain ; found un nigh dead down in the 
hold." 



1 6 Edward Bertram. 

So saying, the saUor came forward^ and laid young Bertram 
down upon the captain's couch. 

'' A young scoundrel/' said the captain, after looking at him 
carefully for a few moments. '' Evidently a fine young gentle- 
man, from his clothes and his hands. Took a dislike to 
his A, B, C, I suppose, and thought life at sea would be 
all play. We'll teach him differently." 

" If so be he lives," said Bill, grimly. ** 'Pears to me there's 
none too many planks atween him an' death, if so be ye mean 
to leave un alone." 

*' No, no, you are right," said the captain, quickly, and with 
a changed tone. '^ For the sake of his mother, if he's got one, 
if for nothing else, we must try to keep him alive. What a 
mercy that mistake was made about the flour. Go to the cook 
and get a cup of broth from him, and hurry back." 

While the sailor was gone. Captain Pender busied himself 
earnestly, and with no ungentle fingers, in efforts to restore 
Bertram to consciousness. 

" Poor fellow, poor boy !" he murmured once or twice, as he 
looked at the parched lips and the sunken eyes, whose lids 
began to quiver with returning life just as the gruff-spoken, 
friendly sailor returned with the warm broth. It was a diffi- 
cult matter to get the first spoonful swallowed, but the second 
and third disappeared more speedily, and after the sixth, Ned 
opened his eyes, and asked — 

« Where am I ? " 

"Where ye're better off than ye deserve," grunted BilL 
" Open your mouth, and dinna talk." 

Ned did as he was bid ; and when he had taken as much of 
the broth as his nurses thought good for him he fell asleep, 
awaking refreshed and strengthened, but still very hungry, and 
quite ready for the second meal of broth and bread that 
stood ready for him. 

While he was eating it, recollection began to come back 



Lawful to hang him. 17 

with returning strength. He remembered his escape from 
School, smuggling himself on board. He remembered vividly 
all his agony of suflfering in the awful prison of the hold ; but 
there memory failed him, and he exceedingly wished to ask for 
the particulars of his escape, and how he reached his present 
comfortable position. The only person, however, in the cabin 
with him was a stern-looking gentleman, who had never once 
looked at him since saying, " Drink this," when the cup was put 
into his hand on awaking. Outside, a good many people looked 
at him furtively, now and again, through the window or the half- 
open door. But they gave him no opportunity to speak to 
them, especially as they darted away out of sight every time 
the solemn, silent man moved. At last, however, his suspense 
came to an end. The stern-looking man, who was no other 
than Captain Pender, rose, and, going to the door, called in 
Jack Hughes and Bill. Anderson. Having marshalled them in 
front of Ned, he said, without any preface — 

" Now, young gentleman, since you seem to have recovered 
your senses, you and I will come to an explanation, if you 
please. These two men found you in hiding down in the hold, 
like a sneak. Pray, how came you there?" 

At the word " sneak," the hot blood had rushed into Ned's 
cheeks, and he raised his eyes hastily, but they fell as quickly 
before the steady gaze that he met fixed upon them. His lips 
moved, but he made no answer. 

" It is well that there is some shame left in you," said that 
quiet, stern voice, speaking again after a pause. " You dare 
not tell me how you came there, so I will tell you. You came 
there like a thief, young gentleman. You stole away from your 
home, and you have stolen a passage so far on my vessel, and 
you intended, no doubt, to steal your meat and drink through- 
out the whole of your voyage." 

There was another burning flush on Ned's cheeks, and again 
he tried in vain to speak, or to raise his eyes. 

B 



1 8 Edward Bertram. 

" If I am judging you wrongly, I shdll be glad to hear it," 
said the captain. *' Perhaps, after all, it was a mere whim of 
yours to creep stealthily on board like a thief, and you have 
your money with you to pay your fare, as everyone else has 
done. Tell me, how much money have you brought with 
you?" 

" None," muttered Bertram, in a scarcely audible whisper. 

"None — Anderson, Hughes, you hear. Those listening 
outside can hear ; he has stolen a place on board this ship ; he 
has brought no money with him to pay for the long passage, 
nor for the food that he, of course, meant to get out of some 
of us, somehow. He is judged out of his own mouth as a 
thief, and as I don't see that I am called upon to give him, 
or any other disreputable thief, board and lodging for nothing, 
just because they may think they have managed to make me 
do so, why, I judge the young rascal to be strung up to the 
mast-head, and hung." 

Edward Bertram was no coward. Indeed it had been well 
known at school that he could dare more and endure more 
than any one of his companions; but he had lately gone 
through enough to shake the courage of the bravest of well- 
tried warriors on life's war path, and besides, there was some- 
thing peculiarly dreadful in the unexpectedness of the harsh 
judgment, and the dreariness of having been rescued from one 
death, only to be consigned to another equally awful and 
still more sudden. His face turned white as when super- 
stitious Jack shuddered at it while he lay swooning in his 
hiding-hole, his limbs trembled, and he fell on his knees before 
Captain Pender. 

"Oh! spare mel spare me!" he cried in a tone of bitter 
agony. " I will work ; I will be your servant ; black your 
boots, anything, only spare me." 



CHAPTER III. 

REPRIEVED. 

*' y OR'S a inussy mc, husband," whispered a woman 

AjT amongst the crowd of emigraaCs who had gathered out- 
side the captain's door, in defiance of all ships' rules and 
regulations, to see "the dead and done-for lad who had come 
to life again." " Lor's a mussy me, could the captain — and be 
always so kind, too, to us all — in real lawful law and right 
hang the poor lad ?" 

" O' coorse not, sil-ly," returned her husband, contemptu- 
ously. " Captain Pender, he be only givin' th' youngster a bit 
of a fright like. An' I don't doubt he deserves it. But 
hearken ye, there's more comin'." 

As Bertram's heartrending cry burst forth, and he fell on his 
knees, the captain turned hastily aside, and made a great deal 
more fuss than was at all necesiaiy over taking a pinch of 
snuff. That ceremony ended, however, he came back to 
Bertram, and, taking him by the arm, he drew him up on to 
his feet, while he said rather huskily — 

" Come, come, my man, I thought from the look of your 
face to find more spirit in yoiL The sea gives folks a touch of 
lawlessness, no doubt, but not quite to the extent of hanging 
up stowaways, even though they may richly deserve the 
punishment Should Providence give us a safe run, I'll land 



20 Edward Bertram. 

you at Sydney right enough, with the rest of my passengers, 
unless I find you a more proper customer for Botany Bay. 
Meantime, as I prefer honest folks to rogues about me, you 
will be a prisoner in a place more light and airy, but a good 
deal smaller than the hold, and there you will remain alone 
for the remainder of the voyage." 

"Better hang un outright, captain," growled Bill. "He's 
had enough o* lonesomeness to last a body one while." 

" Silence, Anderson. This age is a good deal too fond of 
teaching lads that scoundrelly actions are finer than honest 
ones ; this youngster shall learn that my opinion is different. 
Take him aft." 

Anderson paused a moment; but there was no sign of 
relenting on the firm, set face of Captain Pender. The man 
looked troubled, but implicit, prompt obedience is the sailor's 
first law, and with a gruff", " Come along, young master," he 
led the way from the captain's cabin to a narrow cupboard of 
a place down below, just big enough to swing a hammock, and 
no more. Tears started to Edward Bertram's eyes as he saw 
a strong key in the man's hand. 

" Am I to be locked in ?" he asked, anxiously. 

"Bound to be, sir. Them's the cap'n's orders. But heart 
up, sir ; even a voyage to Australy don't last fot ever. And, 
after all, your sufferin's won't be nothing to them as you'll have 
made your poor mother bear." 

" I haven't got any mother," said Ned, setting himself down 
on an old box, which was the only seat afforded him. 

" Well, your father, then." 

" I haven't got any father." 

Bill stared at the young prisoner for a moment, and then 
hastily turned away, put the key in the door on the outside, 
and locked him in. The next minute there was a tap at the 
captain's door. 

" Come in. Well, Anderson, what now ?" 



Reprieved. 2 1 



" The key, sir." 

" All right Put it down. That will do." 

Still Bill stood in the doorway. The captain looked up 
impatiently. 

" Well ; is there anything more?" 

^* T' lad's name is Edward Bertram, an' he hanna nor father 
nor mither." 

Having blurted out that information, Bill stepped back, and 
was about to shut the door, when Captain Pender called after 
him — 

"See that the prisoner has his meals regularly. I give him 
into your charge." 

Captain Pender had good right to say that he loved 
uprightness, for he was honest as the day himself; but had he 
thought Bertram's trick as admirable and clever as the boy had 
once considered it himself, he would still have had fair reason 
to be annoyed at it. The owners of the vessel wanted to 
make as large profits as they possibly could out of it, and one 
of their ways of doing so was to cut down the provisions to 
the lowest possible figure. Each day of the voyage had been 
reckoned, and the supply of food apportioned to it, as if each 
day had been insured beforehand to be favourable, and no 
such things as contrary winds or rough seas were to be feared 
as hindrances. Under these niggardly circumstances, even 
one unexpected mouth was an additional anxiety. 

Two or three days passed on, during which Captain Pender 
kept firm to his resolution not to relent towards poor Ned, 
very much to the surprise of everyone on board. Bill got in 
the habit of spending all his leisure time with his back against 
the locked door, talking aloud of all that was going on on 
board the ship, and spinning yams. It was against orders to 
hold conversation with Mr. Bertram ; but there were no orders 
against thinking out loud. 

"There !" exclaimed the sailor, one afternoon, in a tone of 



22 



Edward Bertram. 



impatience, " if that isn't the second needle IVe broken over this 
sleeve. Truth be, my fingers are too clumsy for needlework." 

" Hand your jacket in to me," said a voice inside, eagerly. 
" I can work first-rate ; had to do lots when I was fag. Pray 
let me mend it for you. It's awful sitting here all day and all 
night, on and on like this, doing nothing. I begin to wish 
that Captain Pender had really hung me." 

" Do you so, my lad ?" said a clear, ringing voice, which 
was certainly not that of husky, good-hearted Bill Anderson. 

Before Ned could speak again, the key turned in the lock, 
and Captain Fender himself stood before him, with a half- 
smile upon his face. 

** So, young man, you wish I had really hung you, do you ?" 

"He's only beginning to wish it," muttered Bill, with a 
grim smile. 

" Yes, please, sir," said Bertram, bravely raising his head, 
and looking up frankly. "I was only beginning to wish it, 
and now I don't wish it at all ; for I do think you will forgive 
me when I tell you how sorry I am for having got on board in 
a cheaty way. I never looked at it in that light before ; and I 
do think that I may truly say I never cheated anyone else in 
my life. I've been in many scrapes, but I've never cheated, 
never stolen, and never told a lie." 

Captain Pender looked earnestly at the handsome, open 
young face before him, and then, laying his hand on his 
shoulder, he said gravely, " I believe you, and will trust you. 
You are free. But remember, I reserve to myself the power 
to order you back here should I choose, or see due cause. 
However, I may as well tell you at once that I have shortened 
my punishment somewhat more than I intended, because I 
believe there is a threatening of foul weather in the air, in 
which case you may have deeper cause to regret your stolen 
passage than any I can give you. Even," he added, in a low 
voice, " to the repetition of your experiences in the hold." 



Reprieved, 23 



Ned shuddered. But all dark memories, and fears for the 
future, were forgotten before he had been ten minutes on deck. 
Freedom and fresh air raised his spirits to a degree that almost 
alarmed his self-constituted guardian, Bill Anderson. 

" Dinna ye go to do anything wild-like, sir," he muttered, in 
friendly warning. 

He had hardly spoken, when his warning seemed alike 
necessary and useless. A piercing scream rang through the 
vessel, and at the same instant Ned had flung off his jacket, 
kicked off his boots, jumped on to the taffrail, and thence 
plunged into the sea, over which brooded a purple-hued, 
ominous calm. Bill looked over the side of the vessel, where 
a woman stood wringing her hands and moaning — 

"My child! my child !" 

He could see nothing but a little mass of brown, seaweed- 
looking stuff, streaming on the top of the water. For this, 
however, Ned Bertram was striking out gallantly. 

"He's got her, he's got her!" shrieked half-a-dozen voices 
excitedly, as the boy made a clutch at the brown mass. Once 
it eluded him, and floated further off. He swam on, made 
another effort ; this time he grasped it tight, and turned to swim 
back with his burden. A rope was flung out to him, Bill let 
himself down by another, and as soon as the swimmer drew 
near, he took the half-drowned child from his arm, handed it 
up to the mother, and then helped Ned, who was rather ex- 
hausted with his adventure, to climb on deck again. 

"He's got the right stuff in him, hey, Anderson?" said 
Captain Pender, who had been attracted to that end of the 
vessel by the unusual bustle, and now stood with a pleased 
expression looking after the boy as he went to change his own 
dripping garments for one of the innumerable suits pressed 
upon his acceptance. 

" We'll make him worth his salt, I think, Anderson." 

" Ay, ay, sir. But he needna go to takin' the deeds out o' 



24 Edward Bertram. 

his better's hands all the same. An' I'll be telling him that 
another time." 

From that hour young Edward Bertram was treated on board 
more as though he were a prince in disguise than a scapegrace 
runaway, a penniless young beggar living on extorted charity. 
And the treatment agreed with him wonderfully. He grew 
visibly taller and broader and stronger every day. For the 
first time in his life he felt as though he had found a home. 
Its roughness he did not care about. 

"All the same," he grumbled to his big, burly confidant, 
Bill, one day, "I do wish Captain Pender would give me some 
regular employment. I hate to feel that I'm eating my head 
off, so to speak, day after day, and doing nothing to pay for 
my food. If he wants to go on punishing me, he's doing it 
right enough." 

"Pity you didn't think of all that, sir, afore ye coom 
aboard." 

" Of course it was. Bill. You don't know that a bit better 
than I do myself. But, you see, the boys in the books I 
best like reading never do think, so what was there to make 
me ? — except when I was learning my lessons." 

" Please, Mr. Bertram, mother says will you be so very good 
as show her how to make bread, as you did Mrs. Johnson, 
yesterday." 

Ned laughed as he looked down at the small urchin sent 
to him with this message from the emigrants' quarters. So did 
the sailor. 

" May I make so bold as ask, sir, how you learnt the 
baking?" 

" My father's trade," answered Ned, flippantly. 

Grave-minded, pious Bill looked solemn. "You said 
your father was an officer, sir, in His Majesty King George's 
service, and that you never told a lie." 

The colour deepened in Ned's cheeks. For a moment he 



Reprieved. 25 



felt indignant with his strict monitor, then his better nature 
prevailed, and, choking back the passionate words that had 
risen to his lips, he said quietly — 

" I beg your pardon, Anderson ; but you know I only said 
that in fun. My father was an officer ; still, you know, he may 
have learnt how to make bread at school, as I did." 

" Bless me, sir," was the astonished exclamation, " ye never 
mean to tell me those are the sort o' things gentlemen learn at 
their grand schools, tailorin' and bakin' ! " 

"But indeed they do, though," said Ned, laughing — "at 
least fags do. Hot rolls for breakfast for the monitors — rather 
heavy, you know, but very good with lots of butter and jam in 
the middle. And then. Bill — oh ! the hot sausages and 
mashed potatoes I I won't mind cooking you some now, Bill, 
if you'll provide the materials, and give me the leavings." 

Bill rubbed the back of his hand across his mouth, and 
walked off quickly to help hoist a sail, as though he thought it best 
to try if active employment would aid him to banish useless 
longings. If Bill had a weakness, it was for fried sausages, well 
browned and hot. Ned ran off to the emigrants' quarters, where 
his welcome made some amends for other disagreeables. 

There were over two hundred emigrants on board, forty of 
them being; children. There was not proper room for above 
a hundred and fifty, and, in spite of all the efforts of the 
captain and officers of the ship, between decks discomfort 
reigned supreme. The men's department was not so bad; 
they and their belongings did not require so much room ; but 
the women's quarters were most intensely wretched, en- 
cumbered, as they were, with goods and chattels intended for 
home-furnishing in the unknown land. 

" Worse than my uncle's pigsties," muttered young Bertram, 
his heart swelling with pity for the poor, pale-looking little 
children who crowded round him the moment he appeared. 
The same tender-heartedness that bore a thrashing for a weary- 



26 Edward Bertram. 

— I - I ■ > I — -* 

headed little schoolmate, had led the boy to try to relieve the 
dolefulness of the long sea-voyage for the unfortunate little 
creatures now in his neighbourhood. On deck they were 
terribly in the way, and in perpetual danger of getting drowned 
by falling overboard ; and down below they were half-stifled 
for want of air. It was a choice of miseries, and the mothers 
never ceased to bless the day that sent "the young master" to 
lessen their troubles, and ease some of the weariness of their 
children. Besides, he did ever so many useful things — ^put 
plaisters on bruised foreheads, stopped fights, borrowed Bill's 
clasp-knife, and transformed odds and ends of wood into 
dolls' tables and chairs, tied up rotten old hammocks with bits 
of string, with an ingenuity that excited the liveliest admiration, 
and now he had crowned his popularity by betraying a perfect 
genius for cookery — at least, what passed for genius amongst 
his ignorant companions. 

" An' blessin's on your honour's head, an* how did ye make 
out to learn?" asked a poor Irishwoman one day as she 
stood watching him. 

" Chiefly by getting a rap over the head with a stick pretty 
often," was the laughing answer. And then Edward Bertram 
went on feeding a little invalid Paddy with some mashed 
potato, which he had got the ship's cook to let him warm 
up and brown to a nicety. 

" I don't know how it is, but somehow that impudent young 
rascal has managed to get the complete run of the ship — ^to go 
where he likes and do what he likes," said the captain, meeting 
him with the plate in his hand. " I'm afraid he may be rather 
presuming, and over bold." 

" May be," said the chief mate, a straightforward Scotchman ; 
"but I'll not ask to see a lad more to my liking between 
the poles. That countryman of mine, Anderson, says he's 
fretting to have some work given him to do. Why, he does as 
much as any two of us on board already. Wherever there's 



Reprieved. 27 



hearty work or hearty play going on, you are sure to find 
that young chap in the midst of it. And as for his bright face, 
and the frank, honest look in his eyes, why, they're as good as 
the sea-breeze itself." 

" Well, he has evidently won a warm friend in you, Griffin, 
at any rate," laughed Captain Pender, with a look of relief. 
" I confess I have taken a liking to the boy myself; but 
it is wiser to err on the side of strictness than laxity at sea, and 
it would not do to allow anyone else to imitate the liberty 
of action that Bertram has assumed." 

" Certainly not. But it is not everyone on board who has 
endured three days and more of starvation in a pitch dark 
dungeon." 

"That is no reason in his favour," said the captain, with 
a smile; "but Til not go into that question with you. 
Griffin. I see your heart is engaged on the lad's side, and 
when that is the case, argument is useless." 

" My reason is engaged quite as much as my heart. Young 
Bertram is steady, keen-sighted, fearless, and upright; and 
will make a man worth knowing one of these fine days." 

" I trust he may live to prove you right." 

" Amen to that." 




CHAPTER IV. 

TOO LATE, OR TOO EARLY ? 

filDWARD BERTRAM'S experiences as school-fag, and a. 
aLC considerable share of mother wit, rapidly enabled him 
to gain a great reputation, and not only his hands but his 
brains were frequently taxed to the ultermost. Mrs. Johnson's 
friend was about to claim the powers of both now. While he 
mixed flour and waler for her, she lost no time in beginning a 
whispered conversation with him, and Ned soon found that 
the desired lesson in biscuit- making was only a pretext for 
something much more important. 

"Why don't you tell Captain Fender?" asked Ned at last, 
with a very grave face, when the woman paused in her com- 
munication, but from want of breath rather than because she 
considered her subject exhausted. 

" Bless you, sir ! 'Tisn't for the likes o' me to go speaking 
up to the captain. Nor by token I don't suppose he'd heed it 
if I did. He'd shrug his shoulders, belike, and say I'd dreamt 
it, or it was another of our scares." 

A smile flitted over Ned's face at that suggestion, it was 
such a very possible one ; and as he remembered some of the 
outbursts of screams attendant upon causeless panics, and the 
repeated scenes of needless confusion that had occurred on 
board during the past few weeks, he felt somewhat reassured 



Tod iate^ or too early ? 29 



as to the present cause of anxiety. At the same time, he 
decided to keep his eyes open. 

" You see, sir," muttered the woman, looking carefully round 
her to see that she was not overheard — "you see a death 
by fire at sea must be a real awful one, and it isn't, to say, like 
another." 

" No, indeed," said Ned, as he walked off to think. His 
cogitations at length ended, he went on deck, and presented 
himself to the captain. 

" If you please, sir, shall you be disengaged soon, for a few 
minutes?" 

"Disengaged? Well, Vm not especially busy just now, at 
any rate not so busy but what I can give you a share of atten- 
tion. I see nothing to prevent my giving a bit of my thoughts 
to anyone with such a solemn face." 

" If you please, sir, a bit of your thoughts and a share of 
your attention is not enough. And I cannot speak to you out 
here, where we may be overheard." 

" Umph I" ejaculated Captain Pender, opening his eyes very 
wide, and staring at the lad. After a look round the deck, he 
prepared to lead the way to his cabin. 

" Is it anything you have seen, anything you want, or any- 
thing you have heard, that you wish to consult with me about, 
my lad?" 

" Something I have heard." 

" From Anderson ! He should have come to me himself. 
He deserves a reprimand for speaking to you first" 

"No, no, sir, no," exclaimed Ned, quickly. "You are 
making a great mistake, sir. This is nothing to do with Ander- 
son. It*s something I've heard in the women's quarters." 

He had scarcely time to finish his sentence before the captain 
stopped short, with a long, loud burst of laughter. Giving a 
great, sounding thump to his leg, he exclaimed in a voice 
expressive of relief and hearty amusement — 



30 Edward, Bertram. 

'* How could I make such a fool of myself as to be so taken 
in ! Why, my boy, you must have thought this was the ist of 
April Fancy coming to me with some mare's nest discovered 
in those women's quarters. It's bad enough to have depu- 
tations of themselves coming upon one at all times and 
seasons; but if you are going to take upon yourself an 
appointment as their advocate and messenger, woe betide me 1 
However," added the captain more quietly, "you need not 
look so offended, Bertram, for, after all, I may confess that 
I believed some of these tales myself the first few days. 
Whatever it was you had to say, keep it for this evening. It is 
pretty sure to be some good joke that I shall enjoy to hear 
over my cofifee." 

" It may be too late to hear it then, sir." 

" All right, then it must be, for it is too early to hear it now," 
said Captain Fender coldly, as he turned away, and went 
back to his former post 

Ned went off to Bill Anderson. On his way he met Jack, 
the man who had been Bill's cautious companion the day he 
was rescued by them from the hold. The big sailor was 
looking very troubled, and as pale as the deep bronze of his 
complexion would permit 

" What's the matter with you, Jack ?" asked Ned, as he came 
up to him. " To look at you, one would think that you must 
have seen a good half-dozen of your friends the ghosts, and 
been warned to pay them a visit besides." 

"I have, sir, I have," muttered the man in a tone of 
undisguised horror, and with trembling lips — " I have so." 

** What!" exclaimed Ned, making an involuntary step back 
from the man, who, he thought, must have gone mad at last, 
with his gloomy fancies and superstitious fears. " You mean 
to tell me seriously. Jack, that you have seen some ghosts ? " 

" No — not seen any yet," was the answer, in the same awe- 
struck tone^ and with a swift shuddering glance over his 



Too latCy or too early ? 31 

shoulder, as though he feared to see one of them in the act of 
making a clutch at him, " I've not seen one yet, Mr. Bertram, 
only I've — IVe — been warned — with a curse — that I shall go — 
go to them — myself." 

"Ugh! Jack," returned Ned, with irrepressible contempt 
" If you were a school-boy. Jack, you'd get called the biggest 
baby out, and a lot more names, too. Besides, don't you 
know the old saying, ' Curses, like chickens, come home to 
roost ' ? So it's the one who spoke the curses, not the one who 
heard them, who'll have to visit the ghosts, if any one does." 

" Do you think so, sir," anxiously. 

But Ned had passed on. He had a boy's impatient scorn 
for the nervous fears of superstition. God-fearing, calm- 
minded Anderson was much more to his liking, and just now 
he was particularly anxious to have the consolation of his 
society. 

However, his first remark, when he found him, had nothing 
to do with his own affairs. Throwing himself down beside 
Bill, he said, with a laugh — 

" What an awfully weak stupid that big giant Jack is, Ander- 
son. He deserves to be made to go about in a dunce's cap, 
or, better still, a fool's cap and bells. It would almost serve 
him properly if some one did give him a good fright some 
day." 

" Well, Mr. Bertram, that is what some one has done not an 
hour since. And indeed, then, though I'm not greatly given 
to fearing men's words myself, it did seem to me as if my blood 
curdled and my flesh creeped like, at the awful curses and 
threats — for me and Jack in especial, and all the rest in general — 
poured out o' that wretched fellow, Storton, like boilin' grog 
out o' a wide-mouthed jug." 

" Storton 1 " repeated Ned, with eager interest. " What 
about Storton, Bill ? " 

" Hey 1 lots, sir. But nothing for a young gentleman like 



32 Edward Bertram. 

you to be asking about or hearing of. It's bad enough for 
them as can't help themselves to have to do with him. We'll 
have a yam, Mr. Bertram, if you please. You tell one first 
out o' your books, and I'll cap it with a real one." 

"All right But first, Anderson, I am going to ask you 
again what about Storton, in spite of what you say. For I 
have already heard something that makes me think it will be 
safer for all on board if I hear more." 

A glance at Ned's earnest face soon convinced the sailor 
that the boy was not actuated by any mere idle and mis- 
chievous curiosity. 

" Well, sir, if you have any real reason for your question, of 
course that alters the case. But the fact o' the matter is, that 
Storton be an up-and-down ugly customer o' all sides; an' 
though I'm not afeerd o' his gleaming eyes, as Jack is, I'd liefer 
forget un than remember him. I'd a'most as soon swim in 
company wi' a shark. Look here," and unrolling a great red 
and blue cotton handkerchief that was bound about his hand, 
he displayed it to Ned. 

" What ugly wounds, BilL You should get them dressed." 
"So I mean, sir, directly I'm off duty; for they are ugly 
wounds, as you say, an' it were Storton's teeth as give them 
to me. If I hadn't had strength to choke un off, he'd have 
had the piece out He's a regular brute, sir, sometimes. You 
know he's an escaped forger, slipped through for want of proof; 
but he's as savage as he's cunning when he's drunk." 

" So it seems," said Ned ; and then he told as much as he 
dared of some information that had been given him by the 
woman respecting a villainous plan said to have been formed 
by this same Storton. 

" Have you telled all this to the captain, sir?" 
" He won't hear it, because a woman told me." 
" And quite right too, sir. It's just got up for a scare. It's 
onpossible." 



Too latCy or too early ? 33 

" I don't believe it," said Ned. " What's at the back of the 
place where Storton's confined now ? " 

" Oh, casks and barrels ; tricky sort o' merchandise booked 
out to Sydney to the Governor. * Hospital' 's marked on one 
in big white letters. I saw that when I stowed un ; but I 
know no more, and few on board knows as much." 

" And who are those few who do ?" 

"Well, captain for one, of course, I suppose. And the 
mates, and me, and Jack — and that thief Storton, and Mrs. 
Downing's husband." 

" And yet you won't believe Mrs. Downing's story, and the 
captain won't hear it ! " 

" Certain sure not. Not a critter could get at these casks — 
spirits or not spirits in them — wi'out a sight o' hard work as 
'ud let all in the ship know what they were up to." 

Ned found it useless to speak further. He left Bill, and, 
drawing oflf his shoes in a quiet comer, he crept softly down to 
the neighbourhood of Storton's dungeon. Looking round to 
see that he was not observed, as he reached the last limit of 
the light that struggled down there, he plunged into the dark- 
ness that surrounded the ship's prison cell, and in two minutes 
discovered that Storton certainly was free of the manacles, and 
was indulging in his favourite habit of drinking, whether he 
could get at the contents of those casks or not. 

Ned crept back to daylight, and then flew once more to the 
captain. He and the chief mate, Macgregor, and Anderson, 
were together, and they all listened to the boy now, when he 
rushed forward with flushed cheeks and sparkling eyes. Still 
the captain was sceptical. 

" I implore you to believe me," exclaimed Ned. " I declare 
that Storton is free of the handcuffs now. That part of the 
woman's tale is true, at any rate." 

" It's onpossible," exclaimed Bill, " I put un on myself." 

"Still, men have been known to get free," said the chief 
c 



34 Edward Bertram. 



mate, musingly. " There would be no harm, as Bertram says, 
in seeing that he is safe." 

"Ah! you are sure to take our young stowaway's part," 
laughed the captain. "Well, go, by all means, but don't 
expect my company on the fool's errand." 

That permission was enough. The three started off at once, 
Ned going direct to the inner edge of the darkness around the 
prison cell, while the others went for a key and a lantern. 

Bertram did not have long to wait for his companions, but 
each moment seemed a minute as he stood about three yards 
distant from the small prison, within which all appeared now 
to be perfect stillness. He dared not approach any nearer, for 
fear of giving a premature warning to the miscreant, and he 
was thankful enough when the chief mate and Anderson made 
their appearance. When they were within two feet of him 
they stopped, while Bill put the key between his teeth, and, 
holding the lantern in one hand, futnbled in his pockets with 
the other for his tinder-box and sulphur matches. Ned's care- 
fulness would be all thrown away if that noisy flint and steel 
were to be struck together half-a-dozen times, just there, to get 
a light ; and as this thought occurred to him, he muttered a 
sharp " Stop ! " 

A startled exclamation burst from the sailor's lips, who was 
quite unaware of the boy's close neighbourhood. Down 
clattered the key ; irrepressible cries of annoyance broke from 
Ned and the chief mate ; an echo to them was heard from 
within the prison walls, and then there followed a tremendous 
clinking and clattering of chains. Mr. Macgregor darted 
forward, and showered a series of thundering raps on the door. 

" What are you about in there, you rascal ? " 

No answer, but the clinking and clattering of chains con- 
tinued more vigorously than ever. 

"Find that key, Anderson — Bertram," shouted the mate, 
impatiently. " Find it directly, and bring it here." 



Too latCy or too early ? 35 

" Ay, ay, sir, as soon as we can," said Anderson, dolefully. 
"But I'll be having to get a light first, I'm afeerd, for I'm 
thinking it's got down a chink in the boards. I've felt all round, 
and can't come upon it nowheres." 

A laugh came from within the prison, mingling with the 
other sounds, which still further exasperated the mate. He 
recommenced hammering on the door, and shouted again his 
former question, "What are you about in there, you villain, 
you? what are you about in there?" 

" You had better come in and see," was the taunting reply. 
" A little society would be a charming interruption to my soli- 
tude. At the same time, since you are so very anxious to 
know my present occupation, I don't mind gratifying you. I 
am trying to get free j and, in spite of any orders you or the 
captain may issue to the contrary, I shall go on doing that till 
I have succeeded, or am let out." 

On the receipt of this coolly given bit of information, Mr. 
Macgregor went back to Ned, looking very disconcerted. " I 
say, my boy, that does not sound like being free already, 
according to your assertion." 

Ned's only answer was to clench his hands impatiently, and 
mutter, " When is Anderson coming back with that lantern ?" 

Two lights were brought at last; the key was found, and 
hooked up with some difficulty, and the prison-door was 
opened. 

There lay Storton on the ground, kicking and plunging about, 
and struggling violently with his hands and arms, but in every 
respect just as he had been left between two and three hours 
ago. The iron bands were still round his ankles, and fastened 
securely together by the eighteen-inch-long chain. And the 
handcuffs, which hung from the chains of the iron band that 
encompassed the mast, were very visible upon his swollen 
wrists. He looked a little less ferocious, but a good deal more 
insolent, and supremely contemptuous. As Bill stooped 



36 Edward Bertram, 

down to try the security of his fastenings, the prisoner said 
coolly — 

'^Ab, my man, hope your hand smarts a bit, hey? IVe 
got a score to clear off with you for the choking you gave me. 
I hope I won't keep you waiting long. And you, you young 
sneak," to Edward Bertram, '^ what do you want to come prying 
about here for? Half-starved once upon a time, were you? 
I'll take care that you are never half-starved again. What! 
going away so soon, all of you ? How unsociable ! Good-day 
to you, or good-night, since you are so unmannerly as to cany 
your light with you." 

"Well," questioned Captain Pender, when his mate, the 
sailor, and Ned returned to him, '' what news? How did you 
find Storton ? " 

"The greatest villain unhung, but fast enough," growled 
Macgregor, looking rather sheepish. 

" What did I tell you ? " said his friend, laughing. " Your 
great fault, my dear fellow, is being too credulous." 

"He has not shown himself so this time," said Ned, ex- 
citedly. " Whatever Storton may be now, I declare he was 
free of the irons — of the handcuffs, at any rate — when I came 
to you half-an-hour ago. I declare it, on my honour." 

This time, instead of showing any anger or impatience. 
Captain Pender fixed his eyes intently on the eager face up- 
turned to him, and, as he did so, his expression betrayed some 
anxiety. 

Ned's eyes were brilliant with intense excitement, and his 
cheeks were crimson. Meeting the enquiring gaze fixed upon 
him, he exclaimed again — "Yes, sir, I declare it, on my 
honour." 

" All right, my boy," said the captain at last, in a soothing 
tone, as though speaking to a sick child ; '' you have done your 
duty in coming to tell me, and now, if I were you, I'd turn in for 
an hour or two, and get a good sleep. You look rather done up." 



Too late, or too early ? 



37 



With a sigh, that was almost a groan, Ned went off, and the 
captain, turniag to the others, said gravely — 

" I'm afraid that lad's con^netnent and sufferings in the hold 
told upon his constitution more seriously than we have 
hitherto supposed. He's pretty evidendy booked for a bad 
illness now, I fear, and some cock-and bull story told him 
by those meddling emigrants seems to have been the last straw 
that his over-wrought nerves could bear. You, Anderson, give 
an eye to him an hour or so hence, and if he still looks as 
feverish, let the doctor know." 




CHAPTER V. 



THE DREAD VERIFIED. 

WHEN Edward Bertram was dismissed to his hammock, as 
related in the last chapter, it need scarcely be said, 
perhaps, that he did not obey the captain's kindly-meant 
advice. 

He knew now that his last hope had failed of getting any 
help against Storton's machinations. Any further disclosures 
or entreaties would be thrown away upon Mr. Macgregor, and 
Bill was as likely as not to strap him into his bed as the victim 
of delirium if he made any more attempts to influence him. 

Under these circumstances he had himself alone to depend 
upon, to discover some means by which to avert the ship's 
destruction. 

So far from being re-assured by finding Storton again hand- 
cuffed, the circumstance only tended to convince him still 
more strongly of the miscreant's power and cunning skill, and 
he felt as though every moment that the prisoner was allowed 
to spend unwatched added to the threatened danger. 

For the third time he made his way to the lower part of 
the ship, where the gloom and darkness could only be 
surpassed by that of the hold itself, and to which no one came, 
as a rule, who could keep away. 

With greater care and quietness, if possible, than ever, Ned 



The Dread Verified. 39 

slipped down into his former position against the door, the 
key of which he now held firmly clutched in his hand. That 
key was the solitary coadjutor he had secured for the forth- 
coming struggle in which he expected before long to be 
engaged. 

In a fit of absent-mindedness, very unusual with Bill 
Anderson, he had allowed the boy to lock the door when they 
came out of the small dungeon, and to keep the key, which 
Ned took care he should not be reminded of by seeing it, for 
he hastily hid it away in his pocket That key would enable 
him to come to close quarters with the prisoner, and if the 
worst came to the worst, that would have to be his last 
desperate step. 

Meantime, Ned felt very wretched. Nothing short of the 
awfulness of the present case would have prevailed upon him 
to act the part of a spy. He would infinitely rather have 
denounced the forger openly, and run the risk of any sufferings 
the man's ingenious vengeance might have endeavoured to 
inflict. 

However, that was not to be, and with a more heartfelt 
prayer than any perhaps he had ever uttered in his life before, 
he set himself to perform the duty that happened to have 
fallen to him to fulfil. 

When Ned first bent his ear against the keyhole, he could 
hear nothing but the man's rather heavy breathing. But afler 
a few minutes the chains clinked once more, and Storton 
muttered — 

" Con-found it ! I wish the swollen veins would be quick 
and shrink again. The idea of those prying creatures coming 
where they weren't wanted, and giving me all this trouble, not 
to speak of the waste of time in getting at the good liquor." 

What his words signified Ned was not sufficiently experienced 
to understand, but it was very clear that he was not yet so far 
again at liberty as to be dangerous, and the silence, darkness, 



40 Edward Bertram, 

and weariness of inactive excitement began to have its natural 
eflfect upon the watcher in making him very drowsy. Ned 
must have been actually dozing for a few minutes, when, 
providentially for him, a rattle of the chains suddenly startled 
him wide awake again. It was only just in time. For a few 
moments terror almost overwhelmed him. 

The danger this time was not from within the prison-walls, 
but from without. There, standing in the light, just without 
the line of darkness, stood the man Downing, a drunken, 
bullying fellow, only less annoying and less to be feared in his 
wickedness than Storton because he was a coward. 

He stood looking furtively around him, to see if there were 
any observers, before vanishing into the obscurity, as Bertram 
had recently done himself; then he disappeared. He was 
only three or four yards away, and that distance was rapidly 
lessening between the ruthless man and the trembling boy. 
There was not the sound of any other creature on board to be 
heard. The mingled sounds of wind and waves would 
drown any scream before it reached other ears than those 
of the two brutal-hearted confederates. 

Ned had taken up his present position with the firm resolve 
in his brave young heart to die, if need were, to save the many 
hundred other lives on board j but to die in vain would be a 
piled-up agony too great for human resignation. And yet 
he could not move to get away. Closer and closer he drew 
himself up against the door, crouching there, waiting — so 
it seemed to him — to be murdered; and the soft clinking 
of the chains went on, as though their wearer were taking 
things easily just now, and still those stealthy footsteps came 
on inch by inch, nearer, as the boy felt, to his slight throat. 

Just as he fancied he could feel the man's thick breathing 
upon his forehead, and his heart leapt up with a wild prayer 
for preservation from his awful peril, a voice came from inside 
the prison, and the oncoming footsteps stopped. 



The Dread Verified. 4[ 

"Who goes there, pray? more Paul Prys coining to see 
how a gentleman looks in bracelets? Pray walk in, ladies 
and " 

"Hist yer foolinV' growled the man outside ; " do yer want 
every critter aboard to come crowdin' 'ere to see what's the 
row?" 

" Nay, indeed, you well-beloved Downing," in a lower tone. 
" I did not know it was you, my charming, elegant-speaking 
chum ; but take care how you come on, or you'll roll full tilt 
against the door, I can hear by your voice. Turn right about 
to the left, and then two steps on ; right about back, and two 
steps, and if you stoop low enough you'll about hit the mark. 
Mind you, pull out the nails cautiously, or the board will fall 
in with a bang." 

" No, it won't, no more nor it's done other times ; not if you 
hold on," was the snappish retort " I suppose yer ain't too 
fine a gentleman ter do that much." 

" By no means, my dear friend ; but, unfortunately, freedom 
and I have parted company just now. My hands and the 
lower part of the mast that runs through this dog-hole persist 
at the present moment in remaining at very dose quarters." 

" What ! yer don't mean, after all yer boastin', that ye're 
fastened up still ? That's what comes o' trustin' the likes o' 
ye ; an' I ha' paid this risky v'yage for naught, ye unhung good- 
for-naught" 

" Don't use bad language, my friend, and don't grumble. I 
shall be free to fill your bottle for you again in a minute, if you 
don't rouse my wrath against you, and agitate me so that my 
veins swell again. I have been at liberty once to enjoy 
myself, but unexpected visitors had the impertinence to intrude 
themselves upon me, and I had to get myself into my bracelets 
again." 

" Law sakes 1 An' how did yer do it before they pounced 
upon yer?" 



42 Edward^ Bertram. 

" Easily enough, as it happened — thanks to that bigoted old 
idiot, Anderson. He did me such a splendid good turn that 
I'd really spare him a drop out of our cask if circumstances 
permitted." 

" Which they don't. But this is the first I've heerd o' love 
bein' lost atwixt you two. How come that old Grumps to show 
yer favour?" 

" Oh, he didn't do it on purpose. Don't frighten yourself. 
You know the prejudiced old fool won't have anything to do 
with the friction matches. I believe he thinks they are a new 
invention of the devil's to burn the world, and so he sticks — 
antiquated old idiot I — to his tinder-box ; and, what with the 
noise of trying to get a light out of that and dropping the key, 
I'd loads of warnings, and was as trim and tight as you please 
when at last the door opened, and old Bill and the first mate 
thrust their prying heads in, followed by that young sneak, Ber- 
tram. And that reminds me, Downing, if you've the good luck 
to get that rat in a cosy corner, just oblige me by twisting your 
fingers round his gentlemanly, lady-white neck, please. I 
believe he smells something." 

" I wish / did," growled Downing, who by this time had 
drawn out four nails that kept in its place a narrow bit of 
planking of the wall, about eighteen inches in length, which 
he had dropped very cautiously down on the inside of the cell. 

** Ain't yer out o' them irons yet ?" he muttered, putting his 
head in at the hole. " Do be quick. I'm a'most certain I 
heard something, and some spy'U be around before I get so 
much as a smell o' the liquor." 

If he had not been so intent on his own wishes, and Storton 
had not made an opportune rattle with the chains, he would 
have been more than almost, he would have been quite 
certain that he heard something, and that something close 
at hand, too. 

Ned's cramped position was growing insupportable to him. 



The Dread Verified. 43 

and the murderous wishes respecting him expressed by the 
prisoner made it still more desirable that he should endeavour 
to make himself a little more secure from the clutches of his 
unscrupulous enemies. 

When the light of Bill Anderson's lantern, an hour or so 
earlier, had enabled him to see the surroundings of the prison- 
cabin a little more clearly, he had noticed to the right a great 
pile of trusses of hay — the fodder, no doubt, for the two cows 
on board and the sheep. If only he could drag himself along 
the walls of the cell, and reach that pile without detection, he 
felt that he should be able to provide himself with a compara- 
tively safe post of observation. 

He never for one moment thought of stealing away. Ulti- 
mate escape he had quite given up hoping for ; but he valued 
his life highly, and, while the wretched drinker Storton was 
willing to die, in a drunken sleep, so that he could indulge a 
drunkard's mad revenge, the brave-hearted schoolboy was 
willing to die if by his death he could be the means of saving 
other lives. But if he were killed now, thus prematurely, by 
these miserable confederates, they would be left more at liberty 
than ever to fulfil their deliberate schemes of wholesale crime. 

For one moment Ned thought that it was all up with him at 
once. He had been gradually leaning more and more heavily 
against the rough wooden door, and when, as a preliminary 
to further proceedings, he lifted himself quickly away from 
it, it gave out a sudden succession of creaks and jars, only 
partially smothered by the greater noise of the chains within. 
Downing might well think he heard something, but Storton 
only laughed at his smothered exclamation. 

" Hear something indeed ! Why, I should say there are a 
thousand or two of rats and mice scuttling about in and out of 
that hay,, and you say you hear something ! But come, I'm a 
gentleman at large now. Hand us in your bottle, and don't be 
a month about it ; time's precious." 



44 Edward Bertram. 

"All right. There, don't break it; it's some'at slippy. 
But it's fine, you talking about time's precious, when you ha' 
kep' me a-standin' about for more'n twenty minutes. Mind 
yer fill it chock up full Maybe they won't be putting yer in 
here for another while to get any more." 

Ned paused in his climbing on to the hay at those last 
words, and breathed more freely. They certainly implied that 
Downing was ignorant of his companion's awful resolve ; and 
yet there was some puzzle in the matter, for it was from her 
drunken husband that Mrs. Downing had received the mys- 
terious hints she had given to Edward Bertram of some 
impending overwhelming catastrophe to be brought about by 
him and the forger. However, the next words spoken by 
the two men cleared up the mystery, and Ned finished his 
climbing and lay down to listen. 

" You've taken care to bring a big enough bottle this time, 
I feel," laughed Storton. "You evidently don't put much 
faith in my threats last week, that next time they clapped me 
in here with those detestable irons on, I'd send them, and you 
and me, and the whole ship into the middle of next week, or 
the next world more likely." 

" O' coorse not," growled the other with a half shudder. 
" I don't doubt yer good intentions, if it was only them and 
the ship, and p'raps me, as would have to go, but yer ain't 
sech a fool as to do it when yer know as ye'd have to join 
company yerself." 

"Ah, just so," came the quiet answer. "It would require 
a good deal of courage to put an end to oneself in such a 
way; would it not?" 

" I believe ye," exclaimed the other in a suppressed tone of 
horror. " But, sakes alive, man, if I didn't give my old woman 
a fust-rate, glorious, up an'-down good fright yesterday, when 
her went on a-jawin' at me. P'raps I stopped her long 
clapping tongue pretty sharp, that's all." 



The Dread Verified. 45 

" Pretty sharp ! what with ?" muttered Storton, with a sudden, 
ominous hiss in his voice. " What did you give the woman a 
fright about?" 

" Why, about what you could do, to be sure. Only I put it 
as if you were not only able, but certain sure to be up to it one 
o' these days." 

"You did, did you? you blabbing fool, you," hissed 
Storton, as in a paroxysm of fury he dashed the bottle, just 
handed in to him, at the other man's face. Darkness and 
passion made him miss his aim, and the bottle hit the wall, 
and fell smashed into a thousand pieces on the floor 
inside. 

There was a startled exclamation from Downing, and then 
for a long two minutes all was profound silence. Both the 
men were listening for those who might be coming to learn the 
meaning of the unexpected sounds down there. Downing was 
holding himself in readiness to slip away, and Storton was 
cursing himself for his want of self-command. But no one 
came. It was the sailors' dinner hour, and the emigrants had 
adopted the same time for their meal, so that all were other- 
wise employed than in listening for far-off noises. At length 
the cowardly Downing ventiured on a whisper — 

" Ye clumsy loon, you ; ha' ye been an' gone an' broke my 
bottle?" 

"Just so," replied the prisoner, "and serves you right too, 
you blabbing idiot. But I wouldn't have broken it if I could 
have filled it with poison for you, instead of spirits of wine. 
How dared you go, you miserable rascal, and repeat what I 
said to you?" 

" 'Ow should I know yer mind," was the sulky answer. " An' 
now what be I to do for a bottle ? Ten to one I'll be tracked 
if I go back for another." 

" There, make your mind. easy," muttered Storton, who had 
been rapidly turning matters over in his mind, and had finally 



46 Edward Bertram, 

decided to keep on good terms with his comrade, and get rid 
of him as speedily as possible. 

" I'll fill my tin for you, and let you have that, and you 
must console yourself for its small size with the hope that I 
may soon be in durance vile again. Meantime, hark here a 
minute; on your honour — or — ^well — on what you like — swear 
that you'll go right off, and tell your wife that was all humbug 
you were putting off upon her about my intentions. And when 
you've quieted her mind, start off instanUr and find that young 
sneak, that Bertram boy, and dog him up and down, here, 
there, and everywhere, till you are lucky enough to get him 
quietly and conveniently to yourself, and then chuck him 
overboard, or, if you cannot manage anything better, tack him 
on to a dozen or two of squalling brats, and see he doesn't get 
free of them in a hurry ; for I dare swear that every word you 
told your wife she's repeated like a fool to that young black- 
guard, and that accounts for the visitation I received a while ago. 
There I I've dropped my matches now amongst all this smash 
of glass splinters. Just hand us in yours." 

" All right ; but have a care. Remember those barrels of 
gunpowder are right close up agin your wall, and the hay's 
touchin' on to them, an' if you let so much as a spark kick off 
into the spirits, we're all gone critters, as sure's you're there, 
without any more chance o' you a-makin' jokes about the 
matter." 

" Well," said Storton coolly, as he took the matches, " as I 
was the one to tell you all that, I suppose I may be expected 
to know it myself." 

As he spoke, he put his hand into the lining of bis coat, 
which was torn and ragged inside, as though from age and 
long wear rather than from ingenious forethought, and, diving 
to the bottom of it, he drew up a long, flat coil of taper. 

Untwisting one end of the taper, he struck a match and 
lighted it. Then from the lining of the other flap he produced 



The Dread Verified. 47 

a small flat tin vessel, capable of holding perhaps about half-a- 
pint of liquid. 

Having now carefully extinguished the smouldering match, 
and put the taper in a safe position, so that no accident might 
happen before he had drunk his own senses into a state of 
stupefaction, he moved away from Downing, as quickly as his 
shackled feet would permit, to the wall opposite the door, over 
which he began a diligent search with both eyes and hands, 
little dreaming of the two unblinking great brown eyes that 
were so keenly watching him from a crack in the upper part of 
the other wall, at right angles to him. 

Storton at length found the small hole of which he was 
in search — a hole made by forcing out a knot in one of 
the planks. He put his finger upon it while he stooped for 
a thin, bent tin pipe lying concealed under some old sailcloth ; 
then that was inserted into the hole, pushed on for three or 
four inches, until from the sound it evidently came in contact 
with some wooden object outside, when it was moved about a 
little until it entered a second hole in the spirits-of-wine cask, 
made originally with a red-hot skewer, and at the expense of a 
vast consumption of matches. 

It had been a critical piece of work, and one that required 
a steady hand and a good deal of nerve, to bore into that cask 
through the hole in the prison cell ; to bore just a little depth 
with the red-hot tool, knowing that if it went too far in that 
state a conflagration would ensue, and the secret worker would 
be burnt to death before it would be possible to rescue him. 
But Storton had a steady hand and a cool head when not 
on the .verge of delirium tremens. He had a good many 
qualities that might have raised him to an honourable 
position in the world, had he not chosen to dedicate his 
powers to the mean grovelling ways of sin by which he 
earned the contemptible name of forger, the companion- 
ship of the lowest and most degraded of his fellow-creatures, 



48 Edward Bertram. 

and handcuffs. His cleverness, coolness, and sin had 
not earned much that was worth env3dng. The noble- 
hearted young schoolboy, lying with patient, unconscious 
heroism on the hay trusses, was far more to be envied, as he 
held his life in his hand for others, and watched the forger as 
he took a long sip of the fiery liquid, and then, by the help of 
a small bladder on the end of his syphon, filled the tin flask. 

'' Coom now, bring un here a minute," muttered Downing, 
with craving eagerness. '' Let us have a pull at it, and then 
fill it up again." 

His petition was granted, with the whispered caution — 

*' Be chary now how you drink. Remember what you are 
about, or this stuff will nigh choke you, and then you'll bring 
the whole ship's company about our ears." 

Five minutes later Downing had crept off with his hidden 
treasure. He gave a glance round once at the hay, on which 
a faint glimmering of light fell, through the chinks of the wall, 
from the taper ; but Ned had dragged himself quite to the 
farther side, and although, with slightly raised head, he could 
see the retreating figure, he was himself quite out of sight 
After giving that glance round. Downing came back to the 
door to mutter a second warning. 

" That hay do be awful close upon ye, to be sure. Have a 
look-out to carefulness with yer matches and lights. I'd like 
to have the heads of the fools at ween my boot an' the floor 
who put hay an' gunpowder cheek-by jowl." 

" And I," murmured Storton, when his comrade had stolen 
away again out of hearing — '' and I could hug them for their 
glorious stupidity before I blow them up by means of it To 
think that I could have been such a fool as to give even a half- 
confidence to that miserable, mean-spirited scoundrel ! But 
he's done small harm as yet, apparently, and I'll take good care 
that his wife's warnings shall not have much more time in 
which to take effect — at least — at least " 



The Dread Verified. 49 

And for the first time the listener heard a sigh, almost a 
groan — it might be of compunction, or sudden, surging despair 
— burst from the forger's lips. He had not always been vile — 
not always with a stifled conscience — not always with a mind 
tnd body and soul steeped in a maddening, deathly drunken- 
ness. With the poison snatched from him, he might even 
then, at the eleventh hour, have been reclaimed. But he and 
his cherished deadly foe were together, and the eleventh hour 
was past, the twelfth was at hand. 



CHAPTER VI. 

THE EVE OF DISCOVERY. 

Jr is difficult to imagine that the world ever contained a. 
more tragic spot than that small dark comer of the ship, 
the Good Stss, which harboured the forger Storton and his 
watcher, Edward Bertram, that 3rd of May, 1837. It was a 
beautiful afternoon, the wind was favourable, and the delicious 
and invigorating breeze blowing on deck had put everyone 
into good health and spirits— everyone, that is to say, but 
Downing, who was drinking himself into a state of gloomy 
drunkenness down below, and his unhappy wife, who had 
brought about their emigration in the hope of thus reclaiming 
him from his vicious life, and now found herself so bitterly 
disappointed. She now sat alternately watching her husband 
and working at some garment for the child whom Edward Ber- 
tram had saved from a watery grave a few days after they left 
England. 

" Susie had better ha' been drownded than saved to have to 
live with such a father," she exclaimed at last, with mingled 
fear and disgust 

" Pily, as them's your thoughts," growled the surly ruffian, 
" that Storton tells me as all them threats o' his'n that I telled 
ye of were only his jokin'. If they'd ha' been real, now, you 



The Eve of Discovery. 5 1 

and the child could ha' left me easy, ye see, for 'taint likely as 
the powder'd ha' taken the perlite thought to send us three's 
set o' pieces up together." 

The half-tipsy rascal had barely finished his brutal speech 
when two firm, heavy hands came suddenly down behind him 
on his shoulders with a firm, tight grip. 

He started violently, and uttered an exclamation that was 
almost a scream, as he made a frantic effort to wriggle himself 
free. 

But it was a useless attempt. At his best, he would have 
been no match for the broad-chested, muscular owner of those 
hands, and in his present fuddled, scared condition he could 
not have coped successfully with a man far weaker. He fell 
back upon the coward's alternative — a whining petition for 
release, beginning with an attempt at braggadocio, and falling 
off into the most contemptible pitifulness. 

" Coom now, ye jackanapes, let un be — let a be, I ses. 
Leave yer hold, or ye'U ha' to square up accounts wi' me when 
yer do, 1 tell ye. Now, coom — them fingers o' yourn are like 
a vice j loose a fellow, can't ye ? What's the good o' tryin' to 
scare a body this gate ? " 

" Good ! you wretched rascal ; na good," said the deep, stern 
tones of the Scotch mate, Macgregor. " There's nought but 
vileness to be caught by touching you. Good indeed ! How 
dare you desecrate the word ? There's nought of good to be 
got by terrifying your mean soul, I know well j but I may suc- 
ceed in frightening a confession of evil from your lips." 

Then the mate took his hands from Downing's shoulders, 
and came round and stood facing him, the drunkard seizing 
the opportunity to put the tin flask once more to his lips, 
determined, whatever might be about to happen, to make sure 
of as much of its contents as possible. 

" What have you got in that tin ?" asked Macgregor. " But 
never mind answering," he added immediately ; " I want no 



52 Edward Bertram. 

lies. Anderson, come forward and take it from him, and then 
we can find out for ourselves." 

"So ye're down here too, are ye?" muttered the man, as> 
with a sullen scowl, he permitted the sailor to take away the 
flask. ** An' I hope it may choke ye," he muttered again, when 
Bill further proceeded to obey his officer's second order to 
taste it. 

And his spiteful wish was gratified, for Bill spluttered and 
choked to a tremendous degree when his incautious gulp of 
the strong, fierce spirit got into his throat. 

The Scotchman looked doubly grave and thoughtful. 

** Where did you get that flask and its contents from? 
You'd better speak out, or I'll find means to make you." 

" I didn't get it nowheres ; Storton guv it me." 

" Umph ! And where did Storton get it from ?" 

" Dunno." 

" Then it will be as well for you to find out within the next 
ten seconds, or the cat-o'-nine-tails shall have the teaching of you." 

The coward turned livid with fear as he gasped — 

" No, no, not that. The lock-up, irons, anything — not the 
cat." 

"Nothing, if you tell the truth," was the quiet, stern 
answer; "if not — the cat, and nothing else. Now, time's up. 
Anderson, call another to help you." 

" No, no, no !" shrieked the miserable creature, as though he 
already felt the thongs cutting into his flesh. " Stop, Anderson, 
stop ; I'll tell all, I will, if you'll only give me time. I dunno 
where Storton got the tin from, an' that's white truth, but the 
spirit he got from that there cask at t' back o' the prison-hut." 

The mate and the sailor exchanged startled glances of 
intelligence, and the examination proceeded by the asking 
of another question, namely, what Downing's words meant that 
he had addressed to his wife just before he had been nearly 
terrified out of the small portion of wits he possessed, by feeling 



The Eve of Discovery. 53 

his shoulders so suddenly grasped. Once again the cat-o'-nine- 
tails had to be threatened ; once again the threat was sufficient 
to obtain the desired result of full confession, which proved 
that, whether Storton had been speaking in joke or earnest, the 
lad Bertram had at any rate bad ample reason for his attempts 
to persuade the officers of the ship to set some watch over 
their crafty prisoner. 

"No wonder he was wounded at our indifference, and alarmed 
too, if he had by any means heard aught of this hideous 
tale,'' said the mate, looking cautiously towards Mrs. Downing, 
who sat, pale and shrinking, trying to appear wholly absorbed 
in her needlework. " But, by the bye, Anderson, where ever 
is the boy? He was not in his berth, you said, when you 
looked in just now. But are you really sure? for it's odd 
we can find him nowhere." 

" So it be, sir, so it be. But none the more for that, he 
werena in's berth, that's sure, an' he bean't here, and he 
weren't on deck, an' I han't seen him for mor'n three hours, 
not since cap'n sent un to get a snooze. I turned in myself, 
soon arter, you know, sir, and so that's how 'twere I didn't 
look un up afore. But if you've no objections I'll go on wi' 
the search right through now for the young gentleman, for, 
when there's vicious folks about, honest ones happen, now an 
again, to get spited, an' there's never no knowin' how." 

" Just so, Anderson. Besides, we've some amends to make 
to the boy for the ridicule we cast upon his warnings. I'll 
join with you in your continued search decidedly ; and you. 
Jack and Tomlins," to two other sailors passing through at the 
moment, " you had better come with us, for after we've found 
Mr. Bertram, we shall have a word to say to the emigrant, 
Storton." 

Long Jack quaked and turned pale. "P-p-please, sir, 
would you mast-head me instead, or g-give me the cat ? He've 
put the evil eye up-up-on me. I'd r-ra-rather have the cat." 



54 Edward Bertram. 

" Nonsense, Jack, you booby, I'm ashamed of you," said 
the mate with a ^im smile. "You'd be a good sailor 
if it wasn't for your abominable superstition. Four of us 
against one, and you hang back ! Anderson, bring him 
along with us, and laugh him out of his nonsense. You, 
Mrs. Downing, go up on deck with your child, and remain 
there, with companions, until you see me again, or hear from 
me. 

And now we must go back a short time to learn what 
brought the mate and Anderson upon Downing at the moment 
when he was making that sneering speech to his wife which 
proved so very inopportune for him. The fact was, that 
Bertram's great earnestness had had a deeper effect upon the 
thoughtful-minded Scotchman than even he himself was at first 
aware. Captain Pender's utter scepticism helped to allay 
his growing suspicions, but when he was away from the 
captain's influence, the belief again grew up in his mind that 
there might be something, meriting the very gravest investiga- 
tion, in Bertram's unproved testimony. 

The hours had worn away, however, in thought without 
action, so far as these matters were concerned, and, excepting 
that he missed the pleasant sight of the lad's cheerful, frank 
face a good deal, the mate was beginning to let the morning's 
episode sink into the bygones. A very slight circumstance 
brought it back vividly to his thoughts. He was standing 
near a little group of emigrants, who were amusing themselves 
with talking over their neighbours, for the time being, and 
discussing their merits and demerits with as much gusto as 
though they were on shore. 

"And there's that poor, down-trodden Mrs. Downing," 
ejaculated one woman. "Bless you, she'll have no more 
comfort of her life out yonder than she had in England, with 
that drunken wretch of a husband o' hers." 



The Eve of Discovery. 55 

" And you may well say drunk," chimed in another. " Why, 
he ain't never, not to say downright, sober. An' where he gets 
the drink from passes me, it do. He didn't bring all as he's 
drunk since he's been aboard ship from England with him, 
and that's sure enough." 

"Gracious sakes, no," said another, while a man stooped 
over the speakers and muttered mysteriously — 

'' If ye wants to know where Dick Downing gets his liquor 
from, I can tell ye fast enuff. He gits it from the forger 
fellow, who thinks hisself too fine gentlefolks to look at the 
most on us, only a poor, weak tool like drunken Dick. But 
if ye goes on to arsk me where the forger gets it from, I'm 
mum — leastways, I really don't know. Not but what I've 
tried to find out I don't mind confessing but he's clever, an' 
that cunnin' an' artful I could a'most feel like being as 
skeered at him myself as that sailor chap they call Long 
Jack is." 

Having heard thus much, Mr. Macgregor went off in search 
of the captain, and when he had found him he began 
quickly — 

** Do you know, I really begin to think that there might be 
something in the lad Bertram's information a while since. I 
have once heard of a man being able to slip his handcuffs, and 
it's not likely that there is only one in the world who can 
do it." 

"But, my good fellow," said Captain Pender, testily, "I 
gave you free leave to go and see if Storton had, and you went, 
and found he hadn't. If you aren't satisfied, for goodness' sake 
go again — z, hundred times, if you like — ^but really I am sick 
of the subject" 

Then Macgregor turned on his heel, and went in search of 
Bill Anderson. He had not far to seek, for the sailor was 
coming in quest of him, and asked as he came up — 

" Please, sir, I suppose cap'n didna mean as Mr. Bertram 



56 Edward Bertram. 



were bound to stay in his cabin till he sent for un, he didna, 
did he ? " anxiously. 

'' Dear me ; no, Anderson, assuredly not. I was just wanting 
to send you to him to say I should like to speak to him for a 
minute." 

The good-natured sailor looked immensely relieved. 

'' Well, I'm main glad, for the young gentleman is na in's 
cabin whatever, and I feared, mebbe, as he did ought to be 
after what cap'n said, and he'd likely catch it for bein' 
about." 

" Certainly not," said the mate ; " it was a permission, not a 
command, the captain gave him. And do you know, Anderson, 
I begin to have my suspicions that he was more worried than 
ill, and I am now bent on questioning him as to whether he 
had any reason, in the first instance, for being in the neigh- 
bourhood of Storton when he discovered, or imagined that he 
had discovered, he was out of irons. You may as well come 
with me to help look him up." 

This joint search for Bertram led the mate and the sailor, in 
course of time, to the emigrants' quarters, and thus, as has been 
seen, they came upon the man Downing in the nick of time 
to make unexpected and startling discoveries. Still, Edward 
Bertram was not yet found, and his friend, Bill Anderson, was, 
naturally enough, beginning to feel some anxiety about him. 
He regarded his officer with considerable approval when Mr. 
Macgregor joined two others to the search party, and con- 
sidered their important appearance as they moved on only 
what was due to his missing favourite. Almost unconsciously 
the mate at once bent his steps towards the ladder leading 
still lower down into the vessel's heart, and on towards the 
prison-cell. 

• ••••. . 

Those seafaring men must manage to roll along a little faster, 
or they will be too late. It is fortunate that the mate, and the 



The Eve of Discovery. 57 

sailor Tomlins, have not Anderson's prejudices against the 
three-year-old invention of matches, or there would be small 
hope for the noble young life that they may yet not be in time 
to save. 

Insensibly as the four men, the mate at the head, got into 
line for the dark end of the ship that hid the diminutive ship 
jail, silence fell upon them all. Jack had made one or two 
trembling efforts to escape, but Bill had got a firm grip upon 
his waist-band, and showed no intention of weakly relenting in 
pity to his comrade's terrors. The two moved on. silently, the 
one stem and anxious, the other pressing close up to him, ashy 
pale and shivering. Tomlins was silent with curiosity, and a 
certain amount of awe, and the grave Scotchman was engaged 
in silent prayer. 

Suddenly the progress of the party was arrested. . Out from 
the darkness, and swelling onwards, wave upon wave, through 
the vessel to its furthest corners, came a wild, long, ringing, 
reverberating shriek — 

" Father 1 Help me 1" Then the sound of a sudden rush and 
a fierce oath. 

For one moment the startled feet of Macgregor and his men 
were arrested. Then they gathered themselves up, and dashed 
forward into the darkness. 



CHAPTER VII. 

HATRED, MALICE, AND ALL UN CHARITABLENESS. 

A HURRIED tap at the study door of Robinson, head 
monitor of the great public school of Errington. He was 
standing with a volume of Homer's Iliad in his hand, and, 
before he could recall his thoughts sufficiently from his book 
to answer, the handle turned, and the second monitor, Fred 
Nicholson, entered the room. 

"Have you come to breakfast?" asked Robinson, in a 
somewhat sullen tone, and scarcely deigning to raise his eyes. 

" Thank you for nothing," replied Nicholson ; " when I take 
to inviting myself to other fellows' tables I'll look out for a 
more gracious host. I have rushed off to give you a word of 
warning." 

"Warning?" exclaimed Robinson, with .sudden interest 
" What about ? Surely there cannot be an examination of any 
kind coming on in the middle of term." 

Nicholson looked at his companion for a few moments, and 
then for answer to the eager question said quietly — 

" I am fond of learning myself. I think Fust and Caxton, 
and the rest of those old printers, the most glorious fellows 
that ever lived, and I go a little way towards worshipping such 
men as Bacon and Sir Isaac Newton, but " 

" Well ? go on. Out with the * but.' By all means let us 



Haired^ Malice, and all Uncharitableness. 59 

■ I 

have the sermon to your text," said Robinson, with a sneer. 
"What's the 'but'?" 

"Only this, that sooner than let myself sink, as you are 
doing, into a mere reading machine, dead to all human 
sympathies, I'd bum my books, cut this place, and enlist in 
the ranks." 

" You're an idiot." 

"Perhaps so; and you're a bigger," was the angry retort. 
" But there, I'm a downright fool to waste my breath on you. 
If none of the great authors you are so fond of can teach you 
common sense, it is not likely that I can. Ha ! " as a second 
rap came to the door, " that's your summons to Dr. Brown, no 
doubt. I wish you well over it ; but I'm glad I don't stand in 
your shoes just now, and I must be off, for I expect my eggs 
are getting cold. That little rascal, Frere, does not understand 
the art of keeping things hot as Bertram did, before he got out 
offagdom." 

" Hang Bertram ! " exclaimed Robinson, with a fierce light 
in his eyes^ that looked as if he meant his wish. " He's a 
chattering magpie, like you. I'll have the lock of my door 
mended before I'm a day older." 

"No need, so far as I am concerned," said Nicholson, 
haughtily, as he threw back his handsome head, and walked 
off to his own quarters. 

He was the only boy in the school who had kept on good 
terms with the head monitor. Robinson's great abilities and 
indomitable industry had excited the admiration of his 
generous-hearted rival, who had hitherto warded off from him 
many a disagreeable result of his sullen temper. 

All this was ended now. The blind, miserable fellow had 
wilfully converted a staunch and able ally into an enemy, and 
he was literally friendless when he turned with a scowl upon 
the man-servant who stood in his doorway, and asked, im- 
periously — 



6o Edward Bertram. 

" What's your message ?" 

" You are to go to Dr. Brown, sir, immediately, in the great 
class-room. I'm afraid you'll find there's a pretty coil up, sir," 
added the man, with malicious pleasure. 

Not a servant about the place liked the boy. '' And no 
wonder," the old gatekeeper's wife used to say, " seein' as how 
he'd been in the bad luck to be bom without a civil tongue in 
his head." 

The doctor's splendid coUey showed his dislike to the harsh- 
natured student in a very marked manner whenever oppor- 
tunity offered, and you may believe the anecdote or not, as 
you like, but it is true all the same. Whenever the noble 
animal found himself in the neighbourhood of Robinson, he 
would immediately walk in a wide circle round the youth, stop 
when the circle was completed, face him, sit up on his 
haunches, and give a low, solemn growl ; then rise, turn his 
back upon him, and walk off in a slow and stately manner, that 
seemed to say as plainly as words could have done — 

" I have entered my protest against you, and so far my duty 
is accomplished for the present." 

This manoeuvre was always witnessed with the greatest 
interest by everybody about the place, and it was a common 
amusement with the boys to bring it about, a tolerably easy 
matter in spite of the contrary efforts of the victim. Once 
manage to get their companion and the dog together in the 
same class-room, the same school-yard, or the same field, and 
the affair was accomplished, for Lynx took the further pro- 
ceedings into its own paws — Robinson was powerless. He 
had tried several times to escape, but at the first sign of such 
an attempt the dog would make a swift dart forward, with an 
ominous snarl that chilled everyone who heard it with dread, 
and much more the quaking boy himself, who had a natural 
fear of the whole canine race. 

There were only two people in the whole establishment who 



Hatred^ Malice, and all Uncharitableness. 6 1 

had power to call Lynx away in the midst of his strange 
performance. One of these was Dr. Brown himself, who, 
of course, always did so when he came upon it, although 
it may be privately confessed that he had now and 
then witnessed, and allowed friends to witness, what 
he termed an extraordinary sight, from behind the shelter 
of his library curtains. The other individual to whose 
authority Lynx condescended to submit was young Edward 
Bertram, and it was partly because he would not always exert 
his influence on the monitor's behalf that the young tyrant 
seized so eagerly upon every pretext to punish him. One of 
the " Lynx exhibitions " had immediately preceded the savage 
flogging that prompted Ned to run away. Robinson would 
gladly have spent a year's pocket-money on poison for the dog 
had he dared, but, lacking the courage for that cowardly revenge, 
he spent his spite on the boy. 

But to follow Jeffery Robinson across the courtyard, and 
into the great class-room, which he had not entered for nearly 
two years now, excepting on examination and prize-giving 
days. 

When the monitor went into the long, lofty room, he found 
the whole school assembled, from Dr. Brown down to the 
youngest boy — little rosy-cheeked Henty, who smarted 
under the ignominious nickname of "Baby." At his entrance 
a murmur began, low at first, swelling up into a general excla- 
mation, and suddenly sinking into dead silence. 

Robinson had walked half-way up the room towards the 
place usually appointed to the head-monitor before he perceived 
that it was already occupied. One of the masters had taken 
the seat by Dr. Brown's desire. He hesitated then, and finally 
stood still, a deep flush of mingled rage and nervousness on his 
dark face. He looked furtively from side to side, but the 
benches were all filled. There was no mute invitation in any 
eyes, no mute invitation conveyed by the movement of even one 



62 Edward Bertram. 

boy to offer him refuge from his conspicuous and uncomfortable 
position. For some moments he suffered greater torture than 
any his cane inflicted upon Bertram. 

Dr. Brown rose, clasped those long firm hands of his upon 
the desk in front of him, and bent forward. At last he spoke, 
slowly and deliberately. 

'' Robinson Major, a circumstance has occurred since eleven 
o'clock last night which has caused me indescribable annoyance 
and pain. Some portion of the blame, no doubt, belongs to 
me and the other masters, for we have had one amongst us who 
we knew had no home affection to turn to in the troubles and 
vexations of his boyhood, and we have not remembered to 
afford him the special friendship that he, and every lonely 
orphan, would have a right to claim from us. But upon you 
falls the fullest burden of the charge of injustice and cruelty. 
Do you know what has happened ?" 

" No," muttered Robinson, with lips that would tremble, in 
spite of his efforts, as he shot a swift glance along the 
benches of Bertram's class-mates, and saw that the boy 
was absent. Could it be possible that he had seriously 
injured him yesterday in the indulgence of his ungovernable 
fury? 

'^ Since we separated last night Edward Bertram has disap- 
peared. I received the painful news more than an hour ago, 
and I have lost no time in making investigations into the 
business. I have traced the matter so far home that every- 
thing points to you — to your incessant and deliberate persecu- 
tion of one who was friendless — as the cause of his escape 
from a place that you have made an abode of constant misery 
to him." 

The doctor paused, and the monitor raised his head and 
asked, " Can I go now, sir?" 

" Yes, you can go. And remember for the future you are 
no more a monitor. You have abused the power entrusted to 



Hatred^ Malice^ and all Uncharitableness. 63 

you, and I revoke the trust you have shown yourself incapable 
of deserving." 

" The doctor's awfully wretched about Bert's running away," 
whispered the boys to each other, as they scurried off in a 
confused heap, like a flock of sheep when a dog comes near, 
and the whole flock tries to perform the impossible feat of 
being all middle and>no outside. 

" How horrid our house will be without him," said another ; 
" he was the jolliest fellow here." 

Happily for the deposed monitor, JeflFery Robinson, his 
morning letters brought him news of an open scholarship to be 
tried for, which a£forded him means of instant escape from the 
scene of his degradation. Dr. Brown was almost as glad to be 
rid of him as he was to go. 

• Two hours later, Robinson walked for the last time through 
the gateway of Errington. He had said no good-bye, and re- 
ceived none at the school. The departing schoolboy, as he 
may be termed for the last time, had taken measures expressly 
to avoid the " God speed you " of every one. He had left his 
luggage to be sent after him, and having watched his oppor- 
tunity anxiously, he crept noiselessly, and with feverish haste, 
along the corridors, down the stairs, across the courtyard and 
playground, and escaped, like a thief, from the scene of so many 
triumphs and final humiliation. 

But he did not get off with quite the secrecy upon which he 
had begun to congratulate himsel£ Two very sharp eyes had 
observed the quick, stealthy glances that the student had cast 
at all the surrounding windows as he issued from the doorway 
of his house ; and, unseen themselves, those two particularly 
sharp eyes had watched the ex-monitor's swift course towards 
the outer gates. And beneath the sharp eyes was a particularly 
sagacious nose, that tossed itself up in the air with an enquiring 
sniff. Then followed a short space of earnest thought and 
deliberation, while the nose was laid quietly along on the 



64 Edward Bertram. 

ground, and kept warm between two sets of toes. And just 
when any beholder would have supposed that that nose was 
the nose of a sleeper, it was suddenly flung up again with a 
decisive snort Its owner's self-commune was ended, and, like 
a black-feathered arrow, it flew after the unfortunate Robinson, 
and suddenly arrested his further progress by a long, low growl. 
There, sitting upon his haunches, with an air of the most 
determined resolution, was that superlatively aggravating and 
intelligent Lynx, right in the pedestrian's pathway. 

Robinson stooped and picked up a stone, with a face white 
with fury. Lynx looked at the stone, and got up and came a 
little nearer, and gave a second growl, and drew back his lips. 

Robinson looked at the two rows of gleaming teeth, and his 
hand trembled and dropped the stone, and he stood still. Then 
Lynx began his exhibition. He walked once round as usual. 
Then he hesitated ; and whether he felt that the occasion was 
an especial one, or that the delighted chuckles of the gate- 
keeper and his wife made him unusually proud of his perform- 
ance, Robinson had to endure the torture of a second round, 
while the old couple stood at their open window, and made 
their remarks close behind his back. 

"Deary, deary me," exclaimed old Mother Sharplin, "if 
the beautiful critter isn't a'most as knowin' as a Christian ! " 

" Bless you \ " chuckled her husband, with a great emphasis 
on the " you," that hanimal could pick you out them as ain't 
bom to be drownded anywheres. Dear, dear, if it ain't as good 
as playactin' to watch him, an' he so king — ^stately-like ! There 
now, see, he'll set up an' bark." 

And so Lynx did. One growl, and one bark^ and then he 
turned short off", re-entered the school premises, and made his 
way up to his master, while Robinson pursued his way to the 
inn whence the stage-coach started for his home. He would 
have given up even his hopes of the scholarship to be able to 
kill that dog. His late schoolfellow Edward Bertram, and his 



Hatred^ Malice, and all Uncharitableness. 65 

schoolmaster's dog Lynx, were distinguished with his especial 
hatred. But the dog was quietly licking his own paws and the 
blacking off his master's boots, alternately, while he lay com- 
fortably at his master's feet, and young Bertram was pursuing 
his road to Portsmouth, intent upon the completion of his pur- 
pose, and only remembering his old tormentor when fatigue 
compelled him now and again to throw himself down under a 
hedge to rest, and the cuts and weals on his wounded back 
came into unpleasant contact with the ground. But as far as 
he is concerned, this history has carried him some weeks 
farther on in his life, and we must now proceed to relate what 
led to the wild shriek by which the mate of the Good Bess and 
his companions were electrified, as they were proceeding in 
search of the runaway schoolboy. 




CHAPTER VIII. 



FACE TO FACE WITH DEATH. 



1\ YEARLY three hours before that startling cry already 
Ah mentioned was uttered, Edward Bertram, the schoolboy, 
or, as Captain Pender usually called him, the " Stowaway,'' had 
stretched himself out upon the top of the piled-up hay to keep 
strict watch and ward over the pitiless Storton. 

It is told of a noble Scotch boy, during the war of the last 
century between the English and Charles Edward, that, being 
forbidden leave, on account of his youth, to march with his 
father's clan to battle, he was sent out to superintend the 
herdsmen guarding the cattle. His neighbourhood, as is the 
case with most neighbourhoods during war time, was infested 
with a set of rascals who belonged to no party but their own, and 
who cared nothing which side lost so that they gained. It was 
the custom with this fighting, thieving set of vagabonds to scare 
away or kill the cattle-keepers, and then drive the cattle. After 
the first commencement of their operations they very seldom 
had to do any killing, for the poor, base-born herdsmen never 
lost a moment's time in scampering as far away as possible from 
the dangerous neighbourhood of their charges, the moment the 
heads of the freebooters appeared above the crests of the hills. 
In due course of time the robbers turned their attention to the 
cattle belonging to this Scotch boy's clan. According to 



Face to Face with Death. 67 

custom, the instant they appeared in sight the herdsmen rushed 
frantically away, in spite of the remonstrances of their chief- 
tain's young son. The boy remained at his post, offering what 
resistance he could, valiantly. But, of course, he was soon 
overcome, and then the freebooters questioned him how he 
dared defy them, and why he had not run oflf with his 
retainers ? 

"How could I act otherwise than I have done?" was 
the calm and simple answer. " I was sent out to guard the 
cattle. I have fulfilled my duty so far as my power went" 
Then he waited quietly for the expected death at his lawless 
captors' hands. 

It is well for human nature that we are able to add that the 
nobility of the young prisoner struck some answering chord in 
the souls of the wild freebooters, and they despatched him 
safely home with the greater part of the property that he had 
stood by so faithfully. 

We simply give this true page of history to show you, boys, 
that the character and acts of Edward Bertram are not over- 
drawn, they can be matched in numberless instances. His 
own answer was much the same as the Scotch boy's, when, 
years after, he was complimented on his bravery. 

"How could I act otherwise than I did? Circumstances 
had betrayed to me the awful danger of the ship and all on it, 
and of course I had to do all that lay in my power to avert it. 
And the more so that my own faulty way of getting on board 
had weakened the warning influence I might have had with the 
captain." 

However, to come back to that May morning, when Ned 
lay on the trusses of hay, and saw the glimmering of Storton's 
taper shining through the chinks of the wall upon the barrels 
of gunpowder and the broached spirits-of-wine cask. He 
looked through the chinks of the wall at the flickering taper 
and the box of matches, and he knew perfectly well, as each 



68 Edward Bertram. 

minute passed, that the next might be his last But he felt no 
fear now. His heart even swelled with some natural pride as 
he held the clever, cunning forger under his steady gaze, and 
felt how much depended upon his presence of mind and 
readiness. After a short time Storton extinguished the taper, 
as a precaution against detection or any further disturbance in 
the prosecution of his nefarious schemes; and for a terrible 
two hours Ned kept guard in darkness. Even the deep 
silence was only broken at long intervals by a quiet rattle of 
the chains, as Storton turned from one side to the other for 
ease on the hard floor, or rose, once or twice, to refill the very 
small measure he had retained for himself to drink from, when 
he gave up the larger flask to Downing. 

''Poor fool," he chuckled once, soliloquising aloud about 
that recent gift '^ He little knows how short a time he's got 
in which to empty that" 

Ned felt not the smallest inclination now to sleep, notwith- 
standing the silence and darkness. Every faculty was strung 
to the utmost, and he was as wide awake and as keen as the 
rats, who were regarding him as a most unwarrantable inter- 
loper. Once or twice the little animals nearly ruined every- 
thing by dashing up through the hay, bringing a cloud of dust 
in their train, which half-choked their human companion, and 
almost forced him to sneeze. As he lay there, compelled to 
idleness as to his body, his mind worked away harder than it 
had ever done at school, although he had been no idler or dunce 
there, in spite of Jeffery Robinson's contemptuous epithets. He 
turned over the circumstances of the present case in every 
possible manner, and regarded it from every aspect that you 
can have done; and thought quite as clearly and cleverly 
as you may be doing, of what was really the best and wisest 
way for him to act now, and if he had really chosen it 
About the middle of his solemn watch he wavered in his 
opinion. He wavered to such a degree that he actually stole 



I 



Face to Face with Death. 69 

down from his perch, and began to creep softly away towards 
the more inhabited quarters of the ship. It did seem such an 
awful, tremendous responsibility he was taking upon himself, 
and for some minutes it seemed too great for him to bear, 
it appeared to overwhelm hino. He felt that he must burst 
away from it, rush on deck, and compel the captain and 
others to listen to him, to believe him, and to act with him. 

When he reached that point in his resolve he climbed down 
from the hay-stack, and left the prison as far behind him 
as that border-land of light and darkness lay, on which he had 
so often paused already. There he paused once more, and 
as he grew calmer he sighed, and then he crept back again, and 
clambered, inch by inch, with stealthy care and caution, on to 
his lofty couch once more, and lay in the darkness waiting 
for what time should bring to his hands to do. Reason told 
him but too surely that the very grimness of the narrative 
he could give would prevent its credence, there being not 
the smallest previous preparation for its belief. And the 
more passionately he might try to proclaim it, the more 
rooted would become the belief in his own delirium, and 
the less chance there would be of even his being left free 
to do his utmost to avert the threatened doom. He 
wavered no more. From this moment he put his whole 
trust in himself under God, and the next hour was spent in 
prayer and watching — ceaseless watching, that let scarcely 
a sound of the forger's breath escape him. Seven years later, 
Edward Bertram was alone with a furious madman in the midst 
of a tract. of blazing Australian bush, and while he kept the 
madman at bay, and watched the windward run of the flames, 
the strange memory leaped up in his mind of his boyhood's 
watch, seven years before, over the poor sinful wretch in the dark 
depths of the Good Bess. Fresh nerve and vigour came to 
him with the thought, and he felt that the wild, open field 
of fire, and irresponsible disease, were companions infinitely 



70 Edward Bertram. 

preferable, infinitely less terrible, than that dark ship comer 
blackened with the brooding sin and drunken hate it 
shrouded. A sort of tender pity for the brave, unflinching boy- 
watcher came to him, although the boy had been himself. 
But in the present, the boy Ned felt no compassion at all for 
that individual. His most vivid sensation, as the slow time — 
the same time that was flying away so blithely up on deck — 
dragged its weary course along down there, was a tremendous 
longing for something to happen. You understand, he did 
not wish that anything dreadful should come to pass, or 
be attempted at all, but, if it was to be attempted, he most 
heartily wished that it might be attempted soon. None of 
us ever wish that there should be a great fire, but when there 
is one we cannot help wishing to see it. Ned's feelings were 
very similar. He was waiting for something that was almost 
positively to occur, and the tediously drawn-out expectation 
was only an additional item in the dismal programme. 

At last something occurred. All had been intensely still 
and silent in the narrow prison for nearly twenty minutes. 
Ned had begun to torment himself with the apprehension 
that perhaps the diabolical scheme was already in progress, 
and that the darkness and silence would render him powerless 
to interfere. But afiairs were not quite so far gone in hopeless- 
ness as all that. 

The silence was, all on a sudden, broken by a loud snore, and 
a sound as of something thumping pretty heavily against the 
wall, followed by an exclamation of pain. 

"Why, hang it all," muttered Storton's voice the next 
moment, '^ if I haven't been letting myself fall asleep before 
I've made my preparations. 'Law sakes,' as that fellow 
Downing would say, I've certainly nigh upon robbed myself 
of my revenge. If it hadn't been for giving myself this crack 
on the skull, I don't believe I should have woke up in time to 
get the thing done this bout" 



Face to Face with Death. 71 



While he thus muttered he moved about, feeling with his 
hands on the floor for his matches. " Hang it !" he grumbled 
once more, flinging away match after match as he broke them 
in trying to strike them. " Hang it, how my hands shake 1 
If anyone saw them, they'd think it was the effects of con- 
science, perhaps. Ah I growing compunction, no doubt 
Poor fools, what a mistake they would make !" and he uttered 
a somewhat unsteady laugh. 

But if conscience were striving to make itself heard in this 
terrible hour, the demon of drink did its best to stifle it. 

At length he got a match to burn, and lighted his taper once 
more. Edward Bertram had not now many more minutes of 
suspense to endure. He crept to the very edge of the 
haystack, to be ready to descend in a moment ; and he took the 
door-key out of his pocket, and grasped it firmly and very 
closely in his hand \ and all the time he never left off watching 
through the cracks between the boards of the wall. Storton 
was now moving on unsteady feet up to the mast, where he let 
himself slip gently on to the floor, and felt under the sailcloth 
for his hidden treasures, which were nothing less than two 
twisted lengths of straw, twisted the first time he had been put 
in irons, when this terrible plan of revenge had first occurred 
to the wretched drunkard's mind, and he had begun pre- 
parations for its execution by twisting the straw matches. On 
the next occasion that he had contrived, purposely, to get 
locked up for some offence, that he might indulge his terrible 
craving for drink, he had duly prepared the twists for his pur- 
pose ; and now, as he found them and drew them towards the 
taper, he looked at them with an evil glee and self-gratulation. 
Helping himself up by clutching at the dangling handcuffs, 
Storton now reeled back to the wall, and, having taken a final 
sip or two of the spirit, to fortify his wavering resolution, 
he withdrew the tin tube, and with considerable dififi- 
culty inserted one end of a straw-twist through the two 



72 Edward Bertram. 

holes into the cask. Then he moved on along the wall 
about three feet, and, feeling about a little while, he found 
another hole, pushed an end of the second twist through that, 
and after some trouble, and having once to remove it and 
put in the other end because he had so bent the first, he 
got that, in turn, securely into a hole in one of the barrels 
of gunpowder — a fact he made known by his triumphant 
exclamation. 

Matters were drawing on fast enough at last The crisis was 
at hand. Ned's heart began to beat violently, and the blood to 
course wildly through his veins. He slid to the ground. Had 
there been time now, he would have flown to seek help stronger 
than his own ; but there was no time — no time to seek human 
help, only time to seek that which is Almighty. Those matches 
were fearfully short Once lighted, they would have burnt 
their way up to the powder and spirit casks in little more than 
five minutes ; and the forger seemed scarcely even drowsy now, 
and, though so tipsy, he had a good deal of strength and power 
yet left in him. 

Ned's self-sacrifice threatened, after all, to be a useless one. 
He dared not lean against the door, and yet his agitation was 
so great that he could scarcely stand. It is a solemn thing to 
hold your life in your hand, and to know that ten minutes 
hence it may be lost, as far as this world is concerned. 
Storton, having so far made his preparations, and placed his 
lighted taper close at hand, appeared in no hurry to consum- 
mate his black deed. He seated himself again, with his back 
against the wall, between the two straw-twists, and closed his 
eyes ; but whether the thought of death, so close at hand, shook 
even his dulled heart, or that the snatch of sleep he had had 
already had partially weakened the effect of the spirit, the desired 
drowsiness appeared to elude his wishes now. He drew out 
his small flask, and found, to his relief, that it was not yet 
drained. Sucking his lips to get off even the few drops ding- 



Face to Face with Death. 73 

ing to them, he again composed himself, and after a few 
more minutes of that dread silence, he opened his eyes heavily, 
lifted the two ends of the straw-twists, and slowly lighted them. 
Ned stole the key into the lock. 

There was a yard of straw-twist, five minutes of time, between 
life and death for four hundred human beings, and only the 
courage and constancy of one young lad in the scale for 
life. Up on deck the emigrants were talking over their 
plans for the future, some of them discussing their hopes of 
return to the old home, ten, fifteen, or twenty years hence. 
Captain Pender was meditating on the probable weather of to- 
morrow, and the possibility of the ship sighting land — and those 
two straws were burning on. There were only four minutes 
now between life and death, for Captain Pender, his ship, and 
his passengers. And Edward Bertram's hand was beginning 
to turn the key, and a sharp agony was gnawing at his heart ; 
for he saw that it was almost an impossibility that he could 
draw away, and cast out of reach, both those deadly matches 
lying close, one on either side of the drunken, cruel villain, 
before he should be seized and strangled by the forger's strong 
white fingers. The man was lightly dozing no more. Ned 
expected to be killed in the execution of his self-imposed task ; 
but, oh ! if only the great reward might be granted him in 
death of its accomplishment 

With this agonised entreaty struggling up to his lips, and 
almost forcing audible utterance, the key was turned, the door 
swung wide, and the young and noble and pure-hearted boy, 
and the wretched forger who had crushed his father's heart 
into the dust, were face to face ! Alas 1 they were more. 
They were eyes to eyes. The noise of the falling lock, the 
inrush of air, roused the man, who had been striving for 
unconsciousness indeed, but not obtaining it. For some 
awful moments they gazed at each other. Then, with a low 
howl, more like a wild beast's utterance than that of a human 



74 



Edward Bertram. 



being, Storton sprang forward. At the same moment, out 
upon the air, rang that long, clear, ringing cry — 

" Father ! Help me !" Edward Bertram flung himself for- 
ward on the floor of the cell with outstretched hands grasping 
at the two matches, and they fell from the holes as he fell to 
the ground. Then came the deadly clutch upon his throat 
which he had expected, and he knew no more. 




CHAPTER IX. 

" I WANT MY HEIR, SIR." 

" Y WANT my heir, sir ; I want my heir. I insist on having 

A my heir. There, sir ! Now what do you say to that, 
sir?" 

Nothing was said to that for a minute or two. 

The speaker was a most irascible-looking old gentleman, 
who was stomping up and down Dr. Brown's library at the 
public school of Errington. It is just possible that there is no 
such word to be found in your dictionaries as "stomping." 
However, it is perfectly certain that if there is not, there ought 
to be, for " stamping " does not in the least describe the special 
way in which this old gentleman was managing to disturb the 
usual peace and harmony of the Doctor's studious refuge. 

A jerk, and a kick, and a stumble, followed by a stamp, and 
then another jerk, and kick, and stumble, followed by another 
stamp, cannot all be a stamp ; can it, now ? Surely there can 
be but one answer, and that answer. No. 

However you put the question, it will come to the same 
thing; you will find, even if you ask it as a riddle — "Why is 
a jerk, and a kick, and a stumble like a stamp? or like 
stamping?" which you will ; the only possible answer that can 
be given must be, " Because it isn't" Well then, having 
proved that all future dictionaries must give the word, " stomp- 



76 Edward Bertram, 

ing — a complicated and peculiar mode of progression " (and 
not "vulgar for stamp"), we can proceed — ^not, I hope, to 
stomp ourselves, but — to learn the meaning of this intrusion 
upon Dr. Brown. 

It is of course needless to say that, when Edward Bertram 
disappeared from Errington, the head-master lost no time in 
sending intelligence of the event to his guardian, and only near 
relation, General Sir Edward Bertram, K.C.R And a letter 
had been received back by return, which meant a lapse of four 
days between tlie despatch of the one and the receipt of the 
other in 1837. 

And the letter was not a very satisfactory one when it did 
arrive. It began with a good round of abuse of the General's 
grand-nephew, and it ended with a good round of very slightly 
more carefully worded abuse of the school authorities, who had 
let him escape from their discipline. 

However, there was a sentence in the middle of the letter 
from which Dr. Brown had drawn some comfort It was 
this : — 

"No doubt, sir, the disgraceful young scoundrel has run 
away to sea. / once ran away to sea. And I was flogged 
and sent back. My grand-nephew must be flogged and sent 
back. And I was flogged when I got back. I desire that my 
grand-nephew may be flogged when he gets back. • . ." 

The four 'floggings — ^the two in the past, the other two 
ordered for the future — ^had but small impression upon the 
Doctor's mind, but the suggestion that the missing pupil might 
have made his way to the sea coast, and got taken on board 
some ship, gave a new impulse and purpose to the inquiries 
that were being instituted for him in all directions. 

Every list of passengers and crews that could be got hold of 
was diligently perused, but of course in vain, and the old 
General, who was suflering from a long and severe attack of 
gout, fumed and stormed at the non-discovery of the boy, 



"/ want my heir^ sir" 77 

till he had nearly fumed and stormed himself into the 
grave. 

The news of his nephew's escape from Errington reached 
him the 27th of March; but it was the 27th of May before he 
was well enough to post across England, from his estate in 
Gloucestershire, to make the personal demand for his nephew 
with which this chapter opens. 

He had sent due warning, some days before, of his coming, 
and the Doctor had been trying to school himself for the 
interview. But he found it almost more painful and dis- 
agreeable than he had expected. 

Dr. Brown would have laughed, if he had not been feeling 
so grieved and angry, at the absurdity of the old gentleman's 
repeated exclamation, with every variety of tone and gesture — 

*' I want my heir, sir — I want my heir." 

And now there was the imperative, ridiculously unreasonable 
addition — 

'' I insist on having my heir ! There, sir ! Now what do 
you say to that, sir?" 

Of course Dr. Brown could not possibly have anything to 
say to that, and so he held his peace, biting his lips. And he 
did not quite know whether he bit them to keep in laughter or 
indignation. 

At last Sir Edward had thoroughly tired himself out with 
his violent exercise, and he flung himself heavily back into an 
arm-chair, and, drawing out a yard or two of silk pocket- 
handkerchief, he at first mopped at his forehead and head with 
it, and then dropped his face into it, only just in time to about 
half smother a gulping sob. 

At that most marvellous and utterly unexpected sound. Dr. 
Brown started, and stared, with an air of the most bewildered 
amazement, at his visitor. Was he literally choking with pas- 
sion, or was that sob a token of grief? 

There was another gulp. And then the head-master sat up 



78 Edward Bertram. 

in his chair, and leant forward, and said, in a low tone of 
mingled sympathy and surprise — 

"Forgive me, my dear General; but surely you are not 
taking so bitterly to heart the loss of one for whom you cared 
literally nothing when he was — was " 

Dr. Brown had been about to finish his sentence with the 
word "alive," but he suddenly broke off. He could not 
openly admit, even to himself, the belief that the uncared-for 
orphan, the desolate young pupil, was really beyond the reach 
of human love. However, even in its unfinished state, his 
sentence struck hardly enough upon its hearer. The proud 
white head bowed lower, as the old man growled, with an 
unsteady voice and misty grammar — 

" I didn't care literally nothing for him ? Nothing of the 
sort, sir; I tell you, nothing of the sort ! But the world's full 
of fools — fools ! The gun-muzzle of the world is choked up 
with them, I say. Because I didn't have a young rascal, a 
regular nuisance of a boy, cutting his capers about me ; because 
I didn't cram his mouth with lollypops till he got sick, and give 
him pop-guns and pocket-knives to maim himself with, the 
world and his wife cry out — * Well, you've had a small loss I 
You did not care for the lad ! ' " 

The old General sat upright now, and spread out his long- 
fingered, bony hands upon his knees, and fixed his keen grey 
eyes upon his companion. 

" The world's a fool, sir ; and his wife's a bigger ! And now, 
what do you say to that, sir ? " 

Once again Dr. Brown said nothing to it outwardly. 
But inwardly he did say that he wished the very gallant general. 
Sir Edward Bertram, K.C.B., was a small boy with his name 
on the Errington books. In that case it is possible, although 
the Doctor's sway was mild — peculiarly so for forty years ago — 
it is possible, we repeat, that that small boy might have received 
a speedy and impressive lesson against asking preposterous 



"/ want my heir^sir.^^ 79 

questions, to which, from the very nature of circumstances, it 
was utterly impossible to give any answer. 

However, answer or no answer, it was much the same to Sir 
Edward Bertram, and after a pause he continued in a firmer 
and somewhat calmer voice — 

" Yes, the world's a fool — the world's a fool ! " 

The repetition of that piece of information appeared so 
soothing to his own ears and feelings that he repeated it a 
third time before continuing — 

" If I didn't waste any nonsensical affection upon the boy^ I 
always meant to downright love the man he was to grow into 
one day. Why, sir, I cared literally nothing for him, indeed, 
do the fools say? Do you know, sir, for this twelve years 
past, sir, I have been improving my estate for my heir. I have 
planted trees for my heir ; I have drained ever so much marsh 
land for my heir ; I have bought plate for my heir ; laid down 
wines for my heir ! Everything I have spent my money and 
my brains on, sir, has been for this young rascal of an heir of 
mine. And then I am told I cared literally nothing for him ! 
What more would you have had me do ? " 

"Give him a little of the love in the present," said the 
Doctor, with quiet sadness, " that you have been so lavishly 
storing up for him in the future. Do you know. Sir Edward, 
that it is the general opinion of the whole school that your 
nephew had gradually grown old enough to feel that life, with 
no ray of loving kindness to shine upon it, was too hard to 
bear." 

Once more the head that had held itself so bravely at Water- 
loo sank down. But the old veteran was not going to yield 
quite without a struggle ; he showed fight still a little longer in 
the surly mutter — 

"What did the young blackguard's father and grandfather 
go and get killed for, then, and leave him to the care of the 
old bachelor of the family? How was I to know that the 



So Edward Bertram. 

young rascal wanted me to love him ? I loved bis grandfather 
— a bonnier lad than his grandson need ever hope to be, dead 
or alive — and his grandfather got killed. Ay, man, killed by 
my side, saving his worthless old elder brother's life, who'd 
have died, and gladly, to save him. Then I loved the rascal's 
father; loved him as if he'd been my own son — ay, and more, 
for he was my dead brother's son, and he got killed. And 
now, man alive, you'd have had me love this good-for-nothing 
boy ! And he's gone. Thank you ; I think I've had enough 
of loving." 

And then the stem voice broke, and the iron frame shook 
with suppressed emotion. 

The lonely, bereaved old man might be almost forgiven for 
thinking that a life begun without love was less to be pitied 
than one that was bereft, at its ending, of the rich treasures it 
had once possessed. 

Had the head-master been able to turn the famous war-worn 
warrior into a small boy now, he would have done it — not that 
he might chastise him, but that he might dare the more freely 
to try to comfort him. 

At the same time, the position of affairs was rather embar- 
rassing, for it was quite impossible that the head-master of 
Errington should sit all day in his library with the great-uncle 
of a runaway pupil They had been together for more than an 
hour now, and the old general showed no more signs of 
intending to take leave than he had done five minutes after his 
arrival ; and there really seemed nothing more to be said or 
done that could be of any profit 

" How was it," asked Sir Edward at last — " how was it that 
my nephew was so dependent upon my love ? Was the lad 
such a curmudgeonly young rascal that he could win no liking 
from his schoolfellows ?" 

"Nothing of the sort," said Dr. Brown quickly. "Of 
course, as he was one of the younger boys, I had very little to 



"/ want my heir^ sir'^ 8i 

do with him myself; but I never met him without looking with 
pleasure at his frank face and honest brown eyes. And he was 
a general favourite amongst his companions. It was the long, 
dreary holidays to which your orders condemned him that made 
him think over and understand the dreary desolateness of his 
life. Dozens of his schoolmates would have gladly taken him 
with them when they went home for their holidays, but your 
orders were strict that he was to accept no invitations. And 
I find that he was peculiarly unfortunate in the silent, reserved 
character of the master in whose house he spent his last 
Christmas holidays." 

That admission was somewhat unwise on Dr. Brown's part 
His listener snapped at it as eagerly as a cat might do at an 
unwary mouse. He sat up again, and his grey eyes glittered as 
he exclaimed imperiously — 

'' And pray, sir, whose fault was it that he was condemned to 
spend his holidays with a brute? Perhaps you'll say that 
that was my fault, sir? I deny it, sir, I deny it. I affirm 
that it was the fault of somebody else, not a hundred 
miles from me. So there, sir ! Now what do you say to that, 
sir?" 

"That you are a disgracefully impertinent old man, and 
that I desire you to leave me instantly," Dr. Brown was half, 
no, a quarter tempted to say ; but he did not say it. He was 
beginning to understand the heart of the way-worn old man 
better than he did when the General first entered his room. 
He understood it still better when the old man rocked 
himself slowly backwards and forwards, and murmured in tender 
tones of pity — 

" Poor boy, poor boy ! Four weeks shut up with a brute ! 
My Edward's son shut up with a brute !" 

" Not a brute. General — anything but a brute," Dr. Brown 
ventured at last to remonstrate on behalf of his maligned 
master. "Mr. Smith is certainly not a brute— rather lax, 

F 



82 Edward Bertram. 

perhaps, if anything, in discipline. Only not given to laughter 
or conversation. No care for boys' amusements." 

" Then he is a brute, sir," growled Sir Edward — " a selfish 
brute. So what do you say to that, sir ? Bless my heart alive, 
are boys to have no pleasure in their young days, but to be 
snarled and frowned into young prigs ? His next holidays my 
heir shall spend at Bertram Hall." 

And with that very positively spoken, but at the same time 
most doubtful announcement, the Duke of Wellington's well- 
known friend and comrade rose to take his leave. Dr. Brown 
rose also, but before he had moved a step from his writing- 
table there came a sharp knock on the panel of the door. 

The knock was followed by the almost immediate entrance 
of the visitor, before the Doctor had fairly had time to finish 
his words, " Come in." 

He started when he recognised the identity of his new guest, 
as well he might, and exclaimed in a tone of slightly indignant 
astonishment — 

"Robinson!" 

At the utterance of that name the General started also, and 
strode forward towards the young man who had just entered 
the room, and with his wrinkled face growing purple with fury, 
he dung his right hand out towards him as he exclaimed — 

" Young man, if you are the villain whose acts helped to 
drive my heir to desperation, I can tell you that your 
opportune arrival here has saved me a journey down to your 
home. I can say what I had to say without waste of time. 
You have destroyed my hopes, young man; and my object 
in life, for the future, shall be to destroy yours. I will dog 
you, watch your course, and when you think to grasp the 
coveted crown of your struggles, I will contrive, somehow, to 
be always ready to dash it down. You have robbed me of my 
heir ; I will rob you of the success you crave, the triumphs you 
expect to obtain." 



"/ want my heir, sir^ 83 

Then the baxonet strode on past Robinson, out of the room 
and down the stairs, leaving his hearers electrified with the 
vindictiveness of his speech — a speech made still more bitter 
by the relentless fierceness of the tone in which it was uttered. 

Robinson's pale face turned a shade paler, and, the instinct 
of party feeling rising up in his master's breast, the Doctor felt 
drawn to take part with his pupil against his vengeful enemy. 
While the two struggled to regain composure, the wealthy and 
influential Sir Edward Bertram was suffered to depart unat- 
tended, and make his way across the school-yard and towards 
the outQr gates alone. 

'' Hullo ! who's that ?" asked a boy, standing amidst a knot 
of companions at the edge of the cricket field. 

*' Oh ! a bigwig of some sort," said another, looking admir- 
ingly at the fine, upright figure, and stern, commanding face. 

'* I know who he is," exclaimed a third boy ; " at least I 
know half, for I asked the man-servant who came with him, 
and he stared at me because I didn't know, as if he thought 
I'd just come from the Cannibal Islands." 

'* Well there, cut all that, look sharp. Who did he say he 
was ?" 

" Why, he said, ' Bless you, young gentleman ! don't you 
know as my master's Sir Edward, him as was so great at 
Waterloo before you were born?' But he didn't say what 
name came after the Edward." 

"Never mind," cried the first boy. "You are sure, Ben, 
that he said ' Sir Edward' ? " 

Yes, Ben was quite sure of that. And being convinced on 
that point, the questioner sprang over the railings, and flew 
after the retreating " bigwig," slipping adroitly in front of him, 
cricket-cap in hand, just before he reached the gates. 

The General stopped short, as, indeed, he was bound to do, 
if he did not intend to try to walk over the tolerably tall and 
broad obstruction in his path. 



84 Edward Bertram. 

" Do you want anything, boy ?" 

'' Yes, please, Sir Edward," as glibly as if he had known Sir 
Edward's first name, and second name too, any time the past 
thirteen years, and been tipped by him with praiseworthy 
regularity. ^'Yes, please, Sir Edward. You know it's the 
custom for all visitors here, whoVe done anything fine, to get 
us a holiday; so perhaps you'll do the same, please. The 
battle of Waterloo was a good many years ago, but that doesn't 
matter, sir, a bit — ^at least it won't if you tell the head-master 
that it needn't" 

A grim smile spread over the soldier's stern countenance, as 
he looked down at the merry, mischievous face before him. 
Then his eyes grew dim as he asked — 

" Did you know my heir, my nephew, Ned Bertram, my boy? 
Did you like him ? " 

The fun and impudence died out of the blue eyes, and their 
owner moved aside as he stammered, "Yes, sir, . yes— every- 
body liked — liked Ned but you — ^and — thank — ^you, sir — ^but 
we don't want the holiday." 

And then the boy rushed away — not back to the companions 
who had been admiringly watching his " plucky proceedings," 
but first to the solitude of one of the class-rooms, to get rid of- 
the suddenly-recalled sorrow for his lost schoolfellow. And 
then he flew to his favourite monitor, Fred Nicholson, to tell 
him of the meeting with poor, jolly old Ned Bertram's horrid 
old tyrant of an uncle. 

*' And I wouldn't have had a holiday, not of his giving, 
wretched old Blue Beard!" exclaimed the boy impetuously; 
" not if the school term was to last all the rest of the year." 

" Perhaps he never understood how dull Bertram must find 
having no letters or messages, and no home to go to in the 
holidays," said Nicholson quietly. 

He had watched the scene between the boy and the General 
from his window, and^ although he had heard none of their con- 



^* I want my heir ^ sir. ^^ 85 

versation, he had been struck with the way in which the old 
man's stately head had drooped when the boy hastened away 
from his side ; and he began to think, now that he heard who 
he was, that the whole weary air of dejection, betrayed by man- 
ner and figure, was that of a man who had lost a possession 
which he would have been glad to keep. 

If such were the case, Nicholson, for his part, felt that he 
must forgive him, and even pity him, for not having sooner dis- 
covered the value of his treasure. 

That evening Sir Edward Bertram's be-plushed and be-pow- 
dered man-servant came up to the college again, with a message 
to the head-master. 

"If you please. Sir Edward's respects to Dr. Brown, and if 
Dr. Brown could only suggest anything more to be done 
towards finding Sir Edward's heir, Sir Edward would be deeply 
grateful." 

" Dr. Brown's respects back, and he would try to think of 
something." 

And then Dr. Brown leant his head in his hands with a 
weary sigh, for he thought he knew that the luckless young heir 
was dead. He little dreamt, however, in what a strange and 
startling way his fears were likely to prove to have been 
realised. 

The next day the owner of Bertram Hall posted back to the 
estate that he had been making so beautiful for the runaway 
who had hoped to find the wide world more home-like than his 
home. 

"What shall we be doing about the improvements now. 
General ? " asked Jarvis, the steward. 

" Go on with them. My heir will be sick of the sea in a 
year's time, and then we'll have him here — and — and — well — 
if he proves too great a nuisance to me, I shall turn him over 
to you, Jarvis, and a tutor ; and if you and he and the tutor, 
with the aid of guns, dogs, books, and horses, cannot manage 



86 Edward Bertram. 

to make yourselves happy — ^well, you'll be a set of sticks, who 
had better be miserable." 

It was all very well for Sir Edward to talk like this, and to 
decide upon what he would choose to have done twelve months 
hence. Unfortunately for him, his nephew was not a chicken 
with a string tied round its leg, whereof one end was in his 
great-uncle's hand. 



CHAPTER X. 

HUMBLE PIE EATEN TOO PROUDLY, 

WE must return for a few minutes to Dr. Brown's library, 
from which we hurried, somewhat unceremoniously, after 
Sir Edward Bertram, leaving the head-master and his former 
pupil standing opposite each other, and both equally pale, 
although agitated by the different feelings of sorrow, fear, and 
anger. 

" I cannot forbear saying, Robinson, that I am grieved you 
should have had those harsh, meaningless threats hurled at you 
after this fashion." 

** And by the uncle, of all people," said the young man, with 

mingled scorn^ and passion, " I wonder whether old 

whether Sir Edward Bertram knows to whom the boy himself 
gave the larger share of the blame for his sentimental miseries 
and puling " 

" Hold !" shouted Dr. Brown, and he brought his hand down 
with a sudden thud upon the book lying on his table nearest 
to him. " Be silent, sir. You have presumed too far upon 
my momentary compassion for you. You deserve none. I 
doubt if you are even conscious of needing it A youth so 
callous-hearted that he can descend to libelling a dead com- 
panion is beneath compassion. He deserves little more than 
the loathing pity we may bestow upon a half-crushed viper," 



SS Edward Bertram. 

The fine intellectual face of the head-master glowed with 
righteous indignation, and even Robinson's dull conscience was 
stung by his words so far as to lead him to enter a protest 
against the positive way in which the Doctor had spoken of his 
former schoolfellow's death." 

" You blame me, sir, for my words. I don't know whether 
you think it fair to pile up what you consider my crime by 
affirming for a fact what is only a supposition of your own, 
founded on not one tittle of evidence. If I believed Bertram 
dead, as you do, I might speak of him differently. At the 
same time, I have asked for neither pity nor compassion. I 
have come here to-day to claim bare justice." 

" What is it you want of me ? In what manner am I to 
show you justice ?" 

"The tales of my last morning here and of my sudden 
departure have spread abroad by some means, and the particu- 
lars have got so shamefully exaggerated and distorted that I 
am likely to suffer great injury. My tutor says that he has 
heard from Oxford that the gross falsehoods detailed to my dis- 
advantage may even prejudice my admission to my college." 

" I am very sorry," said Dr. Brown gravely. 

" I trust," replied Robinson hotly, " that you will see fit, sir, 
to be more than sorry. I have come to demand " 

A strange, firm, set look came over the Doctor's face, and 
Robinson stopped short with a sort of gasp, and his sudden 
imperiousness of manner dwindled and dwindled till it faded 
all away and died. 

There was a long pause. The Doctor's over-indulged Persian 
cat jumped up on the table, and laid itself down comfortably 
on the top of its master's papers, and the Doctor stroked its ears 
absently. 

Robinson's hatred of young Bertram, or of his memory, grew 
fiercer than ever, but nothing of that sentiment appeared in his 
voice when he next spoke. His words and their tone betrayed 



Humble pie eaten too proudly. 89 

nothing but the most intense anxiety when he again ventured 
to break the silence. 

" Sir, do you mean — can you mean to refuse to clear me of 
these false charges ? Your refusal, sir, blights all the prospects 
of my life." 

"Of what refusal are you speaking?" asked the master 
calmly, turning from his cat to look quietly at the agitated 
speaker. "I have given no refusal, for I have been asked 
nothing. I seldom, if ever, refuse requests — wheriy* he added 
significantly, '^ they are couched in such language that I can 
grant them with due regard to my own dignity." 

' Twenty minutes later. Dr. Brown was in possession of all the 
particulars of the queer, unt rue, and in some cases ridiculous 
stories about Robinson, that seemed to have been grown and 
spread by the air j and Robinson had the satisfaction of per- 
using the letter to the Vice-Principal of College, in which 

the Doctor denied all the false charges. 

When the Vice-Principal learnt the nature of the real charge 
against the new scholar, he dismissed it with an astonished 
laugh and a — 

" Pooh-pooh I The idea of making all this coil about noth- 
ing ! I'd stake the Bodleian upon it that the youngster merited 
a dozen worse floggings than he got And as for running away ! 
Well, if only all the bad boys would run away, there would be 
more plums left for the good ones." 

And so that was all the pity Sir Edward Bertram's lost heir 
got from the learned Vice-Principal of College. 

Just before Robinson left Dr. Brown's library, Lynx came 
snifling ia He had been on a lawless hunting expedition on 
his own account, and had only just returned in time to discover 
the presence of his old aversion on the premises. He had 
bounded up the stairs with the greatest eagerness, and entered 
the room with almost a chuckle of a growl, when he found that 
he was not too late to go through his tormenting exhibition. 



90 Edward Bertram. 

Alas for poor Lynx's laudable ambitioa I Dr. Brown de- 
tected his purpose, and, calling him to his side, made him lie 
down while Jefferjr Robinson made his escape from the 
threatened insult 

When the two met again, poor faithful old Lynx was almost 
too aged to enter his lengthy and public protest against sullen 
natures and bad temper, even had he wished. 



CHAPTER XI. 

A SWIMMING MATCH WITH A WHALE. 

MY boy, I am come to cany you up on deck; will you let 
me ? Dr. Clarke says that it will do you good.'' 

The speaker was Captain Fender, and the person he ad- 
dressed with a voice of such kind solicitude was a long, lanky, 
hollow-eyed young chap, with as few pretensions to good looks 
as one might expect to see in a day's march. And yet, if you 
could have seen how he was being gazed at by the captain, 
and Bill Anderson, and the first mate, the good Scotchman, 
Macgregor, you would really have supposed that they considered 
him the most glorious object that their eyes could rest 
upon. 

Well then, to tell the truth — perhaps they did. And you 
need not quarrel with them very greatly for their bad taste 
either; for whenever you suffer a blow to save a smaller boy 
from getting it, you think yourself something of a hero, and 
Ned Bertram had put himself in danger of death, and nearly 
suffered it too, to save the lives of others. 

He did not appear to have much consciousness either that 
he had elevated himself into the ranks of the heroes. But 
then, certainly, he had only the day before recovered con- 
sciousness of anything, so that he had not as yet had much 
time to trouble his head about questions of moral philosophy 



9 J Edward Bertram. 

or metaphysics, or any other abstruse science that might teach 
him the precise thoughts and ways and deeds that go to the 
making up a hero. 

It is queer to hear people sometimes talking of heroes as if 
they were compositions, like mincemeat, to be made out of 
certain given ingredients, duly weighed and measured. The 
only absolutely quite necessary ingredients in the recipe are 
generally left out — 

" Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and 
with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and thou shalt love 
thy neighbour as thyself." 

However, to return to the small group collected in Edward 
Bertram's crib of a cabin — rather, we should say, around its 
door, for Edward Bertram in his hammock, and Captain 
Pender beside it, were as many human beings as it would 
contain. 

The chief mate, the doctor, and honest Bill Anderson had 
to content themselves with peering in upon him from the 
outside, while his two nurses during his illness, Mrs. Johnson and 
poor Mrs. Downing, mopped their eyes and giggled hysterically 
in the background. 

When the captain asked Ned if he might carry him up on 
deck, Ned's face flushed a little, partly with pleasure at the 
prospect of getting out of his close quarters, and partly at the 
suggestion that he should be carried. 

" I thank you, sir. It will be very jolly to get up on deck 
again ; but — but — I don't think I need trouble yoiL" 

" Trouble 1 my boy ; trouble ! Why, your weight now 
wouldn't outbalance that of a rope's end, I believe. Come 
along." 

But still Ned made no sign of " coming along " — that was 
of letting the captain lift him up ; and Bill grunted — 

" Fact is, cap'n, sir, I believe t' yoong gentleman thinks 
carryin' an' being a babby goos togither. Let un try to get up 



A Swimming Match with a Whale, 93 

» 
on deck hisself, sir. Joost let un have a try, that's all, as he 
be so mighty vain o' his strength." 

"Oh! that's it, is it?" exclaimed the captain. "By all 
manner of means make the attempt for yourself. Only don't 
blame us if you tumble down and get hurt" 

"No, of course not," said Ned eagerly, as he began to 
raise himself in the hammock. '' But I'm sure I can manage 
it" 

"Oh I o' coorse," muttered the sailor; "an' puffin' an' 
bio win' like a grampus a'ready." 

The next moment there was a pitiful cry from Ned, and 
from the captain a half-laughing, half-angry — 

"There, you obstinate fellow 1 If I hadn't been on the 
look-out to catch you, knowing what would happen, you would 
have been really done-for this time." 

And then, having got the helpless invalid in his arms, with- 
out further ado Captain Pender marched off with him, and 
soon had him comfortably ensconced in a quiet, sunny corner 
on deck, for there was a fresh breeze blowing, and the sun was 
not unwelcome. It must be remembered that this sailing vessel, 
the Good Bess, was rapidly making way towards winter, not 
summer, and the end of May was the end of autumn with her 
then rather than the end of spring. But whatever the season 
might choose to call itself, or to be called, was a matter of the 
most perfect indifference to Ned as he lay rejoicing in the 
feeling of returning health. 

He found considerable satisfaction too in relieving his injured 
feelings by a mutter to Bill Anderson. 

" You know, Anderson, I don't care a bit about your laughr 
ing at me like that — not a bit. If the captain hadn't gone 
swathing me up like a mummy in this gigantic North Pole sort 
of a dressing-gown thing, I could have got out of my hammock 
and up on deck as well as you could have done." 

" Ay, ay, to be sure, sir, as well as I could have done, if 



* 

94 Edward Bertram. 

I'd been ill o' brain fever for three weeks an' more. O' coorse 
yer could, sir ; o* coorse yer could." 

" Oh ! well, Bill, if you are going on like that, I shan't argue 
with you," said Ned, and he turned over on his improvised 
couch with a contented sigh, and fell asleep. 

When he awoke, there was a great commotion going on on 
deck. 

"What's up?" he exclaimed eagerly. 

But everyone was too excited to answer him. Some were 
rushing one way, some another. The faces of some were 
lighted up with expressions of the greatest glee, the faces of 
others betokened apprehension and alarm. 

" What's up ?" he called again ; but equally in vain. 

Then he tried to rise, but the effort was too much for him, 
and made him feel faint. He was obliged to sink back again, 
and try to make out the mystery by using his eyes. 

At a short distance from the ship, rising and falling on the 
waves, he could see a boat. Near it, half in, half out of the 
water, was a great dark object, looking like another boat 
turned upside down. Was it possible that there had been a 
great accident while he was asleep ? 

Ned's interest and curiosity grew intense, and he was the 
more puzzled, inasmuch as the boat, which was right side upper- 
most and filled with sailors, appeared so uncertain in its move- 
ments, now making a sudden dash forward towards the other, and 
then, when it had managed to get tolerably close, pulling away 
from it again as though it were some fatal whirlpool. 

Ned's head was beginning to throb painfully with bewilder- 
ment, when Jack, the ghost believer, came by. 

" Jack ! I say. Jack ! stop a moment, there's a good fellow, 
do." 

" Ay, ay, sir. Glad to see you looking finely again, sir." 

" Thanks, Jack. But tell me, what's everybody looking at ? 
What's that boat out there for?" 



A Swimming Match with a Whale. 95 



Jack frowned and shuddered, and turned pale, 

<< That boat out there, Mr. Bertram, is engaged in a impious 
work. The men are tryin' to ketch the whale sent by the 
Lord to swaller up our Jonah down below." 

Ned stared, as well he might And what amount of truth 
he would have gleaned in time out of this astounding piece of 
information it is impossible to say, for at that moment Bill 
Anderson came bustling up, his whole face aglow with 
eagerness and gratification, and with hardly breath enough to 
speak, 

"Heart alive, Mr. Bertram," he exclaimed; and then he 
had to stop to breathe before he could go on. '* Heart alive, 
but if you ain't in luck to be able to come on deck this 
identical day. We've a sight to show you now, as I'll be bound 
they ain't never showed ye at your schools, an' yer cricket 
fields, an' yer footballings." 

" Very likely. Bill But what is it ? Is it really a whale ? " 

" Well, now, ain't I coom a purpose to take ye to see for 
yerself. Only, mebbe," with a slight grin, ** ye'll be being too 
proud to be carried by me where ye can see the sight?" 

" Nonsense, Anderson, don't tease." 

Ah ! there was a shout. 

" Oh, do make haste, all the fun will be over." 

" Hey ! Misther Berthram, sir, an' is it fun ye call it," cried a 
poor Irishwoman. " An' it's Biddy, meself, that am thinking 
the monsther'U be after heaving the ship of us over, the on- 
mannerly baste." 

" If it doesna ha' the ship over, it'll ha' th' boat over, if 
yon lubbers dinna look out," growled Bill, as he laid down 
Bertram in a position from which he could very well see the 
whole of the sport 

A huge creature was the whale that had been unwise enough 
to come to close quarters with the Good Bess, A splendid 
creature one or two of the passengers were calling it 



96 Edward Bertram. 

But with that verdict Ned could not agree, unless si^e alone 
rendered it worthy of the praise. It certainly could not boast 
of any beauty of outward appearance, for it was so completely 
hung round and covered over with masses of seaweed and 
barnacles, that it resembled nothing so much as a gigantic log 
of timber put to soak in the water. 

As the monster rolled slowly and heavily in the green ocean, 
and once came with a great, lurching shock up against the 
ship, most of the women emigrants shrieked, and some of the 
sterner sex looked as though they would not be sorry if it 
were dead or departed. 

Now was the time, thought one of these exiles, to distin- 
guish himself. He had left his home in his native village with 
the full intention of distinguishing himself, and here was the 
very opportunity for doing it. 

He had never, as yet, been very clear in his own mind as to 
how he would set about making himself famous. But here was 
the very thing to his hand. There was a whale to be killed, 
and he would kill it, and be famous. 

That was a nice little programme, very nice, but, unfortun- 
ately, drawing up a programme is not always dancing it Our 
young friend, however, proceeded to dance through his in 
fine style, but not quite to the tune he expected. 

On leaving his country home, Tony Lumpkin bought a rusty 
old musket, that had done good service in the wars thirty years 
ago. He had never fired off anything in his life, as yet. But 
he said he must be provided with firearms to shoot the lions 
and tigers, and other such companions, in the country he was 
going to. 

Some one suggested that he had heard lions and tigers did 
not abound in Australia. But who was going to pay heed to 
what he said ! He was a poor-spirited creature, who had never 
dreamt of making up his mind to be distinguished. Tony 
Lumpkin knew better than to pay heed to what he had heard« 



A Swimming Match with a Whale. 97 

And so he bought his musket, and paid for it, and for some 
balls and powder too, and stored his delightful new possessions 
carefully away in his travelling trunk for future use. And, lo 
and behold ! that future had arrived. 

To shoot a whale at sea would be at least as glorious an 
achievement as shooting a lion on land. And — a considera- 
tion not to be lost sight of, even when one did wish to be 
distinguished — perhaps, of the two enterprises, it looked as if 
it might be a trifle the safer. 

Accordingly, while the boatful of sailors was lowered into the 
water, Tony Lumpkin, or country bumpkin, whichever you 
please to call him, unearthed his treasures. He crammed 
down the poor, ill-used old musket three charges of powder 
and three balls. 

*' I'll do for the big beast," chuckled Mr. Tony. '< 111 do for 
him, see if I don't, sure as eggs is eggs. No use a doin' things 
skimpily when it's a question of a ten-yard-long brute like this'n 
yonder. It'll take the whole hog to make him into sausages, 
sure as my name's Lumpkin." 

And so, by way of giving the whale the benefit of the 
"whole hog," on the top of the three charges of powder and 
the three balls Mr. Tony Lumpkin generously sprinkled 
down a pinch or two more powder, as he had seen his 
mother, now and again, put a handful more currants into 
the batch of Christmas puddings. Then he marched up on 
deck. 

A suspicion that the captain, and the mates, and the sailors 
might envy him his approaching triumph, and jealously try to 
prevent his obtaining it, made him carefully conceal his truly 
formidable weapon inside his coat until he gained a favourable 
position and opportunity for its discharge. 

Anderson had just placed Edward Bertram comfortably, 
and the excitement of a series of more spirited move- 
ments on the part of the whale had brought everyone 



98 Edward Bertram. 

around the lad, when there was a sudden rush and triumphant 
shout 

Tony Lumpkin was to the fore. With one exulting wave of 
the rusty musket, and an exulting cry — " Look out, all of ye, 
m do for him ! " he put the weapon to his shoulder, put his 
finger to the trigger, and fired. 

" Stop !" " Stop, you fool ! " " Stop him ! " shouted three 
voices simultaneously. 

Too late. The shouts of *'Stop him I" were succeeded, 
with scarcely a moment's pause, by a yell, a sharp cry, and a 
perfectly deafening torrent of shrieks. 

The yell was uttered by Tony Lumpkin himself who fell to 
the ground with a hand nearly shattered to bits. The badly- 
treated, worthy old musket had revenged itself for ill-usage in 
its old age by bursting, as might have been expected. If mag- 
nificent hunters could die before they come down to drawing 
hansom cabs, no doubt they would do so, just as lobsters 
prefer to give up a claw to demeaning themselves to ask for 
liberty of an adversary. 

But the musket would have behaved more fairly had it con- 
fined its revenge to its ignorant owner, instead of dealing pain, 
and danger, and confusion all around it, amongst those who 
were innocent even of the knowledge of its existence. 

The yell, as has been said, was uttered by the unfortunate 
Tony himself. The sharp cry was extorted from a gentleman 
who was struck just over the region of the heart by a piece of 
the lock. He must have been killed on the spot, had he not 
been fortunate enough to have a half-crown in his waistcoat 
pocket, which stopped the course of the missile. Money is of 
some use, evidently, even where there are no shops. Mind 
you, always keep a half-crown in your waistcoat pocket ; you 
are sure to be glad of it some day. Tell your relations, you 
know, how valuable it may prove to you. And when one 
melts away, you had better try to get another 1 



A Swimming Match with a Whale. 99 

If you want to know who uttered the perfectly deafening 
torrent of shrieks, the fact is, '' Want must be your master/' 
unless you would like the passengers' lists and the crew list 
copied out for you. For very little less than that would 
answer your question. Everybody shrieked who had a shriek 
in him (or her). And good reason, too. 

Whales cannot stand fire. They have not been brought up 
to that sort of thing, and don't know what to make of it, any 
more than cows used to do of railway trains. Now-a-days cows 
are accustomed to trains, and don't mind them a bit ; and no 
doubt, if plenty of people amused themselves with bursting guns 
^ver whales, whales would get accustomed to the sound, and 
not mind it a bit. Hitherto, however, the experiment has not 
been tried, and certainly it had not been in 1837, when not 
even telephones and phonographs had been thought of. Ac- 
cordingly, when that poor, stupid Tony Lumpkin made all 
that horrible uproar with his musket at the most inopportune 
moment he could have chosen, the whale was startled out of 
its seven senses. It gave a great lunge forward, and a bound, 
and flung up its tail into the air. And up into the air with its 
tail went the boat, and the ten men in it ; the men and the tail 
and the boat all coming down again together with a most 
tremendous, simultaneous flop! Now, do you wonder that 
some screams were heard ? 

Happily, all the men could swim, and the wind had fallen 
to a dead calm before the captain let his men amuse them- 
selves with an hour's whale-fishing. But although things were 
so far in their favour, matters were more than serious enough. 
Swimming in company with an agitated whale might be more 
than either Captain Webb or Captain Boyton would care for as 
an amusement. Some of the men dodged the leviathan, caught 
the ropes thrown out, and got on board ; one man scrambled 
on to the upturned boat But two or three of the men began 
to look exhausted. 



loo Edward Bertram. 

Another champion appeared upon the scene. It was no 
Tony Lumpkin this time, not even a first cousin of that race, 
but a grandee of a passenger travelling for amusement's sake. 
He had been asleep in his own sumptuous private cabin during 
the first part of the excitement, and only came out just in time 
to see the final catastrophe produced by his ambitious country- 
man. 

He looked on a few moments at the swimming men, and at 
the spouting, snorting, floundering monster, and then hastened 
back to his cabin. It was the work of a minute to get out his 
revolver, return to the ship's side, and lodge the first bullet in 
the whale's back. 

Alas ! except to make it more stormy in its movements, the 
bullet might as well have been a sugar-plum, for all the effect 
it seemed to have. 

"Ah! Mr. Murray, sir, help us!" cried one of the poor 
fellows in the water, who had swum from side to side of the 
ship a dozen times, only to find the whale each time there 
before him, 

" I will, my man, I will," he shouted back, adding, in a lower 
tone, a fervent " please God." And throwing one of his pistols 
to a sailor clinging to the boat, who cleverly caught it, the man 
took a steady aim and fired. 

There was a great plunge. A second report. A faint flap 
of the tail, a roll over, and the whale was dead. The men and 
the boat were rescued, the wounded Tony Lumpkin was carried 
off" to the doctor's quarters, and Dr. Clarke gave orders, before 
going to attend to his new patient — 

" Anderson, carry that boy down, and put him back in his 
hammock directly. He'd no business to have all this excite- 
ment the first day of coming on deck." 

So Ned Bertram was forthwith conveyed below, and saw no 
more sights that night. He had his supper given to him, and 
was ordered to go to sleep. 



A Swimming Match with a Whale. lot 

" But what is going to be done with the whal^ Anderson ?* 
"Go to sleep." 

And then the cabin door was shut, so it was no good Ned 
grumbling out — 

"You surly, old, ill-natured bear !" 

There was no one to heed or reply to the grunt. 



CHAPTER XII. 
"wherb's storton?" 

WHEN Captain Pender made his appearance, the day after 
the whale adventure, in Ned's cabin, tie met no repulse 
of his kind offer to carry him on deck again. Having arranged 
the boy and his vraps, with fatherly solicitude, he seated 
himself beside him for a few minutes' conversation. 

" Bertram, I fear that it is scarcely right to recall terrible 
memories to you, but remember, if for the future I do not 
allude to them, it will not be because I have forgotten, or can 
ever forget, the patient, splendid nobility of your late conduct 
Nothing, I confess, but the awful proof, gained through your 
steady determination, of that Storton's villainy would have ever 
induced me to believe in its depth, or to take sufficient pre- 
cautions against it 

Ned had turned very white, and shivered. 

"There, my boy, we will talk of something pleasanter; I 
shall have that tyrant, Dr. Clarke, declaring that it is necessary 
for my health that I should lose a double tooth, by way of 
punishing me for throwing his patient back." 

Ned smiled. No one on board would have dared to make 
that joke about the captain but the captain himself. 

Captain Pender would have walked up to the muzzle of a 
gun about to be fired as coolly as he would have walked into a 



" Where's Storton V 103 

dining-room, had duty appeared to dictate such a step ; but 
when it came to a question of having a tooth drawn — if the 
truth must be confessed — Captain Pender was an awful coward. 
He excused himself to himself by saying, '* I can't help it." 
He excused himself to other people, after a fashion, by 
frightening them out of daring to allude to the undignified 
characteristic 

His allusion to tooth-drawing, by way of changing the con- 
versation, was one of the greatest proofs that he could have 
given Bertram of his fatherly care for him. Unfortunately, his 
magnanimity was wasted, for Ned harked back to the former 
topic himself. After he felt his own hands drag down the straw 
matches, and Storton's hand fasten on his throat, he knew 
nothing more until, two days ago, he had opened his eyes 
wearily in his narrow slip of a cabin, and seen Mrs. Downing 
holding a cup, with a camphorish smell about it, to his lips. 
And he wanted to know more. 

There was a short pause, however, after Captain Pender's 
mention of the doctor. Neither of the companions appeared 
to be very ready with that " something pleasanter " to talk of. 
Ned looked out at the sea, and tried to collect his thoughts. 
And the captain looked at Ned, and puzzled his brains, as he 
bad often done before, as to what sort of a horrible old wretch 
the great-uncle must be, who had shown himself so indifferent 
to such a first-rate young nephew. For, of course, Bertram 
had long ago been called upon for his autobiography. 

At last Ned thought of one very palpable question to ask — 

" How was I saved, sir ? " 

<'Mr. Macgregor and Bill Anderson were on the search 
for you." 

An inward thanksgiving rose up in Ned's heart Since 
he found the ship safe, and all on it, he was not at all sorry to 
find himself safe too. 

"And how about — ^about — Storton — sir; where is he?" 



I04 Edward Bertram. 

"Where he was before." 

"No! never!'' exclaimed Ned, starting up with the false 
strength given him by surprise and apprehension. 

Captam Pender pulled him back again and pushed him 
down. 

" Don't go flying ofif on a wrong tack in that fashion, you 
impatient fellow. You're as bad as a woman. Although 
Storton is in the same place as before, neither the spirits of 
wine nor the gunpowder are in the same places they occupied 
before. They are now pretty nearly as far removed from 
him as the space of the ship will permit Does that satisfy 
you ? " 

"Yes," answered Ned simply, but his face gave a far more 
emphatic assent than his tongue thought needful 

" For your further re-assurance," continued his friend, " I 
may as well tell you that Storton is so secured now, that, with 
all his clever power to distend and contract his muscles, not 
even his ingenuity can set him free." 

"I hope not," murmured Ned. He was impressed with 
a tremendous idea of the forger's powers. " What are you 
going to do with him when we reach Sydney, sir?" 

Captain Pender's face looked very grim. " Get him hung, I 
hope." 

Ned shuddered, and the captain thought, regretfully, that it 
was owing to his thoughtlessness in reminding him of the pain- 
ful episode of his own first rough welcoming on board. He 
tried to rally him. 

" How could you be so foolish, Bertram, by-the-bye, as to 
believe my joking threat, that day you were fished out of the 
hold, that I would \\zxi%you f" 

Ned's thoughts had, in reality, travelled so far fi-om himself, 
that he did not at once remember to what his companion 
alluded ; but when he did, he answered readily enough-^ 

" I don't see how I was to help believing you. The way you 



" Where's Storton ?" 105 

put the matter seemed so just and plain. If I lived I should 
have to have food, and I hadn't got any money to pay for it 
And you'd no call to feed me for nothing, so you settled 
to hang me." 

Captain Pender burst out into a loud, long fit of laughter at 
the calm simplicity of Ned's way of stating the matter. It 
certainly had an air of plain reasonableness about it that might 
recommend it to the meanest capacity. 

** Really, my boy, we shall have to make you a lawyer 
instead of a sailor, you know, if you argue like this. I had no 
idea that you had such a knack of hitting the nail on the head. 
But I'm afraid that the world would look a bit queerish, and get 
rather empty, if everyone was hung who was found where he was 
not wanted. Fray, though, what are you looking so grave 
about?" 

'' It's a horrible thought that that Storton is all alone down 
in that black hole, to wait weeks, and weeks, and weeks — ah ! 
how terrible ! — only to be hung at last ! " 

** Well, my boy, I should not think that you need waste much 
pity on him, for he tried his best to do for you. That's one of 
the things that will help to get him hung." 

" Poor wretch ! " murmured Ned again. " Is there no hope 
for him, sir?" 

'' I fervently trust not, unless we are in danger of shipwreck, 
and then he shall have his chance of swimming for his life with 
the rest of us." 



^ffi^ 



CHAPTER XIII. 

CAST OUT. 

JUST to give an idea of the course of Edward Bertram's 
voyage to Australia in 1837, it may be as well to mention 
shortly that the Good Bess left England on the 23rd of March. 

On the 27th of May, when the whale adventure took place, 
the two islands of Trinidad and Martin Vas were in sight, 
about 600 miles off the coast of South America ; and on the 
ist of June Ned got his first clear view of the constellation 
of the Southern Cross. 

On the 1 2th of June, after having experienced considerable 
difficulty from contrary winds, and squally, wintry weather, 
they rounded the Cape of Good Hope, that undiscovered goal 
of the hopes of the earnest-hearted Portuguese, Prince Henr)% 
in the 15th century; and now, when the present chapter 
opens, on the 28th of July, the Good Bess is still beating about 
in the Indian Ocean, many and many a long hundred miles 
from its destination. 

Provisions are growing scarce. Captain Pender's face is 
growing very long, and the emigrants have become too 
depressed, anxious, and weary to grumble any more. 

That terrible 28th of July wore on. No sign appeared of a 
change for the better in the wind. 

It was Ned's fifteenth birthday. He had grown much taller 



Cast Out 107 

and stronger since his illness than he was before, and was now 
a stalwart, manly-looking youth, whom not even his former 
monitor, Robinson, would have thought of flogging. 

But Ned had almost forgotten Errington and his school- 
fellows, as he sat for nearly an hour watching the sea, which 
had been gradually settling into a sullen calm since the 
morning. 

The sailor Bill came up and stood beside him. 

^' Anderson, when do you think there is a chance of an 
alteration in this state of things?" 

" Before night, sir." 

" Hurrah !" exclaimed Ned— or rather he began the exclama- 
tion, but it died upon his lips before he had fairly uttered it, 
for a strange whistling wind swept suddenly across the ship at 
that moment, as though mocking him, and Bill's hand came 
heavily down upon his shoulder. 

'' Whist ye, then, young gentleman ! There's naught to call 
for hurrahing." 

" But you said — you said," began 'Ned, stammering, for his 
companion's gloomy tones had fairly daunted him — " you said 
the wind would change." 

" And so it will — ^so it has — ^but I did not say for the better." 

A second of those weird, wailing winds that in Ireland you 
hear called " the Banshee's Warning" swept swift and sharply 
overhead. 

For a moment the Good Bess was motionless. A terrible, 
waiting silence reigned on board. Then a strong quiver shook 
every timber of the vessel, as though it were a living thing, and 
shuddering from fear. 

Ned instinctively started up from his post and looked around 
him. The first thing that met his eyes was the face of Captain 
Pender, so white and set that it looked almost as though it 
were carved in stone^ except for the open mouth issuing rapid 
orders. 



io8 Edward Bertram. 

Some of the emigrant women were clutching their children 
to them; others of the passengers — ^men and women alike — 
were cowering together in huddled masses, awaiting in panic* 
stricken terror some calamity, they scarcely comprehended of 
what nature. 

A third of those horrible, unearthly shrieks, longer and 
stronger than its predecessors. The masts creaked and bent 
before it, and all useless hands were sent below. The sea, that 
had fallen to the dead-level of a lake, began to heave and surge. 
The scudding clouds seemed suddenly to settle and thicken. 
The whole sky was darkened. The very act of breathing 
became an effort 

Then the wind began to gather up — slowly at first, with a 
sort of murmur — a warning — such a warning as a lion's growl 
may be to an unarmed man. The sea rose higher and higher, 
green, crested-looking, lashing waves rising to the deluge pour* 
ing down from above. Then the storm broke in all its fury. 
Two men were lashed to the helm. 

The waves, as they towered up and rushed in torrents over 
the ship's sides, dashed the men hither and thither, leaving the 
vessel helpless, to be driven as the wind would. The thunder 
bellowed and roared, and the lightning revealed a red, lurid sky 
when it made a path of light for itself athwart the hail and rain 
and drift 

" Get below, my boy/' said Captain Pender, coming across 
Edward Bertram kneeling on the flooded deck, with his arms 
about a mast to save himself from being washed overboard* 
'' If we have to take to the boats, I will see that you have timely 
notice." 

** Then are we in danger, sir?" 

" Yes." 

** You said Storton would be set free if we were." 

'' Thinking of him now 1 Well, if Anderson chooses to bring 
him on deck, he can." 



Cast Out. X09 



Then the captain went on, and Ned, leaving the mast, and 
clinging first to one thing and then another, made his way 
below, found the key of Storton's narrow dungeon, and per- 
suaded Anderson, who had just been relieved from his exhaust- 
ing duty at the helm, and come below for a few minutes' rest, 
to go with him to release the prisoner. 

" But we'll not give ye too much liberty, lest ye should tak* 
it into your head to give the winds and waves a helping hand 
to our hurt," said the sailor, as he detached the handcuffs from 
the mast instead of from Storton's wrists, and then he helped 
him up on deck, for his long confinement in irons had made 
his limbs almost useless to him. 

Just then there was a lull in the capricious wind, and Ned, in 
his ignorance, began to think that they had weathered the gale. 

" The storm has not done us much harm after all, Jack," he 
said triumphantly, as the tall sailor drew near him and his ill- 
conditioned companion. 

" Not yet," muttered Jack, as he stood staring with mingled 
fear and hatred at Storton. '* It has spared us as yet, sir ; but 
so long as yon ne'er-do-well is to be amongst us, we'll have to 
go to the bottom in his company." 

As though to prove the truth of his gloomy prognostications, 
his last words were lost in the renewed roaring of the wind. 
Again the waves dashed over the decks, and threatened to 
wash everything overboard. 

Each blast grew fiercer. From below, shrieks of agonised 
terror pierced even above the storm. Then a giant mast came 
crashing down, killing one of the sailors in its fall, and the 
scene of confusion on deck was at its height when a cry came, 
sharp and shrill — 

"Rocks ahead!" 

The warning was too late. In the awful tempest then raging 
it must have been useless, however, any way. Ropes creaking, 
masts crashing, the winds appearing to come from every point 



no Edward Bertram, 

of the compass at the same moment, the helm well-nigh useless^ 
the unfortunate vessel was driven helplessly where the waves 
took it, whenever one of those long gusts came upon it 

Another moment and there was a tremendous shock. This 
was the crowning stroke of calamity. Every one began to crowd 
up on deck, with faces that sufficiently betokened a compre- 
hension of the awfulness of the situation. 

Not an oath was heard, not a rash word, death was too near. 
With every dash of the waves the vessel rose, and then settled 
down more firmly upon the rocks, with that fatal vibration and 
crunching sound which foretold inevitable destruction. 

Soon the sheathing-boards from the bottom of the vessel 
began to float away. Efiforts were made to lighten her. Casks, 
oil-jars^ old iron, refuse stores of all kinds, were cast overboard, 
and then the scene of horror was completed by a terrible act of 
superstition. 

'^ It is useless to throw over anything more," exclaimed Cap- 
tain Pender at last. '* The tide is sinking, and the ship is lost, 
unless it can hold together for the next few hours or more. 
You are wasting your strength in vain/' 

'' Ay, in throwing overboard that lumber, captain," cried long 
Jack, suddenly starting forward to where Captain Fender, the 
chief mate, Ned, and the lately liberated prisoner were gathered 
together in a group. 

'*It's wasting o' strength to cast out they senseless goods 
an' chattels, but there's some'at else to cast out o' our midst 
Some'at," he continued, wildly flinging up his arms, '' that has 
brought all these evils upon our heads. An' if so be as we 
mun go, he shall go first" 

Thus saying, he suddenly stooped down over Storton, 
lifted him with all a madman's strength, dashed forward to the 
vessel's side before anyone could divine his purpose or 
hinder it, and the next instant a piercing shriek broke above 
the tumult of the storm — 



Cast Out, III 



"I am bound, you wretch J" 

Then there was a plunge into the oncoming wave, a shout 
of triumph from the poor madman, and a rush to the vessel's 
side of those who had witnessed the dreadful scene. 

A moment later, a second cry of horror and consternation 
burst forth simultaneously from several throats. Some one 
else had taken a fl3dng leap clear of the rocks, and plunged 
into the wild turmoil of the waters beside the white face of 
Storton, which had not yet had time to be battered out of 
human semblance. 

Those by the tossing vessel's side looked round upon 
each other. Who was it that had taken useless pity on 
the drowning man ? All were there still but the boy Edward 
Bertram. It was he who had offered up his young life for 
mercy's sake to the man who had tried to kill him. 
Captain Pender dropped his face into his hands with a groan. 
A bright, brave life flung away like that did appear too terrible. 
But these were not moments to spend in vain regret Another 
giant wave dashed against the maimed Good JBess^ and 
Macgregor muttered in a low tone — 

" Not much need to grieve over the lad, Pender, he's only 
forestalled his fate by an hour or so. No boats could live in 
this sea." 

"But the ship may!" shouted long Jack, as the wind with 
redoubled force gathered up the falling waves before it was too 
late, and, ere any one could say how it happened, the Good 
Bess was off the rocks and driving before the blast. 

The same waves that dashed up under the ship, raised 
it, and carried it back to the ocean with them, carried the 
bodies of Storton and Edward Bertram over some rocks 
at a short distance off, and washed them securely into an 
inland cleft, where they were saved from all further efforts of 
the tempest to dislodge them. 



CHAPTER XIV. 

PINBAFPLBS FOR DESSERT, BUT NO DINNER. 

'"(QJHAT in the world is the matter with my hammock?" 

TAT So grumbled a boy's voice, as the speaker tried to 
find an easy posiiioa for his head amongst some sharp-pointed 
rocks where it lay. 

" Ab, I am so glad !" exclaimed another voice. " Then you 
are not dead ? " 

" Dead ! no, I am not dead. Why should I be ? Oh t I 
remember now," cried Edward Bertram, raising himself with 
some difficulty into a sitting posture, and looking about him 
with surprise and anxiety. " I jumped over after that Storton ; 
not that there was much chance of saving him, but he'd got 
his arms fastened together, and I wouldn't throw a dog over 
like that." 

" Was he thrown over ? How dreadful." 

" Yes ; but I wonder who you are, and how you come to be 
here^" questioned Ned, staring with all his eyes at his 
companion, a girl with fair hair and blue eyes about the same 
age as himself. "Have I been washed up on to English rocks, 
with a bit of London growing on them ? " 

The girl laughed merrily, but there was some sadness in her 
voice as she answered — 

" No, indeed ; I wish you had, if I and my father were there 



Pineapples for dessert^ but no dinner. "3 

too. We were shipwrecked off here a fortnight ago, on our way 
to England, and no one was saved but my sister and I, and our 
father. We escaped on a raft, but all the others scrambled 
into the boats and got swamped." 

"Umph," said Ned, but he had not above half-heard her 
last words, for, in peering about to discover something of his 
present whereabouts, his eyes had lighted upon an object a 
yard or so further on in the grotto where he lay, and his interest 
in that object instantly grew very great. 

'^ Had you any one with chains on aboard your ship ? " 
he asked his companion after a moment's pause. 

'* I don't think so. I expect that poor fellow yonder must 
be the man you jumped over after. But it's no good troubling 
about him any more, for I am sure he's dead ; IVe looked at 
him ever so many times." 

" That's just like a girl," was the rather contemptuous answer. 
" You'd have gone away in another minute, I expect, declaring 
that I was dead, if these abominable craggy rocks hadn't hurt 
my head so that I was obliged to open my eyes to look at 
them. Perhaps Storton's been pitched into a more comfortable 
sleeping-place." 

So saying, Ned raised himself to his feet, with one or two 
groans extorted by the bruises with which he was pretty well 
covered from head to foot, and, stepping over on to a floor of 
shining white sand, in another moment he reached Storton's 
side, and at once exclaimed triumphantly — 

" There now, Miss Whaf s-your-name ! I'm right and you are 
wrong, for he is alive." 

And so Storton truly was. In fact, neither he nor Bertram 
had been long enough in the water to be drowned, and as they 
had mercifully been lifted over the rocks instead of being 
dashed to pieces against them, there was little matter for 
wonder, in reality, that neither of them had sufifered more than 
temporary unconsciousness. 

H 



114 Edward Bertram. 

Short, however, as the time had been between Storton's 
release from his small ship dungeon and the moment when Ned 
stood beside him in the grotto, a'marvellous change had passed 
over the man's nature. As he gazed up, helpless and hopeless, 
from the boiling ocean, he had seen Ned plunge into that 
furious sea after him, and an irresistible wave of gratitude had 
risen up in his heart and swept away his wickedness, as the 
waves of wholesome air often sweep away a pestilence. 

" Surely you cannot really be glad to see that I am alive?" 
he now asked, with dimmed eyes gazing up at the boy whom 
he had but a few weeks before treated so barbarously. 

'^ But indeed and I just am, then,'' was the hearty answer. 

" And you are not afraid of me any longer?" 

" Not a bit ; and to prove that, I'm going to get you out of 
these things without further delay." 

No sooner said than done. Ned pressed his finger on the 
spring locks of the handcuffs, and had them off in a moment, 
flinging them down with a shout of triumph, which Storton 
more gravely echoed as he found himself once more a free 
man. 

" So far so good," exclaimed Bertram. " Now the next thing 
is to see where the ship is." 

" You cannot do that," said the young lady, " for it got oflF 
the rocks just as you were thrown up here, and while I was 
running down to signal it to send us help. It's out of sight 



now." 



a 



Whew ! Well, the next thing, then, must be to learn where 
we are, and what we are going to do for food. Perhaps, Miss 
What's-your-name, you can tell us ?" 

" The first piece of information that I shall give you is, that 
my name is Rosa Bell, and not Miss What's-your-name." 

" And my name is Ned Bertram, at your service, and this 
gentleman is Mr. Storton, and we are both very hungry." 

" I am very sorry for that. I hoped you wouldn't be hungry 



Pineapples for dessert, but no dinner. 115 

till it got dark," said Rosa Bell gravely. " However, I suppose 
I must tiy to get you something to eat at once, if you very much 
wish it" 

"Why should we trouble you?" said Storton, coming for- 
ward. " Let us try for ourselves, and for you too, if you will." 

"Oh no!" she exclaimed in sudden alarm, and trying to 
block up the exit of the grotto with her slight figure. '^ You 
must not come out The only chance for all our lives is in 
your keeping free. We are not on a perfectly desert island, 
unfortunately. Josephine and I are left to go where we will, 
but our father is kept bound to a tree near the middle of the 
island ; and one of the women has made us understand by 
signs that, when all the fruit has been gathered up here, and the 
shells that are thrown up by the storms at this season, they 
shall cross over to another island, and take us girls with them, 
but kill our father and throw him into the sea. And if ^" 

" If they catch us," interrupted Ned, ** no doubt they will do 
the same by us." 

"Yes," began Rosa, but once more she was interrupted. 
This time it was by a low, soft whistle, like a bird's evening 
call to its mate. 

Miss Rosa ran quickly a few yards away from the grotto, 
and then answered the call with a similar one, when out from a 
miniature jimgle jumped a child four or five years younger than 
herself, and flew to meet her, leaping and wading across the 
belt of water that divided the reef from the island. 

" Rosie, Rosie," came the smothered exclamation, " if only 
we were men now instead of girls, I believe we could manage 
to get the island to ourselves, and set papa free." 

" Come here and explain what you mean," said Rosa, pulling 
the child eagerly forward into the grotto. 

Josephine retreated in alarm when she saw the strangers, but 
Storton came forward and put her long curls back from her face, 
as he said kindly — 



ii6 Edward Bertram. 

" We are friends — shipwrecked like you in a manner. Per- 
haps we have just got here in time to help you." 

" If you can manage to get the guns, you have," said the little 
girl, rapidly regaining confidence, especially as she saw that one 
of the new-comers was only a boy, and a very good-tempered- 
looking one besides. 

"Guns! What guns, and where are they?" asked Ned. 
" If we'd only got a couple of good rifles and powder and shot, 
we'd soon frighten away any number of poor niggers from their 
own possessions, I'll venture to declare." 

" Follow me, then," said Josephine, " and you shall have not 
only two, but three rifles, if only you have the courage to take 
them." 

So saying she advanced from the grotto, and Ned and 
Storton began to obey her leadership, when Rosa started 
forward and exclaimed, half-angrily, " Stop, stop ! Have you 
lost your wits, Pheenie? How in the world are two men 
to knock down twenty or thirty? And you know perfectly 
well that the natives won't give up the guns willingly." 

" Of course I know that as well as you do," said Pheenie, in 
an off'ended tone. " But there won't be much knocking down 
to do^ — most of them have knocked themselves down. They 
have been drinking that wine sort of stuff which they make out 
of the cocoanut milk ever since you went away from our hut, 
and now all but one or two of them are as tipsy as ever they 
can be. Some are fast asleep, and scarcely any of them can 
stand up." 

Rosa made no further opposition. If any successful effort 
were to be made for life and liberty, evidently the present was 
the time to make it. 

" But you must be silent — ever so silent," whispered little 
Pheenie, as she led her companions in and out wherever the 
weedy grass grew highest, or a palm trunk offered any screen. 

" I think," said Rosa, "that these islanders have dog's ears 



Pineapples for dessert^ but no dinner. 1 1 7 

^^-^^^—^ — 

and cat's eyes. They hear the wind before I know it has com- 
menced to blow, and they can see the tiniest white grub inside 
the bark of a tree ever so high up." 

" I wish / could see anything in the shape of food any- 
where," whispered hungry Ned. 

" So you can," said Rosa, with a low laugh. " There's 
some." 

" Possibly, for people in a balloon," muttered her companion 
disconsolately, as his gaze followed the direction of her finger 
to the crown of a stately cabbage-palm. 

" But really," he added, after a pause of a few moments 
under the tree, " I don't see that there is very much there, 
even if I could get up to the top of it" 

*' All the same, there is something, and a very good some- 
thing too, for I have tasted it," remarked Josephine, coming 
back to see why her followers were loitering. 

" Well then," continued Ned, still doubtfully, " all I can say 
is, it ought to be good to pay for the climb up to get it" 

" The natives did not trouble themselves to climb up for the 
one we helped to eat," whispered Rosa. " They just burnt a 
great fire round it till the trunk was nearly burnt through, and 
then moved a good way off and quietly waited for it to tumble 
down, when they cut out the bijg cabbage at the top at their 



ease." 



" And wasted all the rest of the tree?" 

" They did that because it was not a very good one ; but of 
another, as fine as this, they burnt out the middle a good way 
down, burnt off the two ends, and made a canoe." 

"Ah !" ejaculated Storton suddenly. "Of course. I have 
heard of that being done. And, Bertram, let us be sure to 
take care of my irons ; they may be made into first-rate tools, 
for want of others." 

Storton's conviction of the certain future usefulness of those 
irons grew so strong that he prevailed on his companions to 



ii8 Edward Bertram. 



let him return for them at once. And it was well he did 
so. 

As the little party approached the grotto, and were far 
enough, as they imagined, from all listeners or observers, 
Storton, who was foremost, stopped short, and exclaimed 
incautiously — 

" Ha ! What animals have you on the island ?" 

" None, except — 



» 



One of the exceptions stopped further information with a 
yell and a rush from the rocky cave, brandishing the irons in his 
dark hands. The startled Storton and the two girls sprang out 
of his pathway ; not so Ned, however. 

Remembering, almost from instinct, the common schoolboy 
trick, he made no attempt to seize or catch the slippery native, 
but he flung himself down before him. Over Ned, upon his 
nose, tumbled the darkie ; in an instant Ned was on the top of 
him, snatching at the precious tools of the future. 

The struggle was short and desperate, but decisive, and 
before the others could interfere, Ned jumped up with the 
prizes of victory in his hands, and his opponent's dusky feet 
were flying over the jagged, slippery, surf-beaten rocks as easily 
and securely as ours could do over a field of grass. 

Ned pushed back the tumbled locks from his forehead, and 
clapped himself on the back, with his favourite exclamation, 
" So far so good." 

" So far so bad," cried Rosa, wringing her hands, and great 
tears gathering in her eyes. " Oh, how could you let him go ? 
Just fancy keeping those stupid bits of iron instead of the man. 
Oh, how could you?" 

" Why, what do you mean?" asked Ned in rueful astonish- 
ment, dropping his despised trophies and rumpling up his hair. 
" I don't understand you. It was the irons we wanted, and not 
the nigger, wasn't it?" 

" Of course ; I know that," said Rosa impatiently. " Rut 



Pineapples for dessert^ but no dinner. 119 

don't you see, you dreadfully stupid boy, that you have let 
that native escape to go and wake up all the others, and bring 
them down upon you, and then all is lost'' 

" But, Rosie, look," said that sharp-witted little Pheenie ; 
'' he's keeping all along by the sea. He is not going inland, or 
at all in the direction of the village. If we are quick, perhaps 
we may reach the others before he will, and get the guns 
after all." 

" That's one for you. Miss Josephine," said Ned^ brightening 
up again ; " but do you think that perhaps he has got some 
more friends there upon the beach whom he is fetching down 
upon us ?" 

'* I hope not," answered the little girl, turning pale at the 
suggestion. 

Meantime, Rosa had flown a few yards along the rough 
beach, almost as swiftly as the native himself, and she now 
came leaping back from crag to crag, beckoning excitedly to 
the others. 

"What's up now?" asked Storton, as they all ran forward 
to meet her. 

" He's going off !" was the almost breathless reply. 

** Through this surf? Impossible !" exclaimed Storton. 

But, possible or impossible, it was true, and in another 
minute they saw the young boatman and his frail-looking bark 
making steady way through a raging surf that would have 
destroyed any product of more skilful and dainty workmanship. 

" Try to remember in which direction he goes," said Rosa, 
as they stopped to watch his wonderful progress till he cleared 
the shoals, " for if we have to leave this island, we had better 
choose another way." 

" Most decidedly, your ladyship. And now for the rifles. 
Lead on. Miss Pheenie, and if you come across a hot beef- 
steak and potatoes, or even a bit of cold boiled pork, on the 
way, please be kind enough to let me know, and call a halt" 



I20 Edward Bertram. 

" Oh, certainly," laughed Josephine. " But, look here, if 
you are really so very hungry that you would like anything 
better than nothing " 

" Which I am," interrupted Ned, so decidedly and empha- 
tically that his companions, in spite of their present anxieties, 
laughed heartily at his expense. 

" All right, laugh away as much as you please, so long as 
you give me something to eat," said the young philosopher. 
" I begin to feel almost as great a gnawing in my inside as I 
did in that horrid hold." 

" Well," said Josephine, still rippling over with merriment, 
" I am very sorry that I can't give you any dinner, but here is 
some dessert for you, at any rate. And, as it is not as good as 
it ought to be, I won't charge you anything for it, either. But 
you would have to pay ever so many shillings for it in England." 

So saying, the little girl, who had run on a few yards beyond 
high-water mark, knelt down beside what Ned at first thought 
was a most prodigious and forbidding bunch of outlandish 
thistles. 

" I'm not a donkey," he muttered disappointedly. " And 
if I were, at least if I were a civilised English donkey, I couldn't 
eat thatr 

** But you are a donkey — ^a civilised English donkey — and 
you can eat M^/," laughed Pheenie, who had just plucked 
up the plant from its sandy bed, and now turned the round 
head of prickly leaves upside down in her hand, and held it 
towards Bertram. 

" Look there, sir, is not that good enough for civilised Eng- 
lish donkeys ? " 

" Why, it's a pineapple ! " exclaimed Ned, who had seen 
pineapples before he left England, although in 1837 this 
delicious fruit, first seen in England in the days of stern old 
Oliver Cromwell, was not by a thousand times as common an 
object as it is now. " Fancy feeding upon pineapples !" 



Pineapples for dessert, but no dinner, lai 

" Yes," said Rosa, " it sounds very grand, but I'm afraid you 
won't find it so very de'ightful, after all. There are none of 
them good this season. One of the native women, vho is 
rather kind to my sister and me, told us that the weather has 
been bad for them, and they have nearly all rotted this year, 
before they have ripened." 

And so poor Ned found was the case with the present 
one. At the best of times the foreign fruit is not to be com- 
pared to the luscious pines grown in an English hothouse, but 
Pheenie's gift was unfortunately neither "sweet, sour, nor 
good." 

Still the boy and Storton munched it up, peel and all, as 
they now pushed on for the native village. 



CHAPTER XV. 

THE EFFECT C 

" A RE we near the niggers yet ? " Tlie four English castaways 
A \ had been moving along very rapidly, although cautiously, 
for nearly three quarters of an hour, and bruised, battered, 
hungry Ned was getting somewhat tired and impatient 

He caught little Pheenie by the hand, and asked again — 

" Aren't we near those horrid old niggers yet ? " 

" Hush-sh," whispered back Josephine. " Hush-sh, we are 
pretty nearly close to them. But they are not old — only one 
of them. They are no older than your friend, and some are as 
young as you. And they are Dot niggers, neither — not if that 
means black people." 

" What are they, then ? " 

" You'll see for yourself in a few moments," said the elder 
sister, stooping as she spoke, and peering through the lower 
branches of some privet-leaved shrubs, behind which they 
were all at present gathered. 

After a long and eager scrutiny she rose, and turned to 
Storton and Edward Bertram. 

"Come here, both of you," she muttered in a low tone. 
" But mind you do not stumble up against that dead tree, oi 



The effect of a rifleshot, 123 

its branches will come cracking down with a noise that will set 
all the birds on the island screaming, and then woe betide us 
all." 

Miss Bell's warning was not at all unnecessary, for the 
ground was so covered with a tangled mass of bindweeds of 
various kinds, that the untravelled Englishmen stumbled at 
every step. 

When they at length reached the point to which they were 
beckoned, and, stooping, looked through the opportune open- 
ing in the shrubs, they could scarcely restrain a startled 
exclamation. 

Within six or seven yards of them lay the nearest of a wild- 
looking circle of human beings, utterly unlike anything that 
either of them had ever seen before. Dingy yellow in hue 
for the most part, one or two were of a dark-brown colour, like 
the individual they had surprised in the grotto. 

All of them, alike, were adorned with the most savage and 
fantastic-looking of ornaments — long fringes of split bark, 
strips of something that looked like plaited cloth, necklaces 
and bracelets of shells, while some looked especially formidable 
with their hair gathered upon their heads and bound round 
and round with gleaming rows of sharks' teeth. The sleepers' 
own black teeth looked awful enough when they were visible, 
here and there, through their parted lips. 

" Do they grow with those hideous teeth ? " muttered Ned, 
shuddering with disgust. 

" No indeed, their teeth are whiter, if anything, than ours, 
before they take to chewing the betel nut." 

" What's that ? " 

" Oh ! I'll tell you another time. Have you yet discovered 
where the rifles are ? " 

" No," answered Storton and Bertram simultaneously. "Are 
they near here?" 

" Why, of course they are. That is why Pheenie led you 



124 Edward Bertram. 

to this place. I found out where they were the minute I 
looked." 

Ned stooped down again. It was horrid to have his eyes 
outdone by a girl's. 

Once again he scanned the strange scene before him. The 
circle consisted of thirty or forty men, lying in various attitudes 
around the smouldering embers of a fire, on the outer edge of 
which lay a pile of feathers and cleanly picked birds' bones, 
scorched and singed by the heat 

Beyond the circle was a group of five cocoa-nut palms, 
to the centre one of which Ned now discovered a man was 
fastened, and just beyond them was the little rough village of 
gipsy-like huts, and some sleeping women and children. But 
nowhere could Ned see those rifles. 

" Are you sure that they are there at all ? " he asked at last, 
sceptically. 

" Yes, yes, yes," whispered Josephine, eagerly. " Don't 
you see that very dirty, horrible-looking yellow man, with the 
great tuft of green and red feathers for a topknot, and the big, 
slashed humps on his shoulders ? " 

''I should think so, indeed. I wish I didn't. But the sight 
of him is a good cure for hunger, anyway." 

A moment later Ned straightened himself, and &ced round 
upon the others. 

'* I see them now. Storton, I say, these girls have cut our 
work out for us pretty well, I must say. The rifles are lying 
under that chap's arm — absolutely under it ! And we are two 
to about forty." 

" Well," murmured Pheenie, " you know I told you that you 
would want some courage to get them. These savages must 
have evidently, some time or other, seen them used, for they 
always take the greatest care not to let us get them away from 
them. But I thought — I thought — perhaps if we were men, we 
should be brave enough to try to recover them now." 



The effect of a riJle-shoL 125 

" And we, who are men, will be brave enough to try," said 
Storton, resolutely. Cowardice had never been one of his 
faults. 

" Of course we will," added Ned ; " but we must look out 
for the chance of getting more pricks than if we were picking 
blackberries. I wonder who's got his arm over the powder 
and shot bags, by-the-bye." 

•* I have," said Pheenie, with a low laugh. " I managed to 
steal back father's flasks out of one of the huts before I ran off 
to find Rosie. They are in my pockets. And see, every one 
of the men is asleep." 

" Yes, " said Storton ; " and the less time we waste now the 
better, lest any of them should wake." 

While he spoke, he gathered a handful of leaves and soft 
twigs, and, laying them across the centre of his handkerchief, 
proceeded to fold the handkerchief smoothly, cornerwise 
fashion, over them till he had a sort of little pad, or cushion, 
with two long ends on either side. 

"What is that for?" asked Rosa. "Have you got stung? 
Is it a poultice ? " 

" Yes I A poultice for that yellow fellow's mouth. And 
now will you show us how to get at him ? " 

A minute later, the little unarmed, defenceless party took 
their last step out from the shelter of the bushes. There was 
no need for any of them to warn the others to silence now. 
The group of savages conveyed the impression of people sleep- 
ing with one eye open even in their intoxicated slumbers, and 
innumerable murderous-looking weapons lay ready for imme- 
diate use in the shape of shark-fin spears, clubs, bows and 
arrows, and pieces of sharply-pointed bamboo, which looked 
quite capable of inflicting a very ugly wound if thrown by 
practised hands. 

" I'll tell you what," muttered Ned, bending forward close to 
the girls' ears, " you two had better hurry round at once, and 



126 Edward Bertram. 

help each other to unfasten your father. Don't both try at 
the same knot But whichever is the cleverer^ set to work on 
the hands, and you'll do better for all of us." 

" All right," nodded back Rosa* 

Thus answering, she took her sister's hand, and the two ran 
back into the bushes again, lest one of the women, or anyone 
else, should discover and frustrate their purpose. Secure from 
detection, they pushed their way through all the obstacles in 
their path, with desperate energy, until they were opposite 
the palm grove, when they darted out of concealment, 
and, for the first time for fourteen days, stood beside their 
father. 

The joy of their parent was immense at being once more 
able to speak to his children. But even joy was lost sight of 
to some degree in curiosity. And no wonder. For Mr. Bell 
knew nothing of the ship full of his countrymen which the 
recent storm had cast up upon the neighbouring reef of rocks, 
nor of Storton's and Bertram's perilous bathe, and almost 
miraculous preservation. Naturally, then, it was rather 
surprising to him to see two English-looking, English-clothed 
human beings suddenly appear within a few yards of him. 

'' Have those two white men dropped down from the clouds 
in the hailstorm, Pheenie?" asked her father, pointing to our 
two friends, who had now just succeeded in creeping up behind 
the guardian of the coveted rifles, and were pausing to consider 
their next move. 

Pheenie held her breath. She was too absorbed in watching 
to answer. 

Another moment, and Storton had bent down low over the 
sleeper, and, with the swiftness of a thought almost, his ready- 
made gag was in the sleeper's mouth, and tied tightly at the 
back of his head, while at the same instant Ned lifted up the 
native's arm, snatched the guns from under it, and fled to the 
cocoa-nut trees, followed by his companion. 



The effect of a rifle-shot. 127 

*' The flasks !" he gasped as he drew near, ''quick, the flasks, 
they are not loaded. They are all rousing. They'll be upon 
us in a moment." 

Ned seized the flasks of powder and shot from Pheenie's 
outstretched hands, but he gave her no thanks for her prompti- 
tude, for at the same time his eyes fell upon the bands that 
still bound the gentleman to the palms. Not a single eflbrt 
had been made to undo them. 

''Just like girls T' he exclaimed, with some pardonable anger. 
" They must always look after everybody's business but their 
own." 

•' Ha ! look there I In the name of goodness get your father 
free instantly." 

That was, indeed, a breathless time of deadly peril for those 
half-dozen white people. The intoxication produced by the 
fermented milk of the cocoa-nut is seldom very heavy, and the 
violent actions of the gagged and furious chief had eflectually 
aroused most of his followers. 

Leaping to their feet with their weapons in their hands, the 
savages looked about in every direction for the cause of the 
disturbance. At the moment when Ned had glanced round 
back at them they had just discovered the group under the 
palm-trees, and with a wild, animal-like chorus of savage yells, 
the whole forty infuriated fellows had dashed forward, bent on 
the immediate massacre. of their trembling white brethren. 

Ned handed one of the loaded rifles to Storton, pressed his 
back against a tree-trunk, looked at poor little Pheenie, and 
set his teeth hard. 

" Fire, my lad," said a calm voice beside him. " Now — at 
their legs." 

The fierce breath of the savages was almost on their 
cheeks. 

Crack, crack went the rifles. 

A shriek, a yell— ah I what a change in the state of affairs. 



128 Edward Bertram. 

Ned could not restrain one burst of laughter even in that 
supreme moment of dread. 

Helter-skelter over the ground, away from the palm-trees, 
were going thirty-eight pairs of yellow legs, top-knots dancing, 
fringes flying, necklaces jingling, and castaway weapons mark- 
ing the course of flight Even trembling little Pheenie uttered 
a quivering giggle at the ridiculous sight, as she pulled and 
tugged at the cords of cocoa-nut fibre with which her father 
was fastened to the tree, far more securely than ever any visitor 
to Messrs. Maskelyne and Cook's exhibition managed to tie up 
one of those clever magicians. 

Half-a-dozen yards away from them were two more pairs of 
yellow legs. The owner of one pair lay on the ground per- 
fectly motionless, imitating some of the beetle tribe and sham- 
ming dead. The owner of the other pair was sitting up, and 
eyeing two little streams of blood flowing from his wounded 
limbs very disconsolately, and keeping up a pathetic little howl 
over them — ^a sort of low, continuous " wow-wow-wow," some- 
thing after the nature of a melancholy dog's soliloquy. 

"You aren't very bad, you know, you big coward," said 
Edward at last, in indignant remonstrance, and advancing a 
few steps towards him as he spoke. "That charge wasn't 
much worse than if I'd given you a shake of the pepper-pot" 

" Wow-wow-wow," still howled Ned's yellow antagonist 

"Ohi bother your * wow-wow-wow,' " exclaimed Ned. "I 
wish we'd had you at school for a month, we'd have soon 
taught you to 'wow-wow-wow' for nothing, I can tell you." 

" Never mind him, my lad," called Mr. Frank Bell, the girls' 
father, who was now free, but found himself as utterly unable 
to use a rifle as before, the tight bandages and exposure having 
swollen his arms and made them almost helpless ; so that the 
defence of the party still rested with Storton and Bertram. 

"You had better load your rifles again," said Mr. Frank. 
" I know something of savage nature. It yields to alarm very 



The effect of a rifle-s/wt 129 

easily at the first outset, but courage comes back with time and 
reflection. And they won't go off without their women and 
children, I feel certain." 

He had scarcely spoken when an arrow came whistling 
through the air from the bushes to their right, and passed 
through Ned's rumpled locks. 

'' That was a near shave 1 " exclaimed Storton. 

"Ay, indeed, it was pretty nearly being my turn to cry 
* wow-wow-wow,' " replied Bertram, as he raised the rifle to his 
shoulder, and fired again in the direction from which the 
arrow had come. 

Sounds of scuffling, trampling of brushwood, calls and yells 
that followed that shot proved, to the fresh alarm of the 
English group, that their enemies had already pretty well 
surrounded them on all sides, and at the same time were 
themselves almost safe from the rifles. What was to be done 
now? 

A perfect cloud of arrows came tumbling about their ears, 
happily wounding no one as yet, but the next shower might, 
and perhaps they were poisoned. 

" If only we were in one of the huts," sobbed Josephine. 

** Why, of course. That's the very thing. You've hit the 
right nail on the head," exclaimed Ned, turning about, and 
measuring the distance between the huts and their present 
position with his eye. 

" Come, then, let^s have a race for it," he added, clasping 
Pheenie's hand. 

"But there are women in all of them, and^ they look 
awfully spiteful." 

" That's true," answered Ned. " But women aren't poisoned 
arrows, and I'll soon settle them, you see if I don't. Now, are 
we all ready ? Who'll win ?" 

So saying, the high-spirited English boy tightened his grasp 
of the little girl's hand, drew in a deep breath, and flew past 
I 



130 Edward Bertram. 

the palm grove, followed by the others, just in time to avoid a 
second flight of arrows, that found no more sensitive marks for 
their force, happily, than tree-trunks and the ground. 

Arriving in front of one of those ramshackle huts, that 
absurd Ned acted much as he might have done before the 
door of the lodge at Errington. He had been in so many 
dangers and difficulties lately that he had begun to look upon 
them as the natural state of things, and to think lightly of them 
accordingly. 

While still breathless with his race, he made a low bow to 
the sullen and scared-looking woman standing at the entrance. 
Then, dropping Pheenie's hand, he put up both his own to his 
mouth, suddenly ducked his face forward to within an inch of 
the woman's, uttered a tremendous " Whoop,'* and while she 
rushed frantically away, followed by all her companions, to tell 
the men of her tribe that they were fighting against a demon, 
and not against helpless men like the one tied to the tree, Ned 
and all the rest of his party hastily took possession of her home. 

"And I must say I can't say much for the place," 
remarked Ned, looking round the hovel critically. " IVe 
heard of Irish cabins, but they must be palaces to this." 

"Never mind," said Mr. Bell; "I am sure we ought to 
admire it, for I expect it means life, instead of death, to us." 

" Yes, sir — only really — don't you think that no house ought 
to be built without a well-stocked larder?" 

The Bells and Storton all laughed. They could afford to 
laugh now, for, rough as their shelter was, it was a shelter from 
the Indians' weapons, so long as the assailants kept at a 
distance, and, if they came near, then the rifles could come 
into use again. 

Before the laugh had subsided, however, Rosa suddenly 
stooped down, and when she rose again, she held a little bundle 
of something up to her hungry companions, saying, with a 
smile— 



The effect of a rifle-shot, 131 

" There, you see this house has a larder after all Wait a 
raoment. I have Father's knife in my pocket, and as Pheenie 
gave you your dessert, now I will give you your dinner." 

" If my dinner is to come out of that dirty little lump of 
stuff, I'd rather go on starving, thank you," said Ned, making 
a grimace of disgust 

''Ah, you don't know what you are talking about," said 
Josephine, with a calm superiority, while she watched her 
sister turn the despised " lump of stuff" over in her hand, and 
then begin to make a neat, careful slit down the centre, like a 
scientific cook who had learnt at a cooking-kitchen, only that 
there were not such places in 1837 ; people learnt cooking in 
those days in their own homes, and not so badly either, judg- 
ing by my mother, and other dames of my acquaintance of her 
standing. Ned began to be rather interested. 

" Hallo ! The lump's got wings !" 

" Why, of course it has. Most birds have got wings, haven't 
they ?" asked Rosa, laughing, as she proceeded to turn off the 
burnt feathers and outer skin of a plump, well-cooked parrot, 
holding it tidily by the wings as she did so. Then she cut off two 
dainty slices of the breast, and looked up with mock gravity at 
poor Ned, whose mouth began to water with longing for the 
tempting feast, while she tantalised him with her mischievous 
deliberation. 

" I am so sorry, Mr. Ned, that I haven't anything fit to offer 
you, only this poor little lump of stuflf." 

" Ah ! well, since you haven't, I suppose a fellow must put 
up with that. Let's taste, and see if it's eatable, cooked in its 
feathers in that outlandish fashion." 

Ned was not going to humble himself too much to a girl ; 
but, like a girl, Rosa forgave him his stubbornness, and pitied 
his hungry condition, and presented him with the two slices. 
And then she continued to feed him and Storton until there 
was little left beside the outside covering and the bones. 



132 Edward Bertram. 

^-— i^^^^^a^^^^^^i^^^—Ba^^a— ^^i^>^n^^__^^^B^^^^^— ^^•^^i^^.^^_^»M^a^B>~^^^— ^^^^i~iai^iaai^Ba^ia>^i»mMa^ 

"Girls are some good in the world after all," said Ned 
generously. ''I should never have dreamt of searching for 
anything inside that horrid-looking muddle." 

" And if you had," added Rosa, " you would have hacked 
at it so, that half of it would have been wasted." 

" Meantime," said Mr. Bell, breaking in upon this dialogue 
that went to prove that boys and girls have a tolerably poor 
opinion of each other as a class — "meantime, what do you 
suppose this long silence of our yellow brethren outside 
signifies ? " 

"That is the very thing that I have just begun to wonder," 
said Storton. " And if you all like, I'll volunteer to go out 
and reconnoitre." 

"I think it will be still wiser if we remain all together 
now that night is coming on," said Mr. BelL " If these 
natives are anything like those of Australia in their habits 
and superstitions, they will not attempt to move about or 
molest us during the hours of darkness, when they believe 
that the spirit of evil is taking his walks abroad, and is 
ready to pounce upon any unlucky wretch who is stirring, 
and inflict all manner of injuries upon him." 

" Well, on second thoughts I agree with you," said Storton. 
" But if we are to stay here, cannot we make the place a 
little more comfortable, and also a safer stronghold ? " 

No sooner said than done, or rather begun. Ned's meal 
had given him a whole new stock of fresh energy, and he 
was all eagerness for some fresh employment This suggestion 
was the very thing. Unfortunately, Ned had such a small 
amount of admiration for his present refuge, that his first 
ideas of improvement took the form of destruction, and he 
had wrenched up pretty nearly half of the native woman's 
house before his companions could stop his wholesale 
demolition. 

As some of you may be sceptical as to the strength of anyone 



Ten minutes to build a house. 133 

but Samson being equal to pulling a house about one's 
ears in the space of a minute, it may, perhaps, be as well 
to describe the building which Edward Bertram treated with 
such a ruthless want of ceremony. At a distance of about 
eight feet apart, two rows of bamboo poles, three in a row, 
were stuck to no very great depth into the ground. These 
poles were drawn nearly together at the top, a bit of rough 
cocoa-nut matting formed the roof, and a back wall was built 
up of bark and twigs. The front was open, and the two 
sides were certainly not to be called closed I Ned, with some 
dim notion of ready-made tents, or bricks and mortar, exerted 
his strength on this luckless abode, by dragging up three poles 
on one side, and jerking down the loose roof upon his 
companions' heads. 

**What in the world have you done that for?" exclaimed 
Mr. Bell, while everyone else awaited the answer, aghast with 
dismay and surprise. 

** Why, you said we'd make a better place," stammered Ned, 
beginning to feel conscious that he had done something not so 
remarkably fine as he had intended, and heartily wishing that 
the prostrate bamboos would rear themselves up and stick 
themselves back in a hurry in their old places. 

Rosa took pity on his discomfiture. 

<< Never mind,'' she said, beginning to raise up one of the 
poles again ; '' there's really a very small amount of damage 
done, and I don't wonder that you think little of such a hut as 
this. You see, we have lived several years in Australia, and 
have grown accustomed to thinking that people have got really 
almost a nice home if they have got two sticks tied together, 
and a bit of bark against it to keep the worst of the wind off 
them. Anything makes a home in these parts of the 
world." 

''So it seems," muttered Ned, ''if you call such a place as 
this one." 



134 Edward Bertram. 

" Ah, well, if we are only left at peace we will make this 
quite an ornamental cottage perhaps, to please you," said Mr. 
Bell, laughing ; " and meantime you may indulge your love of 
destruction by pulling down our next-door neighbour, and 
bringing its poles here to set in between these." 

" All right." 

« But be " 

Ned ran out without waiting to hear the end of Mr. Frank's 
exclamation, and in less than thirty seconds he tore back again 
with the end of a pole in one hand and a trailing mass 
dragging after it. 

" There's — there's one of the jabbering yellow beggars there," 
he gasped, dropping the pole, and for once in his life fairly 
showing the white feather. 

" Where ? where ? where ?" exclaimed all the Bells, crowd- 
ing round him, with faces once more growing pale with 
anxiety. " Where is he?" 

" There," said Ned, pointing a quivering finger at the mass 
of poles and cords and matting lying before the entrance of 
their own harbour of refuge. 

" Nonsense," said Mr. Bell, with a short laugh of relief. 
^' My lad, you are dreaming. These fellows have a marvellous 
faculty for hiding themselves, I admit ; but it is perfectly ridi- 
culous to suppose that any human being is concealed in that 
If there had been, do you suppose that he would have let you 
drag him along at your heels in this fashion ?" 

" I believe he has, then," declared Ned positively. '* The 
moment I wrenched up the poles, he started up from some- 
where and began to scream at me ; and then, as I rushed off 
here, I saw him fling his arms round his tumbling house and 
come away with it." 

" Well, at any rate, if your tale is true," said Mr. Frank, 
doubtfully, " he's quiet enough now, and I should think he's 
smothered or killed, poor wretch* Anyway, he will only be 



Ten minutes to build a house. 135 

one to four; so I think we may as well disentangle him from 
the ruins of his home." 

" Just what I was thinking," said Storton, going out as he 
spoke, and stooping down over the straggling dtbris. The 
next instant he jumped back with an ill-suppressed scream. 

" He bites !" 

"Ah !" said Ned, with grim triumph ; "now perhaps you'll 
believe me." 

This remark was followed by a great scuffling amongst the 
prostrate mass, and in a few moments, while all eyes were upon 
it, and Ned held a rifle in readiness, out sprang the dreaded 
"jabbering yellow beggar." 

" Jabbering," indeed, fast enough, but neither yellow nor a 
beggar. And Rosa and her little sister suddenly broke out 
into perfect shrieks and fits of laughter. 

" Oh ! Mr. Edward," laughed Josephine, dancing a miniature 
war-dance round him in her delight, " fancy being frightened 
at that ; fancy calling that poor little brown monkey a jabber- 
ing — ah, ah, ah 1 oh, dear ! — a jab — jabbering — ^yellow beggar I 
Oh, dear me 1" 

" There, my little daughter, that will do," said Mr. Frank, 
biting his lips to keep in his own laughter. For Mr. Edward 
Bertram was beginning to look rather cross. Like many 
another good-tempered, honest-hearted individual, he detested 
being laughed at — " especially," he would have added himself, 
" by girls." 

"Now, good people, let us set to work about building 
instantly, 'with a long pull, and a strong pull, and a pull 
all together,' to adopt the sailors' phrase, for it will be pitch 
dark in another ten minutes, and then we can do nothing." 

Mr. Bell tried to set the example of acting up to his own 
advice, but it was almost immediately evident that he must 
content himself with giving directions to the others. His own 
arms could not be made to work. 



136 Edward Bertram. 

Having taken a keen look round, and assured themselves 
that they had a clear space of twenty yards, at any rate, about 
them free of enemies, " except, perhaps, monkey enemies," as 
Rosa mischievously whispered, Mr. Bell decided that the next 
hut on the left hand, which was fortunately only a couple 
of yards distant, almost in a straight line, should help in the 
formation of a second inner apartment, where the two girls 
might sleep while the men kept watch alternately in the outer 
one. 

*' All right," said Ned, but with not quite such a tone of 
assurance as he had pronounced those words in before. 

" What part of the work shall I do ? " 

'' You shall come with me, and I'll show you. Meantime, 
Mr. Storton, will you disentangle those poles, and set them up 
between our right-hand ones ? You won't find it very difficult 
to drive them into the ground just here ; and then if you twist 
that bit of native matting in and out among them, and fasten 
all together with the cords, we shall have quite a substantial 
defence against attack on that side. And, girls, you go and 
move down all the back wall of the next hut, and make it a 
continuation to ours. Now, Mr. Edward, come along." 

Having set the others to work, Mr. Bell took Ned to the 
farther side of the second hut, and told him to take up those 
three poles. 

*' But gently, my lad, and carefully, for I don't want the 
others to come down also." 

'' No ; I understand what you want done here," answered 
Ned, ''by what you have just set Storton to da Wait an 
instant, and you'll see if I don't" 

So saying, Ned, with the greatest care, pulled up the three 
bamboo rods, Mr. Bell supporting each as he did so. Then 
he gathered them together in his hands, and carried them over 
to their companion wall, where he planted them in between the 
others, only making them all slope in the opposite direction 



Ten minutes to build a house. 137 

down to the roof of the first hut By the time his work was so 
far done, the two girls had already rebuilt the back of the 
apartment destined for them, and were at liberty to help him 
in collecting together armsful of leaves, fallen branches, and 
bits of matting, and other poor little possessions left behind 
them by the native women, with which to shut up the front 
door, as Pheenie called it, of their new home. 

Storton came to help them, having successfully accomplished 
his own task, and very soon the two little rooms were hedged 
round on all sides, with the exception of the one original 
opening, with a perfect bank of materials that would prove 
quite impervious to arrows. 

" Now, if we only had some pictures and wall-papers, my 
friend," said Mr. Frank Bell, laughing, " I am sure even you 
must admit that we have quite an elegant and substantial 
home." 

" Oh, certainly," laughed Edward in assent, " more especially 
so long as it doesn't rain," looking up and round at the 
innumerable chinks, through which the darkening sky was still 
visible. 

Pheenie followed his glance, and answered it with a smiling — 
^' Ah, in another minute it will be too dark to see that, and 
then you will think it is all good roof." 

Then Mr. Bell pulled apart, or rather got Ned to pull apart, 
two of the poles of the inner wall The young sisters passed 
through, and soon lay down and fell asleep, while their father 
kept watch without 

Ned and Storton slept also. 




CHAPTER XVI. 

STORTON ESCAPES. 

'* ¥ AM so awfully thirsty." 

A That was Ned's waking ejaculation, as he sat up, just 
as dawn was breaking, and rubbed his eyes, preparatory to 
staring about him. Certainly his view was rather circum- 
scribed Some bamboo poles and bits of matting ; some bars 
and spots of brightening sky ; one man lying down beside him ; 
one man sitting up, and blotting out with his back the only 
possibility of a wider prospect. 

Ned was just about to shut his eyes again, when a soft 
murmur of " Poor boy " made him turn his head to the other 
side, where he saw two merry faces peering at him over the 
bits of matting that had been laid up against the inner poles. 

^* You look like wild beasts in a menagerie den," said Ned, 
shaking off his drowsiness, and jumping up when he found that 
there was a chance of companionship. 

" Isn't it a horrid nuisance that this isn't really an out-and- 
out desert island ? " 

" I don't know," answered Pheenie, cautiously. " What do 
you mean ? " 

'* Why, that if it were, I could let you two girls out, you 
see, and send you off in different directions to hunt out a 
river, or a lake, or a pond, or a dairy perhaps, so that I could 
get something to drink," 



Storton Escapes. 139 



The two sisters laughed. *' You are very kind, I am sure. 
Perhaps we would send you out to hunt for us instead." 

''And really and truly I do wish we could, too," said 
Josephine, rather piteously, '' for I am certain positive that I 
am quite as thirsty as ever you can be." 

"Poor little thing, I suppose you are. I never thought 
of that But, you see, a fellow fancies somehow that you are at 
home here ; you seem to know so much more about the place 
than I do ; and that you can get what you want. I suppose 
you could, too, could you not, before to-day?" 

" Well, we could get plenty of delicious fresh, clear water 
certainly, and bananas and cocoa-nuts, but of course we only 
had meat when the natives chose to give us any." 

"Well, they may keep all their meat for the present, for 
all I care," said Ned, "if they would only let me have a 
bucketful of that delicious clear water. Whereabouts does 
it lie?" 

"Just beyond the palm grove, not ten minutes' run from 
here. If papa would only let me out, I would soon get you 
some, and myself too." 

" And be clapped up by those yellow thieves, Miss Pheenie. 
No, no, that would never do. I know a thing worth two of 
that suggestion; I'll go myself. But what shall I bring you 
some back in ? " 

" Those empty cocoa-nut shells. They are what the natives 
use, except when they use leaf-baskets." 

" Leaf-baskets to carry water in 1 " exclaimed Ned. " No 
thank you, Miss Rosa, that is too much of a joke. I know 
better than that." 

" But indeed you don't, then, for it's a fact And they don't 
spill a drop from them either. I'll make you one some day 
perhaps, to show you. And you shall drink the water out of 
it ; it gives it such a nice, cool, fresh taste." 

" Thank you. Seeing is believing, you know, so I'll believe 



140 Edward Bertram. 

when I see; meantime, as there are no leaves here for you 
to show your cleverness with, I'll put up with the cocoa-nut 
shells. Good-bye for the present." 

With this farewell, Ned picked up the shells, shouldered one 
of the rifles, and prepared to set out on his expedition. But 
he had reckoned without his host. 

" Hallo !" said Mr. Bell, suddenly aroused out of a deep 
reverie, and catching tight hold of the foot which Ned had just 
raised in the act of stepping over the pre-occupied doorkeeper. 
" Hallo, young man, where are you proposing to be off to for a 
morning ramble ? " 

*' To the lake beyond the rice-field, for water, father," called 
out Rosa, before Ned had time to reply, or to decide whether 
he should tumble down or try to shake his foot free. 

To Rosa's secret glee he tumbled down, or rather was 
knocked down, for Mr. Bell let his foot go so suddenly, and 
jumped up in such a hurry with a great push against him, that 
over Ned went on to the top of Storton. 

A general explanation followed, with a prohibition to Ned 
and a scolding to Rosa. 

" But he's so dreadfully thirsty, papa," remonstrated Rosa, 
" and he wished to go." 

" He would not have wished to go if you had told him that 
he was perfectly certain to get stuck full of arrows, like a 
pincushion, if he did." 

" But he was going to take the gun." 

" That would have been no good. The natives' eyes are 
sharper than his, and they would have got first shot He 
would have been as dead as a drowned rat before he could use 
his rifle. No, no, my boy; thirst is a very uncomfortable 
thing, even in its early stage, but it must get to a far worse 
pass with you before I shall let you risk your life to satbfy it« 
At any rate, we will wait for an hour or two to see what 
happens." 



St or ton Escapes. 141 

Ned put down the rifle, and dropped back against the wall. 
Of course Mr. Bell had no real right to control him, but he 
had no right either, himself, to run foolhardy risks; neither 
did he wish to. 

Every one was silent for a few minutes, then that tender- 
hearted little Pheenie said quietly — 

^' Mr. Edward, I'm getting over my thirstiness a little ; I 
hope you are." 

"No, I'm not," groaned Ned. "I believe I'm rapidly 
getting on to the mad-dog stage." 

•* That ought to be rather a comfort to you," laughed Rosa ; 
** because then, you know, you will hate the sight of water, 
instead of liking it." 

" Ah, well, then I'm afraid I have not reached that point 
quite yet But, if you please, sir, how long do you propose 
that we should wait to see what happens; for I think 
that waiting is quite the horridest thing that anyone can have 
to do, especially when one's tongue is beginning to shrivel 
up like a parched pea." 

" When it does that, my boy," said Mr, Bell, " you won't 
be quite so clever at talking. But — hey ! — Hullo ! — Stop ! — 
Look there, all of you 1" 

There was little necessity, however, for the gentleman to tell 
any one to look, for every one was already looking after Storton, 
who had, unperceived, gathered up all the cocoa-nut cups and 
got close to the opening, when, without any warning, he took 
to his heels and sped away in the direction of the palm grove. 

" Poor fellow ! Brave fellow !" muttered Mr. Bell. 

But Ned turned white and sick with fear. He knew, or had 
known, Storton for some time, and when he saw that all the 
cups were gone, the suspicion came to him that cruel spite- 
fulness was the motive of the present act 

"Has he taken all the rifles as well?" he startled his 
companions by asking sharply. 



Edward Bertram. 



" What do you mean ? He has not taken even one." 

" Then let me take one and go after him." 

"No!" said Mr. Bell firmly, and planting himself in the 
doorway to give emphasis to his words. " We cannot afford to 
lose another of our number." 

Again the small party relapsed into silence, Ned thinking to 
himself that perhaps it was almost impossible for any one who 
had been very bad to be brought back to goodness by kindness, 
and the Bells, who of course knew nothing of Storton's 
antecedents, regarding him in their own minds a^ a rather 
foolishly impulsive individual, but a very benevolent hero all 
the same. 

Events proved that the ignorant Belts were right. 



CHAPTER XVII. 
"a battle for a kingdom: who'll win?" 

FOR a quarter of an hour after Storton's flight no one in 
the hut spoke a word. Ned was reflecting on things in 
general, and human nature in particular, and all the Bells were 
thinking, and listening too, with straining ears, for sounds in the 
distance. 

For fifteen minutes they heard nothing to reward their 
earnest attention. Some screaming parrots flew overhead, 
pecking at one another, and a brilliant crimson feather fell on 
the ground before the opening. Then a couple of monkeys 
came to the village, and scampered after each other, up and 
down the supports of the hut farthest removed from the 
inhabited one. And they bit each other's tails, and jabbered 
and squeaked, and played leap-frog in a way that would have 
made them a perfect fortune to a showman. But Ned looked 
at them with unseeing eyes, although he had never seen such 
a sight before, and none of his companions observed them 
at alL 

At last there came sights and sounds of deeper interest. 

The first sight was Storton issuing from the palm grove, 
and tearing over the ground, back towards the huts, at a pace 
that might have distanced even an emu. 



144 Edward Bertram. 

The first sound was a wild mingling of yells. The second 
sound was a shriek from Storton — 

" The rifles ! " 

That warning cry had scarcely reached their ears when 
a second sight met their eyes that seemed to freeze their very 
' life-blood in their veins. 

The whole number of the savages on the island — men, 
women, and children — came pouring out from behind the 
shrubs, and from between the trunks of the palm-trees, armed 
with that most awful of all weapons, a flaming flre-brand. 
Hideous with war-paint and self-inflicted deformities, on they 
came, leaping, and yelling, and howling, and brandishing their 
torches with almost flendish exultation. No more quarter was 
to be expected from that wild rabble rout than poor Louis 
XVI. saw, once upon a time, in the eyes of the mob that 
stopped his flight, and brought him back to Paris to await his 
turn at the guillotine. 

" Come out to us, girls. Quick ! quick ! *' 

" Crouch down at the back of the hut, girls ! " came the 
contradictory exclamations to trembling Josephine and Rosa, 
while, with the strength bom of despair, Mr. Bell and Ned 
seized the rifles, loaded them, and held them in readiness for 
use. The one Ned had appropriated was already loaded, and 
he came forward and stood in the entrance with the elder man. 
Rosa and her sister obeyed the order that was most acceptable 
to them, and, pushing their own way through their accommo- 
dating wall, they came close behind their father, and stood 
ready to supply powder and shot, or load the rifles as might be 
convenient 

" Let me load your rifle for you again, when youVe fired it 
ofl*," whispered Pheenie to Ned, who turned round and stared 
at her. 

" Why, you can't, can you ? " 

" Of course I can," was the half-indignant answer. 



STOKTON'a PS ML. 



'^A battle for a kingdom : whdll win f " 145 

" All right, then ; but how queer." 

It was not half as queer as Ned thought, though. For 
Josephine and Rosa had lived four years in the Australian 
bush, where girls learn to do a good many things that they are 
not taught in English schoolrooms. Pheenie knew what sort 
of shot was good for small game, and what should be used for 
large, as well as Ned himself; and she knew perfectly well, too, 
that what she had in her flask now would not keep at bay any 
less ignorant foes than their present adversaries. 

"They've got their arrows, too," exclaimed Rosa, gazing with 
fascinated eyes at the oncoming torrent of besiegers of their 
weak, wooden refuge. 

"Yes," gasped Storton, gaining the hut at that moment, 
and falling down on the ground inside. "They have 
indeed got their arrows. I have had three in me. But 
I got the water first, thank goodness. Here, Bertram, 
catch hold of this. You don't know how glad I am that 
I have been able to do something for you. I'd have put 
up with a dozen arrows for the sake of that." 

Ned's face flushed crimson, and tears started into his 
eyes. 

" Give it to the little girl, please, Storton." 

There was a big lump in Ned's throat as he turned ^back to 
face the enemy. But he must be steady. The natives had 
paused in their onward rush when they came near enough to 
see the mouths of those three rifles pointed at them. And 
they had gathered into one of their favourite circles, and held 
a consultation of war. But seeing that those dreaded mouths 
did not speak, nor vomit forth any fire or smoke, they appeared 
to think that they had grown dumb, and, losing all awe of 
the silent weapons, they once more broke their circle with 
acclamations for the expected speedy victory, flung up their 
arms into the air till their brands blazed out into flame, like 
greedy tongues longing to lap up that poor little mouthful of 

K 



146 Edward Bertram. 

white people, and once more they came raging and yelling 
onwards. 

" Fire !" exclaimed Mr. Bell's deep voice. 

Crack, crack, crack went the three rifles. Then dead silence. 

Josephine and Rosa began to reload rapidly for their father 
and Ned ; the third weapon Storton quickly enough loaded 
for himself. 

Before the smoke had cleared away, crack — crack — crack 
went those rifles again, and this time a hubbub, a babel, a 
perfect pandemonium of screeches, howls, yells, and shouts of 
rage and defiance followed. The women and children had 
betaken themselves to panic-stricken flight Those, at least, 
who could ; but unhappily the shots had wounded two poor 
women, who now lay rolling on the ground in overwhelming 
terror and pain, and the men of their tribe were aroused to 
unusual obstinacy and decision by the sight 

" Poor creatures," muttered Ned. 

"Yes," said Mr, Bell. "I'm grieved enough that we have 
hit the women. But we must fire again. Those fellows mean 
mischief. They are desperate; and so are we, with more 
cause. We only hurt them at the worst, but they'll kill us if 
they can — torture us, too, if they get the chance." 

Even as he spoke, their dusky enemies prepared for a new 
form of attack. Half the number handed over their torches 
to the other half, who began to move round so as to attack the 
huts in the rear, while the others seized their bows, and let 
fly a shower of their unfeathered bone-tipped arrows against 
the defenders in the front 

"What are we to do now?" exclaimed Ned, in a tone expres- 
sive of a certain amount of despondency. 

" Why, cheer up, and hope for the best, to be sure," said Mr. 
Frank, kindly, and laying his hand for a moment reassuringly 
on the boy's shoulder. "Remember, my lad, there is One 
above who sees our straits, and can help us." 



"^ battle for a kingdom: who'll winV 147 

** Fire," ordered Mr. Bell, once more. The natives were 
much nearer now, and the rifles did greater execution. Three 
men fell, two of them evidently much hurt, and all the rest 
retreated hastily. Seeing this, Mr. Bell and Ned reloaded 
with all possible despatch, and sent another volley after the 
bow and arrow party. That settled the fortunes of the day in 
that direction. The Indians had had more than enough, poor 
fellows, of the fire-talkers, and, dragging their wounded along 
with them, they lost no more time in hurrying away from the 
field of battle. 

" That's the way to the shore," exclaimed Rosa, gladly, as 
she watched the course taken by the fugitives. 

** Let us hope, then," said her father, " that they are going to 
take to their canoes and leave us in peace." 

" Look out," said Storton ; " you are rejoicing too quickly. 
We are not out of the wood yet. I am certain I saw a light 
shining across the crevices at the back of the inner hut" 

" Ah, to be sure," cried Ned. " We are forgetting the fire 
party." As far as regarded saving the huts went, it was too 
late to remember that division of the enemy now, for at that 
moment a tremendous crackling was heard, and the next 
instant, or certainly within the space of a quarter of a minute, 
the whole structure of dry leaves, twigs, and bamboo canes was 
in a blaze. 

Happily, the flames that drove the English party out of their 
shelter kept the savages at the same time from approaching 
them, and prevented their foes from even taking fair aim with 
their arrows. The only person who got hit was Ned, and he 
was so excited that at the time he scarcely even knew that he 
had been wounded. He finished up the engagement finally, 
and clenched the English victory, by an act of true madcap 
English recklessness. Tired of shooting, and being shot at to 
no purpose, he suddenly tossed the rifle he held to Storton, 
with the remark that no doubt he could make better use of it. 



148 Edward Bertram. 

and then, before his purpose could be suspected or hindered, 
he ran back to the burning huts, seized the uninjured end of a 
flaring bamboo pole, and, armed with this huge and formidable 
club, made a sudden curve round the ruins, darted forward, 
and made a series of swift, promiscuous lunges at the fore- 
most assailants, whose own brands were now reduced to 
insignificant bits of brittle charcoal. 

Rather to guard Ned from the consequences of his own rash 
act than from any other motive, the Bells and Storton followed 
his course, and fired their loaded pieces for the last time at the 
astonished natives. No one was hit. But the yellow men did 
not care to wait and see whether they might be less fortunate 
another time. They had had quite enough. They saw their 
friends taking care of number one, and galloping away in the 
distance, and they very sensibly made up their minds to follow. 
Five minutes later, the five English people, standing by the 
smouldering huts, were the only human beings in sight for the 
monkeys and the rats to look at 

" But," said Josephine, continuing her meditations aloud. 

" « But' what ?" asked her father. 

'' Only, papa, that I know those natives have gone down to 
the shore, but we don't know for certain that they have got 
into their canoes and paddled awa/to some other island, and 
I think it would be much more comfortable if we did" 

" I am sure it would," voted Edward, without any hesitation. 
The others all voting in the same direction, the rifles were 
reloaded by way of precaution, and the two girls being put in 
the middle of the little procession — of which they also had to 
be the guides — the party set out on their expedition, keeping 
as much as possible to the open, for fear of an ambush. 

To their great thankfulness they reached the shore without 
any mishap, and saw a whole fleet of canoes departing from the 
island as rapidly as the paddles could be handled. In fact, a 
party of young men in one of the canoes tried to get away even 



"^ battle for a kingdom: who'll winT' 149 

faster than was practicable, when they saw the bold owners of 
the fire-talkers pursuing them even down to the beach. In 
their terrified hurry to get farther away, they pulled their canoe 
up against another one, and over both went together. 

"Hallo !" exclaimed Ned, "what an awful nuisance. Now 
they'll have to swim back here or get drowned, poor wretches." 

"No such thing, my boy; don't frighten yourself," laughed 
Mr. Bell. "That is not the fashion after which things are 
managed in these parts." 

And even while Mr. Bell was speaking, Ned discovered his 
mistake. A. dozen or more natives were darting about in the 
water for a few seconds, looking as much at home there as the 
fishes themselves, and then all of a sudden uprose the two 
canoes sheer out of the water. Both of them got a shake from 
their owners, were turned over, and deposited right side upper- 
most in the ocean again. Then the swimmers sprang into 
them as easily as if they were jumping off a springboard on to 
a steady platform, and rowed off after their brethren as if 
nothing had happened, while Ned sent a ringing cheer after 
them of as hearty admiration as if he and they had parted on 
the most friendly terms. 

" What jolly fellows they are, afler all, those yellow skins," 
he exclaimed. " I and the fellows at Errington would give a 
thing or two to be able to do that trick." 

" Listen to the young man 1 " cried Mr. Bell with a laugh. 
" Where is the thing, even one, pray, young gentleman, that 
you can give away on' any account? I am afraid your very 
seaweedy, torn jacket and trousers are not worth much to any- 
one but the owner." 

Ned laughed too. But the next moment he sank gracefully 
down on one knee, saying, "Pardon me, the prowess of my 
arm has won me at least a share in this kingdom. I resign my 
share to you, King Frank^ and henceforth enrol myself as your 
subject" 



150 Edward Bertram, 

" A first-rate notion," said Storton. " Behold another subject 
in me, your majesty." 

"And in us," exclaimed the two young sisters, readily 
falling into the spirit of the thing. ** You shall find us the 
most delightful and obedient of subjects, King Father." 

"Very well," said Mr. Bell with suitable gravity. "I 
accept the dignity you so unanimously confer upon me, 
for I suppose that even on a desert island it is as well to 
have a head, and I am the eldest of our party." 

" Yes, of course," said Ned, quickly. " And now, please your 
majesty, the first use you will make of your new authority 
will be to order us all to go and get something to drink, 
won't it?" 

A general laugh followed this cool piece of advice to 
the new sovereign. 

"No, Mr. Edward Bertram," laughed Mr. Bell. "My 
first exercise of power shall be to make you my prime minister 
by way of prudently taking the bull by the horns. You 
will make a first-rate officer of state, but I should find you 
rather a restive subject in a more subordinate position, I fear." 

"Oh no, sir. But it will be rather a joke being prime 
minister on a desert island — the prime minister gives the 
orders, doesn't he? Miss Rosa Bell, lead up to the lake 
beyond the rice-fields, and if you see a really good pineapple 
by the way, or a cocoa-nut, or any more roast pollies, stop and 
pick them up." 

By the time this speech was ended, the Bells and Storton 
looked like anything but a hapless, helpless, doleful set of cast- 
aways. All eyes were dancing with merriment, and Mr. Bell 
exclaimed — 

" Well done, prime minister. Prime minister number one, 
king number two." 

"Oh dear, no," said Ned, demurely. "At least only some- 
times, by way of a help." 



'*A battle for a kingdom: who'll win?'' 151 

Then the little procession formed again — Rosa at the head, 
Ned marching next, King Frank after him, with his younger 
daughter clinging to his hand, and Storton bringing up the 
rear. 

After a few minutes Storton began to lag behind. He had 
tried hard to keep up with the pace of the others, but the effort 
was too painful, and he began to turn faint and sick. He had 
drawn out the arrows, certainly, with which he had been 
wounded while dipping up water out of the lake for Edward 
Bertram ; but he became conscious, now that the excitement 
and peril of the recent battle was at an end, that he had not 
drawn out eveiything that had struck him. The fact was, that 
he had been hit with one of the native arrows that was tipped 
with a scrap of bone, so ingeniously contrived in its adjustment 
that it stuck tightly into anything it entered, and readily 
separated from the weapon to which it had been fixed. Poor 
Storton found this out now, and every step he took seemed to 
force the instrument of torture farther into the wound. At 
last he called out an entreaty to be left behind, and that some 
of the party would return to him when they had satisfied their 
thirst. 

" I'll stay with you now," said Ned. " You got your injuries 
for my sake ; it's only fair that I should put up with a trifle 
of inconvenience for you." 

'^ No, no ; that's absurd," said Storton. " Run off as fast as 
you can go, and you'll be back the sooner. It is I who am 
under obligations to you — obligations that I can never repay ; 
you are under none to me. But stay a moment ; you can leave 
me a loaded rifle, lest any of those yellow men and brethren of 
ours have chanced to take a fancy to stay behind." 

Finding that the wounded man was really bent on being left 
alone, the rest of the party placed him as comfortably as they 
could under the circumstances, and then went on, with pro- 
mises to return speedily with supplies of fruit and water. 



ija Edward Bertram. 

" What sort of fruit ?" asked Ned, as he walked on again 
beside Rosa. " I've been looking round everywhere, and I 
can't make out anything that looks like fruit, at least eatable 
fruit. There's never a pear nor an apple anywhere about, I'm 
sure ; not so much even as a cherry tree." 

" Perhaps not. But there's plenty of beautiful fruit here, all 
the same. But see! that is the lake, shining through there. 
You had better run on- You cannot miss your way now." 

Ned needed no second bidding. He bounded away with a 
cry of joy. 



CHAPTER XVIII. 

A COCOA-NUT BATTLE — MONKEY WINS. 

WHEN Ned at last really stood upon the margin of that 
exquisite little island lake, boy as he was, and, still more^ 
thirsty boy, he paused for some minutes before stooping down 
to drink. He was literally startled into admiration for the 
beautiful scene that burst upon his view. 

" We must have stumbled upon the land of the fairies," he 
sighed at length, as the otheTS came up to him, and interrupted 
his meditations. 

" And this is still winter here," said Mr. BelL " What 
would you think of i^ I wonder, if you saw it in all the glories 
of early summer?" 

" That it was a great deal too hot, I expect," replied Ned, 
as thirst once more conquered poetry ; and he flung himself 
down on the green bank, and put his parched mouth into the 
clear, sweet water. 

" I say, come, that's enough," exclaimed Mr. Bell a minute 
later, and he took his prime minister by the heels, and pulled 
him up from the lake. " We shall have the fate of the vain 
bull-frog befalling you, if you drink any more. And I cannot 
allow the water-supply of my kingdom to be exhausted at this 
late, either." 



154 Edward Bertram. 



"All right, your majesty," said Ned, laughing; "I don't 
mind obeying you just now, for I've had enough for the present. 
But, may it please your majesty, it seems to me that you're 
uncommonly fond of taking fellows by the heel — I'd much 
rather, if you don't mind, that you would take me by the 
hand." 

" Ah then, I suppose you would. Well, I will, next time — 
if it comes handiest. And now, what is to be our next 
proceeding?" 

" Go back to poor old Storton, and then look out for some 
breakfast, I should say," remarked Ned with a tone of calm 
decision. 

Josephine clapped her hands with amusement. 

" I was certain that you would say that," she cried. " I 
cannot think how it is, boys always seem to be wanting some- 
thing to eat." 

" And girls don't seem, but they are," retorted Ned. " I'll 
be bound. Miss Pheenie, that you wouldn't hang back if I 
offered to take you into a tuck-shop this minute." 

** A tuck-shop ! What's that ? I expect I should," answered 
Pheenie. " We don't have shops with such ugly names as that 
in the Bush." 

" Nor any others either, according to Mr. Edward's notions 
of shops," said her father, smiling. " But come, our poor 
wounded man will be thinking that we have forgotten him. 
Besides, you had better hurry up, for my eyes have found your 
breakfast for you yonder, while you have been squabbling." 

"Squabbling!" repeated Ned indignantly. "We haven't 
been squabbling. I think Pheenie is a jolly little thing. But 
of course she doesn't understand anything about boys ; girls 
never do." 

" Certainly not ; how should they ? poor little unobservant 
ignoramuses. Meantime, here's a good meal for you, which I 
might never have found, if it had not been for Rosa's sharp 



A Cocoa-nut Battle — Monkey wins. 155 

eyes helping me. Meat and drink, cup and platter, all in one. 
I wonder if you know how to get inside it ? " 

" Yes, of course. Smash it down on the ground, and break 
the shell. The milk is very likely all dried up in it, and, if not, 
it's scarcely ever very nice, and worth saving." 

" What do you mean ?" cried Rosa, with very wide eyes. 

" Never mind questioning him, Rosa dear," said her father 
with a smile. " Mr. Edward is thinking of the cocoa-nuts he 
has been accustomed to buy at his English 'tuck-shops' and fruit 
stalls. Give me that pocket-knife of mine that you were so 
lucky as to save from the natives, and we will soon show our 
new friend that, if we know nothing about boys, we know some- 
thing more about cocoa-nuts than he does." 

While he spoke, the new-created monarch, with perfect ease, 
made three incisions in the indentations always to be seen at one 
end of a cocoa-nut, and which are generally so hard in the English- 
bought ones that it requires no end of efforts with iron skewers 
and pen-knives to break through them. Mr. Bell had no 
trouble with the one now picked up, fresh fallen from its own 
tree, and, having made three good-sized round holes, he pre- 
sented the nut to Edward. 

•* There, young man, just take a pull at that flask of Nature's 
unaided providing, and then say if the draught was not nice 
enough to be worth saving." 

Ned did as he was bid. He sucked up a very small, 
cautious sip to begin with. For he knew and believed in the 
old proverb — "What's one man's meat is another man's 
poison." And although the Bells thought fresh cocoa-nut milk 
very nice, he might think it very nasty. 

But he didn't. 

His second sip was a long and strong one. And then he 
slowly dropped his hands, with the cocoa-nut clasped tight 
between them, and murmured — 

" How galopscious !" 



156 Edward Bertram, 

" What?" shouted those two young sisters. " Whatever did 
you say? We have heard a great many funny words in 
Australia, but we never heard that one before." 

" And it's such a beautiful long one," added Pheenie. 

"And means ever so much more than 'delicious,'" said 
Ned. " But it's no good your learning it up, because it's one 
of those words which girls mustn't use." 

" Oh dear I what a pity," sighed Pheenie, solemnly. " Is 
it really?" 

" Yes," answered Ned, positively. " Just you see if your 
father doesn't say so too." 

" Never mind, Pheenie," said Rosa. " I daresay papa will 
let us use it now and then, by way of a treat On our birth- 
days, perhaps. But do just look up there." And Miss Rosa 
Bell broke into a low, mischievous-sounding titter. 

" Look up where ? What am I to look at ?" 

" Why, don't you see. In that next tree, watching us, is one 
of Mr. Edward's yellow-skinned, jabbering beggars." 

As though in answer to her notice, at that moment the small 
creature in question swung itself down on to a lower branch to 
take a nearer inspection of the human group. The scrutiny 
appeared to be highly unsatisfactory, and, singling out Ned as 
the special object upon which to fix its bright eyes, it suddenly 
launched a tremendous, angry harangue at him, jabbering 
away as hard and fast as ever its tongue and lips could move. 

Everyone laughed but the victim, and his face flushed with 
angry remembrance of yesterday's humiliating panic 

"Take that, you chattering little beast," he cried wrath- 
fully, hurling his cocoa-nut into the tree. 

The monkey uttered a scream — not of pain, for Ned's throw 
had been much too wide to hit it, but of rage — and with almost 
the quickness of lightning it made a spring forward into the 
tree immediately over him, and, plucking another nut, showed 
that two could play at that game, by dashing it down with all 



A Cocoa-nut Battle — Monkey wins. 157 

its force on to where Ned's head would have been had not Mr. 
£eU, happily for him, pulled him back just in time to avoid the 
heavy missile. Ned stooped and picked it up, but as another 
and yet another came dashing down, the whole party took to 
their heels, till they got clear of the cocoa-nut palms. 

" * Discretion is the better part of valour,' where an infuriated, 
uncome-atable little brute like that is concerned," said Mr. 
Bell, when the party stood still to draw breath once 
more. " And one was afraid to shoot it for fear of alarming 
Mr. Storton. Otherwise, it would have made us a good 
dinner, with a little exercise of Rosa's cooking powers." 

" Gah ! " ejaculated Ned, with drawn lips expressive of 
intense disgust "You don't mean that you eat monkey for 
dinner ?" 

" Don't we, though 1 " cried Mr, Bell. " And I can tell you 
what, my lad, you'll soon learn better than to turn up your nose 
at such a dish as that, if we have to stay here long. Why, a 
nice, tender, young, well-roasted monkey is a dinner fit for a 
king. In the course of my travels I have often made a meal 
off one, without being confined to the narrow limits of a desert 
island." 

" Would you rather have monkey than mutton, then, papa ?" 
asked Rosa. 

" Certainly not, madam, that is a very different matter. But 
where King Frank finds himself compelled to do without 
mutton, he would much rather have monkey than nothing." 

"And I wouldn't," said Ned. "So you girls needn't trouble 
yourselves to cook any of that sort of food for me, I may as 
well tell you at once. I won't be taster of monkey-dishes to 
his majesty, that's certain. But, I say ^" 

With that exclamation Ned fell back upon those behind him, 
and pointed, with open mouth, towards the place where they 
had left Storton. 

'' Have they come back ?" he asked, in a tone of mingled 



158 Edward Bertram. 

terror and annoyance. " I wonder where the rest are hidings 
Are the rifles loaded?" 

"Yes," answered Mr. Bell. "Girls, come here. Bertram, 
as you are unarmed you had better fall back." 

" Umph," muttered Bertram. " I've more than half a mind 
to rush forward, and learn the worst at once. Poor old 
StortoQ ! Well, be turned over a new leaf at the last, thank 
goodness ! " 



CHAPTER XIX. 

"what's for breakfast?" with a new fashion for 

catching eels. 

WHEN the Bells and Bertram pursued their way to the 
lake, leaving Storton in the shelter of some bananas and 
other thicker-growing plants, his first proceeding was to try and 
ascertain the nature of his wounds. The one that gave him 
the greatest amount of pain was, of course, that in which the 
arrow-point still remained. Unfortunately, this was also the 
one that it was most difficult to get at, for it was in the calf of 
his leg, and all his twistings and contortions to try to get the 
jagged end of bone out only appeared to result in pushing it 
more firmly in. He could see the wound plainly enough, and 
touch it too, but his leg was far too swollen and painful to 
submit willingly to being wrenched round to be operated upon. 
Besides that, his right arm hurt him a good deal, and the 
wound in his side made itself felt very much more than was 
agreeable, from long neglect, and the rubbing of his clothes 
against it Altogether, Storton was in a bad case, and at last 
he dropped himself quickly back full length on the ground, and 
fainted. 

A brilliant scarlet flamingo, astray from its usual haunts, 
paused for a minute by the prostrate form, with its small head 
meditatively held on one side. It did not seem to think much 



i6o Edward Bertram. 

of the sight It blinked its eyes at it, straightened its head, 
dropped down its second long stilt, and stalked gravely away, 
apparently impressed with the opinion that animals of the 
human tribe were a mistake. 

A few minutes later, a singular-looking animal, with very 
short forelegs and a very long tail, taking a succession of great 
leaps, came right on the top of the silent figure. Fortunately, 
it was a small one of its species, or it would have flattened its 
human landing-stage into a pancake. As it was, it bounded 
away again, twelve feet at a time, without having done any 
particular harm. But it had not done any good, either. For 
the figure was as motionless and silent as before, and showed 
no signs of rousing. That fact becoming quite evident, there 
was a slight rustle, just within the edge of the wood, after a 
short interval 

The rustle stopped. But those closed eyelids remained fast 
shut, so the rustle began again. It was a very soft rustle, not 
much louder than a rat would have made creeping through the 
undergrowth. But it continued up to the outer edge of the 
wood, and then it finally ceased within three feet of Storton, 
and two human eyes stared at him, and two human lips said 
solemnly — 

" Wow-wow-wow." 

At least that is exactly, to the very letter, what Ned Bertram 
would have declared that they said, if he had been there to 
hear them, and there are very few people in the world clever 
enough to have contradicted him. 

" Wow-wow-wow," came that solemn remark again. 

For, let me tell you, "Wow-wow-wow" can sound very 
solemn indeed, under certain circumstances, and it was under 
these certain circumstances that they were pronounced now. 
There was one dead-looking, white-faced human being lying 
stretched out on the ground, and near him sat a very cada- 
verous-looking, hollow-eyed, yellow-skinned human being, 



'' What 's for Breakfast f i6i 

staring at him. The yellow-skinned human being was dressed 
in draggled feathers, broken shell necklaces, and a fringe of 
cocoa-nut cords, about a yard in depth, hung round his waist. 
The bare yellow legs were ghastly with streaks and clots of 
blood.. And even the cocoa-nut fringe was bedabbled on one 
side. 

Over the heads of these two sorely wounded human beings 
shone a clear blue sky, it soft air breathed over them through 
the trees, a burnt village of bamboo huts lay to the right of them, 
and the plash-plash could be heard of the ocean waves, lapping 
up on the coral-reef two miles distant. 

The yellow-skinned human being stared at his white-skinned 
brother for a long time ; and then his eyes fell upon the rifle which. 
Storton had laid beside him when he began to examine his 
wounds. At sight of that weapon poor yellow-skin started and 
trembled, and looked pitifully at his own injuries. Finally, he 
struggled up on to his knees, bent forward, clasped his hands, 
and addressed a rapid jumble of sentences to the rifle, of which 
even Edward Bertram could have only distinguished the tone 
of supplication. 

When the native had finished his prayer to the unknown and 
horrible demon, the dreadfully powerful guardian of the pale 
strangers, he was suddenly endowed with a happy inspiration. 
He would bury his two enemies — put it out of the power of the 
demon and his charge to do any further harm. This happy 
thought scarcely occurred to him before he proceeded to put 
it into execution. His idea of burying was fortunately much 
the same as that of the robin redbreasts who buried the babes 
in the wood. He preferred an above-ground burial, and no 
moving of the bodies. 

There were plenty of tropical leaves close at hand, and 
twigs and weeds. It did not take two minutes to smother up 
Storton and the rifle out of sight. And then the tired-out, 
maimed native sat down again, chose the twisted, uneven trunk 

L 



1 62 Edward Bertram. 

of a screw-palm by way of a comfortable leaning cushion, and 
gave himself up to the contemplation of his handiwork with a 
quiet grin of satisfaction. In a minute or two his eyes closed, 
and he fell asleep. Then Edward Bertram, marching on in front 
of his companions, came within sight of the strange scene, as 
has been already mentioned, and of course, as he had not been 
present at the very light and airy and poetical burial of his 
fellow-emigrant, and now only saw a yellow-skinned native close 
to where his white countryman ought to be, he was considerably 
grieved and alarmed. 

King Frank called a halt He, too, began to fear that his 
reign was to be a short one, and that the natives, getting the 
better of their fright, had come back to renew a contest in 
which they were almost certain to be successful if they persisted 
long enough. 

" The question is," said Mr. Bell, ** whether it's wisest to 
leave the girls here in the open while we advance, or to take 
them with us." 

''Take them with you," said Pheenie, slipping her hand 
coaxingly into her father's. ''Besides, I've still got all the 
powder-flasks." 

" Yes, but we will take them, even if we leave you." 

" By-the-bye," said Ned, " suppose we all stay here together 
in the open, just for the present, and send a shot over in that 
direction before we go any further. It would very likely pro- 
duce some effect, and show us better what to do." 

" Not at all a bad suggestion," cried Mr. Bell ; " nothing 
could be better." And losing no time in its execution, he 
forthwith raised his rifle to his shoulder and fired. 

Ned's expectations were realised. The shot did produce an 
effect, and a very extraordinary one ; at least so those anxious 
lookers-on considered; but it was not at all the kind of 
effect that had been anticipated. 

The four English people were gazing forward with anxious 



" IVAa^'s for Breakfast V 163 

eyes to see a second fierce onslaught of enemies break out from 
behind the bushes upon them. Instead of that, they saw a 
sudden upheaval of a mass of leaves, with a man very like 
Storton starting up in the midst of them, while one poor 
unarmed native, having sprung to his feet and stared at the 
unexpected vision for a moment, was now flying directly 
towards them in his blind terror, as though all the queer 
demons of his imagination were in visible shape pursuing him. 

" This is a rummy go," ejaculated Ned, as he ran forward 
and caught the native in his arms, just as the poor creature 
staggered and was falling to the ground, exhausted with 
illness and terror. 

*' * A rummy go,' " murmured Miss Rosa, storing up a second 
new expression for future use, as they all hurried forward to 
Storton, dragging the trembling prisoner along with them. 

" What in the world made you cover yourself up like that, 
Storton? Were you cold?" shouted Ned, as soon as he 
was near enough to make himself heard. ''We thought 
you had disappeared — been done away with altogether — and 
lo and behold ! you exhibit yourself as a Jack-in-the-Green, 
and months after May-day. The funniest thing to do I ever 
heard of." 

**It would be, certainly, if I'd done it. But IVe no more 
notion than yourself how I came by my green covering." 

"The fact of the matter is, that you have been buried,'* 
said Mr. Bell, who had been making use of his slight knowledge 
of the native language to put a few rapid questions to the captive. 
•* And it's lucky for you,*' continued that gentleman, " that you 
were buried before you were killed. It is not the usual 
fashion in these parts, I believe. However, neither your burial 
nor your rest appear to have agreed with you. I am a doctor 
by profession. Suppose you let me examine your wounds, 
while the rest of them gather fruit for our breakfast" 

Mr. Bell had already begun, as he spoke, to busy himself 



1 64 Edward Bertram. 

with the other sufferer, and thus taking upon himself the 
charge of the two wounded men, he dismissed the 
others to look for the wherewithal to furnish a morning 
meal, of which they all began to be sorely in need. 

"And mind you lay the table neatly, Pheenie," said her father. 

" Oh, of course she will," answered Rosa, laughing. " And 
pray, papa, what orders have you for me ? " 

"Why, that you light a fire, and cook us something very 
appetising immediately." 

" The very thing," cried Ned. 

" Oh, of course you ^** 

" Now, if you please, Miss Rosa, don't be in such a 
hurry. What I was going to say was, that it would be the 
very thing for you to make a fire, and meantime I believe I 
can find you something to cook at it." 

" A monkey ? " 

" No, nor a parrot either, just now." 

With that short answer Ned ran off to avoid further 
questions, only turning once to cry out — 

" Be quick with that fire." 

"What is he going to get, I wonder?*' asked the girls. 

" Nothing," said Mr. Bell, laughing. " He thinks, no 
doubt, that he is going to bring you back a fine dish of fish, 
but they are not so easily caught as he supposes." 

" Then you don't think that I need try to light a fire." 

"No, certainly not Much better use your energies in 
trying to find some ripe bananas. We cannot well have 
anything more wholesome and nourishing. And we shall not 
starve, if we have nothing else for the next few days to come." 

" I am tired of bananas," muttered Rose. 

"And so am I," echoed her sister. "And it would have 
been good fun trying to light a fire as the Indians did, by 
rubbing one stick inside the hole of another. I expect it's 
quite easy." 



" What 's for Breakfast r 165 

Meantime Edward Bertram hastened on to fulfil his half- 
made promise, which was not by any means such a wild 
or ignorant one as Mr. Bell imagined. On coming up from 
the sea-shore an hour ago, Ned had noticed to the left hand 
the gleam of a diminutive, muddy little river, and as he 
hastened on with his companions to the clear, pure lake, he 
had repeated, half-unconsciously, that specially elegant 
imitation Latin rhyme — 

'' In mud eels is, 

In clay none is, 

In fir tar is, 

In oak none is.' 

And now, as hunger and ambition united to make him wish 
for distinction in the commissariat department, his eager feet 
kept time to a somewhat monotonous song, whose whole 
burden was — " In mud eels is, in mud eels is." 

Arrived at his goal, Ned lost no time in descending the 
slippery bank a foot or so below the sluggish water; then, 
by the aid of an old oyster shell he had picked up on his 
way, he began scooping out the mud, carefully and watchfully, 
but there was no undue deliberation in his movements. 

For some minutes his trouble met with no reward, and the 
repetition of his interesting little statement, " In mud eels is," 
began to have a questioning accent in its utterance. All of 
a sudden it changed again to a jubilant shout of decisive 
exultation — " In mud eels isT 

And in a moment Ned had dropped down on his knees in 
the slush, and was tugging away with both hands at two 
slippery prizes. He obtained a couple more in the same 
unfishermanlike way, and then he clambered back to dry 
ground, with the audible remark — 

'* Of course girls don't eat much, so there'll be one apiece 
for us men, and Darkie must fish for himself, unless he eats 
grubs, as Rosa says they do in Austialia." 



1 66 Edward Bertram, 

Having thus settled matters quite to his own satisfaction, 
Ned resumed his usefully instructive song, and proceeded to 
make the best of his way back to the temporary encampment, 
where the two girls had completed their preparations for 
breakfast, and were impatiently awaiting his return. 

Pheenie's part of the arrangements was very tasteful, A 
couple of giant palm leaves that had formed part of Storton's 
covering now served for table and table-cloth, while bunches 
of such blossoms as she could find at that season, and leaves, 
were grouped here and there upon them to conceal other 
deficiencies ; at least to try to conceal them, for they did not 
have the smallest effect in hiding the poverty of the provisions 
from Ned's sharp eyes. While the three Bells exclaimed 
joyfully at the sight of his eels, he groaned dolefully at the 
other contributions for the picnic. 

"It's bad enough," he groaned, "your not getting the fire 
lighted. But who in the world, do you suppose, is going to 
eat those leathery-looking things you've got spread out there ? 
Leather at the bottom of the table," he continued, looking 
dolefully enough at the bunches of bananas, '^ and leather at 
the top ; leather in the middle, and leather at the two sides. 
It's worse than the French commander's old boot, that was 
served up with some sauces." 

'^ But these fruits are not old boots," said Mr. Bell, laughing, 
" and they have nothing leathery about them but their outsides. 
They are so good and nutritious that I should not wonder if 
the doctors take to ordering them, some day, as wholesome, 
light diet." 

" But I like a heavy one," muttered Ned, " so that it isn't 
leather. Beefsteaks, and lots of potatoes, and Yorkshire 
pudding." 

** You'll have Rosa laughing at you again," whispered 
Josephine, wamingly. 

'^Let her. Just look at her rubbing those two sticks 



" What 's for Breakfast f " 167 

together to get them to light Why, they are as green as if 
she had just picked them off a growing tree ! Come along, 
and let you and me see if we can't beat her at that 
work." 

" Meantime," said Mr. Bell, " hand over your eels to me, 
and I will get them ready, while you get the fire ready between 
you." 

" If they can," corrected Storton. " But from the way my 
yellow friend yonder is grinning at them all, I don't think he 
expects much from their attempts." 

In fact, poor Wow-wow found the stupidity of the white faces 
too great to be borne. And partly from gratitude to his 
surgeon, and partly from contempt for the awkward ignoramuses, 
he took the fire manufacture into his own hands. Gathering 
together some withered leaves and twigs, which the sun and 
wind had already dried after yesterday's storm, the native next 
searched about for two bits of dry, hard wood, which he was 
not long in finding. One of the pieces had been bored right 
through by some insect One end of the other piece he 
scraped down to a point with a sharpened shell, carried with a 
number of other articles in a sort of pouch in his belt 

His implements thus prepared. Wow-wow inserted the point 
of the one stick into the hole in the other, and then, rolling the 
pointed one rapidly between his hands, he had sparks, smoking 
leaves, and, finally, fire, almost before the sisters or Edward 
Bertram had made their sticks feel even warm. 

'* He's my prisoner though, after all, you know," remarked 
Edward, as though the fact of having caught the wounded man 
in his arms gave him some undeniable claim to praise for the 
native's cleverness. Mr. Bell took the matter in a different 
light 

"Very well," he said, "you shall have the prisoner made 
over to you. Everything good that he does shall be laid to 
your credit, and, of course, everything bad. And as it is of 



1 68 Edward Bertram. 

almost vital importance to us now to keep him here, you shall 
have the privilege of watching over him at night" 

" That's a part of the prime minister's business always, is it 
not, papa," asked Rosa, "to look after the prisoners?" 

" Then if it is, you shall be prime minister," said Ned, with 
a pretended yawn. " For I won't. I should be sure to fall 
asleep on duty. But see. Now we've got the fire, how are we 
going to cook our fishes? That's a much more interesting 
matter than politics, or whatever you call prime minister 
affairs. We can't put them down here in front, because the 
wind is blowing so that they would be covered with ashes ; and 
if we put them on the top, they will be burnt to nothing. 

" Yes. We'll put up some gipsy sticks over the fire. There 
are some splendid long ones that will just do, over there by the 
huts." 

"And how about the kettle — ^what's to do for that ?" 

** Kettle, indeed 1 Saucepan, you mean. Dear me, what 
are boys made so ignorant for, I wonder," said Rosa, pityingly. 

" To amuse girls, I expect," answered Ned, coolly. " But 
that cocoa-nut shell is a good thought of yours. A string of 
them over the flames with our breakfast boiling away in them 
will be jolly." 

" They will be still jollier, in my opinion," said King Frank, 
" when they are set before us on Pheenie's green table-cloth. 
It must be getting on towards dinner-time. I shall begin 
feasting upon one of you if you keep me waiting much longer 
for some food." 

The native youth was apparently beginning to feel as hungry 
as his foreign companions, for he held out his hands now 
towards the bananas, and made begging signs for some to 
be given him. Josephine picked out three or four of the finest 
"lumps of leather," as Ned called them, and laid them down 
before the stranger guest, while Ned looked on to see how the 
brownish-yellow things were to be eaten. He was considerably 



" What 's for Breakfast V' 169 

surprised when he saw the tough outer skin stripped down all 
round, laying bare the eatable inside, which looked like a soft, 
thick piece of pith four or five inches long. The islander ate 
up the first with such eager relish that Ned began to think he 
might as well throw aside pride, and begin breakfast with a 
bit of leather after all, while Rosa was finishing her cookery. 
But there was something more to see first. 

Having eaten one banana in its natural state. Wow-wow 
peeled the others, slit them in halves, and, going round to the 
other side of the fire, laid the slices on the glowing wood, 
where the wind blew it clear and bright, and in a few moments 
the smell from the sputtering, fr3ring fruit was so good that Ned 
forthwith gave up his fears of leathery food for once and all, 
and joined his philosophical prisoner in his meal forthwith. 




CHAPTER XX. 

KING FRANK LIKES HIS KINGDOM. 

OUR hungry friends took an uncommonly short time to 
eat their breakfast, and '' clearing away " was somewhat 
unnecessary. 

"So what's to do next?** asked Ned, as he swallowed 
his last mouthful of banana, and wiped his sticky fingers 
somewhat fastidiously upon a leaf. 

His act drew quite superfluous attention to his general 
personal appearance. The heat of the fire, wind, and time 
combined, had dried his clothes very completely, and the front 
view of him presented a fine specimen of baked mud. His 
face was streaked. His hands were grimy, with the exception 
of the tips, whose very cleanness made the dirtiness of the rest 
more visible. Consequently his question, " What's to do 
next?" was greeted, after a moment's pause, with a general 
laughing exclamation — 

" Go and have a bath, clothes and all." 

** Ah ! " said Ned, calmly surveying himself for the first 
time, "that comes of trying a new plan for catching eels. 
But it will be very agreeable to the feelings of the prime 
minister to go and have a swim. So, if you please, your 
majesty, I vote that you and I make our way down to the 



King Frank likes his Kingdom. 171 

sea, while the girls see to keeping up the fire against dinner 
time, and gathering another supply of bananas, and anything 
else good that they come across." 

"Very well," answered King Frank, smiling. "Your 
idea is not such a bad one, if the girls don't object to their 
share of it, and Mr. Storton will keep guard over camp while 
we are away." 

"Oh yes, I know he will," replied Rosa for him quickly, 
" and attend to the fire too, while Josephine and I get Wow- 
wow to go into the woods with us, to snare a monkey for Mr. 
Edward's next meal." 

"Gahl" exclaimed Ned once more, as he and Mr, Bell 
went off for their bathe* 

" Find us a bathing-place, while you are there," called Rosa 
after them. 

*' And make haste back, to build a house for to-night," called 
her sister. 

" Pheenie's request gives rise to a very grave consideration," 
said King Frank. " The whole island appears now to be at 
our disposal. But we know neither its extent nor its capa- 
bilities. And it would be pleasant to know both before 
deciding on the site for our habitation." 

"You speak, sir, as if you expected us to be shut up on 
this island for the rest of our lives," said Ned. 

"Well, we might have many a worse fate," answered the 
new king, as he stood still in the beautiful glade they were now 
crossing, and looked around him on the exquisite scenes of 
peaceful beauty that met him on every side, edged in front by 
a delicate white fringe bordering the sparkling waters of the 
sea, and with a background of soft swelling blue-toned hills, at 
the foot of which lay the unseen lake. 

" What do you say, my Prime Minister ?" asked Mr. Bell, 
after a short pause. " Does the prospect of having to remain 
here seem a very doleful one to you?" 



172 Edward Bertram. 



"If you please, your majesty, not at all for a time," was the 
ready answer; "and when we are tired of it, why, we'll just 
build a boat, and cut it" 

" Admirably decided," exclaimed Mr. Bell. " And of course, 
since you speak so confidently about the boat, you are fully 
equal to its construction, and when we require it we shall only 
have to tell you, and leave the care of providing it in your 
competent hands. You shall have the free use of my pocket- 
knife by way of tools. The island contains no others, un- 
fortunately." 

"Then I wonder how the natives manage to make their 
canoes, and bows and arrows," remarked Ned, rather shrewdly. 

But the explanation of that wonder had to wait for the future, 
and was gradual in its unfolding. The two companions had 
reached the shores of the island, which were washed by a sort 
of narrow salt lake, the bed broken here and there by sharp, 
rocky projections, which served as stepping-stones or connecting 
links in fair weather with the reef. During storms, such as that 
of yesterday, these stepping-stones were completely covered by 
a high-dashing, fierce surf, which was quite impassable, and at 
such seasons the only connection between the reef and the 
island on that side was at one small point, about a quarter of 
a mile lower down, where the rock formed a natural bridge 
between the two. It was across this bridge that Rosa had run 
when she saw the ship, the Good BesSy rocking on the reef at 
its outermost edge, still further down ; and it was across this 
spray-washed, pool-filled bridge that, an hour or so later, she 
had pulled her sister with her, to the small grotto on the reef, 
into which Edward Bertram and Storton had so mercifully been 
washed. 

But neither this bridge, nor the grotto, were visible from the 
point of shore which Mr. Bell and Ned naturally arrived at 
first, in coming straight down the long and beautiful glade, of 
nearly three miles in length| which led from the neighbourhood 



King Frank likes his Kingdom. 173 

of the native village down to the sea, or rather to the inner 
belt of salt water. 

Ned prepared to go over the rocks, to get to the open sea, 
with a rather rueful look at his bare feet and the sharp crags. 

" I'll have a try if I can't make myself some shoes out of 
those leather banana skins before to-morrow," he laughed, as 
he gave his first leap forward on to the smoothest place he 
could see. 

"All right, Shoemaker and Prime Minister" — the titles 
sounded capitally together^ — "but meantime, youngster, you 
are always in such a mighty hurry about everything. Sharks 
abound in the waters about here, I believe ; and although the 
natives escaped being snapped up this morning, we might be 
less fortunate. All things considered, I think we will bathe 
inside the reef until we know somewhat more about our sur- 
roundings." 

" Humph," muttered Ned, and looking half inclined to rebel. 
But he opportunely remembered a gruesome tale told him by 
Bill Anderson, of a mate of his who had both his legs chopped 
off clean and sharp by a shark's teeth in Sydney Harbour. 
And the operation had been performed so unscientifically, that 
the poor fellow had died from the effects of it. 

This recollection, rather than loyalty, kept Ned to his duty ; 
and as he happened to alight on the rim of a natural basin of 
considerable depth and width, he had a very enjoyable bath, 
although the exercise of his swimming powers was somewhat 
restricted. 

When Mr. Bell returned to dry land, and advised his 
companion to do the same, Ned suddenly exclaimed — 

" Gh I but how about my clothes ? I haven't washed them 
yet And I am sure they are in a worse pickle than I was." 

"Very likely," said his companion. " But your jacket and 
trousers will shake and brush, and I washed your shirt the first 
thing. I hope it is dry now. Yes," he continued, stooping 



174 Edward Bertram. 

to where he had spread it out on the sand, '' that is dry enough, 
as I expected. But where are your socks ? did you kick them 
off as well as your boots when you jumped overboard?" 

" No ; I took them off when I went in after the eels. I 
wonder where they are got to." 

" Nowhere, I should say, but are l)dng where you left them. 
But come, are you ready ? Rosa and Josephine will be think- 
ing we are lost, and we have made no search as yet for a safe 
and sheltered bathing-place for them. I should like to find 
one near here, if we can." 

So saying, Mr. Bell led the way along the shore — not towards 
the place whence the native fleet had departed that morning, 
but in the direction of the bridge. And about midway Ned's 
nimble feet carried him first to the exact thing that was 
required. The action of the water there had grooved out of 
the sandy shore a miniature canal, which ran up into a green, 
leafy wood, and there emptied itself into a small, clear lake, 
shelving gradually to the centre, where its greatest depth was 
not more than five feet The bed was of sparkling white sand, 
which also formed a narrow border round it of three or four 
feet in width ; while close up to this came groups of tea shrubsi 
shining-leafed tobacco plants, plantains, palms, and many 
another beautiful production of the tropics, that only awaited 
the first sign of summer to burst forth into glorious masses of 
rich bloom. 

" They can't very well get drowned here, unless they try," 
said Ned, as he knelt down, and gathered some shells gleaming 
with metallic lustre, just beneath the water. 

Their father agreeing with Ned's opinion, it was soon de* 
cided that Rosa's behest was fulfilled. It remained now to 
hasten back to the small encampment, and concert measures 
for carrying out Pheenie's more important advice. 

" My idea is," said Mr. Bell, " that we erect a temporary abode 
on or near the site of the native village. There is an abundance 



King Frank likes his Kingdom. 175 

of building material close at hand. A fair supply of food is 
within reach, and fresh water is not far off." 

"Added to which," said Ned, "we know our way from 
there to our bathing-places, and to the eel river. And we 
don't know our way about anywhere else." 

"There is more in that last argument of yours," said Mr. 
Bell quickly, "than in any of the others that I had just advanced. 
For, on second thoughts, I begin to think that the position is 
as unwise and inconvenient, for people in our circumstances, 
as it would be possible to find on the island. At least three 
miles from the sea and passing ships, and more than half-a- 
mi le from fresh drinking water." 

" Then we had better go somewhere else." 

"Decidedly. And so we will, when we know where that 
somewhere else is. But we may as well take time to make 
a good choice while we are about it." 

" Hullo ! they haven't let the fire out, at any rate," shouted 
Ned joyfully, at this moment coming within sight of a fine 
mass of smoke and flame blown towards them by the wind. 
" If they have only been as good about the dinner as the fire, 
we shall do well." 

" Yes, especially as I have brought up a fair contribution to 
it from the sea," said Mr. Bell, attracting Ned's notice, for the 
first time, to a large folded leaf he was carrying carefully with 
both hands. 

Ned turned and peered in at the opening of the leaf, and 
then rushed on to the camp, crying at the top of his voice — 

"Clear a hot place for the cockles, Rosa; be quick. 
Giant cockles." 

" Nay then, there's no hurry," exclaimed Mr. Bell, hastening 
up behind him. " It is little more than two hours since we 
finished breakfast." 

"But if you please, your majesty," said that ever-hungry 
prime minister, " I think it will be such a good thing to get 



176 Edward Bertram. 

dinner over before you set the builders to work. It will save 
interruption till supper-time." 

"Oh, of course," was the laughing assent. "Well, have it 
your own way. But evidently our companions have not wasted 
their time while we have been absent Rosa and Josephine 
are not beckoning to us in that eager way for nothing." 



CHAPTERXXI. 

LEAF COTTAGE AND A FOLDING-CHAIR. 

MR. BELL was quite right. The sisters, with a little help 
from Storton, who was much easier since his wounds had 
been washed and the piece of bone extracted, and with a 
great deal .of help from the grateful young native, had prepared 
a very agreeable surprise for their absent parent and friend. 

Josephine had scarcely sent her request after them, as they 
went off seawards, than Rose turned to her with the 
exclamation — 

"Suppose we try to build a hut, to astonish them with when 
they get back?" 

Pheenie, thinking this a splendid idea, the two girls pro- 
ceeded to try and put it into execution without loss of time. 
Running across the open to the burnt village, they began by 
seeking out a few poles that had escaped the fire, and, deciding 
f^ainst erecting them on that dreary site, they commenced 
operations by each carrying one across to the outskirts of the 
beautiful little wood where they had established their gipsy 
camp. Then, with some of the sharpened shelb they had 
found near the huts, and with bits of wood, they scooped out 
two holes about ten feet apart, and began to set up their staves, 
one on either side of Storton. 



178 Edward Bertram. 

"What are you about?" he asked, as he pulled himself 
forward a little to help them. 

"Building a roof over your head," laughed Rosa; "or 
trying to." 

Whether or no their attempts would have been successful 
is doubtful, if at this stage in the proceedings the native had 
not guessed what was going forward, and with very unin- 
telligible language, but very intelligible signs, volunteered his 
valuable services. 

Running a little farther into the wood, he soon returned 
with several long strips of bark, of a tolerably tough, strong 
nature ; and the English folks had not long to wait to see the 
use of them. 

Immediately behind Storton grew half-a-dozen of the soft- 
stemmed young plaintains, about twelve feet high. 

These the native drew together in pairs, as near the top as 
he could reach, with his strips of bark, fastened with pins of 
wood and tendrils of the trailing plants growing at their feet 

While he was doing this Storton began to perceive his pur- 
pose, and, directing the girls to pile up a heap of wood for 
him, by way of a high step beside each of their staves, he took 
a third of the poles they had brought across, and, mounting on 
the wood piles, he bound the two ends firmly to the tops of 
the side staves. Then Wow-wow, with a grin of approval, 
pushed towards him his pairs of plantains, one pair being 
bound to the centre of the cross pole, the other to the two 
ends where it united with the sides. 

The bower-hut thus far advanced, Rosa and Josephine 
clapped their hands with delight. But there was something 
more to be done yet to make it answer even to Wow-wow's 
notion of a home. He looked thoughtful for a minute, and 
shook his head reproachfully at the ruined village, amidst 
which lay the burnt remnants of cocoa-nut matting. But his 
face soon cleared, and, bounding away towards a fan-palm of 



Leaf Cottage and a Folding-Chair. 179 



middle growth, about thirty or forty feet high, he climbed up 
the uneven trunk with the agility of a cat, quite regardless of 
his wounds, and soon stripped off and flung down a couple 
of the enormous leaves, about twelve feet long, and between 
nine and ten broad. 

"Hurrah!" cried Josephine, as she pounced upon one of 
them, and began dragging it towards the bower. 

** Wah !" shouted the native, with an equal tone of triumph, 
as he dropped to the ground and seized the other. 

When, with the additional aid or Rosa and Storton, these 
two leaves had been utilised into complete coverings for back, 
roof, and sides, the rapidly-built dwelling began to look really 
comfortable, with the fire kept blazing away merrily in front of 
it, close to which the native flung himself down, and regarded 
the joint piece of handiwork with grins and chuckles of the 
greatest complacency. 

"Now for some chairs and a table," said Pheenie. And 
her two English companions laughed. But the young lady 
soon showed them that she meant what she said. 

A diligent turning over of the ruins resulted in the finding of 
fourteen or fifteen various lengths of bamboo, with which she 
returned to camp, and Rosa laughed again, remarking, "Why, 
I don't believe that you've got two pieces of the same length. 
I'm afraid your chairs won't be comfortable enough to tempt 
any one to sit on them but yourself." 

*'0h, Rosa, now you really are foolish. Don't you know 
that I can make a long hole for the long pieces, and a short 
one for the little ones." 

. Thus reminded of a very plain fact, Rosa quite contentedly 
turned the laugh against herself, and, beginning to think that 
her sister's furniture plan was really possible of accomplishment, 
she once more set to work to help. The four legs of the table 
were soon set up, and Pheenie fetched a large, shining leaf, 
which formed a bright top for it, at a very small amount of 



i8o Edward Bertram. 

trouble, and no expense. It was rather given to turning up at 
one side, but the young cabinet-maker remedied that defect by 
laying a couple of bananas down there. The seats gave more 
anxiety. 

" Leaves won't do to sit on," murmured Pheenie, in sudden 
perplexity. " They would split, I suppose. I wonder whether 
Wow-wow could suggest anything." 

With this hope, Josephine began to make signs to the native, 
to intimate her wishes. She placed a leaf on the three sticks 
meant to form the supports of one of her three-legged stools, 
and, seating herself upon it, suffered herself to fall with it to the 
ground. She looked dolefully at Wow-wow, and went through 
the same performance a second, and then a third time; 
Wow-wow, meantime, staring at her with eyes that grew bigger 
every moment, until they threatened to swallow up his whole 
face. 




CHAPTER XXII. 
"sbasoning" for a light meal. 

OUR last chapter ended with Josephine Bell's attempt to 
get the native's aid in making chairs. As she completed 
her third performance to prove that a leaf is an unreliable 
chair-seat, Rosa went off into a convulsive giggle Wow-wow 
transferred his bewildered gaze to her for a moment Then 
his face cleared, his eyes contracted to their natural size, and, 
to poor Josephine's utter consternation, he burst into a 
paroxysm of laughter, threw himself back full length on the 
ground, and rolled over and over in excited glee at the funny 
little exhibition that had been provided for his amusement 

" There, you see, Rosa, you shouldn't have laughed," said 
Josephine J "you have made Wow-wow think it all nonsense." 

"And so — so — so it is— all nonsense," laughed and stam- 
mered Rosa, till she suddenly saw that her disappointed sister 
was on the point of tears. Then good-nature got the better of 
amusement, and she set her brains to work to forward the little 
girl's wishes. 

"Look here," said Storton, holding up something in his 
hands; "won't this do? It's rough, but may answer your 
purpose." 

" I should think so f " B^utifully," exclaimed both the girls, 



i82 Edward Bertram. 

as they looked admiringly at a piece of cross-bar work, made 
of twigs, and bits of split bamboo. 

Josephine's face was all smiles again. As for darkie, he 
much better understood the girls' next intimation, that he 
might help them to provide another supply of food. The first 
article he brought was a small snake. He had seen the eels 
welcomed with delight two hours ago, and accordingly had 
taken some pains to procure a similar-looking article of diet 
He was very surprised when the girls retreated from his offer- 
ing, shuddering. He turned sulky, sat down as far from the 
hut as the pleasant influence of the fire extended, cooked his 
prize for his own benefit, and when he had eaten it, lay down 
and fell asleep. 

" Crosspatch," said Rosa. 

"Never mind," said Josephine, who had completed her 
chairs. " We can do without him." She ran off to the palm 
grove for the nuts which the furious monkey had been good 
enough to use as missiles to throw at Ned. 

Rosa's contribution to the meal was a bunch of bananas, and 
a handful of small round seeds she had gathered from a plant 
close by. 

" What is the use of them ?" asked Pheenie, with doubt- 
ful looks at the little greenish-black balls. "Are they 
nice?" 

" Don't know," replied Rosa, with a mischievous sparkle in 
her bright eyes. "I thought they looked so like pills that 
they might console father for not being able to concoct real 
ones. Perhaps that boy may like a few for miniature 
marbles." 

At that moment " that boy's " shout was heard, and he him- 
self appeared in sight, tall almost as the impudent young lady's 
own tall father. The girls flew forward to welcome the new 
arrivals to Leaf Cottage. 

" And it does you infinite credit," said Mr. Bell, looking at 



*^ Seasoning'' for a light meal. 183 

the building, and its interior arrangements, with much ap- 
proval. 

"What do you say?" asked Pheenie, turning with some 
anxiety to Bertram, who stood holding the cockles, of which he 
had politely relieved the doctor. 

" Yes, what do you say ?" added Rosa. 

" Elegant, but unsubstantial," was the calm reply. 

" You may well say that," exclaimed Mr. Bell, who had just 
let himself drop on to one of Pheenie's chairs, which had 
instantly collapsed with him, and he now sat huddled up on 
the ground, hemmed in with three bits of gracefully bending 
bamboo. 

Even the discomfited Josephine laughed, and th6 light- 
sleeping native boy awoke, and, seeing a repetition of the 
former queer exhibition, laughed and choked till his com- 
panions thought he was going into a fit. Happily, the only fit 
that ensued was a fit of restored good-humour. 

" Next time you make chairs, young ladies, please to make 
them of something less pliable," said their father. 

" And next time you prepare dinner for men, please to let 
the first or second course be meat," added Ned, turning his 
attention once more to the light repast set out carefully on the 
green table. " This affair looks like the refreshments one has 
before supper at a party." 

"And to add insult to injury," said the doctor, smiling, as he 
raised his eyes from a closer inspection of the table, "they 
have provided us with seasoning, as though they feared our 
appetites would require aid to get through this sumptuous pro- 



vision." 



As he spoke, he picked up one of Rosa's little balls, and 
bit it 

" If you please, father, those are pills, ' to be well shaken 
before taken,'" remonstrated Rosa. 

" If you don't take care, ma'am, I will make you a dose of 



i84 Edward Bertram. 

tea with a handful of them. There will be no fear of com- 
plaints that it is not hot enough." 

" Why, what are they then ?" asked every voice at once. 

"The seeds of the pepper plant, to be sure. They will be a 
great aid in Rosa's cookery." 

" When she gets anything to cook," muttered Ned, discon- 
solately. 




CHAPTER XXIII. 

A MORNING PERFORMANCE AT LEAF COTTAGE. 

THE light repast of cockles and bananas eaten, all the 
party, with the exception of the invalid Storton, set to 
work to fortify Leaf Cottage against besiegers. Once more 
Wow-wow rendered important service, both by his labour and 
by his knowledge of the various plants, leaves, and boughs 
most suitable for the desired purpose. 

As night drew near, Mr. Bell and his assistants seated 
themselves beside the fire, and regarded their homestead with 
pardonable pride. But, whether from the excitement of the 
past thirty-six hours, from over-fatigue, or from a discovery, 
made too late to guard against it, that the sea curved veiy 
closely in upon the rear of the cottage which they had not forti- 
fied, the cheerful spirits that had animated everyone during 
daylight sank completely, and not one of the English group 
was inclined ^either to sleep or talk. The native boy, less 
sensitive to such influences, curled himself round, dog fashion, 
almost within reach of the flames, and fell asleep, much envied 
by his companions. 

At last, hours after the whole landscape had been hidden in 
darkness, excepting where it was lighted up here and there with 
the fitful flare from the fire between the bars of the small 
stockade, Mr. Bell persuaded his daughters to retire to the 



1 86 Edward Bertram. 



little apartment prepared for them, and sheathed all round 
with leaves. 

The doctor then laid himself down in front of it, and soon 
fell asleep, wearied out with his last night's watching, and 
somewhat slowly his two companions followed his example. 

They would have shown more wisdom if they had taken 
their sleep four hours earlier. As it was, dawn was beginning 
to flood the whole place with rosy light while they still lay 
wrapped in oblivion. 

But if they chose to wake and sleep at wrong times, other 
people were more sensible. 

When the brown-skinned thief, who had made the unsuccess- 
ful attempt to run off with Storton's irons, got back to his own 
people, he lost no time in stirring them up to revenge his 
injuries, and, representing that the numbers of the white faces 
were absolutely insignificant, he soon procured a fleet- of 
volunteers to accompany him back to regain his iron treasures. 

Happily for the white people, there was a life and death 
feud raging just then between the yellow islanders and the 
brown ones, who came of different races, and spoke a diflerent 
tongue. Accordingly, when, just after day broke, Wow-wow 
was aroused from the final remnants of his morning doze by a 
rustling sound coming through the trees, he instantly sat up, 
and began to look about him. 

For some moments even his sharp eyes were bafiled by the 
cover afforded to the foe in the wood. At last, however, two 
brown fellows, more eager and daring than their companions, 
pushed straight forward swiftly for Leaf Cottage, and Wow- 
wow saw them, and trembling with terror he wriggled rapidly 
along the ground, stretched out his hand, and gave a vigorous 
tug to Mr. Bell's foot, and then a second. At the same 
instant there was a sharp, rending sound at the back of the 
cottage. 

The doctor sprang up, and seized his rifle, still half asleep. 



THE RESCDB. 



A Morning Performance at Leaf Cottage. 187 

" What is it ? what is the matter ?" he exclaimed, as his eyes 
fell on the cowering native. 

The exclamation awoke Storton and Ned, the latter sitting 
up, and asking with calm drowsiness, as he rubbed his eyes — 

"What's the row?" 

Another moment, and wild cries of agonized terror rang 
through the leaf walls of the girls' room, and startled the three 
Englishmen into thorough wakefulness. 

"Save her! save her!" shrieked Rosa's voice. Then — 
"Save me!" 

The father, Ned, and Storton dashed themselves through 
the leaf entrance, Ned's rifle going off as he did so. There 
was a yell of astonished fright within the hut, a rush, and Rosa 
was free once more. But where was Josephine ? 

"There, there," gasped Rosa, half frantic with fear and 
sorrow. " Fly naw^ or it will be too late." 

Past the stems of plantains and bananas Josephine's long 
golden curls were streaming behind her, as a couple of brown 
captors dragged her along between them, struggling and shriek- 
ing, towards the canoes. 

She might have spared her struggles, poor child. Her little 
white arms were as helpless as reeds against the lean brown 
hands that grasped her, which, small though they were almost 
as her own, were so much more muscular. However, help was 
close at hand. 

Regardless of the troop of natives, who were already begin- 
ning to rally from their sudden panic at the rifle, Mr. Bell and 
Ned rushed impetuously through the midst of them, overawing 
them by their fierce courage, and rapidly gained on the 
retreating robbers. 

The natives had almost reached the shore. Once there, the 
prize must be theirs, and father and child would be lost to each 
other for life. 

" Fire, sir !" exclaimed Ned, breathlessly, as the imminence 



1 88 Edward Bertram. 

of the affair became each moment more apparent Had his 
rifle been loaded he would, himself, have fired some minutes 
since. 

Twice, already, the father had raised his rifle to his shoulder, 
and twice dropped it again. At Ned's entreaty he tried once 
more. But the effort was in vain; his agitation was too 
terrible. Almost flinging the loaded weapon into his com- 
panion's hands, he muttered hoarsely — 

"You fire. I cannot Do not shoot my child." 

Ned's face brightened. He sprang forward. The doctor's 
weapon was a double-barrelled rifle, and Ned gave the natives 
the benefit of both barrels, one for each of them. 

Yells of " Ha-ee — Ha-ee " followed each report Josephine's 
arms were released, and as she fell to the ground the robbers 
bleared the shore with a bound, rolled head over heels into the 
water, crept through it to the reef, over which they tore like 
mad things, regardless of cuts and scratches, threw themselves 
into their canoe, and paddled away as fast as they could go, 
without waiting for further dealings with either friends or foes. 

Storton and his rifle had given the remainder of the troop, 
meantime, very impressive hints that the white colonists were 
not anxious for other company, and soon all the brown indi- 
viduals and their canoes had departed from Shipwreck Island. 
History does not say what treatment the original instigator to 
this unprofitable expedition received on his return to the head- 
quarters of his tribe, but it is tolerably safe to conjecture that 
it was something rather unpleasant 

A more important part of the matter, as regards us, is, that 
from this date neither he nor any of his people again ventured 
near the shores of the demon-haunted island, and, as far as 
they were concerned, our English friends were left at peace. 

When Josephine fell to the ground her father paid no further 
heed to her captors, but ran forward, and threw himself down 
beside his little daughter, crying in a tone of anguish— 



A Morning Performance at Leaf Cottage. 189 



a 



She is dead ! My child is killed." 

He would not let Ned come near her, nor would he listen 
to a word he said ; and when Storton and Rosa came up with 
them two minutes later, he was still moaning — 

"She is killed— my child is killed!" 

" Killed !" ejaculated Storton, in a hushed tone of horror. 
"Killed, did you say?" 

"I don't believe it,'* said Ned, shortly and sharply. "I 
don't believe she's any more dead than I am. If a boy at 
school had gone on doing like Mr. Bell he'd have got hit. 
The shot never touched her." 

" And, except by some very sad mischance, it could not have 
killed her if it had, if that is all her father fears." 

"Come, sir, move. You are stifling the child. You — a 
doctor — to go on acting in this fashion. You surprise me, sir. 
There, she's better already, now that she has got some air. 
Open your eyes, little one, and tell your father that he is 
behaving very badly." 

Thus advised, Pheenie did open her eyes, and gave a 
bewildered gaze around her. Then, as recollection returned 
to her, she raised herself up, threw her arms round her father's 
neck, and burst into tears. That latter act did everybody good 
but Ned, who looked more indignant than ever, and marched 
off back to the wreck of Leaf Cottage, muttering — " What 
rubbish 1" 




CHAPTER XXIV. 

SEEKING A SETTLEMENT, THEY DISCOVER RAFT BAY. 

THE visit of the "Brownies," as Ned called the recent 
disturbers of the peace, promoted a general wish to lose 
no further time in finding a more prudent spot for the settle- 
ment of the colony. 

Accordingly, Rosa and Josephine having gathered together 
eight or nine of the cocoa-nut shells, and a gourd jar they had 
found in the village, to serve for drinking cups and saucepans, 
preparations for striking camp were completed, and, with . the 
Indian for guide, the procession started upwards for the hills. 

The morning was genial as a fair May morning in England, 
although it was nearly the midst of such winter as that southern 
island ever knew. 

Skirting the palm grove and the rice-fields, the party reached 
the lake, on the beautiful banks of which a halt was called. 

Rosa took advantage of the opportunity to remark to 
Bertram, in a tone of mock gravity — 

"You have never once said you are hungry this morning 1" 

Ned's face flushed, and he cast a rapid, furtive glance at 
Pheenie's pale cheeks. Then turning away, he muttered — 

"I suppose a fellow isn't obliged to be hungry unless he 
likes." 

Rosa's eyelids dropped over the saucy blue eyes, and as 



Discovery of Raft Bay. 191 

every one rose to commence the ascent of the hills, she 
hastened to Bertram's side, whispering — 

" I beg your pardon. It's wicked to laugh at you when you 
saved poor little Josie. But please don't mind — I always laugh 
at everybody." 

** Yes, I know you do," said Ned, in his turn laughing now. 
" I have found that much out about you quite well already." 

'' Oh, I am so glad. Then of course it's all right, and I can 
do it as much as I like," exclaimed Miss Rosa, joyfully. '* I 
wish you and I might go on first We shall never get to the 
top at this rate." 

However, the crown was reached at last, and the climbers 
felt amply rewarded for their toil by the beauty of the view 
spread out everywhere around them, while their curiosity was 
excited by another range of hills crossing the island, and 
shutting out from them what lay beyond. 

Ned's vexation at having left the bathing-place so far behind 
vanished in delight when he reached the edge of the small 
plateau at the top of the hills, and, looking down the other side, 
he saw nothing but a gentle green slope of not quite a mile in 
length between him and a beautiful little bay, around the edges 
of which tiny wavelets were rippling with a most enticing 
aspect. Just at that point the reef and the island joined, and 
curved in with a deep indentation for the formation of this most 
convenient little bay. 

" Hurrah !" shouted Ned. " Hurry up, all of you, hurry up. 
Here's something worth seeing, I can tell you." 

'' There are a dozen reasons to make me as thankful as you 
for its existence," said Mr. Bell, when he and Storton crossed 
to Ned's side, in obedience to his eager summons. '* It looks 
tempting enough, for one thing, to induce passing ships to send 
a boat here. After all, we may be glad of a chance to escape 
some day to a less confined territory." 

'*When that time comes," laughed Rosa; "you remember 



192 Edward Bertram. 

your prime minbter is to provide us with the means of trans- 
port He has found the bay in readiness for his fleet" 

'' It looks uncommonly as if the^-e were a boat, or something 
of the sort, down on the beach already," said Ned five 
minutes later, returning to his companions after a rapid run 
part of the way down the slope to get a nearer view of the 
miniature harbour. 

'' Do you really mean that you have seen anything of the 
sort?" asked Mr. Bell, with an excitement that somewhat con- 
tradicted his recent expression of resignation. 

Ned noticed the fact, and, fearing to raise false hopes, replied 
more cautiously — " I don't know. There's something on the 
beach that is not stone or shells or seaweed, I'm pretty certain, 
but I can't say more than that" 

'' Why don't you go and examine it ?" asked the practical 
Rosa. 

A short consultation ensued, which resulted in the doctor 
and Ned starting down the slope with the speed of anxiety and 
curiosity. 

They were half-way down the hills before they got a fair 
view of the object towards which they were descending. 

When they did so, both uttered exclamations of delight 

Ned shouted, "The materials for our house 1" 

Mr. Bell cried, "Our raft I" 

They ran on again, and in a very few minutes stood along- 
side the raft, on which the Bells had escaped from their sink- 
ing ship. Whether the natives had conveyed it there for future 
use, or it had drifted round the island, been washed into the 
bay by the waves, and landed high and dry during the late 
high tide, it was impossible to say. The grand and delightful 
fact was sufficient for its finders, that there it was — planks, 
spars, ropes, sailcloth, all complete. 

"This is indeed a blessing," said Mr. Bell, gravely and 
fervently. 



Discovery of Raft Bay. 193 

'^ I should think it is, indeed ! Just look here. And they're 
as good as if they had only just been made," said a rather 
choked voice. 

Mr. Bell started slightly, and turned towards Ned. The 
next moment he burst out laughing. 

*' Come, young man, since you are taster to his majesty, and 
you seem to approve those biscuits highly, just hand one over 
here, please. It was my thought to put that cask on the raft. 
You should be grateful to me." 

"And I just am, then," said Ned, heartily. "Oysters and 
cockles and bananas will eat evet so much better with biscuits 
to eat with them." 

" Here is a barrel of something even more useful than the 
biscuits," said Mr.«Bell, as the two continued their investiga- 
tions, munching the while. 

"What is it?" asked Ned, coming round with a heavy 
package in his arms. " Is it as useful as what I have got here ?" 

" Both are as useful as anything could possibly be to people 
in our circumstances," was the answer. " Your box is full of 
tools, I know, for I packed them myself. And this barrel is 
full of potatoes." 

"How jolly. .And that box over there has got a bit of 
pickled pork in it, and some red herrings." 

"Another barrel full of red herrings, do you say?" said Mr. 
Bell. 

Edward Bertram shook his head. "No indeed, sir. No 
such luck. Just a few. About enough to tempt us to do with 
them as the miser did with bis bit of cheese — put them in a 
bottle, and rub our noses against it, as a treat, now and then." 

"Never mind. I have a couple of fishing-nets and some 
fishing-rods and tackle, bound down with the ropes to the raft. 
So if you cannot catch yourself any more red herrings, I daresay 
you can get some other fish as good." 

" Now, sir, do you mean ? " 

N 



194 Edward Bertram. 

" Well, no, not exactly. For now, what do you say to our 
going back to the others, to let them know of our good 
fortune?" 

Ned was quite willing. ^' But can we not take something 
with us as a proof?" he asked^ with a longing look at the 
treasures he was leaving. 

Mr. Bell laughed. "Not the biscuits, young man." 

" Umph," came the subdued ghost of a grumble. " Well, 
what else, then ?" 

" Why, I shall be only too glad if you can carry up that box 
of tools while I roll this barrel of potatoes up the hill. I am 
sure you will admit that they are both first-rate examples of 
the value of our find." 

In spite of his temporary disappointment as to those capti- 
vating biscuits, Ned agreed to this part of the bargain with the 
greatest alacrity, and the two companions began to remount 
with their treasures. They had not proceeded far, however, 
when their progress was arrested in a most awful manner. 

No sound had broken on their ears since they quitted their 
companions but the gentle ripple of the water on the shore. 
Suddenly shrieks of the wildest, most heartrending agony burst 
upon them, and were repeated with terrible, mocking echoes 
from the cliffs. The two girls appeared, rushing down in 
headlong flight from the brow of the hill, their arms flung up 
to heaven, as though in an attitude of almost mad despair, 
while they continued to utter piercing screams that well-nigh 
froze the hearers' hearts. 

Ned dropped his load, and Mr. Bell started aside from the 
barrel, which rolled and bounded back to the strand, splitting 
to pieces as it fell, and scattering the tubers far and wide. 

"What new misery has come upon us?" they exclaimed 
simultaneously. 

But the cry died on their lips, and their eye-balls seemed 
leaping from their sockets, when 



CHAPTER XXV. 

WAGGA SAVES THE GIRLS' LIVES, AND PROVIDES HIMSELF WITH 

DINNER. 

THE end of the page, and a sort of sympathetic gasp, 
brought our last chapter to a particularly abrupt termina- 
tion. To resume. 

The cry of consternation died on the lips of Mr. Bell and 
Ned, and their eyeballs seemed to leap from their sockets as 
Rosa's and Josephine's headlong rush brought them onwards, 
nearer and nearer, as though a sleuth-hound were at their 
heels. 

Something still more deadly wrapped the girls in its awful 
folds. When Mr. Bell and Ned had descended to the shore 
an hour since, the sisters wandered along the brow of the cliffs, 
making explorations on their own account. Very shortly, 
coming upon a beautiful little lake, embosomed almost on the 
very summit of the hills, they laid themselves down upon its 
margin, beneath the shade of some dwarf fan palms, and soon 
fell asleep. 

They awoke simultaneously with a suppressed cry, and a 
sensation of shuddering terror at some unknown evil. For a 
few moments they tried to shake off what they imagined but a 
nightmare dream. They sat up, and Rosa attempted to with- 
draw her arm from her young sister's waist. She could not ! 

They were bound together; and her effort was followed by a 



196 Edward Bertram. 

sharp, low hiss from the long, thin snake that was coiled 
around them, and which was even then drawing them more 
closely together in its deadly clasp. 

Most of you have, no doubt, seen pictures and casts of the 
world-renowned ancient sculpture of the Laocoon. I have 
seen the original itself, in the Belvedere of the Vatican at 
Rome, and I am not ashamed to confess that even before the 
inanimate marble my blood chilled, and I momentarily closed 
my eyes to shut out the awful, all-too-suggestive sight 

What then must it have been for these two young English 
girls when they saw, not a stone representation of one of the 
most tragical of mythological tales, but their own helpless 
living bodies linked together with this horrible writhing serpent 
chain. As their startled gaze fell on the gleaming, creeping 
folds and the glittering eyes, for the first minute a deadly faint- 
ness overcame them. But as it is with people in great suffer- 
ing, so it was now with Rosa and Josephine. Their mad 
terror grew too great for unconsciousness j too great, indeed, 
for caution, prudence, or thought 

Rising to their feet, the two girls flew to the top of the hill, 
uttering shriek upon shriek, and incoherent screams for help. 
Then, catching sight of Mr. Bell and Ned, they rushed 
frantically down towards them, without hearing or regarding 
the cries of the native, who had just perceived their situation, 
and bounded forward to meet them, as they sped away in the 
opposite direction. 

It is little wonder that the unexpected spectacle unnerved 
the unhappy father, while even Ned's presence of mind and 
readiness of resource failed him for once. At this dreadful 
crisis in the fate of the young sisters Wagga gave splendid 
proof of his kind feeling for his new friends. Flinging himself 
forward, in such a way as to arrest the panic-stricken flight, 
over which his unintelligible words had no power, he shook his 
fist with angry impatience in the girls' faces, as though a second 



Wagga saves the Girls^ Lives. 197 

adversary had come to overwhelm them. His gleaming eyes 
and clenched teeth had the desired effect of cowing them into 
stillness sufficiently long for his purpose. 

The snake had drawn its downhanging head in upon itself 
during its victims' headlong scamper, but as though it had been 
meantime employing the leisure in evil cogitations as to next 
proceedings, they no sooner came to a standstill than it 
suddenly reared its green and golden crest with a second 
venomous hiss, and darted it upwards towards Rosa*s neck. 

That moment its own neck was seized as in the grip of a 
vice, and its narrow, black forked tongue hung helpless from its 
jaws. Swift as thought it unwound itself from its rescued 
captives, and prepared to fling itself furiously round the native. 
At the same instant, however, Mr. Bell's pocket knife flashed in 
the light, and the next the heavy coils fell quivering and 
wriggling to the ground. Begging the loan of the unknown 
steel instrument, Wagga quickly finished the decapitation, and 
without waiting for thanks or praises, coolly proceeded to skin 
the slain enemy, and then marched upwards with the body 
hung about his shoulders like a long tippet, and ready to 
furnish him with several delightful meals. 

The English people fell on their knees, and poured out 
theu: gratitude to the heavenly Father with the passionate 
fervour of men who have just seen those dearer to them than 
their own lives caught back, on the very brink of the great 
precipice, from an impending and agonising death. 



CHAPTER XXVI. 

LOST. 

JT was a very unpleasant discovery to Edward Bertram that 
even a residence on desert islands had some drawbacks, 
but as getting away from the present one was among those 
things that are easier said than done, the question that re- 
mained was how to make the best of it 

An hour's diligent search resulted, fortunately, in finding a 
deep and wide alcove in one of the hills, which would afford a 
secure retreat in case of an Indian onslaught As it also had 
the advantage of being close to the summit, whence views 
were commanded of the sea all round, no time was lost in 
building a tolerably substantial and air-tight home in front of 
it The raft, and the box of ship carpenter's tools, were great 
aids in its construction, while Storton possessed mechanical 
genius that proved of great service in promoting the comfort of 
the small colony, and Wagga's knowledge of the good bread to 
be made from the pith of the sago palm, the eminently eatable 
biscuits to be sliced from the golden globes of the bread-fruit 
tree, and of the when and where to dig up the giant tubers of 
the yams, made him a very acceptable friend to Ned. 

After the first few weeks our friends required little pity, so 
far as mere personal comfort was concerned. They had a 
good roof over their heads ; sailcloth, cotton, and monkey-skins 



Lost. 199 

for garments ; thorns, fish-bones, and wood for needles ; cocoa- 
nut and palm-leaf fibre for thread. And as for food, they had 
abundance and to spare, when they once learnt where to look 
for it and how to obtain it. The bread has just been mentioned, 
or rather only some of it There was palm-oil for butter ; 
crabs, oysters, cockles, and fish of all sorts to be obtained 
from the sea ; eels from the river; rice and tea from the fields ; 
a plentiful supply of sweet water from the lakes; sugar for the 
trouble only of cutting a sugar-cane ; birds for the snaring ; 
and fruits too numerous to mention. 

When Ned's mind was once at rest on this score, and the 
works of general utility were fairly advanced, he announced 
his intention one morning of setting out on a long day's 
expedition across the other line of hills, to discover what lay 
on the opposite side. 

The information was received in various ways, according to 
the disposition of the hearers. Mr. Bell mounted to the out- 
look, and took a long, earnest gaze all round the horizon to 
make sure there were no canoes in sight, and then begged 
Ned to look out botanical treasures for him on his route. 
Storton moaned over his lame leg, which prevented his indul- 
gence in a similar pleasure. Impudent Rosa made up a huge 
packet of everything eatable in her store cupboard, and offered 
it to him as support for his journey ; and Josephine slid her 
little soft hand into his, and, with a quivering voice, implored 
Ned not to lie down to sleep anywhere, lest he should awake 
to find himself in a serpent's coils. 

"All right, Pussie," replied Bertram, pressing the gentle 
hand before he released it ; " I'll think of you if I begin to 
feel drowsy, and then my thoughts will be so pleasant that I 
shall be sure to keep awake. Good-bye, everybody; I'll be 
back before dusk." 

The next minute he was running down through the trees, as 
if he were in a hurry to get into the school before the bell 



Edward Bertram. 



ceased, instead of starting on a voluntary pleasure excursion. 
Nevertheless, great as his haste was, he did not keep his 
promise of returning before dusk. Night fell, and still the 
excursionist was absent, and when morning returned, and 
brought no signs of the missing friend and favourite, the 
dismay and grief were very great amongst the dwellers in the 
hill-side castle. Mr. Bell bitterly reproached himself for having 
allowed the boy to start off alone, to encounter the unknown 
dangers and difficulties of a region yet unexplored by any of 
them ; and, with the Indian boy for guide, he lost no time in 
following on his tracks, leaving his daughters to the care of 
Storton and their own vigilance. 

Meantime, to return to the previous day, and to accompany 
Ned on his tour of discovery. 




CHAPTER XXVII. 

NED SPENDS A FEW HOURS WITH A MAN'S HEAD. 

AT the end of about an hour's hard walking, Edward 
Bertram reached a break near the centre of the transverse 
line of hills, and at once took advantage of it, to save time 
rather than to spare himself the stiff climb over the summits. 
He had got half-way through the natural cutting, when a cave 
a few yards above his head attracted his inquisitiveness. 

Swinging himself up the steep ascent by means of the vine 
tendrils growing over it, he soon stood at the entrance of the 
mysterious-looking cavern. An impenetrable darkness filled 
the interior for some distance, except where it was pierced by 
one thin shaft of light, whose source Ned instantly determined 
to ascertain. 

It is tolerably well known by this time that Ned was no 
coward, and as for prudence — ^well, that was a word that he 
privately thought had best be omitted from a boy's dictionary ; 
so with one parting look at the far-off glancing sea, the waving 
trees, and the bright sunshine^ he plunged boldly into the 
darkness, guided only by the arrow of light quivering in the 
air overhead, while his path below was shrouded in most utter 
obscurity. 

The opening through which he had entered already appeared 
to have dwindled behind him to a hole scarcely big enough 



202 



Edward Bertram. 



for a cat to pass through, and still he had not discovered the 
source of the rapidly increasing light But he never for an 
instant dreamt of turning back. 

Two minutes more, stumbling onwards over the rough 
uneven ground of the long gallery, and Ned suddenly brought 
himself up short with a startled exclamation, and a chill 
feeling of dismay. 

Just beneath a natural shaft in the rock, about thirty feet 
before him, was a circular chamber, against the walls of which 
sat a row of grinning skeletons, gleaming in the flood of light 
that appeared to be poured down for the sole and special 
benefit of their eyeless skulls. 

The sight was as ghastly as unexpected, and Ned for once 
repented of the love of investigation which had led to the dis- 
covery of this old native sepulchre. He remembered that he 
had got a mile to walk back through the darkness, with those 
horrid grizzly bones behind him all the time. For all he knew, 
there might be lines of them all along on either hand of him, 
and he began to have a creepy feeling that the long skeleton 
arms were stretching themselves out, and that the long 
skeleton finger-bones were hovering about, groping greedily 
for a clutch at his shoulder. 

"But how absurd," muttered Bertram at last, with an 
impatient laugh, and trying to rally himself out of his uncom- 
fortable sensations. "I shall be afraid of a nursery bogey 
next. Good-bye, old gentlemen." 

As he made his mock bow, a gust of wind blew down the 
shaft, one of the skeletons started up with a tremendous rattle, 
bent forward, and — was gone. 

Ned involuntarily leapt forward. His head shone for an 
instant in the light, a cry reverberated through the dismal 
tunnel, and the grim skeletons were once more alone in their 
glory. Where was Ned ? 



A few hours with a man 's head. 203 

Well, poor old Ned was where there was some chance of his 
remaining until he got turned into a skeleton himself, beyond 
the reach of any known eyes till Doomsday. When he first 
gained sight of the unexpected human exhibition, he was so 
taken up with it as to pay no attention to the dim surroundings 
in his immediate neighbourhood ; accordingly, when he sprang 
forward, he jumped right into the trap before him, and fell 
headlong another fourteen feet lower into the heart of the hill. 
And there he lay, with no bones broken, but shaken and 
stunned. 

His first thought, when he slowly recovered consciousness, 
was that he had been turned adrift on the Bells' raft at sea. 
Then he imagined himself once more in the reef grotto, and 
listened eagerly for Rosa's encouraging words of assurance. 
But, unfortunately, Rosa was as ignorant as Sir Edward 
Bertram himself of the runaway heir's doleful plight at that 
hour. 

After a time he became aware of a pain across his shoulders^ 
caused by lying so long on a hard, sharp bar of something. He 
roused up sufficiently to raise himself and withdraw the uncom- 
fortable bolster. From the sudden way in which his fingers 
unclosed and dropped it when it appeared before his eyes, one 
might have thought it was a red-hot poker, or at least something 
that could bite. As a fact, it was only a skeleton's arm, and 
a trunkless skull at his feet grinned at him with gleaming teeth 
and sightless sockets. 

" Oh ! bother," exclaimed Ned, " I've had enough of this 
sort of thing. It may be all very well for those horrid old 
monks in Rome to make playthings of their friends' bones ; for 
my part I prefer other sights, so I'll be off." 

Fulling himself together, he jumped up and ran forward as 
though to leave the cavern. He had forgotten his tumble 
until he came in sharp contact with the wall of the lower cave, 
just out of range of the light. Then, indeed, he remembered 



2o| Edward Bertram. 

the additional discomforts of his position, and stood still to 
think. 

** There must be certainly something of the rat about me," 
he remarked with a dreary laugh, ''for I am always getting 
into a hole of one kind or another.'^ 

The one he was in now was of tolerable extent, but Ned's 
most diligent and prolonged examination of the walls all 
round, with his hands and straining eyes, did not result in find* 
ing any point at which he could climb back to the gallery from 
which he had fallen. 

The walls in their whole circumference curved inwards, and 
that is a sort of wall, as you well know, up which not even a 
cat can climb. 

The only outlet of any description from the skull-tenanted 
pit was an opening close to the ground, and about two feet 
square, beneath the broad ledge on which the skeletons were 
seated, and leading in the opposite direction to that from 
which Bertram had made his unfortunate ingress. 

However, as the day passed on, he came to the decision 
that even unknown penis were to be preferred to the certain 
horror of his present position, from which there was scarcely a 
remote chance of rescue, excepting through his own exertions. 

Summoning up all his resolution, and with a silent prayer for 
help and guidance, he slipped down on hands and knees, and 
dragged himself through the hole. 

He was now in perfect darkness, and in a tunnel so low that 
his head touched the roof as he crawled along, and so narrow 
that his shoulders were every now and then even squeezed 
together by the rock. 

Had Ned known the ordeal that was before him, it is 
probable that even his brave spirit would liave quailed, and 
that he would have yielded himself to a death of effortless 
despair rather than face so much suffering to save his life. 

For half-an-hour he continued his slow progress on hands 



A few hours with a man^s head. 205 

and knees. The cramped attitude and confined air were 
beginning to be almost insupportable, and he was on the point 
of trying to turn back to make a second effort to escape in 
another quarter. Then the passage suddenly widened some- 
what, and became high enough for him to rise into a sitting 
posture, and rest awhile. Thus he got courage to go on. 

Again the gallery narrowed down to little more than a tube, 
through which he had to drag himself almost at full length. 
Still he crawled on. The very awfulness of his present position 
seemed to help him to continue the struggle. There was 
something revolting to every noble human instinct in the death 
that threatened him. Stifled like a worm in a hole, never to 
be found till the hilts themselves dissolved. It must not be. 

At lengthy intervals, just when nature seemed almost 
exhausted, the gallery would improve. Once or twice he was 
even able to rise to his feet for a distance of thirty yards or so, 
and on one of these occasions a blessed glimpse of the blue 
sky, and a breath of fresh air, from a deep fissure in the hills 
beneath which he was burrowing, inspired his sinking heart 
with fresh strength and energy. 

How long he continued his painful journey through the 
night of his living tomb he never knew. If time be reckoned 
by such things as thought, and bodily and mental suffering, he 
might have claimed a month at least as having been employed 
in his terrible travels. 

At last, when he was utterly worn out, he emerged once 
more into a wide and lofty cavern, a fact of which he was made 
thankfully sensible by the great improvement in the air, for the 
darkness was as intense as ever. Feeling a floor of soft sand 
beneath his feet, he pushed some of it in a heap to form a 
pillow, laid his weary head upon it, stretched out his aching 
limbs, and fell asleep. 

Countless are the instances on record of prisoners and 
martyrs sleeping peacefully the night before execution, so no 



Edward Bertram. 



OQC need wonder that tiied-out Edward Bertram slept soundly 
in a dungeon stronger and more pitiless than any of human 
invention, and from which there appeared to be scarcely even 
a faint chance of ultimate escape. 

A new gaoler came upon him while he slept A stealthily 
silent assassin stole noiselessly to his humble, unprotected bed. 



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CHAPTER XXVIII. 



AN AWFUL ALTERNATIVE. 

y T was well for Edward Bertram that, tired as he was 
A when he gained the farther outlet of the dismal, tube- 
like corridor, he had yet sufficient thought for his comfort 
to make that pillow for his head before he lay down to sleep ; 
otherwise his life and this tale might have come to an abrupt 
end together. 

Slowly and softly, but with a deadly sureness and steadfast- 
ness, the silent assassin crept up about the simple sand-bed 
of the sleeper. And the assassin of that dungeon cave was 
none the less terrible because it was an unconscious one, 
ignprant of its own pitiless cruelty. 

The fact was, that in the utter darkness Ned had flung him- 
« self down dangerously near to the edge of a subterranean lake, 
which, at high tides and in stormy weather, frequently filled to 
the overflowing of its banks. For the aggravation of Ned's 
misfortunes this circumstance occtuxed while he was buried in 
the depths of profound slumber. 

Gradually the water soaked up through the sand, and 
Bertram's own weight aided to scoop out the grave to which 
the stealthy murderer was consigning him. And still he slept ; 
and there was none to have mercy upon him, and to awake 
him. 



2o8 Edward Bertram. 

A water-bed may be very comfortable for invalids, when the 
water is packed safe inside a waterproof sack, but otherwise, 
excepting in the hottest weather, and in the hottest countries, 
one would have imagined that it must have been disagreeable 
enough to have awakened even Rip Van Winkle himself. 

And yet poor, tired-out Bertram slept, until at last the water 
crept up to his pillow, and touched his cheek with its chillness. 
That did arouse him somewhat; but even yet he lay still, 
perplexed with dreamy fear and wonder, till suddenly a rush 
of water poured over his chin and into his mouth. 

He woke up then, and no mistake, and started to his feet, 
or rather he tried to start up on to his feet. But it is no easy 
matter to get firm standing on sloping sand, in twenty or more 
inches of water, even when daylight enables you. to see what 
you are about ; in darkness it is far more difficult, and Ned's 
attempt ended in his pitching head-fotemost into the middle of 
his water-bed. Thus he got from the frying-pan into the fire, 
for his vigorous plungings and flounderings to regain firm 
ground finished by breaking down the thin edge that had 
hitherto divided his hollowed couch from the lake, and the 
next moment he found himself swimming for his life in the 
deep, unseen waters. 

He was wide awake enough now. 

Happily for Ned« he was one of those people who scarcely 
ever lose their presence of mind in sudden emergencies. 
Moreover, he was greatly refreshed by his long rest, in spite 
of its unpleasant ending. Accordingly, having come to the 
surface again after his involuntary dive, he set to work thinking 
what to do next. 

" Get out of this horrible river Styx," he muttered decidedly, 
at last. And turning right about, a couple of vigorous strokes 
brought him back to the shore, when he clambered up, and 
once more stood on dry ground. 

For the moment he felt quite triumphant and thankful. 



An Awful Alternative. 209 



Unhappily, those, feelings were destined, poor fellow, to be but 
too speedily crushed. Not ten minutes had passed before 
Ned had made the awful discovery that through those black, 
unknown, mysterious waters lay his only hope, his last hope of 
life. 

Behind him lay the wall of rock, with its one narrow opening, 
through which he had so painfully dragged himself. He found 
that again with his groping hands, and turned from it shudder- 
ing. 

But with all his eager feelings over that rocky end of the 
cavern, he could find no other loophole for hope. And in 
front of him lay that midnight lake. He could hear its soft 
wash against the cavern walls to the right and left It spared 
not even so much as an inch of the shore beside it on either 
hand along which he could creep. 

He lay down close against the wall of the cave, and tried to 
go to sleep again, with the longing that death might come to 
him thus, with pitying compassion. But it was quite as difficult 
to sleep as to get back to the upper world. His brain was 
tortured with the perpetual repetition of the alternative that lay 
before him — lingering death by starvation in that bitter dreari- 
ness, or an attempt, that might be fruitless, to escape through 
the unknown perils of that unseen lake, around which he might 
swim in the darkness, till strength failed him, and find no 
outlet 

He sat up, and dropped his aching head into his hands. 

" If I were only not alone,*' he groaned. ** But no, no," he 
muttered the next moment; "I don't mean that. I'm sure I 
don't want anyone else to be in this horrid pickle. If there 
were even a streak of light it would not be so hard to 
bear." 

Then he fell into a sort of stupor of despair, out of which he 
was aroused by a somewhat singular incident He had allowed 
one of his arms to fall listlessly to his side, and suddenly, 
o 



2IO Edward Bertram. 

beneath the hand resting on the sandy floor he felt a move- 
ment. Something cold and smooth was gliding beneath his 
palm. 

A thrill of the most intense thankfulness passed through his 
whole frame. He was not the only living creature in that 
terrible dungeon 1 Instinctively his fingers clasped around the 
moving thing, and for a moment he held in his hand one of 
those strange little slim blind-fish, which thinly populate sub- 
terranean waters. The next instant it had slipped through 
and escaped from its unexpected captivity, and a faint little 
plash just before his feet told him in which direction it had 
gone. 

A half sob burst from his lips at thus quickly losing again 
the companionship of this small link with life; but it had 
scarcely broken upon his own ears before a braver spirit 
returned to him. The moan changed into a defiant — 

" I'll have you again, you slippery little rascal.*' 

And Ned jumped up with an expression of grand resolve 
upon his face that was noble enough to make one think it was 
a pity none but the darkness saw it 

One moment more he turned towards the unseen entrance 
to the narrow gallery, and shook his head. It was very doubt- 
ful if he could ^survive a second of those horrible airless 
journeys, and if he could, to what purpose would it be, as there 
was no more likelihood of his being able to get out of the 
cavern at the other end now than there was before. He might 
as well starve to death in the present one, as go through a 
great deal of misery to starve to death in the other. 

"But I won't starve to death in either," exclaimed Ned. 
" I'll have another try for life, and if I fail, at least it won't be 
my fault, and I've heard folks say that death by drowning isn't 
as painful as others ; so here goes." 

As has been observed before, Ned was no coward, and when 
he had once fairly made up his mind that a thing was to be 



An Awful Alternative. 211 

done, he did it He made two firm steps forward, threw his 
arms above his head, and dived into the dismal lake. 

There was a great splash, and the waters closed over his 
head. But he rose directly, and struck out to the left till he 
gained the walL 

In following that wall onwards lay his only chance of escape. 
If that led out to the upper world, it would lead him with it, if 
his strength lasted long enough. But he knew too well the 
bewildering pranks that darkness plays people, not to decide 
wisely, from the outset of his desperate enterprise, that he 
would keep close to his insensible guide. 




CHAPTER XXIX. 
"speak for yourself, if you please." 

HED swam along vigorously for some time. Once he 
turned on his back, to try and husband his strength by 
floating awhile. But he soon found that would not do. The 
almost icy chill of the water was just bearable while he kept 
up his own warmth by constant exercise, but he felt numbness 
creeping over him the instant he ceased his efforts. 

There was no help for it. He must swim on as long as he 
could, and if he had not reached the end of the lake, or the 
river, or whatever it should be called, by the time his strength 
failed — well, then — 

"A fellow can but die once," he murmured: and still he 
swam on. But as bodily weariness grew upon him, even to 
pain, his strength of mind began to fade once more into 
mournful despair. An absolute loathing for the black waters 
came over him — an agony of doubt as to the Infinite Com- 
passion that could have consigned him to that most mournful, 
unseen death. 

And, meanwhile, in the upper world night had come and 
was passing away, leaving his friends as sleepless with anxiety 
as it had found them. 

Five minutes more — three minutes — two minutes — and all 
his strength would be gone — and he must sink, and die. 



* * speak for yourself if you please. " 213 

Never more see the sun, the sky, the waving trees upon 
which he had cast such a lingering glance twenty-four hours 
ago, as he plunged into the dark recesses of the hillside 
cave. 

Already he failed, sometimes, to hold his head high enough 
to keep his mouth out of the awful hidden waters of that 
midnight pool. A bitter cry escaped his cold lips — 

" Father 1 Father! show me the light once more before I 
die 1" 

He put out his hand, feebly, to feel for the wall. He 
grasped a corner. His heart stood still, and then began to 
beat with a wild tumult that threatened to burst its bounds. 
There was a pause — then he flung himself round the angle, 
and a smothered cry broke from his lips. 

His prayer was answered, and no more. 

At least thus it seemed to Edward Bertram, as he gazed 
with a sort of rapture upon the far-off, sofl, dim twilight that 
met his eyes as soon as he had turned the comer. He was 
not condemned to die in darkness. As for living to enjoy 
light, that appeared more improbable than ever, for his very 
emotions of gratitude had taken power out of him ; and as for 
swimming on to the source of that faint moonbeam of bright- 
ness, he knew well enough it was impossible. 

However, he must get a little nearer to it ; he must see it a 
little more clearly. He made two or three feeble strokes, and 
then uttered a cry of pain. He had cut his foot against a 
sharp-pointed rock. He swam on another yard, and then both 
his feet came in contact with sand and stones, and he stood 
up. He moved forward a step or two, feeling before him 
carefully with his hands. as he went ; and thus finding a natural 
bench in the wall of the cavern, he sat down for a while and 
rested, and felt thankful. 

Impatience to reach the source of that dim light, from which 
he never took his eyes, soon drew him on again^ and he kept 



214 Edward Bertram. 

forward steadily, although his further progress was up a steep path 
that would have tried the strength and patience even of a per- 
son who had had no previous exertion. He stumbled on, over 
slippery stones &nd pointed crags, the salt water still trickling 
over his feet, a remnant from the stream that some hours earlier 
had fed the lake too bountifully for his safety. But although 
he moved on carefully — for he could not now afford to indulge 
in a third tumble into unknown dangers — he never stopped or 
hesitated. The light was growing clearer, and the air grew 
fresher with every onward step. 

As he mounted, his head came closer to the cavern's roof; 
at last it touched it He had to stoop, and finally to go on 
hands and kneest, as he had done the previous day. But that 
was towards darkness ; this was towards light. That was in a 
stifling atmosphere; this was with a breeze blowing in upon 
him, whose every breath gave him fresh nerve and energy. 
These things made all the difiference. 

At last his goal was reached, and he gazed through the rock 
window to which he had advanced so hopefully. He did not 
look quite so pleased as he had expected to do. And, for a 
remark in passing, if you cannot swim you had better make 
haste and learn, or, if you ever find yourself in Ned Bertram's 
position, it will be aU up with you. 

When our hero looked through that window of Nature's 
making, his eager eyes met with nothing but a wide expanse of 
blue sky and blue sea. He had no wings to fly upwards, and 
for the other element, as it was low tide now, the sea, which 
not very long ago had been leapmg in where he now crouched, 
lay many feet beneath him. His burrowing journey had led 
him to the outermost edge of the reef, and he was as far from 
friends and food as ever, imless he had another swim for it 

''And I suppose that's just what I must have," said he, with 
a grim little smile, and shaking his head rather ruefully at the 
calm sea shining so placidly before him. 



^' speak for yourself if you please'^ 215 

" What must be, must be," he added, a minute later. " And 
the less dawdling about it the better, perhaps. So here goes 
for the final item in my adventures." 

So saying he dragged himself through the opening, held 
with his hands to the ledge for a moment, then, giving his body 
a swing out, so as to avoid the sharp sides of the rock, he went 
souse into the waves, which greeted him with the genial 
pleasantness of a warm bath, after his late experiences in the 
hill's heart. 

He had not far to swim to gain a tolerable landing-place, up 
which he scrambled. Then he stumbled over the reef, waded 
through the inner belt of water, crossed the shore of the island, 
and, having gained the edge of the wood, he ate some fruit, and 
lay down and slept 

Meantime Mr. Bell and Wagga returned, after eight hours' 
fruitless search, to' the rest of the party awaiting them on the 
brow of the hill A consultation was held as to what should 
be done next to endeavour to find the lost pedestrian. 

Rosa and Josephine had prepared quite a sumptuous meal to 
greet the return of seekers and sought, and they asked, with 
tears in their eyes, what they should do with it now. 

" I am sure I don't know," answered Mr. Bell, irritable with 
anxiety. " It is no good serving it up, for no one will be able 
to eat it." 

" Speak for yourself, if you please, sir," called a bright clear 
voice out of the bushes just below. 

And the next minute the bemoaned wanderer ran up the 
remaining few yards to the lawn before Hillside Castle, and 
stood once more amongst his friends. 

"You wicked boy, Ned, how dare you frighten us so?" 
exclaimed Rosa, between smiles and tears. " Don't you know 
you are dead?" 

" Ah, just so," was the calm reply. " It's a way ghosts have. 
A skeleton half frightened me out of my wits, yesterday." 



2i6 . Edward Bertram. 

" How !" " How !" " How I" exclaimed every voice. " What 
do you mean?" 

" Just what I say. But suppose we all have a try at Rosa's 
cookery first, and then I'll give you a full, true, and particular 
account of my adventures since I left you yesterday, and just 
see if I don't send you all to bed shivering in your shoes !" 

And so he did ; the men for thinking of the awful perils 
through which he had passed, and of which the brave young 
fellow made so light, and the girls for thinking of what he called 
" a gruesome lot of skeletons." 

" All the same," remarked Rosa ; " I think I should rather 
like to try if I could squeeze myself through that narrow 
gallery." 

" And I shouldn't," replied Josephine, decidedly. 

And then the two sisters slept, and had very uncomfortable 
dreams — Rosa, that she was transformed into a worm; and 
Josephine, that she was trying to rescue a dead fish from a 
black pool, and the fish had a face like Ned. 

If Ned had any dreams himself on the subject of his late 
trials, he was wise enough to say nothing about them. 




CHAPTER XXX. 

" WHERE'S THE LARGE HAMMER?" 

WEEKS and months passed on, after Ned's excursion 
through the hills, and our party of exiles had gathered 
about them many of the comforts and even some of the 
luxuries of civilisation. 

The dozen books Mr. Bell had been thoughtful enough to save 
on the raft played an important part in the pleasures and em- 
ployments of Hillside Castle, while their number was increased 
by a small weekly island journal, written on the rice paper shred 
from the pith of the Arabia Papyri/era, and to which all con- 
tributed, with the exception of the native. 

But those two restless spirits, Ned and Rosa, began to 
weary terribly of the painful monotony of their lives. As long 
as there had been any real hard work to do, or constant 
excitement in making fresh discoveries, their energies had had 
scope enough, and they had declared, even more warmly than 
their companions, that the island was a perfect little paradise. 

But when, largely owing to their own endeavours, their home 
assumed much the appearance of a beautirul, well-ordered 
cottage in civilized England, while a continuance of fair skies, 
gentle showers, and refreshing breezes made it appear that 
Shipwreck Island was indeed an abode of perpetual peace, 



ai8 Edward Bertram. 

calmness, and plenty, then Ned and Rosa began to get heartily 
sick of it 

" Really," said Ned irritably, one day, " I begin to think 
that the snakes are blessings in disguise. If it wasn't for them, 
and the little excitement of tumbling over one of them now 
and again, I verily believe we should solidify into blocks." 

Storton laughed. He felt the present peace, after his life 
of storm, an immeasurable blessing. Still he pitied his younger 
caged companions. 

" What do you say," he asked, " by way of a change, to our 
all making an excursion to your skeleton cave?" 

"The very thing!" exclaimed Rosa, delightedly. "We 
have not had a picnic for the past three months. Do let 
us go." 

"Do let us go," echoed Josephine; and as every one else 
was agreeable to the scheme, preparations were soon made, 
and the party started. 

Even Pheenie screwed up her courage to a certain pitch of 
eagerness to see the strange sight her friend Edward had 
described to her so often, and of which he spoke to her again 
as he helped her over the difficulties of the route through the 
hills leading to the strange and solemn mausoleum. 

Arrived at their destination, Ned, who had purposely pro- 
vided himself with ropes, got Storton and Mr. Bell to let him 
down into the lower cave, whence he handed up to the gratified 
doctor one of the three or four skulls that lay scattered 
about 

" It would be doing a much more useful thing," called down 
Rosa, " if you provided means of escape for any other poor 
creature who may some day be as awkward as yoursel£" 

" Awkward indeed," returned Bertram, indignantly. " I 
should like to see how clever you would have been, if you had 
come, without any warning, on yonder lot of horrors." 

" Never mind, Ned dear," said little Pheenie, soothingly. 



^* Whereas the Large Hammer T^ 219 

'' That's only Rosa's nonsense. I want to know how she means 
that you could help anyone else.'' 

'* \Vhy, in the way that I have already thought of," answered 
Edward. And the next moment the sound of hammering 
reverberated through caverns and galleries with a perfectly 
deafening roar. 

Having put into the rock, with some considerable trouble, 
two long and firm pieces of wood as steps, Ned next laid 
beside them a coil of rope, and two or three cocoa nuts. Then 
he got Storton to pull him up again, for although his steps 
would be better than nothing, in case of necessity, it would be 
rather a scramble to get up by them. He would have put up 
another had he really thought there was likelihood of their ever 
being required for use. 

As the gallery was traversed on the return journey there was 
a suppressed cry from Storton, and Ned exclaimed anxiously — 

" Hallo ! What's happened ? Are you hurt ?" 

" Thank God, no," answered Storton, earnestly, when they 
were all once more standing together in the open air. " But 
I am very glad to be safe out of that doleful place. A huge 
snake slipped from beneath my foot when you heard my 
cry." 

" I vote," said Mr Bell, " that we carve up over the entrance 
here — 

'CABINET OF HORRORS.'" 

" A very good suggestion," assented Ned. " And I won't 
be one of those who pay a shilling to enter. I've had enough 
of it." 

All the same, he had to have some more of it, and very 
shortly too, before time had been able to take ofif the edge of 
his increased dislike to the place. 

A few days after the trip, Mr. Bell was observed most busily 
and anxiously turning over all the household goods, ransacking 



220 Edward Bertram. 



the cupboards, even looking about amongst the shrubs in the 
garden they had planted around the front and sides of their 
house. 

" What is the matter, father?" asked Rosa at last "What 
are you looking for ?" 

" Why, for the large hammer," came the vexed answer. " I 
cannot imagine where it can have got to. And it is much too 
valuable a possession to lose." 

*' I should think so indeed," said Storton, looking up from 
his carpenter's bench, at which he was fashioning wooden sabots 
for the girls. 

Ned was busy breaking the clay mould out of an india-rubber 
canoe, but he dropped his treasure with a sudden start Com< 
ing forward, he said as quietly as he could to his unsuspecting 
friends — 

"I know where the hammer is. I'll bring it to you 
directly." 

Then he went out. And as soon as he was out of sight he 
flew along like the wind. Had he been able to see an hour 
or two into the future, he would have felt that he was rather 
flying to meet death than to find a hammer. 




CHAPTER XXXI. 

POISONED ARROWS. 

Y T was true enough that Ned knew where the hammer was, 
A but as for bringing it back directly, that was quite another 
matter, in spite of the promise he had so glibly uttered in his 
sudden agitation. 

The truth was, that precious hammer was then reposing 
peacefully in the lower cave where Ned had dropped it after 
he finished hammering in the second step, and he had never 
remembered anything more about it until he heard Mr. Bell's 
answer to his daughter's question. 

"It's a horrid bore," was Ned's inelegant but emphatic 
mental ejaculation, as he interrupted his fascinating occupation, 
and started ofif on his distasteful expedition. 

Had he known all that was to come of it, he might have 
called it something more than a "horrid bore." But as he 
was rather ashamed of his carelessness, and had, moreover, no 
wish to let any of the others suffer for his fault by accompany- 
ing him as a sacrifice to friendship, as they were sure to do if 
they knew whither he was bound, he limited himself to his bare 
assertion and rather misleading promise, before he set off on 
his nm. 

He scarcely paused once even to recover breath, much less 
to look to the right or left, before he reached the cave 



222 Edward Bertram. 

entrance. There, indeed, he did hesitate a few moments, and 
wished that he had brought with him one of the lamps of 
palm-oil Mr. Bell had manufactured for the general comfort 
Storton's experience with the snake had invested the transit of 
even that upper gallery with an unpleasant amount of excite- 
ment. And, although the thread of light shining through it 
overhead was quite sufficient for a guide, it was utterly useless 
as an aid in avoiding ground enemies. 

But that hammer had to be got at somehow, and Ned had 
to get it 

" And," he muttered, " unless I can manage to blow up the 
hill or dig through it — either of which undertakings are rather 
out of the possible just now-r-Fve no way to regain the bother- 
ing thing but by the route I have travelled in safety three times 
already, so I must just hope for as good luck twice more.'' 

At the very minute that Ned was thus soliloquising, Storton 
rushed down from the summit of the hill, just above the 
cottage, burst into the room where the girls and their father 
were quietly engaged with their various occupations, and looked 
round anxiously at the astonished group. 

" What is the matter ?" he was naturally asked. 

For answer, he exclaimed — " Where's Bertram ? We must 
keep together. I have just seen some canoes drawn up on 
shore. The occupants are already landed, and are out of 
sight." 

Many months of freedom from unwelcome visitors had made 
our friends almost forget the possibility of ever again having 
trouble on that score. Storton's announcement was received 
with pale faces and startled eyes. Mr. Bell hastened to get 
the rifles down from their pegs on the wall, and the others 
anxiously repeated the query — 

« Where's Bertram ?" 

Unsuspicious of the threatened danger, and unarmed, there 
was every fear of his falling into the hands of the enemy unless 



Poisoned Arrows. 223 

he speedily returned to the settlement, or could be found and 
warned. But Mr. Bell dared not leave his daughters, and 
although Storton was all eagerness to go to the help of his 
companion, much time was lost in summoning Wagga up 
from the bay to give assistance by his wonderful tracking 
powers. 

Meantime, Ned, having fought down his repugnance, passed 
through the opening in the hill, ran quickly along the gallery 
to the edge of the pit, and with some difficulty obtained a 
footing upon one of his wooden steps, and dropped to the 
lower floor. The object of his search lay close by, and he 
found it directly. But when he tried to remount, he got 
rather an uncomfortable tumble back again. 

" Umph," he muttered, as he rubbed his bruised shoulder, 
^' I think I'll give myself the benefit of a third step in a rather 
more convenient position before I make another attempt." 

He little dreamt what that third step might cost him, of 
which he spoke so coolly. 

And once more the sound of hammering broke the solemn 
silence of those lonely regions. The rock seemed harder than 
ever, and it was some time before Ned had succeeded in fixing 
another piece of wood sufficiently firm in its place to bear his 
weight At length, having brought the hammer down pretty 
heavily upon his fingers, he decided he had had enough of that 
employment, and a few moments later he once more stood on 
the upper level, with the tool in his hand, and his face turned 
homewards. 

At that instant the speck of light in the distance, which 
signified the hillside opening, was darkened. Ned hastened 
on. Very shortly he heard the tramp of feet, and the confused 
sound of voices coming along towards him through the gallery. 

"Halloa," he muttered, laughing, "if they haven't found me 
out after all. From the noise, the whole party must have 
followed me, girls and even Wagga." 



224 Edward Bertram. 

As a welcome to his approaching friends he shouted a loud, 
ringing, '^ All right Come on, I'm here ; but small thanks to 
you, good people, for blocking out the light" 

He had scarcely finished when his shout was answered ; but 
certainly not in the tones he had expected. A wild tempest 
of shrieks and yells rushed to his ears, and died, as though 
unwillingly, in howls and moans along the roof, only to be 
followed by another savage outburst of defiance. The feet, 
which had been advancing with a steady slow pace, now came 
flying towards him with their utmost speed. 

For a few moments Ned stood motionless, as though he 
were spell-bound. Merciless foes were close upon him, and 
they were coming along the only path by which escape might 
have been possible. Even in that tenth part of a minute Ned 
seemed to remember all the dreadful accounts which he had 
ever heard or read, of horrible tortures inflicted by savages 
upon their victims. 

But they were approaching rapidly. He could not stand 
still there and await them. Suddenly a thought, a gleam of 
hope, flashed into his mind. For the first time since his 
terrible underground sojourn he was glad to recollect that 
narrow corridor through which he had dragged himself, and its 
low entrance. He turned, and, regaining the edge of the pit, 
quickly dropped himself back into its depths. A minute later 
he lay crouched up just within the low passage between the 
two caves, the hammer, cocoa-nuts, and coils of rope beside 
him. 

Bertram had scarcely thus withdrawn himself into compara- 
tive safety, when a group of twenty or more Indians issued 
into the light of the upper cave. The foremost carried nothing 
in their hands but implements of warfare. Behind them came 
half-a-dozen men bearing a litter of bamboo, covered with bark 
and green branches, on which lay extended a dead body; that 
of one of their venerated wizards, as he afterwards learned 



Poisoned Arrows. 225 

Behind these bearers again came more men, some with split 
tree trunks, others with food — parched rice, dried fish, and 
plantains— whilst one carried nothing but a small gourd vessel, 
slung in a net of palm-leaf fibre. The insignificant appearance 
of his burden was evidently counterbalanced by its important 
quality, for he guarded it with the greatest watchfulness, and 
all his companions showed the utmost care in the midst of 
their bustle and excitement not to tumble up against it 

When the whole party were gathered together in the weird 
mausoleum, a most tremendous jabbering began. 

Ned, from his hidden post of observation, had seen the 
eager looks cast around by each gleaming pair of eyes as the 
owners rushed out into the cavern, and it was impossible to 
repress a shudder as he heard the howls of baffled rage that 
successively followed the discovery that the expected prisoner 
was not yet secured. 

However, after a considerable amount of fierce and noisy 
talking had been got through, one of the corpse-bearers, who 
appeared to have some superior authority over his companions, 
managed to obtain a quiet hearing, and, having delivered his 
harangue, further proceedings were carried out with methodical 
deliberation. The split trunks having been laid over the 
chasm, by way of bridge, the wizard's body was carried across, 
and then carefully placed beside the skeletons of his predeces- 
sors in dignity. This business accomplished, a triumphant or 
funeral dance followed, and then the whole party sat down 
around the mouth of the pit, and lost no time in despatching 
the food brought with them, one of the hands of the dead man 
forming part of the meal, to Ned's horror, and being carefully 
shared amongst his bearers, as a mark of special honour to the 
departed ! 

Meantime, unfortunate Bertram was beginning to ache all 
over from his cramped position in the tunnel, and although he 
had an intense detestation of the mean and grovelling vice of 



226 Edward Bertram. 



drunkenness, it must be confessed that he was grievously 
vexed to perceive that the Indians had brought nothing with 
them to drink more stupefying or sleep-inspiring than 
water. 

''Ohl when will you take yourselves off again, you 
ugly wretches?^' he muttered, irritable with weariness and 
anxiety. 

At last they all rose, and he began to breathe freely again. 
Poor fellow ! he had absolutely deluded himself into the belief 
that his dusky companions had forgotten the unlucky intima- 
tion he had given of a stranger's presence in those sacred pre- 
cincts, or that, at any rate, they had resolved to pay no heed 
to it He was soon to be undeceived. 

They had only acted upon Captain Cuttle's advice as to 
attending to one thing at a time, and so making their pleasur- 
able excitement last the longer. 

The fact of the matter was, that the Indians felt like so many 
happy cats, who have a mouse so safely "cornered" that at 
any moment a paw has only to be put out to draw it within 
reach of the sharp teeth. Under such circumstances the cat 
does not hurry on to the final enjoyment, but as for forgetting 
its present or future pleasure ! no, indeed. 

The human cats enjoyed their dance and their feast ever so 
much more for the belief that they had a human mouse at their 
feet, only waiting to be picked up, and when the proper 
moment came they proceeded to secure it 

The leader of the party chose out two of his companions — 
the tallest, strongest, fiercest of the number, and led them to 
the edge of the pit Then, while the rest spread themselves as 
a barrier along the mouth, Ned had the additional mortifica- 
tion of seeing his enemies, with uncouth grins of satisfaction, 
descend to his neighbourhood by the steps it had cost him so 
much trouble to make. He crawled a foot or two further into 
his hole. 



Poisoned Arrows. 227 



^'Wah!'' exclaimed the seekers, in mingled astonishment 
and disgust, when, on reaching that lower depth and looking 
eagerly around, they found no one was visible. 

As has been already mentioned, the wall curved inwards, as 
they knew, and the supposition had been that the prisoner was 
in useless hiding beneath the overhanging brim. 

However, this second disappointment was received more 
quietly than the first had been. 

A consultation was held with those above, and then for the 
first time Ned guessed the meaning of that carefully guarded 
gourd. 

The man who carried it was called forward. The chief took 
a bundle of the sharpest pointed of the arrows, and dipped 
them one by one slowly into some liquid it contained 

A cord was then fastened round them, and they were let 
down to the ferocious hands stretched upwards to receive 
them. 

Ned began to wish that he had even ventiu-ed a second 
crawl straight on through that horrible tube. Bad as that 
would have been, it could not be quite so bad as a death of 
agony in its cramped space from poisoned arrows. But there 
was no time to waste upon wishes now. Before he could have 
turned to begin his slow retreat the arrows would be after him. 
He must act 

He had one advantage over his enemies. He could see 
them, but they could not see him. They could see the low 
entrance, but even theu: keen sight could scarcely penetrate so 
much as a foot into the interior of the dismal subterranean 
lane. So far, Ned had the best of the coming battle, and he 
roust make the most of it The coils of rope, with a cocoa-nut 
fitted into the middle, made a tolerable shield, which he held 
in the left hand ; in his right, he grasped another of those 
invaluable nuts as a missile, while the hammer lay before his 
knees as a formidable weapon in case of his assailants attempt- 



328 Edward Bertram. 

ing the invasion of his territory and a combat at close 
quarters. 

These small preparations took scarcely as much time to 
accomplish as they do to read of, but the dusky foe was 
equally prompt, and Ned only raised his shield just in time to 
receive the first arrow in it instead of in his forehead. 

As the thud of the arrow against the impromptu buckler was 
heard, a yell of triumph arose at discovering the certainty of 
the pale-&ce's presence, and his near neighbourhood. A 
second arrow was ready to be launched through the dark door- 
way. At that moment some words spoken by one of the 
spectators above attracted the man as he crouched down pre- 
pared to shoot He turned round, and, quick as thought, Ned 
hurled his missile at him. 

Its effect was far more important than Ned had dared to 
hope. Bewildered with unexpected pain and surprise, the 
Indian started to, his feet with a shriek, and struck his deadly 
arrow with all his force at his companion, of whom he had 
from the outset shown some angry jealousy. 

Whether he really believed his bruise had been inflicted by 
his countryman, or whether he seized upon the pretext to 
gratify previous dislike, Ned, of course, could not determine ; 
but, as the unhappy victim of his rage fell with a howl of the 
bitterest despair, the revenge he omitted to take himself was 
claimed for him by many eager partisans. Another arrow 
hastily dipped in the bowl of poison was hurled at the 
murderer, who, in his turn, found friends to espouse his 
quarrel. 

In the hideous and fatal struggle that followed Ned was 
forgotten, and he even forgot his own dangerous position in 
watching the dreadful fight It was more like a life-and-death 
battle between wild animals than between human beings. 
And, in the midst of all, the two miserable creatures with whom 
it had originated, lay moaning, shrieking, and writhing in all 






Poisoned Arrows. 329 

the tortures of a most agonizing death ; none thinking to soothe 
their miseries with a word of pity, a kind touch, or a drop of 
water to cool the burning, swollen tongues. The sights and 
sounds presented to the onlooker's eyes were too much for 
him. His own troubles and sufferings were borne bravely; 
but now he felt sick and feint, the narrow gallery seemed to 
contract suddenly into a still more stifliDg cage, and he 
swooned. 



CHAPTER XXXII. 



"i'm dead/* 



WHEN Edward Bertram recovered consciousness, deep 
silence once more reigned Within the precincts of that 
strange sepulchre. Having spent some minutes in most earnest 
use of both his eyes and ears, and discovered nothing more 
formidable than the dry skulls of old, and the distorted bodies 
of his recent foes, he managed, with some difficulty, to extricate 
himself from his hiding-hole. 

In spite of his anxiety to get away altogether from the 
region, now become so doubly terrible, he was obliged to remain 
yet a little longer with his ghastly companions, whilst his 
cramped limbs recovered strength sufficient to climb to the 
upper surface. 

He passed the time in covering the poor Indians with the 
boughs and pieces of bark thrown down in the late skirmish. 
This compassionate act performed, he mounted upwards, the 
hammer, which had so nearly cost him his life, slung to his 
waist. 

Once more at the entrance of the gallery he paused and 
listened. Again a reassuring silence calmed his apprehensions, 
and he lost no more time in making another attempt to escape, 
a longing to warn his friends of the presence of strangers on 
the island adding speed to his feet 



"/W DeadP 231 



As has been already seen, however, his friends had learnt 
that fact even sooner than himself, and he was scarcely more 
than half-way through the hills, when suddenly the sharp crack 
of a rifle broke the stillness, a little distance off. 

**^ Too late !" he exclaimed, his steps arrested for a moment 
by the sound, and then he pushed on more quickly than 
before. 

Early in the last chapter mention was made of a long delay 
in setting out to seek for Bertram, owing to Wagga's absence 
from the holding, grandly entitled by the exiles, " Hillside 
Castle." When he had at length been called up from the bay, 
and told the reason of the service required of him, fear and 
fatigue combined to render him a far less willing and service- 
able aid than usual. More than two hours had elapsed before 
he and Storton drew near the entrance of the caverns. Even 
then, Storton had rather his own instinctive fears to thank, 
for the true guess at Ned's whereabouts, than any help 
rendered by the native's sagacity. He was engaged in 
reproving his guide's dilatoriness, when his harangue received 
a startling interruption in the shape of a shower of arrows that 
came whizzing through the air towards them, and fortunately 
fell harmless at their feet 

Wagga instantly took to his heels, and Storton raised Mr. 
Bell's double-barrelled rifle to his shoulder and fired. Whilst 
awaiting the effect of the shot upon the unseen enemies before 
discharging the other barrel, he heard a pitiful cry from his 
flying comrade, and echoed the cry the same instant, but 
in a very different tone, as Ned darted out into the day- 
light, and sprang towards him with the almost breathless 
questions — 

"Are you all safe? Where are the others? — little 
Pheenie?" 

"Thank God you are safe," was Storton's first reply, 
examining his friend from head to foot as he spoke, to assure 



232 Edward Bertram. 

himself that he had really got him back, whole and sound. 
But Ned's anxiety could ill brook the delay. 

'' Botheration about me/' he exclaimed impatiently ; '' how 
about the others?" 

'' All right," was the satisfactory answer Storton now found 
thought to give him. " At least," he added, " with the excep- 
tion of that idiot Wagga, whose arrant cowardice has run him 
apparently into the very danger he was trying to escape." 

As he spoke, a second cry reached them, more imploring 
than the last. ^' Misser Storton — Misser Ned, save me !" 

Ned started forward in the direction whence the entreaty 
came. ''Come on, Storton; we can't forsake the poor 
beggar." 

So saying, and having just escaped from one peril, Bertram 
ran forward to meet another. His friend joined him, and 
their charity received one immediate reward, for their wholly 
unexpected advance totally disconcerted the adversaries' calcu- 
lations, and a second and well-aimed flight of arrows fell as 
harmless around the position the Englishmen had just vacated, 
as the random one had done by which the native boy had 
been so terrified. Ned's nimble feet well seconded his gene- 
rosity, and, closely followed by his companion, he soon came 
in sight of a party of ten or more of his late fellow-inhabitants 
of the sepulchre. In the midst of them lay Wagga, who had 
been thrown to the ground, and was now being tightly bound. 
At the present moment one savage-looking fellow was in the 
act of twbting a cord which he had passed round the prisoner's 
neck. 

''Ahl" gasped Ned in horror, and with a cold sweat of 
dismay breaking out upon his forehead. Another second or 
two, and without succour the poor boy would be strangled. 
Even now his eyes were starting from his head, but their gaze 
was directed towards his English friends with a mingled ex- 
pression of faith and agony that was irresistible. 



''I'm Dead:' 233 



Ned stooped and picked up two handfuls of stones. Rush- 
ing forward, he dashed them pell-mell at the group. More by 
luck than good management, as the old saying has it, his wild 
onslaught had the effect of, at any rate, arresting the victim's 
death, for the executioner dropped the cord to clap his hands 
to his own bleeding face, along which a great gash had been 
cut by a sharp fragment of rock. 

Now was Storton's opportunity. 

With a wounded cheek, and a charge of shot in his right 
arm, the savage had had enough of the contest; with the 
bestowal of a parting kick upon the prisoner, he made off to 
the boats, and a few more discharges of the wonder-working 
rifle had the expected result of sending his comrades helter- 
skelter after him, no one caring to be burdened with the bound 
captive, who was left upon the field as a trophy for the 
victors. 

'' Now, old fellow,'' said Ned, as he and Storton finished 
their task of unfastening his cords. '' Now, old fellow, get up 
and come on !" 

''Can't, Misser Ned, me dead!" answered the shivering 
darkie. 

" All right, then lie there," retorted Ned coolly, and he and 
his friend forthwith made the best of their way home. The 
poor coward, seeing this, thought better of his statement, and 
got up, and made very good use of his dead feet in rejoining 
them. It is needless to say that the supper party that night at 
Hillside Castle was a happy one. 

But Ned Bertram's life was not yet destined to be a smooth 
one. His next perils were to the full as terrible as any he had 
yet won through. 



CHAPTER XXXIII. 

THE NEW SCHOLAR OF NEWDIGATE. 

WE must now leave Shipwreck Island for a short time, and 
return to the temperate regions of 52 deg., north latitude. 

It is to be hoped that our readers have not altogether for- 
gotten the existence of the ex-monitor of Errington. As he and 
Edward Bertram are tolerably sure to cross each other's paths 
again at some future day, it is needful that they should keep 
alive sufficient interest in him to remember, at any rate, his 
name and character. 

Seven months after Jeffery Robinson left the school he went 
up to the university. Morose and unsociable by nature, the 
reports that he knew had gone thither before him to his disad- 
vantage did not tend to make his looks more genial, nor his 
manners more friendly, at the commencement of his college 
career. 

Self-consciousness made the new scholar imagine that he 
was a centre at which all eyes were directed in condemna- 
tion, and he revenged himself for this imaginary treatment by 
wrapping himself round in a cloak of sullen reserve. 

The real fact of the matter was, that the small stir created 
by the flogging of his runaway schoolfellow had been forgotten, 
even by those who knew of it, while the majority of those about 
him had, of course, never heard anything of the affair whatever. 



The New Scholar of Newdigate. 235 

Nevertheless, although Robinson's antecedents were not to 
blame for his reception at college, his behaviour at the outset 
caused it to be chill enough to nourish all his gloomy appre- 
hensions. 

'' What an awfully sulky-looking fellow the man is who's got 
into old Danvers' rooms," said a Newdigate man one day. 
'' If he hasn't got a small skeleton of some sort in his private 
cupboard, I'm an ice-pudding." And he piled up his fire as he 
spoke, with the tongs' aid, quite scientifically. 

'' Ice-pudding, indeed ! Don't talk of such horrible things," 
said a friend, who had just come in. '< To hear you speak, one 
would think we must have got a jolly good hot August back 
again. Just move a step, and let a fellow get a sight of the 
fire. How I do abominate your .'brisk, bright, seasonable 
weather.' Who are you speaking of?" 

" Why, the fellow who sat next you to-day. Do you mean to 
say that you did not notice how he slunk into Hall, and 
seemed to shrink before our eyes, as if he expected to be 
saluted with hisses or rotten eg^ ?" 

'' Shyness, all shyness. Lots of fellows look like whipped 
dogs when they first come up fresh from a home-tutor and the 
mother's apron-strings. They think that everyone is on the 
alert to get a rise out of them." 

*'Umph," said Dryden, as he dragged forward a second 
chair for the accommodation of his feet '' I am glad, at any 
rate, shy or not shy, that all fellows have not got that chap's 
hangdog look about them. I know this, if they had, my set 
would be very select— ^myself and myself— and yet again 
myself." 

" And no bad thing either," grumbled the shivering friend, 
'' on honid cold days like this. I shall go back to my own 
fire." 

"Nonsense, old fellow, just stay where you are," answered 
Drydea " And as for cold, stuff, you're in the dumps. It's 



236 Edward Bertram. 



above temperate. Put on the kettle for me, there's a good 
fellow, and get out the mannalade, and toast these muffins, and 
you shall have tea. Meantime I'll read you a glorious scheme 
I've jotted down of what a prize poem ought to be." 

And thus Jeffery Robinson was dbmissed from his new 
companions' thoughts, and the host for the evening easily and 
gracefully did the honours to his guest by allowing him to 
forget the chillness of the October air in working for the 
comfort of both. 

<<It is all strange to you at present, bat you will find 
university life very enjoyable when you get more used to it," 
said his tutor, kindly, to the intellectual but gloomy-looking 
Robinson at their first interview. 

" I have come up to work, not to enjoy myself," muttered 
the young man, ungraciously. ^'Is there anything more for 
me to learn as to lecture hours?" 

" Nothing more. Good-morning." 

Jeffery Robinson bowed and took his departure, and Mr. 
Chase, the tutor, sat for a few moments looking absently at the 
door through which he had just passed. At the end of that 
time his thoughts expressed themselves in the outspoken 
quiet remark — 

"My new pupil may be a genius, but he is an intensely 
disagreeable fellow at the same time, and I expect can be 
abominably impertinent He had better try nothing of the 
sort on with me, however." 

And then the tutor, in his turn, dismissed him firom his 
thoughts. 

The weeks passed, and Robinson was as much alone at 
Newdigate as if he were a solitary dweller in a college that had 
been swept by pestilence. He showed no human sympathy 
for others, and he received none. He always went into the 
Hall for dinner as late as possible, and got away as soon as he 
could, and after the first few days, when every attempt at 



The New Scholar of Newdtgate. 237 

conversation with him had met a sullen rebufT, men very seldom 
spoke to him. 

His rooms were rarely invaded by friends or foes, Not even 
the most mischief-loving cared to inflict their ingenious atten- 
tions upon him, or to make him the subject of any of their 
practical jokes. 

He scarcely ever went out, except to chapel and lectures, 
and altogether his life was as dreaty as Sir Edward Bertram in 
his most vindictive moments could have possibly desired. 



CHAPTER XXXIV. 
sm EDWARD Bertram's hopes. 

WHILE we are in England, a passing glance may as well 
be bestowed on Ned Bertram's old uncle, the Waterloo 
veteran. 

On the morning when we reach Bertram Hall, Sir Edward 
Bertram's splendid place in Gloucestershire, a year has passed 
since we last travelled thither with the old General, a few 
weeks after the flight of his neglected heir from the public 
school of Errington. 

" Good-morning, General I hope, sir, that I see you pretty 
well this morning." 

So spoke Mr. Jarvis, Sir Edward's steward and factotum, on 
entering his employer's library about eleven o'clock one bright 
day in May. 

Mr. Jarvis had just come in from the brilliant sunlight, and 
his eyes required a few moments in which to get accustomed to 
the comparative darkness of the library. When his powers of 
vision had regulated themselves to different circumstances, a 
suppressed exclamation escaped him, expressive of sharp self- 
reproach. 

Everything out of doors had looked so bright and cheerful 
that the steward's feelings were bright and cheerful also, and 



Sir Edward Bertram^ s Hopes. 239 

his voice had had almost a jaunty tone in it as he uttered his 
morning's salutation and well-meant hope. 

But his greeting received no answer, and when his eyes at 
length really saw the General, he experienced a sudden shock, 
and all his joyousness died out of him. 

The elbows of the veteran soldier were planted on his 
writing-table, and his grey head was buried in his muscular, 
bony hands. The whole attitude was tliat of a man irremedi- 
ably miserable. 

" Any bad news, General ?" asked Mr. Jarvis, with hesitation 
and alarm. 

Still no answer, and he advanced a few steps nearer, and 
yet more nervously repeated his query — "Any bad news. 
General?" 

" Yes," growled Sir Edward Bertram, suddenly looking up, 
and showing a nbttef set face — "yes — no news." 

" Oh ! ah ! yes — I see," muttered Jarvis, looking much 
relieved on receiving this very contradictory reply. He added 
aloud — "But, if you'll please to remember. General, I warned 
you long ago that it would be no news to me to learn that you 
had not heard of your heir by this precise date. I don't call 
silence in that direction bad news." 

" Then I should like to know what you do call it, sir — what 
you do call it ?" shouted the old soldier, with the stem fury 
with which he might have rallied a body of wavering troops. 
" Can't you say, sir, what you do call it ?" 

Well, to tell the truth, that was one of the things that the 
steward was not able to say on the moment, so he stammered 
over first one word, and then over another, and then relapsed 
into silence. 

" Ah, ah ! you see," growled Sir Edward, with a grim 
chuckle, " you don't call no news bad news, only because you 
haven't the wits, man — the wits — to call it anything. So just 
listen to me, Jarvis. You can do that, I suppose, can't you?" 



240 Edward Bertram. 

Jarvis bowed. 

" Umph," muttered Sir Edward, " now you're rubbed up the 
wrong way, I suppose, and feel in a rage. Well, I'm rubbed 
up the wrong way, too, and feel in a rage. You're in a rage 
with me.^ 

" No, sir ; . no. General Oh ^" 

"Hold your tongue, Jarvis — don't interrupt. You're in a 
rage with me " 

" Oh, dear sir, no. I-^— " 

"Hold your tongue, sir, hold your tongue," shouted Sir 
Edward, starting to his feet " I won't be silenced, sir. My 
voice has been heard on the field of Waterloo, sir, after the 
Duke's, and do you suppose I'll have it silenced in my own 
library!" 

" Oh pray. General, believe " 

But the General looked so minded to fly at him, that Mr. 
Jarvis waited for no spoken orders, but broke off his intended 
speech himself that time, and his flery companion continued — 

" You're in a rage with me, and I'm in a rage with fortune, 
and so we're quits. And I tell you this — ^and just be so good 
as to remember it for the future when I ask you — no news, at 
the end of a long year and two months, of my great-nephew 
and heir, Edward Bertram, is bad news, and bad news that I — 
I — find it hard to stand — up against." 

With the last words all the forced passion had died out of 
the poor old General's face — all the forced energy out of his 
body, and he once more sank down in his chair, weary, weak, 
and helpless. 

Jarvis drew nearer. A low moan burst from the old. man's 
closed lips, and Jarvis drew close to him, and said gently — 

" Several of the ships that started away from English ports 
for the antipodes last March twelve months have not returned 
yet. Your nephew is, no doubt, in one of them." 

"Yes, yes; that is true — that must be true," assented the 



Sir Edward Bertram's Hopes. 241 

General eagerly, and snatching at the crumbs of comfort offered 
him. He took one of his hands from his face, and grasped 
the steward's. 

"You're a good fellow, Jarvis, and I'm a bear— a '* 

" Oh no. Gene " 

"Now, now," testily. "There you go again, interrupting, 
and I won't stand it. Do you know, Jarvis, your besetting sin 
is a love of interrupting me. Now watch against it for the 
future, there's a good fellow — especially when I've got the 
gout; because, you see, your besetting sin brings out my 
besetting sin, which is — temper. But we'll argue that matter 
over a glass of port wine, one of these days, and meantime, 
about these ships. Have you found out anything more about 
any of those that left our shores about fourteen months ago?" 

" Yes, General When I was in Liverpool last week I made 
a few inquiries here and there, and I learnt that two vessels 
started on their voyages about that date, that are expected to 
be away, the one three years and the other five years. And on 
both of them boys shipped themselves at the last moment." 

Sir Edward straightened himself up, with sparkling eyes. 
" Why, Jarvis," he exclaimed in a tone of joyful certainty — 
"of course those boys are my nephew, Edward Ber " 

" One of them," interrupted Jarvis, in an apologetic manner. 

"Ah, well, perhaps — yes, of course, one of them," assented 
the General slowly, loath to give up the double chance, but 
letting the interruption pass for once. " Yes, one of them, Jarvis 
— the one on the ship that is gone for three years, no doubt. 
We'll find out all the ports it was expected to touch at on its 
homeward route, and send letters to them for the young 
rascal." 

" Yes. General" 

" And, Jarvis, go on planting, and keep the tenants up to 
the marL No harshness, you know; but I won't have the 
boy find a slovenly estate when he gets back to us — ^Jarvis !" 
Q 



242 Edward Bertram. 

" Yes, General." 

" Fourteen months from three years leaves a year and ten 
months ; doesn't it? Ay; but, Jarvis, that is a long time for 
an old man to wait The young can live on hope only, it is 
hard for the old to do so." 

Once more the old, brave soldier's head sank wearily and 
sadly down, and the steward began to fear whether he had done 
more harm than good by endeavouring to draw comfort and 
encouragement from circumstances that he himself secretly 
considered had very little to do with the unknown fate of the 
lost boy. 

Jarvis heartily loved his irritable but upright and generous 
employer, and although of a naturally quiet and peaceable dis- 
position, he would gladly have done violence to his own 
feelings, for once in a way, had fortune so far favoured him as 
to enable him to horsewhip Jeffery Robinson, whom he looked 
upon as the author of all Sir Edward's misery. The baronet 
himself continued, from time to time, to recur to the threats he 
had uttered in Dr. Brown's library against the ex-monitor. On 
several occasions, when the gout was unusually troublesome, 
and temper and spirits consequently at their worst, he had 
resolutely declared that he would start off to the university, 
and denounce the scholar of Newdigate College as guilty of 
manslaughter, and half-a-dozen lesser crimes. He had even 
gone so far once as to order out his chariot and post-horses for 
the journey. But better feelings had hitherto prevailed, and, so 
far as Sir Edward Bertram was concerned, Robinson had been 
unmolested, and left free to establish for himself a good charac- 
ter in his new sphere. We have already seen how small 
advantage he took of his opportunities ; and we will now again 
take flight from England for the sunnier clime and brighter 
shores of Shipwreck Island. 



CHAPTER XXXV. 

A SOUTHERN STORM. 

Y N our last chapter we spoke of returning to the sunnier clime 
A and brighter shores of Shipwreck Island; unfortunately, 
when we again visit it, after a lapse of more than two years, its 
appearance is anything but cheerful, and justifies its lugubrious 
title. It has been lately visited by several wind-storms, the 
traces of their devastation being everywhere visible, and a 
gloomy canopy of clouds overhead, a leaden-coloured sea, and 
an oppressive atmosphere threaten their speedy continuance. 

Hillside Castle, in spite of its lofty position, has not at pre- 
sent sufifered, the shrubs and climbers that have been planted 
about it, and grown over its walls, serving as some protection ; 
but the garden is a perfect wreck, and so is a great part of the. 
wood in which Ned Bertram, Storton, the native, and Mr. Bell 
are now hard at work making canoes. 

" The storm has done us one good turn, at any rate," said 
Ned, as he vigorously continued his occupation of scraping 
out the biurnt ash from the hollow trunk of a tree recently 
uprooted. 

** Ay, indeed," replied Mr. Bell. ** It would have cost us 
a considerable amount of time and trouble to get these trees 
down, ourselves. But we must not waste breath in talking, fox, 
if I mistake not, this wood will be no safe place to be in, an 
hour or so hence." 



244 Edward Bertram. 

The words had scarcely escaped him when a low growl, as 
from some wild animal, sounded through the trees. But the 
growl was the warning of something more ominous and un- 
tamable than the fiercest beast. The experience of the past 
fortnight had taught the exiles what it signified. A moment 
later a giant tree fell with a crash, snapped short off dose to 
the ground, and Ned and his companions covered their eyes 
with their hands, blinded with the serpent light that had 
flashed out from the darkness gathering up around them. 

The tropical storm had begun — such a storm as the people 
of northern climes can scarcely imagine even in their dreams. 
Peal on peal of " Heaven's artillery '' cracked and roared in 
their ears. At alternate instants the whole region round them 
appeared wrapped in living fire, or clothed in the blackest 
night. The wind seized savagely on glorious, wealth-crowned 
forest trees, dashed them down, or flung them away as so many 
dead and sun-dried saplings. The hot lightning breath stole 
within them, and converted their own life-blood into their 
destroyers, splitting them asunder like reeds. Ground plants 
were torn up as though with invisible hands. Whole tracts 
were laid bare, and the raging sea was audible over all, as 
the waves lashed themselves against the reef. 

Simultaneously the workers in the wood cast down their 
tools and fled. . Bravery and defiance are vain against the 
forces of the elements. 

When they were clear of the falling trunks and whirling 
branches, they were removed from one danger only to meet 
with another in the gusts of wind which wrestled with them, 
and almost baflied their most desperate efforts to proceed. 

The plateau was gained at last, and the shelter of the home 
walls; but not a moment too soon. The terrified girls had 
spught safety in the alcove under the hill^ and thither the 
others now followed them. 

Scarcely were all the party thus securely housed than a 



A Southern Storm. 245 

wilder, more awful blast than ever, swept over the island. 
There was a crash, a rending — and in one atom of time the 
home, that had been perfected with two years of unending care 
and elaboration, was gone. 

Out at sea, tossed hither and thither on white crests of the 
fierce waves, was the ruined nest of the handful of English 
exiles. What little remnant was spared by the first blast was 
carried off by the next, and the spoliation was complete. 

The bitterness of the storm was spent The once beautiful 
island was a wide scene of wrecked and torn desolation, and 
the thunder ceased, the wind fell by degrees, gradually dying 
away at last in soft sighs, as though wearied with its cruel sport. 
The skies cleared, and a troubled heaving of the sea alone 
recalled its recent turbulence. 

For three or four hours scarcely a word had been spoken by 
the Bells or anyone. At last Ned broke the silence, sharply, 
and almost fiercely — 

" Let us get away from here. I was beginning to grow sick 
to death of the confinement of our narrow cage ; now I hate it. 
Let us get away." 

" We must — we have no choice," said Mr. Bell, wearily, 
'' unless we are willing to stay here and die. Encumbered as 
the island now is with dying vegetation, it will most probably 
become a hotbed of fever in a short time hence. Besides 
which, I expect both fruit and birds will be very scarce for a 
good while, and we have lost nearly everything that made our 
stay here tiolerable, and two of the rifles that made it safe. We 
must leave, and quickly." 









CHAPTER XXXVI. 

NED AND HIS COMPANIONS QUIT THE ISLAND. 

THREE days after the storm, a singular-looking group was 
gathered on the shores of the little bay. A couple of 
canoes, made according to the native's directions, had been 
carried thither and launched on the clear waters. Both of 
them were duly furnished with paddles, and provisioned with 
such food as the devastated island still afforded Their intend- 
ing crews presented a spectacle queer enough to provoke 
laughter, had not the faces that surmounted the oddly-fashioned 
and clumsy garments looked so grave and anxious. 

Monkey skins, and a sort of sackcloth of cocoa-nut and 
palm-leaf fibre, eked out the remains of the sailcloth, while the 
two girls had contrived, by means of knitting-needles which 
Storton manufactured for them, to make themselves rough 
cotton dresses from the abundant cotton plants on the island. 
Collars, capes, and aprons of lace-bark, cut from the lace-bark 
tree, and fastened by strings made of the woody fibre of rotten 
screw-pine stems, completed their uncommon costume. 

It must be added that the whole party wore plaited leaf hats, 
and shoes, lined with cotton and feathers, and made of india- 
rubber from the gigantic climbing plant, the Urceola Elastica, 
So clothed, and unencumbered by luggage, our friends stepped 
into their small barks, the three Bells into one, Ned, Stortoni 



Ned and his Companions quit the Island. 247 

and the native into the other, and bid a final farewell to Ship- 
wreck Island. 

There was some sadness in the Bells' good-bye to their late 
home, but none in Ned's. He had long known every yard of 
the place, and craved for a wider sphere with the natural rest- 
lessness of youth. 

"Thank goodness, we are off," he shouted gladly, as the two 
canoes cleared the bay, and were rowed out to sea. 

Mr. Bell's tone was not so gleeful as he asked their pilot, for 
the twentieth time — 

"Are you sure we are within a day's row of other land?" 

" Ay, ay, Misser Bell, no hab fear, all right," was the confident 
answer. 

More confident, indeed, than future events justified. Wagga 
had no intention of taking his white friends to his native island 
to be massacred, and the position of the other one he had 
forgotten. 

"You are sure we are rowing in the right direction?" asked 
Ned, late in the afternoon, and resting on his oars to take a 
good look about him. 

" Ay, ay, all right, all right," was the quick answen " Yellow 
fellow row now; gib him oar; row hard." 

" Row as hard as you like, I don't believe we shall see land 
before nightfall," muttered Ned, with an anxious glance towards 
the occupants of the other canoe. 

Had he been able to see but a few hours into the future, he 
would have known that they less needed pity than himself. 




CHAPTER XXXVII. 



HAMMERING A SHARK. 

OUT at sea in a canoe made of the single hollowed-out 
trunk of a tree, with food enough to last three persons 
tolerably well for a couple of days, in the midst of an utterly 
unknown waste of waters, and unprovided with a compass. 

The situation was neither safe nor cheerful, and Ned 
Bertram and Storton looked grave enough when day dawned, 
and they once more took the paddles in their hands. 

The sudden night of the tropics had fallen upon them, as 
Ned had anticipated, while they were yet out of sight of land. 
For some time an effort had been maintained to keep the 
canoes together, but in the darkness collisions had twice 
occurred, threatening to upset one or both of the light boats, 
and eventually the dangerous attempt had been relinquished, 
and the canoes suffered to drift with the tide. 

When morning broke, the Bells and their canoe were 
nowhere to be seen. 

''They were ahead when we laid down the paddles last 
night," said Ned. " No doubt they have been carried along 
rather faster. Let us catch them up." With this resolution 
the two Englishmen bent to their oars with a will But to 
catch up their friends was easier said than done, seeing the 
Bells were then on board a fast-sailing vessel bound for 



Hammering a Shark. 249 



America, while Ned was rowing in the directly contrary 
direction. 

About a couple of hours after the two canoes had been 
washed apart by the waves, and carried far out of hailing 
distance of each other, a flash of summer lightning had revealed 
the party of Bells to the look-out on the American ship. In 
another five minutes they would have been run down and 
drowned ; as it was, they were rescued, and taken on board. 
But no entreaties could prevail upon the captain to keep up, 
during the night, what he termed a wild-goose chase after canoe 
number two. The Bells had to be contented with their own 
safety, and to pray for that of their friends. 

The long day passed on. Ned and Storton rowed when 
they could, but chiefly for the sake of occupation. As the 
morning wore aw^y, they lost all hope of coming up with the 
other canoe. The fierce rays of the sun blazed down upon 
their heads, and the native sat crouched up at one end of the 
boat in a state of semi-stupefied despair. 

'' Our dismalness has spared the food to-day, at any rate," 
said Ned, rather grimly, as the second night drew on apace, 
and he began to feel hungry after his long fast, as the air grew 
fresher. 

But although they had eaten nothing all day, they had nearly 
emptied the water-jars, and when Storton's request that he 
might have another draught now, instead of food, was complied 
with, there was not a drop left 

The second night passed, and again the sun rose, rushing up 
in the heavens as though in hastie to mock at their helplessness. 
Ned had been craving for some months past for more excite- 
ment and adventure than that afforded by snaring parrots, 
cutting sugar-canes, and making botanical discoveries, and now 
they had come to him in full measure. More than once a 
longing after the past two years of peacefulness on Shipwreck 
Island came upon him. And through the feverish mist, that 



250 Edward Bertram. 

ever and again danced before his eyes, the delicious, cool, clear 
waters of the two lakes seemed barbarously to tantalise him 
with their near neighbourhood. 

A third night came, and crept onwards into a fourth fiery, 
burning day. Two sharks appeared in the wake of the canoe. 
Storton had been leaning forward for some time with closed 
eyes. At Ned's exclamation, he opened them and asked eagerly 
whether land were in sight 

''Land! No indeed," answered Ned with a shudder. 
" Look there ! " 

After Storton's first glance, he appeared fascinated by the 
horrible, bloodthirsty creatures. 

" Ned," he whispered hoarsely, " which of us do you think 
they will have?" 

Ned started and stared. "What do you mean?" he ex- 
exclaimed, half-angrily. ''Our position is not so lively that 
you need add to its wretchedness by such ghastly jokes as 
that." 

"Jokes !" repeated Storton in the same tongue-dried, harsh 
whisper, and still following every movement of the great car- 
nivora — "I meant no joke. Don't you know that the sailors 
say sharks that have once begun to follow a vessel never leave 
it till they have received toll from it? I believe them now." 

" I know sailors talk a lot of stuff, and you too," was the 
sharp answer, accompanied by a keen look at the gloomy 
prognosticator. "You are tired. Lie down and go to 
sleep." 

Storton withdrew his eyes heavily from the sharks, and 
stared at his young companion's firmly-set face. Ned met the 
look with calm determination. "Lie down," he repeated 
sternly. 

" Give me a drink of water, then I will," moaned the poor 
fellow humbly. He was already more than half-delirious with 
fever, as Ned had just perceived. 



Hammering a Shark. 251 

Bertram looked into the gourds. and the earthen water- 
bottle. All were empty ; not even a drop of moisture remained 
in any of them." 

"Just one sup of water, and then I'll obey you," moaned 
Storton again. 

Bertram gulped down a lump in his throat, and then turned 
and faced his companion again, with the stem words — "I 
can't You must obey me without Lie down." 

Cowering back in fear from his companion now, Storton lay 
down beside the Indian, and Ned dropped his face into his 
hands to pray and think. 

" What shall I do ? " he muttered. " What is it best to do ? " 

And then he looked up. A dazzling sky overhead, a 
dazzling sea all round, a small canoe, no water, one man in a 
state of stupor, another in growing delirium. •* What is it best 
to do ?" 

Then Ned's eyes met those keen, shining eyes within a few 
feet of the canoe's side. And in his turn, as the scorching sun 
seemed to set the blood in his veins boiling, he watched them 
swim now before, now behind the frail craft Now they swam 
in company along the right side^ and the next minute his 
head grew giddy as he turned from right to left, and left 
to right, to see what first one and then the other might be 
up to. 

Now and again one of the sharks would raise its blood- 
thirsty head out of the water, and snap its jaws, as though in 
rage at the long-delayed feast. And Ned shuddered, and the 
agonizing beating of his heart was audible. 

"Oh my God!" he muttered, "any death but that, any 
death but that— have mercy 1" 

And still the sun blazed on, and Ned felt the fever gaining 
ground against every effort of his will. The sharks kept close 
to the canoe now. There was no more careless indulgence in 
turnings and twistings and divings. With an awful instinct of 



25 2 Edward Bertram, 

the bitter imminence of the situation, the two monsters 
settled into a calm, persistent, slow movement behind the 
slowly-drifting canoe, their cruel teeth within four feet of 
Ned. 

The sun began to sink. The day, with its heat and intoler- 
able thirst, had been awful, but all its miseries seemed to sink 
into nothing before the thought of having those two sharks for 
companions during the long hours of helpless darkness. The 
very idea rendered Edward Bertram desperate, and fought 
down his feverish lassitude for a time. 

He must do something. He must make some attempt to 
get rid of them, or drive them off. Kneeling down in the 
bottom of the canoe, he pulled out everything that had been 
stowed away in the foot square hold, made in the thickness of 
the wood at the stem of the boat 

Amongst other things, he turned out a forgotten bunch of 
bananas and a cocoa-nut, articles invaluable in the present 
burning thirst But for the moment even they were pushed 
aside, for something more immediately desirable in the seeker's 
eyes. 

Such tools as had been in use in the wood the day of the 
final fearful storm had been saved from the tornado that swept 
away all the contents of Hillside Castle, and they had been 
divided between the two canoes. Amongst those at Ned's 
disposal were a heavy hammer and a sharp, finely-tempered 
chisel. Both these tools he fastened separately to two lengths 
of rope. 

Laying the chisel beside him, Bertram took the hammer in 
his hand a second time, and pulled at the rope he had fastened 
round it to make sure that it was secure. Then he coiled a 
twist or two of the other end about his left wrist and fingers. 
His preparations so far made, he knelt up in the canoe facing 
the sharks, and threw out to them some old banana skins and 
an empty gourd. 



A TBRBIBLE-UOMENT. 



Hammering a Shark. 253 

The daintiness of sharks is fortunately in inverse proportion 
to their greediness. Without waiting to ascertain the nature 
of the gifts so unexpectedly offered them, the voracious 
creatures no sooner saw the refuse coming than they turned 
over on their backs to receive it Now was Ned's time. 

Steadying himself, and setting his teeth tight, with the 
swiftness of thought he seized the great hammer, and 
with the whole power of his strength raised it above his 
head, and flung it crashing down upon the upturned foremost 
shark. 

The energy of his throw nearly pulled him over the side of 
the canoe, and before he could right himself again, or discover 
the effect of his heavy missile, he felt a hot breath on his 
cheek, a heavy hand on his shoulder, and he turned to 
meet the glittering eyes of Storton, and to hear his delirious 
laugh. 

" Ah ! ah ! you've fed him, Bertram, you've fed him. Well 
done, old fellow; now I'll feed the other faithful follower, 
and then we'll finish up our travels in the moon — red heat 
in the sun — white heat in the moon. Never mind, here 
goes ^" 

So saying, Storton released Ned's shoulder as suddenly as he 
had clutched it, and sprang up to throw himself into the sea, 
his gaze once more fixed on the monsters who appeared to 
have as fatal a fascination for his disordered brain as snakes 
have for the birds on which they feed. 

In a moment Ned perceived his intention. It was no time 
for persuasive words or gentle acts. He turned on him, and 
with a swift, straight hit out from the shoulder, full at his chest, 
he felled him, dropping him a dead weight in the bottom of the 
boat. 

At any other time the motionless figure at his feet would 
have filled Edward Bertram's heart with grief— now he only 
muttered — 



254 Edward Bertram. 

<< Better so than to die between the jaws of yonder brute. I 
did it to save him." 

Secure from interruption within the canoe, Ned was once 
more at liberty to turn his attention to affairs without, and to 
wonder why, after the first moment, he had felt no further 
strain upon his wrist. The first glance showed him that his 
uncouth weapon had done its work with unhoped-for complete- 
ness. It still lay buried in the dead body of the giant-fish, and 
served to tow it along in the boat's wake. It was well for Ned 
that his cast had been thus fatal, otherwise he would have 
never lived to make another. In the rapidity and agitation of 
his preparations, he had so fastened the rope round his wrist 
that, if his huge victim had been spared time to make any 
struggles for freedom, Bertram must infallibly have been pulled 
overboard. Excitement, action, and success had by this time 
somewhat steadied his brain, and his future proceedings were 
more wary, although marked by barbarity that requires the 
excuse of circumstances. 

The living fish had swum a short distance off after the 
slaughter of its companion. But it rapidly regained its bold- 
ness, and now once more resumed its horrible, waiting attitude, 
attending on the slow drifting of the boat. 

"Misser Ned," muttered Wagga, whom the recent events 
had aroused from his long stupor, *' Misser Ned, let dead fish 
go, live fish stop behind with him." 

" Very likely," said Ned, through his closed teeth ; " but the 
dead fish means meat for us, and we'll keep it" 

As he spoke, Ned took the chisel, or rather plane-iron 
sharpened at both ends, in his right hand, the other end of the 
rope in his left, and directing Wagga to throw out some odds 
and ends to answer the purpose, as before, of bait, he once 
more planted himself as firmly as he could on his knees, awaited 
the moment when the shark drew near, flashed the steel in its 
eyes, and then flung forth the more glittering and tempting prize. 



Hammering a Shark. ass 

The greedy monster turned over as Ned raised his aim, 
opened its ht^e jaws, and swallowed down the keen-edged, 
treacherous booty. The next instant, before it could recover 
itselforactinany way, Ned gave one shaip, strong wrench upon 
the rope, dropped it into the sea the moment after, seized the 
paddles, and rowed for life from the neighbourhood of the 
wounded, frantic enemy. 



CHAPTER XXXVIII. 

A STARTLING CLIMAX TO NED'S CANOEINa 

YT was with a sigh of the most intense relief that, when 
A Edward Bettram paused, after fifteen minutes' hatd rowing, 
to look into the sea at the rear of the boat, he discovered that 
his hope was realized — no living shark was visible. The next 
thing to be done was to look to Storton, before darkness and 
forced inactivity came upon them. 

Ned's momentary dread that he might have killed his friend 
was relieved by seeing one of hia hands move, and just as he 
bid down the paddles, a few words of unintelligible jargon 
still further reassured him. 

Under ordinaiy circumstances, Bertram's first proceeding 
would have been an attempt to do something for the relief of 
his companion, but in the present emergency he took advan- 
tage of the delirious man's helplessness to bind him securely, 
hand and foot, before bringing him back to the dangerous 
semi-consciousness of high fever. One wild or incautious 
movement might at any moment overturn the frail barque. 

Prudence thus consulted, that treasure-trove of bananas 
proved invaluable aids in further efibrts of benevolence. The 
moist fruit relieved the parching thirst from which they were 
all suffering, and the skins made cooling plaisters to lay on the 
■ick man's burning forehead. Having done all that was 



A Startling Climax to Ned^s Canoeing. 257 

possible for Storton's comfort, Ned laid himself back in the 
canoe to rest. The native rolled himself round again, after a 
final eager glance to make sure that the mass of food they had 
in tow was still safe, and went to sleep. 

Storton fell into a troubled doze, and Ned passed the three 
or four solemn hours of the night in wakefulness and prayer. 
Once or twice a black terror surged up in his heart, and almost 
overwhelmed him, as he realized the whole significance of their 
position, their utter helplessness and desolateness, drifting on 
slowly and surely to a lingering, unmarked death in the vast, 
pitiless tract of waters. 

"Oh my Father !" he groaned, as the cold damp of agony 
stood upon his temples, " have mercy upon us." 

A sudden death between the jaws of the sharks began to 
appear preferable to the awful picture of torturing thirst, starva- 
tion, delirium, and prolonged dying misery which his over- 
wrought imagination conjured up. Now and again Storton 
awoke, startling the night with shrieks, and curdling Ned*s 
blood with the oaths and curses formerly so familiar to the 
forger's lips, but long since forsaken and repented of. Heavy 
thimder-clouds crept up the horizon, and the air was oppres- 
sive to the last degree. Ned began to think that night would 
never end, and yet it was, in reality, a very short one, and just 
as it was about to end he fell asleep. 

" Misser Ned, Misser Ned ! open her eyes, Misser Ned." 

These words, spoken in Wagga's most energetic tones, and 
accompanied by a pull of his arm, effectually aroused the 
sleeper, who raised his head, and obeyed the injunction to 
open his eyes with an eager gaze all round. 

" What is it?" he asked after a minute, in an accent of keen 
disappointment ; " I see nothing." 

" But there is something all the same^ Misser Ned," replied 
the Indian, pointing his finger towards the south-east, whither 
they were still drifting. 

R 



2s8 Edward Bertram. 

As he finished speaking, he changed his seat, took up his 
paddles, and for the first time since the ending of the day on 
which they left Shipwreck Island, he commenced to row 
vigorously. 

Ned let him do so alone for nearly half-an-hour, while he 
still kept his own eyes fixed in the direction indicated by 
Wagga. 

At last a cry of joy escaped him, and he too seized the 
paddles, and imitated his companion's example. 

It is necessary to have been for nearly a week in a small, 
open boat on an unknown sea-desert, during a tropical summer, 
to understand the depth of thankfulness with which Ned 
Bertram and Wagga ran their canoe up into a little cove 
indenting the shores of a small island, after a long spell of 
steady rowing. 

The place was very dimunitive, scarcely more, in fact, than 
a rock standing out of the sea. But it was a refuge for the 
time from a brief, fierce storm, that would inevitably have 
swamped their boat and drowned them. When the storm 
passed and the sun once more blazed forth, the few trees 
afforded welcome shelter to the weary wanderers. 

Having carried Storton to as comfortable a resting-place as 
they could find him beneath the trees, the others ensured the 
safety of their precious boat by conveying it up almost to the 
centre of the rock, into a cavity of which they pushed it out of 
reach of the wind should another storm come. 

These matters arranged, the next thing was to obtain water 
by grubbing round the roots of the trees. Cockles and oysters 
served for food, together with a species of rather bitter-tasted 
seaweed, which the Indian set the example of eating, and 
which appeared to have some effect in relieving Storton's 
fever. 

On this desolate rock, of little more than a mile in diameter, 
the three men remained nearly a fortnight, of which the first 



A Startling Climax to Ned's Canoeing. 259 

half was spent chiefly in sleep, the latter in looking out with 
desperate eagerness for passing ships which never came, and in 
doubts as to future proceedings. But the reprieve from heat, 
thirst, and constant danger had two effects. Storton recovered 
his health and strength, and Ned recovered his courage and 
determination. 

'' It's very certain," he began suddenly one evening after an 
hour's silence, during which the three companions sat staring 
out to sea — "ifs very certain that we cannot spend the 
remainder of our lives on this wretched rock." 

" Oh yes ! Misser Ned, stay here," interrupted Wagga, who 
had not yet sufficiently forgotten recent experiences to wish for 
their repetition. 

" All right, old fellow, you may if you like, but I shall not," 
resumed Edward ; " so I vote that we cut it at once, while the 
sea is smooth and the weather fair." 

" Agreed," said Storton, And then they lay down to rest, 
in order to be ready to start with the dawn. 

Wagga went almost frantic when he saw the canoe launched 
again, with a small cargo of shell-fish and fresh water. He 
clung to first one, and then the other of his companions, with 
piteous appeals to them to be content with present safety. 
When he found all his entreaties vain, he flung himself down 
on the strand as though in despair, and for neither threats nor 
advice would he join the others, who at length gave up their 
attempts at persuasion, jumped into the canoe, and pushed off 
from the shore. 

" But we can't really forsake the obstinate fellow," grumbled 
Ned, after rowing on for about ten minutes. 

He was preparing to put about again, when, lo ! Mr. Wagga 
started up, flung himself into the sea, swam swiftly out to 
them, scrambled into the canoe, and sat down as coolly 
as if he had been with them at first starting. He had 
made use of all the means he knew of to get them to yield 



26o Edward Bertram. 

to his wishes, but he had no intention of being really left 
behind. 

This present voyage only lasted two days, when again they 
reached an island, and once more indulged in a short sojourn 
on land. Three or four weeks passed in this manner, between 
as many islands. As they gained the last one, Ned fell ill 
from the effects of the heat and bad diet, and their strange 
voyage of discovery was interrupted for nearly a month. 

He had scarcely recovered his strength when restlessness 
once more mastered prudence, and for the fifth time the small 
canoe and its crew of three passed out of sight of land. 
In spite of sdl discomforts, for the first three days all bore up 
bravely, buoyed with the expectation of certainly soon coming 
to another of those welcome oases in the water-desert that 
appeared so numerous in their present neighbourhood. But 
the third night fell, and they were still out of sight of land. 

A fourth day came and went A fifth. They were without 
food or water. And once more all the terrible experiences 
of the first portion of their voyage were repeated. Day and 
night followed each other, how they scarcely knew. They gave 
up rowing. They could not sleep. During the daylight they 
sat with strained eyes gazing out for land, or any sign of hope. 
But neither flying bird nor floating leaf raised their dying 
energies. At night their hollow eyes still stared into the 
darkness with meaningless persistency. 

It was Storton's turn now to make a final struggle for their 
lives. 

" Bertram," he said one night, laying his hand on that of his 
young companion, " we need not help our adverse fortune to 
kill us. Let us lie down now and sleep. Our watching 
hitherto has done us no good. Let us sleep through this 
night, and gain some strength, if possible. To-morrow we 
will once more take up the paddles, and try for land — and 
life." 



A Startling Climax to Ned's Canoeing. 261 

So StortoD spoke, and soon all three lay at the bottom of 
the drifting canoe, wrapped in exhausted slumber. But they 
were destined never again to touch those paddles. The hours 
passed — dawn began to faintly tinge the sky on the horizon. 
A tumult of noise, shouts, and shrieks sounded through Ned's 
dreams, and the next minute he was struggling fraoiically in the 
still dim waters of the ocean. 



CHAPTER XXXIX. 

BILL ANDERSON ANSWERS AN ADVERTISEMENT. 

JN the spring of the year 1842, a gentleman and a weather- 
beaten sailor sat together in the sanded kitchen of a small 
inn a few miles out of Plymouth. It was a squally day at the 
beginning of April, a sort of remnant from the past month, and 
the two people just mentioned were the only passengers by 
that day's coach to London. 

The postmaster had taken advantage of his unpretending- 
looking fares to start them on their way to the metropolis 
in an old coach long since put on one side as past work, and 
the ramshackle concern had broken down, as might have 
been anticipated^ before twenty miles of the journey were 
accomplished. 

The travellers, outside and in, were coolly told that they 
would have to stay where they were until the next morning, 
and there was nothing for it but to bear the delay as patiently 
as their tempers would allow. 

Both men had knocked about the world too much to think 
a great deal of the distinctions of rank, and they soon got into 
conversation together in front of the landlady's cheerful fire. 

" You are on your way to see your friends, I suppose ?" said 
the gentleman, eyeing the honest, bronzed countenance of his 
companion with some interest. 



Bill Anderson answers an Advertisement. 263 

*• Not so, sir/' was the answer ; " and begging your pardon 
for the contradiction. IVe neither kith nor kin as I knows on, 
and my mates aboard ship are the closest friends I own to. 
My business in London city is with the lawyer chaps. A 
matter o' four year ago, a young lad — as bonny a lad as I'd 
wish to see — passed himself out t' Australy aboard my ship. 
Leastways, he tried to, but better nor midway the freak took 
him to jump overboard in a storm, to try and save a ne'er-do- 
well." 

" Ay ! " interrupted the listener with sudden eagerness, then 
adding — " Yes, yes 1 Go on, if you please. What have lawyers 
to do with the matter ? " 

" Why, just this. When t' poor, buffeted Good Bess reached 
port, and we landed for a spell, I came across this 'vertisement, 
sayin' as bow information respectin' Edward Bertram — the very 
lad I'm meanin', ye see — would be thankfully received, alive 
or dead, and all expenses paid, by some London lawyer folks. 
Well, I put the paper by in my kit, an' took ill after that, and 
thought no more of the matter till I coom across this again a 
few weeks sin', an' now I think better late nor never, and so 
here goes." 

While speaking, our good-hearted old friend. Bill Anderson, 
had drawn forth and unfolded a carefully wrapped-up scrap of 
paper, which he handed to his companion, who perused it 
with great interest, and the upshot of the conversation that 
followed was, that both the travellers gave up their journey to 
the metropolis for the present, and took post-horses northward 
to Gloucestershire instead. 

As the sailor sat beside the gentleman, while they drove 
along the country roads just donning their first faint tinge of 
summer greenness, every now and again an exclamation would 
burst fi*om his lips — 

" And he were na' drooned ! — And ye knew un — It's passin' 
strange ! passin' strange." 



264 Edward Bertram, 

" Ay," responded the gentleman sadly. *' But passing sad, 
too, it seems to me, that the brave lad should have been once 
so wonderfully spared, only to die in much the same manner 
after alL" 

** Perhaps he is na dead; wha kens." 

The second day drew to its dose, and the travellers b^an 
to grow somewhat nervous. 

'^Ye are sure the lad, Edward Bertram, did belong to the 
old General up here, sir?" asked Bill Anderson, beginning to 
think that after all it might have been wiser to obey the 
advertisement, and carry his information to London. 

But his companion had no doubts of that nature. Ned had 
often spoken to him of the stem old soldier, whose name was 
well known to all Englishmen. And, even amidst all the 
glowing beauty of southern scenery, Ned had often described, 
in terms of affectionate enthusiasm, the beautiful estate that 
must one day be his, if he lived, but from whose delights his 
boyhood had been so excluded. 

** I have no fears, Anderson, that we are not bringing our 
news to headquarters," was the answer to Bill's question. " I 
am much more anxious as to the way in which it may be 
received. I confess I shall feel inclined to call the old man 
out if he shows churlishness, or indiflference to the fate of his 
gallant young heir." 



CHAPTER XL. 

NEWS AT LAST, 

" YF you please, sir, there are some visitors asking to see 

A yon." 

" I won't see them — I won't see anyone. You know I 
won't," was the passionate answer ; and Sir Edward Bertram 
turned a face that looked almost as grey as his hair, upon the 
man-servant who still lingered in the doorway. 

"Well!" he exclaimed angrily, "what now? Are you 
glued to the ground, sir ? Go at once, and tell them I see 
no one, for a year past." 

" I told them that, General, but they said you would see 
them." 

" Like their impertinence. Who are they ?" 

"I don't know, sir; strangers. One is a gentleman, the 
other a sailor fellow." 

" What ! " cried the General, starting up, and coming forward. 
" A sailor ! What — what — has he come about ?" 

" About Mr. Edward, he " 

Sir Edward waited to hear no more. Striding to the door, 
he flung the servant on one side, and shouted down the hall in 
stentorian tones — 

" Sailor, come here, and you, sir." 



266 Edward Bertram. 

The two visitors exchanged looks with each other. The 
imperious welcome given to them was delivered much in the 
manner of an African king giving his subjects leave to make 
themselves mto targets for his arrows. However, they had 
come too far to care to go back now with their mission 
unfulfilled. They walked forward, and entered the fine library 
of Bertram Hall, which was its owner's usual sitting-room. 

Inside the room they stood still, and awaited some further 
salutation, but none came, and just as the gentleman was about 
to mention the object of their visit, the stem, fierce-looking 
old General fell at their feet in a swoon. 

Happily at this juncture Mr. Jarvis came hurrying up, to 
learn the meaning of the scrap of information brought to him 
by the footman. Flinging himself down beside his employer, 
he lost no time in using every effort for his recovery, volubly 
abusing the strangers, meanwhile, to their infinite surprise, for 
being guilty of gross cruelty and heartlessness. - 

''Why," cried BUI Anderson at last, smarting under a sense 
of unjust treatment, " yeVe no call to gae jawin' us at this gate. 
I'm main sorry the old gentleman be took ill, but 'tisna to our 
blame. He cared no more for's nephew than for a dog, nor 
sae mooch, by all seeming." 

'' Then all seeming is false," came a murmur firom between 
the General's pale quivering lips. " Tell me he lives, that God 
has had this pity on my desolate old age, and I will bless you 
on my knees." 

But Bill Anderson had not this assurance to give, so he 
choked instead, and rubbed his sleeve over his eyes, with a 
sudden revulsion of feeling towards the bereaved veteran. He 
helped Jarvis to raise him from the ground, and assisted him to 
his arm-chair with as much gentleness as though it were Ned 
himself upon whom he was attending, and in the two hours' 
talk that followed he softened as much as possible everything 
that could wound his hearer's feelings. 



News at Last. 267 



Anderson's narrative ended, he called upon his companion 
to continue it, which he did, until the night of the day on 
which Ned and his companions rowed away from Shipwreck 
Island, to seek for land more in the track of passing vessels 
than that had lately proved to be. 

"You should have made that American captain stop and 
look for him, sir," growled the General, when Mr. Bell con- 
cluded his recital with a sigh for past memories. " You should 
have forced him to put about, and institute a search for your 
friends.** 

" We used every effort to do so, but in vain." 

'' Did you put a pistol to the scoundrel's breast, sir, and 
threaten to shoot him if he sailed on ? " shouted Sir Edward, 
furiously ; " no, of course you did not." 

" No, certainly, we did not do that," assented the doctor, 
with a slight smile. But he had already discovered that the 
white-haired, hard>spoken veteran had a heart softer than his 
tongue, and during the remainder of the day, while he and 
Anderson accepted the boundless hospitality of the owner of 
Bertram Hall, he already learnt to feel a friendship for the man 
whose reserve and outer harshness had driven his nephew into 
exile, to dangers and hardships innumerable, and possibly to 
death. 

That last final and irretrievable possibility, however, General 
Bertram refused to listen to, and with the energy and restlessness 
which his nephew had inherited, before he went to sleep that 
night he had already declared his intention of setting out for 
the Indian Ocean and Australia, to trace and find his missing 
heir. Bill Anderson and the faithful Jarvis should go with him, 
and Mr. Bell, if he would. 

But that could not be, for Mr. Bell had just come to the 
West of England to buy a physician's practice, and he was now 
going back to fetch his daughters, Rosa and Josephine, who 
would already be growing anxious at his absence. 



368 Edward Bertram. 

"Very well," conceded Sir Edward at lasl, reluctantly. 
" But at any rate, then, you must promise to come and pay us 
a long visit when we get to England." 

"Oh, certainly, I promise that," said Mr. Bell, with an 
outward appearance of ready and cheerful hope that he was 
far from feeling inwardly. 

Anderson had more faith in the future. 



CHAPTER XLI. 

JEFFERY ROBINSON ADRIFT. 

"^OU have had a very long illness from overwork, Mr. 

A Robinson, and I repeat I strongly advise you not to go 
up for the forthcoming examination. You are not now in a 
state of preparation to do yourself justice." 

Mr. Chase was in his rooms at Newdigate, and Jeffery 
Robinson had come to report himself on his return after a six 
months' absence with brain fever, and to declare his intention 
of at once resuming his studies, and going in for his final 
examination without further delay than was necessary. 

A longer acquaintance had not made Mr. Chase like his 
clever pupil any better than he did the first day of their 
introduction to each other, but he had felt an extorted 
admiration for his abilities, as Fred Nicholson and Dr. Brown 
had done in the old days at Errington, and he had a sincere 
wish to save him the bitter disappointment he was likely to 
bring upon himself if he persisted in his determination. 

But illness had had no softening effect upon Robinson's 
temper and self-will. He took the well-meant counsel as an 
insult; and, when he had to listen to its second and third 
emphatic repetition, he drew those lowering brows of his 
together into a heavy scowl, and muttered in a tone of studied 
impertinence — 



270 Edward Bertram. 



"Thanks for your gratuitous lecture; I prefer those in the 
college course. I choose to follow my own opinion as to what 
is best." 

"Then/' exclaimed the tutor, rising as he spoke, and 
irritated into momentary loss of self-restraint — "then you choose, 
sir, to be a fool, as you have been before, and will be again." 

"A what?" hissed Jeflfery Robinson, livid with rage, and 
advancing a step nearer. 

"Afool, sir— a " 

And then the tutor's words were stopped with a blow, and 
the following day his passionate pupil's University career was 
brought to an end by summary dismissal from his college. 

His ambition was destroyed, his spirit broken, and before 
another year had passed over him he had hidden his lowered 
head in the Australian bush. 

" Keep you, indeed I" exclaimed a squatter, contemptuously, 
and looking at the round-shouldered, white-handed scholar of 
Newdigate to whom he had given a night's hospitality, and 
who now muttered a request to be kept on as a servant, or 
help of some sort, at the Bush Inn, where travellers could 
obtain almost anything, when seasons were good, excepting 
cleanliness and civility. 

"Keep you, indeed !" repeated the ex-convict and present 
innkeeper. " What on earth do you suppose would be the good 
of a fine gentleman like you about the place ? What do you 
know about selling candles or cart-grease, or mending up an 
old horse-shoe, or making a pile of dampers, or getting a good 
price out of customers for a potful of * fat-hen' when there's 
nothing better to be got?" 

The University man's silence confessed his ignorance on all 
these points. Indeed he had never so much as heard of the 
spinach-like weed to which the settlers give the deceptive title 
of fat-hen — as for cooking it, or selling it, that would be as 
difficult to him as the mending of the old horse-shoe. Worn 



Jeffery Robinson Adrift. 271 

with wretchedness and privation, he shouldered his bundle, 
and prepared to continue his weary search for employment. 

As he turned to the door some one else entered, to whom 
the innkeeper shouted, " Hullo, neighbour, you've come in the 
nick of time. Yon fine gentleman wants a situation. You 
don't happen to want a lecturer down at your clearing, do 
you ? I don't feel to, myself." 

" Nor I, thank you," laughed the new-comer ; " but, I say," 
he added after a moment, in a changed tone, " there's them 
young uns of mine, you know, Smith. The missus is always 
on at me about their not being able to read your signboard-, 
nor write their own names. This might be a rare chance to 
please her. What do you say, young gentleman ? would it suit 
your wishes to turn tutor to my three boys ?" 

Robinson's condition was so desperate that he was prepared 
to say "yes" to almost any offer, and the present one really 
seemed, on the surface, to be quite a splendid opening. 

An hour later he was accompanying his new employer still 
farther into the bush, and the next day he entered on his 
trying occupation of tutor to three half-clothed, dirty, neglected, 
impudent little savages. 

The task of trying to put crumbs of knowledge into those 
unwilling shock heads would have been a really terrible one 
for even the most patient and hum-drum of teachers, but to the 
irritable, fierce-tempered Robinson it was absolutely awful. 
The spiteful children spared him no item in his day's miseries, 
and even at night their ingenious torments frequently helped to 
increase the discomforts of the rough, insect-filled bark-hut, 
and bed of straw and ragged blankets, which were considered 
quite good enough for the refined and fastidious tutor. 

Once or twice just anger got the better of the prudence he 
had learnt so bitterly, and he administered a box on the ears 
to one or other of his pupils. On each occasion the urchin 
rushed off roaring and screaming to his parents, who lost no 



272 Edward Bertram. 

time in soothing his injured feelings by furiously scolding the 
tutor. 

** Look here, my fine fellow," said the settler one day before 
his children, "the next time you lay a hand on one of my 
youngsters you'll rue it." 

Robinson determined to save every penny of his salary for 
the next two or three months, and thus obtain means to escape 
to some happier position, but the climax came before his pur- 
pose was accomplished. 

The mother taunted Robinson with the small progress his 
pupils made, and they persisted more obstinately than ever in 
resisting his efforts to push them on. They ridiculed his looks 
and his ways, tore his clothes, and stole his hard-earned money. 
His very forbearance was a subject for their contempt At 
last his patience was exhausted, and, careless of consequences, 
he bestowed a couple of sound cuffs upon the eldest boy and 
dismissed him from the schoohroom. 

An hour passed before he heard anything more of the 
affair — then the father made his appearance. 

" You and one of your pupils have had another affray, I 
hear, sir," said the settler quietly. 

" Yes," said Robinson, breathing more freely. He had been 
nerving himself to encounter a storm of fierce reproaches and 
threats, and the man's calm tone and manner were a great 
relief to him. Had he known Jem Howland better, he would 
rather have preferred to have dealings with a mad dog than 
with him when he spoke in that cool, slow voice. 

He was a man who rarely took the trouble to be in a 
passion, but those who knew Jem were very careful not to 
quarrel with him. To use his own phrase, he always paid off 
all his scores with interest. He considered compassion a 
virtue only fit for girls, and he had no more mercy in him than 
a tiger. But the unfortunate tutor knew nothing of this as he 
answered thankfully — 



Jeffery Robinson Adrift. 2*11 



'' Yes. I am sorry, but I assure you his impertinence was 
beyond bearing." 

"Ah, just so, no doubt," said the settler. "And, do you 
know, I have made up my mind that it is a pity you should 
have to put up with any more of it; so, if you'll just get ready, 
I'll bring the gig round, and drive you myself to a more peace- 
ful locality." 

"Now — at once !" asked Robinson, in astonishment 

"Ay, to be sure. Why not ? We made our agreement in a 
minute, and we can break it in a minute, can't we ? Not that 
I mind giving you a month's pay over and above your due 
either," he added, with a significant chuckle that much puzzled 
his hearer. 

Little more than thirty minutes later, Robinson had said 
good-bye to his pupils and their home, and was driving along 
a scarcely perceptible road through the uncleared brush, in 
company with the farmer and his stockman, a big, powerful 
man, whose occupation of driving wild herds of cattle had not 
tended to soften his rugged nature. 

Scarcely a word passed for some time between the three 
companions, as they drove on and on along a route marked 
out by nothing but an apparently interminable succession of 
the dreary, scanty-leaved eucalyptus trees. 

"I cannot imagine," said Robinson at last, "how any 
number of years can teach you to know your way through siich 
country as this. There does not seem to me to be the slightest 
sign, to show whence you have come, nor where you should 
go. I should think no place in the world can match these 
Australian tracts for desolateness and monotony. Shall we 
soon reach something more cheerful ?" 

The farmer and his stockman exchanged looks as the former 
answered quickly, " All in good time, all in good time." 

They went on for another hoiu:, and then all descended to 

dine off the mutton and damper they had brought with them, 
s 



274 Edward Bertram. 

The stockman made a fire and boiled coffee, and then pipes 
followed, after which he and the. settler threw themselves at 
full length on the ground, declaring they must have a doze 
before they went any further. Robinson fell into the barbarous 
trap laid for him, and followed their example. 

He awoke an hour later, and found himself alone. 

Now he understood the smooth speeches and the meaning 
glances which had so puzzled him. 

Short as his sojourn had been in Australia, it had been quite 
long enough for him to hear many a dismal tale of travellers 
dying of starvation and thirst in the bush. This was the fate 
to which the vengeful Jem Rowland had consigned him. 

Hour after hour he sat there, till the darkness gathered up 
around him, and he could hear the soft footfalls of the opossums 
as they ran up and down the trunks. He bitterly envied the 
unthinking kangaroo-rats, who sat blinking their bright eyes at 
him from the burnt hollows of the neighbouring trees. They 
all had homes, he had none. 

Friendless, homeless, alone, and burdened with a heavy con- 
science, it was little wonder that Robinson envied even the 
very insects with which the Australian bush is so uncom- 
fortably crowded. 

One event after another of his past life came back to him 
during that solemn night, and he wondered many times whether 
the young school-fellow of old, Ned Bertram, whom he had 
treated so cruelly, would feel satisfied now, if he could see him, 
that his own sufferings of former days had been sufficiently 
avenged. 

With the daylight he rose, and set off walking rapidly to try 
to escape. If he continued on in the same direction, it seemed 
that he must at length come at least to a river or stream of 
some sort that would furnish him with food, and be a guide to 
him. 

Cheered with this thought, he bore up bravely throughout 



Jeffery Robinson Adrift. 375 

the day, and had just decided that another similarlp sustained 
effort would certainly carry him out of the bush the next day, 
when a cry escaped him, and he sank down, burying his face in 
his hands. 

He had come back to the spot from which he had started in 
the morning. There were the ashes of the fire at which the 
stockman had cooked the coffee, the broken pipe Jem How- 
land had thrown away, and the bit of wrapping canvas in which 
the mutton had been folded. 

Id spite of his despair Robinson fell asleep, and dreamt 
all night of Edward Bertram and the grammar school of 
Erriogton. 



CHAPTER XLII. 



I 



TRACKING AN HEIR. 

TOLD you so; I always told you so," said a testy old 
gentleman, who stood in the coffee-room of the Royal 
Hotel, Sydney. " If I had taken my own way I should have 
had my heir at home with me a couple of years ago. Of course 
he came to Australia. All sensible young fellows of spirit 
come to Australia. Jarvis, mind this, we start for the farm he's 
on the first thing to-morrow morning." 

" Yes, General ; certainly, Sir Edward," replied the obedient 
Jarvis, and looking almost as happy as his companions, the 
General and Bill Anderson. 

Thanks to Mr. Bell's information as to the canoe, news as 
to its owners was easily obtained at Sydney, and the poor old 
uncle was at length in a fair way to recover the nephew whom 
he had helped to drive into all manner of perils by an affecta- 
tion of indifference to his happiness. 




CHAPTER XLIII. 

A FINAL ESCAPE, AND— HOMF. 

ALTHOUGH in the last chapter an intimation has been 
given of the safety of our hero, it must be remembered 
that we left Ednard Bertram struggling at early dawn in the 
waters of the Indian Ocean. We find him, a year ,or two 
later, a stockman on an Australian farm in the bush. The 
same ship that ran down the small canoe gave shelter a few 
minutes later to its three occupants, and about a fortnight 
after Ned found himself in the beautiful harbour of Sydney, for 
which he had so long ago lefl England. 

Our three friends were scarcely landed before they were 
' besieged with offers of employment, either together or 
separately. 

"Decidedly together," said Bertram and Storton. And 
Wa^a being equally anxious on that point, a lucky farmer, 
owning a clearing some seventy miles south of Sydney, secured 
the services of three of the steadiest, most industrious, and 
reliable workers to be found in the colony. 

Storton found ample scope for his carpentering abilities in 
making houses, sheds, and cattle yards. Wa^a proved a 
much more valuable acquisition than his master had expected, 
for his apprenticeship under the Bells, on Shipwreck Island, 



278 Edward Bertram. 

had taught him some of the perseverance in which Indians, as 
a rule, are sadly deficient As for Ned himself, he was at last 
in his element On the half-cleared cattle farm on the edge of 
the Australian scrub there was full scope for even his super- 
abundant pluck and energy. 

That you may have a true notion of what Ned's duties and 
employments were, and what yours will be if you choose to 
accept a similar position, I will give you a real Australian 
stockman's account of his experience. 

Of course, in the first place, he must be a man of intelligence. 
He must be quick at finding the cattle when they stray. He 
must accustom each mob to run to its camp at the crack of the 
stock-whip. He must be able to gather out his own stragglers 
firom the midst of many thousands of others at the periodical 
cattle musters of a district He must be able to mend his 
saddle, and shoe his horse. And, above all, he must not be 
afraid to gallop over any sort of country, to be charged by a 
wild bullock, or to encounter a tribe of blacks. 

Of course Ned was not able to do all these things directly 
he landed in Australia; neither did he become a stockman 
immediately ; but he received his first lessons pretty soon, and 
they were tolerably rough ones. 

By the time he was a fine, strong, sunburnt fellow of twenty, 
he was equal to anything that was required of him, and up to 
almost any emergency. He and his favourite horse. Black 
Prince, were known far and wide. 

There is not time now to tell of his splendid rescue of the 
cedar-cutters when the floods were out, nor of the terrible 
meeting of himself and Storton with the half-mad sailor of the 
Good Bess^ when the victim of superstition and delusion set 
the rank grass of the bush on fire, to rid the world, as he said, 
of a demon in the person of poor penitent Storton. 

Storton escaped, but the unhappy madman himself perished 
in the wild and far-spread flames, in spite of Bertram's almost 



A Final Escape^ and — Home. 279 

frantic efforts to save him from the fearfully magnificent funeral 
pyre which he had lighted for his own destruction. 

But we must hasten to a conclusion. 

" Where are you off to ? " exclaimed Storton, one morning, 
as Ned rode slowly past the hut, looking very thoughtful. 

" I don't know/' said Ned, a smile brightening his face for a 
moment " But the fact is, some of the cattle are lost, stolen, 
or strayed — we don't know which. The head stockman has 
got an attack of rheumatic fever, * the pains,' as he calls it, 
poor wretch, and I'm off in his stead to find the beasts if I can, 
and head them home again." 

"Oh, I see. So that accounts for your unusually solemn 
face, then." 

" No, it doesn't," answered Ned quickly, and bending over 
the neck of his horse that his lowered tones might be audible 
to his friend — "the fact is, Storton, that I don't thoroughly 
trust that convict Brown who has lately come to work here, and 
I am sorry to say he is to go with me, and Cobawn Bill is to be 
our tracker. I believe, for my part, that they are in league 
with each other, and that both the Indian and Brown know 
perfectly well the whereabouts of the missing cattle. But see, 
they are ready. I must be off." 

And before Storton could utter a word of advice, agreement, 
or dissuasion from the doubtful expedition, Ned had cracked 
his whip and started off in a gallop. 

Storton returned to his own work, looking rather anxious. 
But it does not answer, when one is in the bush, to take alarm 
at every cloud in the sky, for if folks did, the colonies would 
be in a perpetual state of panic. 

" And forewarned is forearmed," murmured Storton, during 
the course of the morning, still thinking about his friend. 
"And he had his pistols with him." 

Just as that comforting remembrance came to Storton, Ber- 
tram, unperceived by his companions, was drawing forth one 



28o Edward Bertram. 

of those weapons for immediate use. Brown and the Indian, 
Cobawn Bill, had exchanged a good many looks and half 
uttered words during the last mile or so, and Brown had taken 
to lagging behind 

Bertram turned to order him forward just in time to catch 
him with his hands up to his mouth. This action, which 
he had truly construed as the prelude to a signal, confirmed all 
his suspicions. 

It was the work of a moment for Ned to seize his pistol, but 
the long, ringing '' Coe-ee" escaped even sooner from Brown's 
mouth. 

The place had been well chosen for an attack. The path 
was so narrow as scarcely to leave room to turn a horse, while 
the dense jungle on either hand was rendered still more for- 
bidding by the warning scarlet blossoms of the deadly nettle, 
or stinging-tree, as it is commonly called. Fifty yards or so in 
front the path widened, and the jungle gave way to open forest 
land. If Ned could reach this, he was mounted so well that 
he would have a fair chance of escape from any number of 
enemies, otherwise he saw at once that his life was not worth 
ten minutes' purchase. 

Grasping the reins tightly in one hand, and holding the pistol 
ready for use in the other, he shouted, for Brown's benefit, 
" You pitiful scoundrel, you !" and made a dash forward. 

It was too late. A man rushed towards him with a cry. 
Behind him came three others, also carrying firearms. Ned 
reined up Prince, and fired. At the same time one of the 
bushrangers fired, and poor, faithful Black Prince reared, 
sprang up into the air, and fell back dead, Ned having barely 
time to free his feet from the stirrups, and spring to the 
ground, to avoid being crushed beneath his poor favourite. 

He was desperate now. Turning upon the traitor who had 
caused his cruel loss, he struck him to the ground with the 
butt end of one pistol, while he blindly fired the other in the 



A Final E scape ^ and — Home, 281 

direction of the bushrangers. And then, with two unloaded 
pistols in his hands, he stood awaiting death, from which, as 
far as his powers were concerned, there was absolutely no way 
of escape. 

The enemy appeared disposed to take matters quietly now. 
They stopped to examine the man who had been foremost, and 
had fallen with Ned's first shot. That minute's delay was fatal 
to them, but it saved Ned's life. As he stood there waiting 
for them to come on, he was astonished to see them suddenly 
rise, pause as though listening to some sound, and then turn 
to fly. However, this time it was their turn to be too late to 
escape. Eight or nine horsemen barred their way, five of the 
number being members of the mounted police force. 

Ten minutes later the three bushrangers, with their con- 
federates. Brown and the Indian, were secured, bound, and 
placed on horseback in front of their captors. 

"I am glad we were in time to save your life, my good 
fellow," said the officer in charge of the party, to Ned, regard- 
ing him meantime with evident admiration. " And now, if you 
feel grateful to us for the act," he added, laughing, " perhaps 
you will conduct us to your station, if it is near at hand, for we 
have had a twelve hours' march from Sydney without food, and 
we and our animals are knocked up." 

'' And so are we knocked up," exclaimed an old gentleman, 
who was one of the party. " We left Sydney yesterday morn- 
ing, and if I haven't had to sleep out in the open air on- the 
bare ground, as if it was war time. That rascally young 
nephew of mine ought to be horsewhipped. for bringing his old 
uncle tramping over the world to look for him." 

During this speech Ned had darted forward and gazed at the 
speaker, as though he were a vision, while the colour came and 
went on his bronzed cheeks like a girl's. However, before he 
could say anything, or his strange appearance had been noticed, 
the wounded man had been discovered on the pathway, and 



282 Edward Bertram. 

the general attention was attracted to the supposed fourth 
bushranger. 

With some difficulty he also was lifted upon a horse, and 
during the operation a letter fell out of his pocket, which 
Bertram picked up, and as he did so, his eyes fell upon the 
address, and he received another shock. Grasping the letter, 
Ned directed that Cobawn Bill should be made once more to 
act as guide, and early in the afternoon the large cavalcade 
drew rein at the farm. 

While Storton, Wagga, and the squatter himself hospitably 
supplied the wants of the remainder of the company of un- 
expected visitors, Bertram carried the wounded prisoner to his 
own bed, and soon restored him to consciousness. 

" Food, food," murmured the poor creature, feebly, when he 
could speak. 

Ned opened a little box made for him long since by Storton, 
when they were on Shipwreck Island, to serve as a provision 
box, and which he generally wore slung round his waist The 
only thing it contained just now was a bit of cane, about six 
inches in length. This he took out, and held towards the man, 
saying sternly, " Do you ask me for food, Robinson ? Do you 
remember that bit of cane, which you broke on my back when 
I was little more than a desolate child ? And now you would 
have murdered me if you could — basely, and in cold blood — 
one of a gang of cowardly, worthless wretches. Take that bit 
of wood and gnaw it, and see if it will satisfy your craving in 
the same way that it satisfied my boyhood's craving for a little 
kindness and forbearance. What other favour do you dare ask 
at my hands ?" 

" None," murmured Robinson, in a scarcely audible whisper, 
as he recognised Bertram — "none. But forgive me." 

Then his eyes closed again. Ned little knew that he was 
really dying of starvation. At that moment the police officer 
hastened up to the bed. 



A Final E scape y and — Home. 283 



'^ Sir/' he exclaimed, '^ pardon me, but I find this man has 
no connection with my prisoners. Indeed, I believe he may 
have been a sufferer at their hands, if, as I imagine, this 
pocket-book be his. Meantime," he continued, with his 
fingers on Robinson's pulse, '' he will not live to reclaim it, I 
fear, for he is sinking rapidly from exhaustion. Been lost, no 
doubt, in the bush." 

The last words were lost upon Ned. It had never entered 
his head to think that his former schoolfellow might be abso- 
lutely starving, until the ofRcer mentioned the fact It need 
not be said that he then lost not another moment in flinging 
away once for all the doubly hateful piece of cane, and minis- 
tering to the sufferer with an anxious, eager solicitude that 
almost broke the poor penitent's heart While he was once 
more asking, with trembling lips, to be again assured of the 
forgiveness which Ned had already granted, a quick, sharp 
voice exclaimed from the further end of the hut, " Young man, 
do you happen to know how far it is from here to a place 
called ' Woolman's Farm' ? " 

" This is Woolman's Farm," replied Ned, going forward. 

" This is !" exclaimed the old gentleman, starting to his feet 

"Then — then — where is my heir? Where— where is my 
poor lost boy?" 

" I am here, uncle," said Ned, quietly and rather coldly. 

There is little necessity to tell the reader that all the cold- 
ness died out of Ned's warm heart when he learnt from Jarvis 
and good Bill Anderson, and, later on, from Mr. Bell also, and 
Dr. Brown of Errington, the enduring sorrow that had almost 
crushed the old General at his loss, and the eager hopefulness 
he had nourished of once more seeing him again. 

Whether the General was most vexed, in return, to find 
his heir a tall, broad-shouldered, sensible-looking young man 
instead of the mischievous boy with whom he had meant to 
be so forbearing, it would be hard to say. But it is quite 



Edward Bertram. 



certain that he soon learnt to have as much pride as affection 
for him, and on returning to England made more vigorous 
efforts than ever to improve the estate for his future benefit. 

Two or three months after the unexpected meeting, Edward 
Bertram said a somewhat doleful, but very aSectionale farewell 
to his already thriving friends, the partners Storton and Jeffery 
Robinson, and set sail to return to England, rich in the posses- 
sion of an affectionate uncle, who was bent on spoiling and 
indulging him to any extent he might desire. 

Some readers may be glad to Icam that a few years later 
Mr. Bell's lovely younger daughter, Josephine, left her father's 
home to take up her abode at Bertram Hall, with the new 
name of Mrs. Edward Bertram, and was ever a life-long proof 
to her husband that even the heaviest troubles, rightly borne, 
" work together for good." 



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