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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesCharley Laurel: A Story Of Adventure By Sea And Land - Chapter 14. Motakee
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Charley Laurel: A Story Of Adventure By Sea And Land - Chapter 14. Motakee Post by :teachmaster Category :Long Stories Author :William H. G. Kingston Date :May 2012 Read :2914

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Charley Laurel: A Story Of Adventure By Sea And Land - Chapter 14. Motakee

Chapter Fourteen. Motakee


So absorbed were Dick and I in watching the boat with Miss Kitty on board and the savages pursuing them, that we did not think of ourselves or the fate which too probably awaited us. The savages paddled with might and main, resolved, it seemed, to revenge on our friends the destruction which had overtaken so many of their people. They were gaining rapidly on the boat, though her crew were pulling hard at the oars. I felt inclined to cry with agitation as I thought of what Miss Kitty would have to endure, when the boat's sail filled out, and a freshening breeze carried her along faster than she had hitherto been moving. The wind still further increased. Away she shot ahead, distancing her pursuers. She gained the harbour's mouth, and, steering out to sea, ran on till her white sail appeared a mere speck in the horizon; while the savages, disappointed of their prey, paddled back towards the shore.

Meantime the ill-fated _Dolphin continued burning, and was now in flames fore and aft, the savages having been too much alarmed to make any attempt to extinguish the fire. The men who had been aloft had clung to the mast when it fell, though we could scarcely hope that they had escaped uninjured. We saw, however, that several of them were still hanging on to it, while it floated free of the burning ship. The natives, on discovering them, approached the mast, and dragged them into their canoes. What they intended to do with them we could not tell, but we feared that they would murder them, as we supposed they also would us.

The young chief who had taken possession of us had not reached the ship when she blew up, and we now saw him and his people landing in the little bay above which we were seated. We had made no attempt to conceal ourselves. He beckoned to us to come down.

"We must put a bold face on the matter," said Dick, taking my hand. "Cheer up, Charley. I don't think he intends to hurt you; and if he kills me, remember, do your best to escape, and don't turn into a savage, as they are sure to try and make you, and cover you all over with tattoo marks."

"Oh, they must not kill you, Dick; they sha'n't kill you!" I cried out. "I will let them kill me first."

I felt, indeed, that I would much rather be put to death than see my kind friend murdered before my eyes.

Dick, leading me by the hand, approached the chief, whose club I expected every moment to see upraised to strike us dead. Instead of doing so, however, looking at me kindly, he took me by the hand and made a speech to Dick, which we, of course, could not understand, but which, from its tone, relieved us somewhat from our apprehensions. I afterwards discovered that it was to the effect that he had promised to befriend us; and knowing that the destruction of the ship and the death of his people was not owing to as, that would not alter his purpose.

"Thank you kindly, sir," said Dick, touching his hat sailor-fashion. "If you will treat this boy well, it's all I care for. I speak him fair, Charley, for your sake," he said to me, "and by the cut of his jib, I think he will be as good as his word."

The chief, whose name we found was Motakee, or "The good-looking one," now addressed his people, who had been casting somewhat threatening glances at us, and, I suspect, had we been left to their tender mercies, would very soon have knocked us on the head. Our new friend having appointed several of his people to guard us, told us to follow him along the shore. After going a short distance, we reached another much larger beach, on which a number of canoes were drawn up and a large concourse of people assembled. We looked about for the captain and our shipmates, who had at first landed. On going a little farther, what was our horror to see the greater number of them lying dead on the shore, with their heads so battered that we could scarcely recognise them. We knew the captain, however, by his figure and dress; we had, therefore, too much reason to suppose that we were the only survivors of the _Dolphin's crew, with the exception of those who had escaped in the boat and the men who had been saved on the mast. We saw the latter alive in some of the canoes still afloat. Whether the captain had been killed before the destruction of the ship, we could not at first ascertain, but I believe he and the rest were murdered after the accident.

The chief held a long consultation, while Dick and I stood at a little distance watching them, uncertain what was to be our fate.

"Cheer up, Charley," said Dick. "I would fight for you as long as there's life in me, if it would be of any use; but I don't think, savages as they are, that they will have the heart to kill you; and as for me, as I said before, they may do as they like, though I wish I was sure they would not eat me afterwards."

"Oh, Dick, Dick!" I cried out, "don't think of anything so horrid! I will ask the young chief not to hurt you, and I will tell him he had better kill me first."

Just then the consultation came to an end, and Motakee, coming up to us, made signs that we need not be afraid, and that he would protect us.

I afterwards found, when I came to know their language, that he had told the other chiefs that on seeing me he had been reminded of a little boy he had lost, and that he had saved Dick on my account, supposing that he was my father, or, at all events, my friend.

Six men, one of whom was a Sandwich Islander, named Tui, who had been saved on the mast, were now brought on shore. As we watched them, we fully believed that the savages would put them to death, as they had the other poor fellows. Tui, however, stepped forward and addressed the natives in a language which they appeared to comprehend. They again consulted together, the unhappy men standing apart, uncertain whether they might not at any moment find the clubs of the savages crashing through their brains. Trusting to Motakee's protection, I felt inclined to rush forward and plead for them, but Dick held me back.

"You will do no good, Charley," he said, "and one of those savages may in a moment give you a tap with his club, and kill you, as an idle boy does a fly."

The five poor fellows stood collected together, looking pale as death, but they were as brave as any of the men on board. Among them I recognised Tom Clode, the armourer, and Mat Davis, the carpenter's mate.

The discussion seemed to last a very long time. Tui was listened to attentively, as he every now and then put in a word. At length five of the principal chiefs rose from their mats, and, stepping forward, each put his hand on one of the men. At first I thought they were going to kill them, as they led them away; but Tui, coming up, told us that they were only going to be taken as slaves. Another old chief now advanced and put his hand on Dick's shoulder.

"He going take you for slave," said Tui.

"I have no wish to be idle, but I would rather have chosen a master with a better-looking mug of his own," observed Dick. "I hope the old gentleman lives not far from your friend, Charley; for I can't stand being separated from you."

I burst into tears as Dick said this, when Motakee, coming up, tried, in a gentle way, to soothe me.

"He is a good young fellow, that he is," cried Dick; "and as you are likely to be well off with him, it's little odds what happens to me."

Motakee, finding that my tears continued to flow, endeavoured to persuade the old chief, Toobo Cava, to allow Dick to continue with him. This, however, he refused, and replied that he might rather allow me to accompany Dick. Tui told us what was said.

"I would like to have you, Charley," said Dick, "but you will be much better off with Motakee, and, indeed, I doubt if he would let you come, however much you may wish it."

Dick was right; for after another long palaver, Motakee took me by the hand, while old Toobo Cava led off Dick.

"Keep up your spirits, Charley, and don't forget the lessons I have taught you; say your prayers, and be a good boy," cried Dick, looking back towards me. "We will manage to see each other, or these talking fellows are cleverer than I take them to be."

Motakee, accompanied by his people, conducted me back to the bay where we had landed, and thence to his house, which was situated in a valley but a short distance from the shore. It stood on a platform of large stones, nearly twelve feet above the ground, and was fully thirty feet in length, though considerably narrower. The back of the house was fourteen feet in height, the roof sloping down towards the front, which was scarcely more than five feet high, but the walls were of a uniform height all round, thus the farther part of the house between them and the roof was entirely open. The front part, into which we first entered by a very small door, had a floor composed of the rough stones of the platform, but the inner part, separated from it by a partition, was covered with fine mats. At one end was the bed-place, which consisted of two horizontal poles, about a foot from the ground, with matting stretched between them. On this the chief and his family reclined, resting their heads on one of the poles, which served as a pillow, while their feet extended towards the other. Around the walls, which were also composed of matting, were hung numerous weapons, spears, clubs, axes, slings, and stilts, on which I found that the people were very fond of walking.

These stilts are elaborately carved poles, with carved figures towards the lower end, on the heads of which the feet rest. The chief took down a pair, and, to amuse me, mounted on them, and ran over the ground with great rapidity, now standing on one leg, now on the other, and twirling round and performing all sorts of extraordinary feats. He having set the example, others followed it, till nearly all the men and the boys in the village turned out on stilts, and began chasing each other over the rough ground, as much at home as if they were treading it with their feet, instead of being mounted high above it.

The sports being over, Motakee led me to the farther end of the village, where there was a sort of temple. In front of the temple were a number of little buildings a couple of feet high, on each of which stood a carved figure, surrounded with shells, and feathers, and whales' teeth. He and his people sat down before them, and bowed, and uttered certain words, and then bowed again, leading me to suppose that they were performing some religious ceremony.

Having finished his prayers, if such all this bowing and muttering words could be intended for, the chief conducted me back to his house. Here he introduced me to his wife, pretty-looking young woman, of a bright brown colour, clothed in somewhat scanty garments, composed of cloth, manufactured from the paper-mulberry tree. She received me very kindly, and we sat down to a supper consisting of fish, and various roots, and other vegetables and fruits.

I had till now been under the dreadful impression that the people were cannibals; but there was nothing in the repast set before me which made me unwilling to partake of it. On the contrary, as I was very hungry, I set to with a will, and the people standing round seemed pleased at seeing me eat with so good an appetite.

Several days passed by; the chief and his wife seemed to consider that I had taken the place of their lost child, and treated me as such with much kindness. I had, however, neither seen nor heard anything of Dick, and I gave Motakee to understand that I wished to go out and look for him, to which he, by signs, replied that it would be dangerous for me to wander about by myself, as the people of other tribes might kill me, and that I must remain quietly where I was.

I remembered Dick's plan of keeping time when we were in our solitary island, and I cut a stick, on which I marked the days of the week. I did not forget either his parting advice to me, and every night and morning I knelt down and said my prayers. The natives understood what I was about, and never interrupted me, and treated me with more respect than even some of the men did on board the _Dolphin_.

At the end of a couple of months I saw that something unusual was taking place in the village. The men were polishing up their arms, and the women were engaged in making baskets and cooking provisions. This led me to suppose that an expedition of some sort was about to take place.

Motakee called me to him one day, and told me by signs that he was going away, and that he would place me under charge of some one who would take good care of me during his absence. I told him that I should be very sorry to be parted from him, and asked him to let me go, hoping that by some means I might hear of Dick. He shook his head, and told me that as danger would have to be encountered, I was too young as yet, but that when I grew older, he would teach me the use of the native weapons, and allow me to accompany him to war. He then led me to another house, somewhat smaller than his own, in which the principal inmate was an old woman. Though Moola--that was her name--was very old and dry and withered, from the expression of her countenance and the way in which he treated her, I was led to suppose that she was Motakee's mother. Such, indeed, was the case. She spoke kindly to me, and I had no reason to fear that I should be ill-treated.

After this Motakee led out his people, all armed with clubs, and hatchets, and spears; the heads of the principal men being decorated with plumes of feathers, but, with the exception of cloths round their waists, entirely destitute of clothing. From this I knew that they were about to proceed on some warlike expedition, and, though they felt confident of success, I could not help remembering that they might be defeated; and should they be so, what would become of me? Again I asked the chief if he could give me any information about Dick? My heart sank within me; for, from the reply he made, he led me to suppose that some accident had happened to my faithful friend.

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