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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Keepers Of The King's Peace - Chapter 10. The Waters Of Madness
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The Keepers Of The King's Peace - Chapter 10. The Waters Of Madness Post by :marketing Category :Long Stories Author :Edgar Wallace Date :May 2012 Read :1798

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The Keepers Of The King's Peace - Chapter 10. The Waters Of Madness

CHAPTER X. THE WATERS OF MADNESS

Unexpected things happen in the Territories which Mr. Commissioner Sanders rules. As for example: Bones had gone down to the beach to "take the mail." This usually meant no more than receiving a mail-bag wildly flung from a dancing surf-boat. On this occasion Bones was surprised to discover that the boat had beached and had landed, not only the mail, but a stranger with his baggage.

He was a clean-shaven, plump man, in spotless white, and he greeted Bones with a friendly nod. "Morning!" he said. "I've got your mail."

Bones extended his hand and took the bag without evidence of any particular enthusiasm.

"Sanders about?" asked the stranger.

"Mr. Sanders is in residence, sir," said Bones, ponderously polite.

The other laughed. "Show the way," he said briskly.

Bones looked at the new-comer from the ventilator of his pith helmet to the soles of his pipe-clayed shoes. "Excuse me, dear old sir," he said, "have I the honour of addressin' the Secretary of State for War?"

"No," answered the other in surprise. "What made you think that?"

"Because," said Bones, with rising wrath, "he's the only fellow that needn't say 'please' to me."

The man roared with laughter. "Sorry," he said. "_Please show me the way."

"Follow me, sir," said Bones.

Sanders was not "in residence," being, in fact, inspecting some recent--and native--repairs to the boilers of the _Zaire_.

The stranger drew up a chair on the stoep without invitation and seated himself. He looked around. Patricia Hamilton was at the far end of the stoep, reading a book. She had glanced up just long enough to note and wonder at the new arrival. "Deuced pretty girl that," said the stranger, lighting a cigar.

"I beg your pardon?" said Bones.

"I say that is a deuced pretty girl," said the stranger.

"And you're a deuced brute, dear sir," said Bones, "but hitherto I have not commented on the fact."

The man looked up quickly. "What are you here," he asked--"a clerk or something?"

Bones did not so much as flush. "Oh, no," he said sweetly. "I am an officer of Houssas--rank, lieutenant. My task is to tame the uncivilized beast an' entertain the civilized pig with a selection of music. Would you like to hear our gramophone?"

The new-comer frowned. What brilliant effort of persiflage was to follow will never be known, for at that moment came Sanders.

The stranger rose and produced a pocket-book, from which he extracted a card and a letter. "Good morning, Commissioner!" he said. "My name's Corklan--P. T. Corklan, of Corklan, Besset and Lyons."

"Indeed," said Sanders.

"I've got a letter for you," said the man.

Sanders took the note, opened it, and read. It bore the neat signature of an Under-Secretary of State and the embossed heading of the Extra-Territorial Office, and it commended Mr. P. T. Corklan to Mr. Commissioner Sanders, and requested him to let Mr. Corklan pass without let or hindrance through the Territories, and to render him every assistance "compatible with exigencies of the Service" in his "inquiries into sugar production from the sweet potato."

"You should have taken this to the Administrator," said Sanders, "and it should bear his signature."

"There's the letter," said the man shortly. "If that's not enough, and the signature of the Secretary of State isn't sufficient, I'm going straight back to England and tell him so."

"You may go to the devil and tell him so," said Sanders calmly; "but you do not pass into these Territories until I have received telegraphic authority from my chief. Bones, take this man to your hut, and let your people do what they can for him." And he turned and walked into the house.

"You shall hear about this," said Mr. Corklan, picking up his baggage.

"This way, dear old pilgrim," said Bones.

"Who's going to carry my bag?"

"Your name escapes me," said Bones, "but, if you'll glance at your visitin' card, you will find the name of the porter legibly inscribed."

Sanders compressed the circumstances into a hundred-word telegram worded in his own economical style.

It happened that the Administrator was away on a shooting trip, and it was his cautious secretary who replied--

"Administration to Sanders.--Duplicate authority here. Let Corklan proceed at own risk. Warn him dangers."

"You had better go along and tell him," said Sanders. "He can leave at once, and the sooner the better."

Bones delivered the message. The man was sitting on his host's bed, and the floor was covered with cigar ash. Worst abomination of all, was a large bottle of whisky, which he had produced from one of his bags, and a reeking glass, which he had produced from Bones's sideboard.

"So I can go to-night, can I?" said Mr. Corklan. "That's all right. Now, what about conveyance, hey?"

Bones had now reached the stage where he had ceased to be annoyed, and when he found some interest in the situation. "What sort of conveyance would you like, sir?" he asked curiously.

(If you can imagine him pausing half a bar before every "sir," you may value its emphasis.)

"Isn't there a steamer I can have?" demanded the man. "Hasn't Sanders got a Government steamer?"

"Pardon my swooning," said Bones, sinking into a chair.

"Well, how am I going to get up?" asked the man.

"Are you a good swimmer?" demanded Bones innocently.

"Look here," said Mr. Corklan, "you aren't a bad fellow. I rather like you."

"I'm sorry," said Bones simply.

"I rather like you," repeated Mr. Corklan. "You might give me a little help."

"It is very unlikely that I shall," said Bones. "But produce your proposition, dear old adventurer."

"That is just what I am," said the other. He bit off the end of another cigar and lit it with the glowing butt of the old one. "I have knocked about all over the world, and I have done everything. I've now a chance of making a fortune. There is a tribe here called the N'gombi. They live in a wonderful rubber country, and I am told that they have got all the ivory in the world, and stacks of rubber hidden away."

Now, it is a fact--and Bones was surprised to hear it related by the stranger--that the N'gombi are great misers and hoarders of elephant tusks. For hundreds of years they have traded ivory and rubber, and every village has its secret storehouse. The Government had tried for years to wheedle the N'gombi into depositing their wealth in some State store, for riches mean war sooner or later. They lived in great forests--the word N'gombi means "interior"--in lands full of elephants and rich in rubber trees.

"You are a regular information bureau," said Bones admiringly. "But what has this to do with your inquiry into the origin of the candy tree?"

The man smoked in silence for awhile, then he pulled from his pocket a big map. Again Bones was surprised, because the map he produced was the official map of the Territories. He traced the river with his fat forefinger.

"Here is the N'gombi country from the east bank of the Isisi, and this is all forest, and a rubber tree to every ten square yards."

"I haven't counted them," said Bones, "but I'll take your word."

"Now, what does this mean?" Mr. Corklan indicated a twisting line of dots and dashes which began at the junction of the Isisi River and the Great River, and wound tortuously over five hundred miles of country until it struck the Sigi River, which runs through Spanish territory. "What is that?" he asked.

"That, or those," said Bones, "are the footprints of the mighty swoozlum bird that barks with its eyes an' lives on buttered toast an' hardware."

"I will tell you what I know it is," said the man, looking up and looking Bones straight in the eye--"it is one of those secret rivers you are always finding in these 'wet' countries. The natives tell you about 'em, but you never find 'em. They are rivers that only exist about once in a blue moon, when the river is very high and the rains are very heavy. Now, down in the Spanish territory"--he touched Bones's knee with great emphasis--"they tell me that their end of the secret river is in flood."

"They will tell you anything in the Spanish territory," said Bones pleasantly. "They'd tell you your jolly old fortune if you'd cross their palms with silver."

"What about your end?" asked the man, ignoring the scepticism of his host.

"Our end?" said Bones. "Well, you will find out for yourself. I'd hate to disappoint you."

"Now, how am I going up?" asked the man after a pause.

"You can hire a canoe, and live on the land, unless you have brought stores."

The man chuckled. "I've brought no stores. Here, I will show you something," he said. "You are a very good fellow." He opened his bag and took out a tight packet which looked like thin skins. There must have been two or three hundred of them. "That's my speciality," he said. He nipped the string that tied them together, stripped one off, and, putting his lips to one end, blew. The skin swelled up like a toy balloon. "Do you know what that is?"

"No, I cannot say I do," said Bones.

"You have heard of Soemmering's process?"

Bones shook his head.

"Do you know what decimal 1986 signifies?"

"You've got me guessing, my lad," said Bones admiringly.

The other chuckled, threw the skins into his bag, and closed it with a snap. "That's my little joke," he said. "All my friends tell me it will be the death of me one of these days. I like to puzzle people"--he smiled amiably and triumphantly in Bones's face--"I like to tell them the truth in such a way they don't understand it. If they understood it--Heavens, there'd be the devil to pay!"

"You are an ingenious fellow," said Bones, "but I don't like your face. You will forgive my frankness, dear old friend."

"Faces aren't fortunes," said the other complacently, "and I am going out of this country with money sticking to me."

"I'm sorry for you," said Bones, shaking his head; "I hate to see fellows with illusions."

He reported all that occurred to the Commissioner, and Sanders was a little worried.

"I wish I knew what his game is," he said; "I'd stop him like a shot, but I can't very well in the face of the Administrator's wire. Anyway, he will get nothing out of the N'gombi. I've tried every method to make the beggars bank their surpluses, and I have failed."

"He has got to come back this way, at any rate," said Hamilton, "and I cannot see that he will do much harm."

"What is the rest of his baggage like?"

"He has a case of things that look like concave copper plates, sir," said Bones, "very thin copper, but copper. Then he has two or three copper pipes, and that is about his outfit."

Mr. Corklan was evidently no stranger to the coast, and Bones, who watched the man's canoe being loaded that afternoon, and heard his fluent observations on the slackness of his paddlers, realized that his acquaintance with Central Africa was an extensive one. He cursed in Swahili and Portuguese, and his language was forcible and impolite. "Well," he said at last, "I'll be getting along. I'll make a fishing village for the night, and I ought to reach my destination in a week. I shan't be seeing you again, so I'll say good-bye."

"How do you suppose you're going to get out of the country?" asked Bones curiously.

Mr. Corklan laughed. "So long!" he said.

"One moment, my dashin' old explorer," said Bones. "A little formality--I want to see your trunks opened."

A look of suspicion dawned on the man's face. "What for?"

"A little formality, my jolly old hero," said Bones.

"Why didn't you say so before?" growled the man, and had his two trunks landed. "I suppose you know you're exceeding your duty?"

"I didn't know--thanks for tellin' me," said Bones. "The fact is, sir an' fellow-man, I'm the Custom House officer."

The man opened his bags, and Bones explored. He found three bottles of whisky, and these he extracted.

"What's the idea?" asked Mr. Corklan.

Bones answered him by breaking the bottles on a near-by stone.

"Here, what the dickens----"

"Wine is a mocker," said Bones, "strong drink is ragin'. This is what is termed in the land of Hope an' Glory a prohibition State, an' I'm entitled to fine you five hundred of the brightest an' best for attemptin' to smuggle intoxicants into our innocent country."

Bones expected an outburst; instead, his speech evoked no more than a snigger.

"You're funny," said the man.

"My friends tell me so," admitted Bones. "But there's nothin' funny about drink. Acquainted as you are with the peculiar workin's of the native psychology, dear sir, you will understand the primitive cravin' of the untutored mind for the enemy that we put in our mouths to steal away our silly old brains. I wish you 'bon voyage.'"

"So long," said Mr. Corklan.

Bones went back to the Residency and made his report, and there, for the time being, the matter ended. It was not unusual for wandering scientists, manufacturers, and representatives of shipping companies to arrive armed with letters of introduction or command, and to be dispatched into the interior. The visits, happily, were few and far between. On this occasion Sanders, being uneasy, sent one of his spies to follow the adventurer, with orders to report any extraordinary happening--a necessary step to take, for the N'gombi, and especially the Inner N'gombi, are a secretive people, and news from local sources is hard to come by.

"I shall never be surprised to learn that a war has been going on in the N'gombi for two months without our hearing a word about it."

"If they fight amongst themselves--yes," said Captain Hamilton; "if they fight outsiders, there will be plenty of bleats. Why not send Bones to overlook his sugar experiments," he added.

"Let's talk about something pleasant," said Bones hastily.

It was exactly three months later when he actually made the trip.

"Take the _Zaire up to the bend of the Isisi," said Sanders one morning, at breakfast, "and find out what Ali Kano is doing--the lazy beggar should have reported."

"Any news from the N'gombi?" asked Hamilton.

"Only roundabout stories of their industry. Apparently the sugar merchant is making big experiments. He has set half the people digging roots for him. Be ready to sail at dawn."

"Will it be a dangerous trip?" asked the girl.

"No. Why?" smiled Sanders.

"Because I'd like to go. Oh, please, don't look so glum! Bones is awfully good to me."

"Better than a jolly old brother," murmured Bones.

"H'm!" Sanders shook his head, and she appealed to her brother.

"Please!"

"I wouldn't mind your going," said Hamilton, "if only to look after Bones."

"S-sh!" said Bones reproachfully.

"If you're keen on it, I don't see why you shouldn't--if you had a chaperon."

"A chaperon!" sneered Bones. "Great Heavens! Do, old skipper, pull yourself together. Open the jolly old window and give him air. Feelin' better, sir?"

"A chaperon! How absurd!" cried the girl indignantly. "I'm old enough to be Bones's mother! I'm nearly twenty--well, I'm older than Bones, and I'm ever so much more capable of looking after myself."

The end of it was that she went, with her Kano maid and with the wife of Abiboo to cook for her. And in two days they came to the bend of the river, and Bones pursued his inquiries for the missing spy, but without success.

"But this I tell you, lord," said the little chief who acted as Sanders's agent, "that there are strange things happening in the N'gombi country, for all the people have gone mad, and are digging up their teeth (tusks) and bringing them to a white man."

"This shall go to Sandi," said Bones, realizing the importance of the news; and that same evening he turned the bow of the _Zaire down stream.

* * * * *

Thus said Wafa, the half-breed, for he was neither foreign Arab nor native N'gombi, yet combined the cunning of both--

"Soon we shall see the puc-a-puc of Government turn from the crookedness of the river, and I will go out and speak to our lord Tibbetti, who is a very simple man, and like a child."

"O Wafa," said one of the group of armed men which stood shivering on the beach in the cold hours of dawn, "may this be a good palaver! As for me, my stomach is filled with fearfulness. Let us all drink this magic water, for it gives us men courage."

"That you shall do when you have carried out all our master's works," said Wafa, and added with confidence: "Have no fear, for soon you shall see great wonders."

They heard the deep boom of the _Zaire's siren signalling a solitary and venturesome fisherman to quit the narrow fair-way, and presently she came round the bend of the river, a dazzling white craft, showering sparks from her two slender smoke-stacks and leaving behind her twin cornucopias of grey smoke.

Wafa stepped into a canoe, and, seeing that the others were preparing to follow him, he struck out swiftly, man(oe)uvring his ironwood boat to the very waters from whence a scared fisherman was frantically paddling.

"Go not there, foreigner," wailed the Isisi Stabber-of-Waters, "for it is our lord Sandi, and his puc-a-puc has bellowed terribly."

"Die you!" roared Wafa. "On the river bottom your body, son of a fish and father of snakes!"

"O foreign frog!" came the shrill retort. "O poor man with two men's wives! O goatless----"

Wafa was too intent upon his business to heed the rest. He struck the water strongly with his broad paddles, and reached the centre of the channel.

Bones of the Houssas put up his hand and jerked the rope of the siren.

_Whoo-o-o--woo-o-op!

"Bless his silly old head," said Bones fretfully, "the dashed fellow will be run down!"

The girl was dusting Bones's cabin, and looked round. "What is it?" she asked.

Bones made no reply. He gripped the telegraph handle and rung the engines astern as Yoka, the steersman, spun the wheel.

Bump! Bump! Bumpity bump!

The steamer slowed and stopped, and the girl came out to the bridge in alarm. The _Zaire had struck a sandbank, and was stranded high, if not dry.

"Bring that man on board," said the wrathful Bones. And they hauled to his presence Wafa, who was neither Arab nor N'gombi, but combined the vices of both.

"O man," said Bones, glaring at the offender through his eyeglass, "what evil ju-ju sent you to stop my fine ship?" He spoke in the Isisi dialect, and was surprised to be answered in coast Arabic.

"Lord," said the man, unmoved by the wrath of his overlord, "I come to make a great palaver concerning spirits and devils. Lord, I have found a great magic."

Bones grinned, for he had that sense of humour which rises superior to all other emotions. "Then you shall try your magic, my man, and lift this ship to deep water."

Wafa was not at all embarrassed. "Lord, this is a greater magic, for it concerns men, and brings to life the dead. For, lord, in this forest is a wonderful tree. Behold!"

He took from his loose-rolled waistband a piece of wood. Bones took it in his hand. It was the size of a corn cob, and had been newly cut, so that the wood was moist with sap. Bones smelt it. There was a faint odour of resin and camphor. Patricia Hamilton smiled. It was so like Bones to be led astray by side issues.

"Where is the wonder, man, that you should drive my ship upon a sandbank! And who are these?" Bones pointed to six canoes, filled with men, approaching the _Zaire_. The man did not answer, but, taking the wood from Bones's hand, pulled a knife from his belt and whittled a shaving.

"Here, lord," he said, "is my fine magic. With this wood I can do many miracles, such as making sick men strong and the strong weak."

Bones heard the canoes bump against the side of the boat, but his mind was occupied with curiosity.

"Thus do I make my magic, Tibbetti," droned Wafa.

He held the knife by the haft in the right hand, and the chip of wood in his left. The point of the knife was towards the white man's heart.

"Bones!" screamed the girl.

Bones jumped aside and struck out as the man lunged. His nobbly fist caught Wafa under the jaw, and the man stumbled and fell. At the same instant there was a yell from the lower deck, the sound of scuffling, and a shot.

Bones jumped for the girl, thrust her into the cabin, sliding the steel door behind him. His two revolvers hung at the head of his bunk, and he slipped them out, gave a glance to see whether they were loaded, and pushed the door.

"Shut the door after me," he breathed.

The bridge deck was deserted, and Bones raced down the ladder to the iron deck. Two Houssas and half a dozen natives lay dead or dying. The remainder of the soldiers were fighting desperately with whatever weapons they found to their hands--for, with characteristic carefulness, they had laid their rifles away in oil, lest the river air rust them--and, save for the sentry, who used a rifle common to all, they were unarmed.

"O dogs!" roared Bones.

The invaders turned and faced the long-barrelled Webleys, and the fight was finished. Later, Wafa came to the bridge with bright steel manacles on his wrist. His companions in the mad adventure sat on the iron deck below, roped leg to leg, and listened with philosophic calm as the Houssa sentry drew lurid pictures of the fate which awaited them.

Bones sat in his deep chair, and the prisoner squatted before him. "You shall tell my lord Sandi why you did this wickedness," he said, "also, Wafa, what evil thought was in your mind."

"Lord," said Wafa cheerfully, "what good comes to me if I speak?" Something about the man's demeanour struck Bones as strange, and he rose and went close to him.

"I see," he said, with a tightened lip. "The palaver is finished."

They led the man away, and the girl, who had been a spectator, asked anxiously: "What is wrong, Bones?"

But the young man shook his head. "The breaking of all that Sanders has worked for," he said bitterly, and the very absence of levity in one whose heart was so young and gay struck a colder chill to the girl's heart than the yells of the warring N'gombi. For Sanders had a big place in Patricia Hamilton's life. In an hour the _Zaire was refloated, and was going at full speed down stream.

* * * * *

Sanders held his court in the thatched palaver house between the Houssa guard-room and the little stockade prison at the river's edge--a prison hidden amidst the flowering shrubs and acacia trees.

Wafa was the first to be examined. "Lord," he said, without embarrassment, "I tell you this--that I will not speak of the great wonders which lay in my heart unless you give me a book(6) that I shall go free."

(Footnote 6: A written promise.)

Sanders smiled unpleasantly. "By the Prophet, I say what is true," he began confidentially; and Wafa winced at the oath, for he knew that truth was coming, and truth of a disturbing character. "In this land I govern millions of men," said Sanders, speaking deliberately, "I and two white lords. I govern by fear, Wafa, because there is no love in simple native men, save a love for their own and their bellies."

"Lord, you speak truth," said Wafa, the superior Arab of him responding to the confidence.

"Now, if you make to kill the lord Tibbetti," Sanders went on, "and do your wickedness for secret reasons, must I not discover what is that secret, lest it mean that I lose my hold upon the lands I govern?"

"Lord, that is also true," said Wafa.

"For what is one life more or less," asked Sanders, "a suffering smaller or greater by the side of my millions and their good?"

"Lord, you are Suliman," said Wafa eagerly. "Therefore, if you let me go, who shall be the worse for it?"

Again Sanders smiled, that grim parting of lip to show his white teeth. "Yet you may lie, and, if I let you go, I have neither the truth nor your body. No, Wafa, you shall speak." He rose up from his chair. "To-day you shall go to the Village of Irons," he said; "to-morrow I will come to you, and you shall answer my questions. And, if you will not speak, I shall light a little fire on your chest, and that fire shall not go out except when the breath goes from your body. This palaver is finished."

So they took Wafa away to the Village of Irons, where the evil men of the Territories worked with chains about their ankles for their many sins, and in the morning came Sanders.

"Speak, man," he said.

Wafa stared with an effort of defiance, but his face was twitching, for he saw the soldiers driving pegs into the ground, preparatory to staking him out. "I will speak the truth," he said.

So they took him into a hut, and there Sanders sat with him alone for half an hour; and when the Commissioner came out, his face was drawn and grey. He beckoned to Hamilton, who came forward and saluted. "We will get back to headquarters," he said shortly, and they arrived two hours later.

Sanders sat in the little telegraph office, and the Morse sounder rattled and clacked for half an hour. Other sounders were at work elsewhere, delicate needles vacillated in cable offices, and an Under-Secretary was brought from the House of Commons to the bureau of the Prime Minister to answer a question.

At four o'clock in the afternoon came the message Sanders expected: "London says permit for Corklan forged. Arrest. Take extremest steps. Deal drastically, ruthlessly. Holding in residence three companies African Rifles and mountain battery support you. Good luck. Administration."

Sanders came out of the office, and Bones met him.

"Men all aboard, sir," he reported.

"We'll go," said Sanders.

He met the girl half-way to the quay. "I know it is something very serious," she said quietly; "you have all my thoughts." She put both her hands in his, and he took them. Then, without a word, he left her.

* * * * *

Mr. P. T. Corklan sat before his new hut in the village of Fimini. In that hut--the greatest the N'gombi had ever seen--were stored hundreds of packages all well wrapped and sewn in native cloth.

He was not smoking a cigar, because his stock of cigars was running short, but he was chewing a toothpick, for these, at a pinch, could be improvised. He called to his headman. "Wafa?" he asked.

"Lord, he will come, for he is very cunning," said the headman.

Mr. Corklan grunted. He walked to the edge of the village, where the ground sloped down to a strip of vivid green rushes. "Tell me, how long will this river be full?" he asked.

"Lord, for a moon."

Corklan nodded. Whilst the secret river ran, there was escape for him, for its meandering course would bring him and his rich cargo to Spanish territory and deep water.

His headman waited as though he had something to say. "Lord," he said at last, "the chief of the N'coro village sends this night ten great teeth and a pot."

Corklan nodded. "If we're here, we'll get 'em. I hope we shall be gone."

And then the tragically unexpected happened. A man in white came through the trees towards him, and behind was another white man and a platoon of native soldiers.

"Trouble," said Corklan to himself, and thought the moment was one which called for a cigar.

"Good-morning, Mr. Sanders!" he said cheerfully.

Sanders eyed him in silence.

"This is an unexpected pleasure," said Corklan.

"Corklan, where is your still?" asked Sanders.

The plump man laughed. "You'll find it way back in the forest," he said, "and enough sweet potatoes to distil fifty gallons of spirit--all proof, sir, decimal 1986 specific gravity water extracted by Soemmering's method--in fact, as good as you could get it in England."

Sanders nodded. "I remember now--you're the man that ran the still in the Ashanti country, and got away with the concession."

"That's me," said the other complacently. "P. T. Corklan--I never assume an alias."

Sanders nodded again. "I came past villages," he said, "where every man and almost every woman was drunk. I have seen villages wiped out in drunken fights. I have seen a year's hard work ahead of me. You have corrupted a province in a very short space of time, and, as far as I can judge, you hoped to steal a Government ship and get into neutral territory with the prize you have won by your----"

"Enterprise," said Mr. Corklan obligingly. "You'll have to prove that--about the ship. I am willing to stand any trial you like. There's no law about prohibition--it's one you've made yourself. I brought up the still--that's true--brought it up in sections and fitted it. I've been distilling spirits--that's true----"

"I also saw a faithful servant of Government, one Ali Kano," said Sanders, in a low voice. "He was lying on the bank of this secret river of yours with two revolver bullets in him."

"The nigger was spying on me, and I shot him," explained Corklan.

"I understand," said Sanders. And then, after a little pause: "Will you be hung or shot?"

The cigar dropped from the man's mouth. "Hey?" he said hoarsely. "You--you can't--do that--for making a drop of liquor--for niggers!"

"For murdering a servant of the State," corrected Sanders. "But, if it is any consolation to you, I will tell you that I would have killed you, anyway."

It took Mr. Corklan an hour to make up his mind, and then he chose rifles.

To-day the N'gombi point to a mound near the village of Fimini, which they call by a name which means, "The Waters of Madness," and it is believed to be haunted by devils.

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The Keepers Of The King's Peace - Chapter 9. The Mercenaries The Keepers Of The King's Peace - Chapter 9. The Mercenaries

The Keepers Of The King's Peace - Chapter 9. The Mercenaries
CHAPTER IX. THE MERCENARIESThere was a large brown desk in Sanders's study, a desk the edges of which had been worn yellow with constant rubbing. It was a very tidy desk, with two rows of books neatly grouped on the left and on the right, and held in place by brass rails. There were three tiers of wire baskets, a great white blotting-pad, a silver inkstand and four clean-looking pens. Lately, there had appeared a glass vase filled with flowers which were daily renewed. Except on certain solemn occasions, none intruded into this holy of holies. It is true that a
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