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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesCharley Laurel: A Story Of Adventure By Sea And Land - Chapter 16. Dick And Charley Reunited
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Charley Laurel: A Story Of Adventure By Sea And Land - Chapter 16. Dick And Charley Reunited Post by :Nice81 Category :Long Stories Author :William H. G. Kingston Date :May 2012 Read :2711

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Charley Laurel: A Story Of Adventure By Sea And Land - Chapter 16. Dick And Charley Reunited

Chapter Sixteen. Dick And Charley Reunited

The natives in the villages were so busy celebrating their victory, or mourning for their slain warriors, that Dick and I escaped observation and reached the spot where I had left my stilts.

"Now, Dick," said I, mounting on them, "come along; you shall hide near the village, and I will go boldly into it, as if I had been taking only a longer walk than usual. Then, as Motakee will be glad to see me back, I will tell him that the other old chief, Toobo Cava, is dead, and you ought to be set at liberty, and ask him to protect you. If he says he cannot, you must make your escape, and I'll follow; but if he says yes, we will live together happily till we can get away from this savage country."

Dick agreed to my plan. As we got near the village, I left him, hid away in the wood, and stalked forward on my stilts.

I saw Motakee haranguing the people, and recounting his exploits, so I at once advanced and saluted him, as if I had no reason to be ashamed of anything I had done. He did not look angry, but told me he was happy to see me. The boys shouted, and asked where I had been.

"I told you I should beat you," I answered; "and I took a somewhat longer run than any of you, I've a notion. When shall you be ready for another race?"

"We will beat you next time, though," they cried out, not putting any further inconvenient questions to me.

My appearance had somewhat disturbed the usual formality of the meeting, and the chief, having commanded silence, went on with his speech.

As soon as it was over, I descended from my stilts, and begged him to grant the petition I had to make. I praised Dick as he had deserved, and told the chief all he had done for me; and, to my great joy, he replied that he would protect him, as, his owner being dead, no one else could claim his services.

On this I hurried off and brought in Dick, who was well received by the people. I afterwards told the chief the trick I had played, at which he was very much amused.

Dick at once set to work to make himself useful, and soon gained Motakee's confidence, so that he allowed us both to roam about as we chose.

The victory gained by our friends over the Typees, the tribe they had attacked, had put them in excellent humour. They had burned down their villages, destroyed their fruit trees, and carried off their canoes. The slaughter had been, we were sorry to hear, considerable on both sides; for the Typees possessed several strong forts, formed of large stones and huge pieces of timber. These had been taken by assault, when all within had been put to the sword. Dick said he was surprised that savages could construct such strong works, for it would have proved a tough job, even to English sailors, to take some of those he had seen.

Months and months passed by, and yet no vessel had come near the island, in which we might make our escape. The people had got, we suspected, a bad name; for the _Dolphin was not the only vessel, we found, they had cut off, while they had attempted unsuccessfully to capture several others. Our only hope was that a man-of-war would come in, which might carry us off by force, should the natives refuse to give us up.

The chief, who had adopted me as his son, seemed determined not to let me go, and I found that I was narrowly watched wherever I wandered.

Dick managed, at length, to communicate with some of the other men; though one or two were content to remain among the natives, having married and adopted their customs: the rest expressed an earnest wish to escape.

A tremendous storm having occurred, when it seemed as if the whole island would be carried away by the fury of the waves, the wreck of the _Dolphin was cast up on the beach.

Dick told me that Mat Davis had long been thinking of building a vessel, and that the carpenter's tools having been among the first things landed, he hoped, if he could get hold of them, to be able to build a craft which would convey us to the coast of South America. He had persuaded the chiefs, that if they could have such a vessel as he described, they might not only overpower all the neighbouring tribes, but sail in quest of foreign lands, which they might conquer. The chiefs listened eagerly to this proposal, and promised to assist him in carrying out his undertaking.

Mat Davis, who was a clever fellow, was the chief architect. Assisted by the armourer, a forge was put up for the ironwork, and he set the natives to cut down trees and hew out timbers and planks. Others were employed in rope-making and in manufacturing fine matting for the sails, as all the _Dolphin's canvas had been burnt. Dick and I were allowed to lend a hand, but as, with the exception of Davis and Clode, all were unskilled, the work proceeded but slowly. The hopes of escaping encouraged the Englishmen, and the thoughts of the victories they were to win induced the natives to labour on.

Dick had followed his own plan of notching the days on sticks, several of which he had tied up in a bundle. By his calculation we had been two years among the savages, and I could now speak their language perfectly well. Our clothes were worn out, and I had to dress like the natives. The chief told me, when I grew older, that I must be tattooed, an operation for which I had no fancy, and I hoped to make my escape before he should insist on my undergoing it.

The vessel was at last built, and ready to be launched. She was a schooner of about forty tons, and capable of carrying sixty or eighty men. The natives declared that none of their island canoes would be able to contend with her. It took some time to rig her, and to obtain suitable provisions and casks for holding water.

I don't know whether Motakee suspected the design of the Englishmen; but when I spoke of taking a cruise in her, he replied that he would not expose me to the dangers she might encounter, and I found that I was more narrowly watched than ever.

Dick came back one day, looking very much out of spirits.

"The other men have formed a plan for escaping, but I cannot agree to it," he said. "They intend to let as many natives as choose to come on board, and, as soon as they are out of sight of land, to rise upon them and heave them overboard, so that their provisions and water should not be exhausted, should they have to make a long voyage. And another thing is, Charley, I won't go without you."

Motakee had not entered into the views of his countrymen with regard to the vessel the Englishmen were building: he either suspected their design or believed that she would not prove as successful in attacking their foes as the rest supposed. When I asked his leave to go on board, he took me by the arm and whispered--

"I know your tricks; you should not have told me how you managed to get away and join your friend. No, no; I shall shut you up till the vessel has sailed."

He was as good as his word, and from that day I was not allowed to leave the hut without the company of one of his most trusted followers. He allowed Dick, however, to go about as he chose, apparently caring but little whether or not he made his escape.

Dick had been absent for three days. I could not believe that he had gone without me, and yet I felt very anxious about him. On the fourth day he returned.

"They have gone, Charley," he exclaimed; "all our people and thirty natives. I stopped to the last, trying to persuade them to give up their wicked plan; but they answered that the natives had murdered our friends and burned our ship, and that they had a right to treat them as they chose. I said that I was sure we ought not to return evil for evil, and that they might have found some other way of making their escape, and that no good could possibly come of what they were about. They abused me, and asked me if I was going to betray them, and that if I would not come with them, I must take the consequences, as the natives were sure to murder us, as soon as they discovered what had become of their countrymen. Even now I think I was wrong in not warning Motakee, for I consented to evil, though I would not join in it."

When Motakee found that the schooner had sailed, he allowed me to go about as usual, and treated Dick with far more respect than before. Dick, indeed, soon became his right-hand man, or councillor, and the people looked up to him as the person next to the chief, in consequence.

Some days after this it came on to blow very hard, and the sea beat with tremendous fury on the rocky coast. Dick and I wished to have a sight of the huge breakers outside the harbour. We went along the shore for some distance, to a part exposed to the whole sweep of the ocean. As we were looking along it, Dick exclaimed that he saw a vessel on the rocks. We made our way as near as we could get to the spot.

"Charley, I am afraid that is the schooner," Dick exclaimed; "but there is not a living being on board."

We crept on still closer to the little vessel. We shouted loudly, lest any one might have been washed on shore, but no reply came to our cries.

"I am afraid every one has been washed away," he observed. "If the natives had been on board, they are such first-rate swimmers that some of them would have managed to reach the land."

We looked about in every direction, but could discover no boats on the beach nor any sign of a living man.

"It's too likely that our people did as they intended, and having got rid of the natives, were themselves caught in the hurricane and driven back here; but we shall never know, I suspect, what has happened."

After spending a considerable time in searching about, being unable to get nearer the wreck, we returned home. We told Motakee what we had seen; but, of course, did not mention our suspicions.

"I knew that the voyage would work us no good, to your people or mine," he observed; "and I am very glad you did not sail in the vessel."

We were, indeed, thankful that we had not.

Next day, when the hurricane was over, we went back with some of the natives to examine the wreck; but, on getting on board, we could find nothing to explain the mystery. Dick's opinion was that the crew had been on deck, and were washed overboard before the vessel struck, some time after they had disposed of the unfortunate natives in the way they had proposed.

I have not spoken of the various events which had taken place since we came to the island. Several times Motakee had gone out to fight his enemies, and had invariably returned victorious.

At length another expedition was talked of against a powerful tribe at some distance. He told Dick he must prepare to accompany him. I begged that I might go, too.

"No, Charley; you must stay at home," answered Dick. "I have no wish to go and fight other savages in a quarrel in which I have no concern, and I would not go if I could stay away without offending the chief. I don't want to kill any of the fellows, and I don't wish to be killed either."

The warriors were preparing to take their departure, when, early in the morning, as I was looking out over the sea, I caught sight of a ship approaching the island. I watched her eagerly, and when, at length, I felt sure she was standing towards the harbour, I ran back to tell Dick. The natives had been so busy in preparing their weapons, that they had not observed her. Fortunately, no one saw me.

"Now is our chance, then," exclaimed Dick. "Come along, Charley: we will jump into a canoe, and maybe we shall get away from the shore before the savages miss us."

Without a moment's delay we hurried down to the beach, taking some paddles out of a canoe-hut on our way. We launched a canoe, which we found hauled up on the shore, and paddled with might and main out to sea. The water was smooth, and, though the wind was against us, we made good progress. The ship came on. We were alongside. Ropes were hove-to us, and, making the canoe fast, we scrambled up on deck.

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