|Chapter XI.||The White Bellies|
|Chapter XII.||A New Enemy|
|Chapter XIII.||The Sand Storm|
|Chapter XIV.||The Bastinado|
|Chapter XV.||The Reflection in the Mirror|
|Chapter XVI.||The Forest Village|
|Chapter XVII.||The Eveless Eden|
|Chapter XVIII.||Crying Out for Death|
|Chapter XIX.||The Missing Link|
|Chapter XX.||A Slave Sale|
Three days later the little caravan was again on the move, and Urka was as happy as a child in being allowed to go with the white men. .
He was as docile as any animal could be, but showed but little signs of human intelligence.
Patrick Mulvany was afraid of him, and occupied every leisure minute in prayer, for he fully believed that Urka was the evil one, or one of his imps.
Jack had taken several photographs of the dwarf, and later he was glad that he had done so, though he had hated to use so much film.
The route taken was almost due east, Walter wishing to cross the Koral Mountains.
The Siamese interpreter marched ahead, and then came Walter and Jack on buffaloes, followed by Pat and the Siamese, the dwarf bringing up the rear.
The interpreter and guide paused in his march and cautioned all to silence.
"What do you hear?" Walter whispered.
"Had we better dismount?"
"Any chance for a fight?" Jack inquired.
"I hope not, for the place would give the lions every advantage."
At that moment two monster lions and a lioness crossed in front of the party.
The animals looked at the explorers, and seeing that they were peaceful, gave a roar and passed on.
"The lion will not attack first," said the Siamese guide.
"But I have read -- " Jack commenced.
"Lots of romances," added Walter; "Quong Suo is right. The lion is a peaceful beast, but if you or anyone of us had raised his gun, we should have been attacked." The party again started on its journey, and some minutes passed before Walter missed Urka.
"Halt! Where is Urka?"
No one had missed him until then.
"When was he last seen?"
Quang Suo declared that he had seen the dwarf just before the lions had crossed their path, and Pat very ungraciously hoped that one of the lions had taken a fancy to Urka and eaten him.
"We must go back," Walter said authoritatively.
Quang Suo whistled as he had heard the dwarf do, presently there came back a faint repetition, or it may have been an echo.
"Urka!" shouted Jack.
"Urka!" repeated Walter.
"Urka!" yelled one of the Siamese, while Pat outdid the others by shouting:
"Ye ugly black dwarf, where have ye hid yerself?"
There came in reply a number of strange sounds, which all knew were produced by the dwarf.
Guided by the sound, the party found Urka resting himself on a dead lion.
By his side was a thick stick, evidently a portion of young tree, all covered with blood and hair.
By pantomimic gestures Urka made them understand that he had followed the lions and beaten down one of them.
The other had fled to protect the lioness, leaving Urka to fight the king of the jungle.
The dwarf, with no other weapon than the young tree had killed the monster beast, and was none the worse for the encounter, save that he was panting and tired.
It was useless to ask why he had killed the lion, for they could not make him understand.
"By the powers! I'd rayther he excused fightin' that same ugly dwarf," Pat commented, and all agreed with him.
The journey was resumed, and the forest which commenced at the foot of the Korat Mountains was entered.
Quong Suo hailed a Burmese who was running, and asked him what was the cause of his scare.
"Whitebellies on the war-run," was the answer.
Quong Suo asked Walter for instructions.
"Who are the Whitebellies?"
"The natives of the southern Shan States."
"And are they at war with Siam?"
"No, but they are with the mountain tribes of the lower Lao States."
"Are we in the Lao State?"
"Yes, only that portion governed by Siam."
"What would you advise?"
"Turn back," answered Quong Suo.
"What say you, Jack?"
"But we may have to fight."
"Then we must fight, that is all."
The place reached by the explorers was an excellent one for defense, so Walter decided to halt there until all danger was past.
There were in a horseshoe-shaped cavity, with a narrow entrance at the bow of the shoe and another at the heel.
Two men could defend the entrances easily, so the advantage was all on the side of the defenders.
"Why do they call them Whitebellies?" Jack asked.
"The men who live in the northern Shan States tattoo their bodies so thoroughly that from the hips to the shoulders their bodies they are completely covered with fantastic designs," Quong Suo explained, though Walter had to embellish the explanation, or it would have made very poor English, "so the people are called 'Blackbellies'; those of the southern Shan States do not tattoo, hence are called "Whitebellies."
"Are they great warriors?"
"A Whitebelly is said to be equal to three Burmese," answered Quong.
"And how many Siamese?" Jack inquired.
"The Siamese are only beaten by white men," Quong responded proudly.
Walter planted his men, in the most advantageous positions, giving Pat the rear entrance, and taking the front himself.
He well knew that one of the natives might become cowardly at the sight of the enemy, and thus allow their entrance into the center.
For some time they thought a false alarm had been given, but were undeceived when a number of savage- looking, half-naked barbarians appeared, armed with rudely fashioned spears, not unlike the assagais of South Africa.
"Ask them what they want," Walter said to Quang.
A laugh, almost idiotic, was the answer to the question.
"Quong again asked the question, and told them that the Endicotts came from the great land of the white people, and were friends of the Whitebellies."
"Give us the dwarf."
"And if we do, what will you do with him?" asked Quong.
"His people are at war with ours, and we will burn him."
"And if we refuse to give him up?"
"Then, we shall fight; and we are many; we shall kill you all and burn your bodies. Tell the white man we want not to harm him."
Quong advised Walter to surrender Urka, and Pat added his entreaties.
"They would burn him alive, Pat. You would not give up a human being to such a fate, would you?"
"Begorra, it's no human bein' that I'd be givin' up to the haythen, but the dwarf ain't a human."
"But would you give up a dog to such a death?"
"Yer honor, it's not me self as would set meself agen yez, but, if it's fight that the haythen want, then, by the blood of Sarsfield, it's fight they shall have. I like to oblige even haythen."
"Well said, Pat. Tell the Whitebellies, Quang, that we will not give up Urka."
The Shans had scarcely heard the answer when they withdrew to a little distance, and from what they thought a safe place sent their poisoned assagais in a perfect shower into the midst of Walter's party.
One of the Siamese was struck, and almost immediately his flesh turned black and his body began to swell with the virulence of the poison.
Each of the Whitebellies had three of the short spears and one long one, which was used as a charging weapon.
When Walter saw a second lot of spears raised he thought it time to teach the savages a lesson.
He raised his Marlin repeater and fired three shots in quick succession.
Two men fell dead, and a third was wounded.
The others threw their poisoned spears, but did no damage.
Then there was a hurried consultation, and the Shans formed three abreast, and with a short spear held above their heads in their right hand, and a long spear held at rest on the left hip, they rushed forward, intending to force an entrance into the place defended by Walter and his party.
"Pat, come to the front and we can meet these fellows."
Walter, Jack, and Mulvany stood side by side, awaiting the onslaught.
"When the Sharis were within a few yards the three rifle rang out, and three front heathen fell to the ground.
The others dashed on to their almost certain death.
The spears of the savages were no weapons to cope with the rifles, and man after man met his death before the guarded entrance was reached.
Walter and Jack used their revolvers, and again some of the Shans bit the dust. Then the defenders used their rifles as clubs, and knocked the spears out of the hands of their enemies.
That ended the fight.
It had been short, but disastrous to the savages.
One of the Siamese had been killed, and Urka was badly wounded; though fortunately not by one of the poisoned spears.
Walter dressed his wounds according to the knowledge possessed by the white men, but Urka tore off the bandages and gathered some leaves, which he chewed into a pulp and placed over the wounds.
The effect was almost magical.
The flesh seemed to heal instantaneously, and Urka laughed as he saw the expression of astonishment on the faces of the white men.
That night, when the little party had, camped, a remnant of the band of Shans was conducted into the presence of, Walter and Jack.
The man who had been chosen as chief in place of the one killed told Walter, through Quang, that his people recognized the power of the white people, and would make their submission.
Walter signified that he was willing to receive it, and the chief nodded his head approvingly, and with such force that Jack feared he would dislocate his neck.
The man kept on doing it until Jack had to laugh. Even Walter could not keep a serious face when the Whitebelly began to roll his head from side to side and put out his tongue.
Quong was puzzled, for he had never heard of such strange conduct, and wondered what it meant.
But when the Shan stood on one leg and still continued to roll his head and put out his tongue, Walter and Jack laughed until the tears ran down their cheeks.
Quong touched Jack and pointed to the rear.
The secret was explained.
Just back of the Endicotts stood Patrick Mulvany, and he was doing exactly the same as the Shan.
The barbarian had thought Pat was showing the way he should act in acknowledging the superiority of the white men, and had, imitated to the best of his ability.
Of course, he exaggerated, not intentionally, but because his large mouth, his high cheek-bones and long neck gave his antics the most ludicrous appearance.
"Pat, what are you doing?" asked Walter.
"T'achin' thricks to the haythen," he answered nonchalantly.
"Sure, yer honor will spoil good sport. I'd have had the haythen standin' on his head an' dancin' a jig."
Quong had no liking for the Irishman, but he secretly delighted in the humiliation of the Shan.
Walter shook hands with the chief, telling him that was the way the white men swore friendship and peace.
He invited him to sit down with them, and asked about the great Shan States.
The man was pleased to answer, and when Walter inquired the reason for desiring him to give up Urka, the chief answered without hesitation that the dwarf belonged to a tribe of monkey men, who were neither animals nor human beings, but were demons, who lived on the blood of the people they captured.
"Are there many monkey men?" Jack asked.
"Yes, in the forests and mountains."
"Can you take us to them?"
Never did a face portray greater fear than did that of Ruwang Lu, as the Shan was called.
His body began to tremble, and his eyes seemed to disappear, so terrified did he appear to be, that Walter hastened to add:
"I will not let you take us; we will find our way, but you shall guide us out of this forest to the banks of the Mekong."
The fear vanished, and the man clapped his hands with delight.
Although the Shans had made their act of submission, Walter knew that they were liable to act treacherously at any moment, so he stationed pickets round the camp in order that he might be warned if any overt act was threatened.
Ruwang Lu was, however, too humble and submissive to get treacherous so soon, and the night passed without disturbance.
The next day the party emerged from the forest and under the guidance of the Shan entered a sandy desert.
It was hard traveling; but Ruwang Lu thought it safer than the forest.
All day the little party marched slowly over the hot, burning sand.
The sun shone down with terrible power, and though Walter carried a tropical thermometer, the mercury rose to the very highest degree, short of boiling heat.
The Shans did not feel the heat, neither did the Siamese, but the three white men were nearly prostrated.
They longed for a breath of air; and Pat declared he would sell his life for a glass of cold water; but that was only figuratively, of course.
When they felt they could endure it no longer, a slight breeze disturbed the surface of the sand, and Pat threw himself down to get the full benefit.
The Buddhists beat their foreheads in the hot sand and threw their arms about almost wildly.
They appealed to the sun to aid them and avert the terrible scourge.
The white men wondered what it meant.
They saw the ghastly faces of both Shans and Siamese, and even Urka was frightened.
"Quong, what is the matter? Have you all gone mad?"
"Don't you see, sahib?"
Quang pointed to what appeared to be a heavy cloud in the far distance.
"I see a cloud. It is not the rainy season, so what have we to fear?"
"Not rain, sahib, not rain; the great prophet of Siam would not give rain out of season, but it means death."
"Yes, it is a sand cloud."
Walter felt his knees knock together and his face grow pale, for he had heard of those terrible sand- storms which at times sweep across the desert and destroy everything in their path.
"What are we to do, Quang?"
"Die, that is all."
Urka had seen the cloud, and he too, was frightened.
But instead of waiting patiently for death, or wringing his hands, he started digging up the sand with his hands and building, as it were, a barricade against the storm.
"Is a sand-storm so very terrible?" Jack asked.
"It must be, for I never heard of anyone who survived one. I am afraid, Jack, we have to meet our greatest enemy."
"But we may be all right."
"We may; we will hope for the best, and will follow Urka's example."
All set to work piling up sand, and for a time their fears were forgotten, but the noise of the whirling sand began to grow louder as the storm gathered strength, and tons upon tons of sand were being whirled through the air at a cyclonic speed.
The noise increased, and the air grew darker and denser.
Walter knew the time had come for work to cease.
"Lie down, all of you!" he commanded; "Jack come close to me, take my hand, and let us meet the storm."
It seemed the height of foolishness to build a barricade of sand to stop the wildly scurrying sand-storm which now made the air thick and the earth hot and dry.
The sun seemed to possess far greater power than ever, though not one ray of light could penetrate the sand- cloud.
Away to the west a drove of elephants was overtaken and almost instantly buried. Their bellowing was something awful to hear.
But even that was drowned by the roaring of the storm.
It seemed as though the sand had become a solid sheet, which kept rolling up into tight coils and unrolling again with fearful force.
All the party had thrown themselves on their chests behind the barricade, and hidden their faces in their hands to prevent the hot sand blistering their eyes.
"Don't look up, Jack, or you will be blinded!" shouted Walter, as loudly as lie could, though his voice sounded like a whisper when it reached Jack's ears. "Walter, if you live and I do not, write and tell Beatrice I thought of her all the time, won't you?"
"Yes; but we will hope for the best."
The noise grew louder, the air was so heavy that breathing was difficult.
"I'm dying," cried Jack, and then the mighty roar of the storm prevented speech. A few minutes and all was silent. The storm had spent its fury.
The sun began to shine again, and nature seemed to regain its joyous happiness.
But what of the Endicotts?
The barricade had been beaten down somewhat, but not a living thing could be seen.
Nothing but a field of sand, a desert of hot, blistering sand, which would blister the hand of anyone who touched it.
Had anyone been looking at the dreary expanse, they would have seen the sand begin to tremble and move at one portion of the barricade; then a hand was pushed through; an arm followed it, and soon a whole body struggled through the sand and stood upright.
It was the form of Quong, the guide and interpreter.
He shook himself much as a Newfoundland dog would do when emerging from the water.
"Where are they?" he exclaimed, as he looked all around and saw no sign of human being.
"Am I alone? Are they all dead?"
Quong was practical, so he set to work digging away the sand from the barricade with his hands.
The buffaloes were lying some distance away, silent and motionless.
Quang worked dexterously, and uncovered Urka, the dwarf.
He lifted the strange body in his arms and carried him some little distance away. The peculiar creature was dead, and Quong feared the same fate had overtaken all the party.
He returned to his digging, and was considerably astonished when Jack pushed through the sand where Quong was at work, exclaiming:
"Where am I , Quong? I thought I had been asleep. Where's my brother?"
"Don't you understand, sahib -- don't you remember the sand-storm?"
"And Walter -- "
"Buried like you were. By the soul of the prophet, I hope he may be as much alive as you."
The skin was burned off Jack's face and hands, but he did not know it.
The dread which had arisen through Quong's words made him forget his own sufferings.
He set to work as earnestly as Quong to uncover the rest of the party.
Jack had laid down close to Walter, but the sand had the rolled them over, and where the two were digging for the explorer and newspaper man, they uncovered Pat.
"By St. Pathrick, I'm kilt entoirely. Arrah, but the sand is hot. Ah yer honor, I'm glad it's yerself that's alive."
"Pat, I am glad you are alive. Help us find my brother."
"Sure, an' it's meself that will do that same; I'd wurruk me fingers to the bone for your brother, God be wid him."
The three scraped away the sand and uncovered one of the Siamese.
The poor fellow was dead.
"That's two dead," muttered Quong.
"Two? Who is the other?" Jack asked.
Walter was the next to be dug out.
At first they feared he was dead, but Quong rubbed him with some oil of the consistency of butter, which he claimed was sacred, and soon Walter began to breathe regularly, and half an hour later opened his eyes.
"All right, old fellow," answered Jack.
Walter sank back, and again became unconscious.
"Sleep will do him good," Quong assured the others; and relying on his knowledge, they left Walter and proceeded with their work.
For two hours they labored before all were uncovered, and the result of the great sand-storm known.
Ruwang Lu, the White Belly, was the only one alive.
The dead bodies of the others showed how quickly they had been suffocated by the sand.
By the time the bodies had all been discovered, Walter roused himself, and. seemed none the worse for his fight with death.
The survivors congratulated each other on their escape, and began to count their losses.
The buffaloes were dead.
All the Siamese and Shans were dead, save Quong and Ruwang Lu.
Urka, the dwarf, so valuable to Walter as a study for the ethnologists, was also in the land of shadows.
The storm had worked havoc in that little band.
"What are we to do now, Walter?"
"We must divide up the baggage and each carry a share until we can secure some other beasts of burden."
Walter had reckoned on five taking a share, but Quong absolutely refused.
He was of that caste which prohibited him carrying baggage.
He told Walter that the great prophet would never allow his soul to rest in peace if he carried ever so small a package.
"But, Quong, the storm came; the great prophet sent it, as you say. Will you not help us?"
"I will guide you through the desert."
"But the baggage must be removed."
"That is all very well, but I am not a dog that I should be expected to do a dog's work."
Jack could not restrain a smile at the expression on Quong's face as he declared he was not a dog.
It was, of course, a metaphor which the Siamese used, but it was the strongest in his whole vocabulary.
"You will not help?"
"I will guide you. I will work for you, but I will not carry any of your baggage." "Then how are we to get it through the desert?"
"Carry it, if you do not object. I am not concerned."
The baggage had to be redivided so that the four could carry it.
It was so heavy that only short marches could be taken.
Jack got angry and would have expressed himself in strong terms to Quong had not Walter told him that caste ruled with iron hand, and no one was strong enough to break it down.
"We have not many days' march before we get out of the desert, and then we will get a different set of men."
"I hope so; I don't care about carrying a hundred pounds on my back all day."
"It is not pleasant, but think of the glory."
"Walter, I am beginning to think that glory can be purchased at too great a sacrifice."
"No, only disgusted. I am short-tempered and irritable."
"We are going to have a rest."
"When we reach Maing."
"Is that a town?" .
"Yes, and the last we shall see, perhaps, for years."
"Is there a post-office?"
"Yes; and perhaps there may be letters for us."
"How can there be?"
"Because I left word at Bangkok that letters could be forwarded to the French consul at Maing."
"Let us hurry."
"I thought you were tired."
"You have given me new life. I feel that I could carry three times as much, for there will be a letter from Beatrice."
"Don't be too, confident. There are many things likely to prevent. We will hope for the best, but do not build too much on hope, for fear the foundation may give way."
When Walter spoke of the few days' march across the desert to Maing, he fully believed that he was within the realms of truth.
But a month passed before the glittering minarets of the temples of the little French town were seen by the travelers.
The heat was intense, the thermometer often showing a hundred and thirty degrees, without one bit of shade save when they were able to put up the portable shelter-tent which Walter had bought in New York, and found to be the best he had ever seen. Sometimes the sand drifted so much that the tent was of no value.
Quong had left the party.
One morning, when Walter sounded the alarm for all to rise and renew the march before the heat of the day became so oppressive, the guide's place was vacant, and the Shan, Ruwang Lu, admitted that he knew the Siamese was about to return.
Quong had not drawn his pay, save what he had obtained when engaged, and Jack laughed at the thought of how the man had injured himself in deserting the party; but the Shan, who had learned a great deal of English since he had been with the Endicotts, told Walter that Quong had drawn a large amount for the entire party of Siamese and Shans, saying that they would not go without the money in advance, but that he had not paid any of them.
The sand-storm had canceled his obligations to the men, and so Quong was better paid than he would have been had he proved honest.
When Maing was reached Walter went at once to the house of the French consul.
He presented his credentials, and also a letter from the French minister, ordering the consul to provide the Endicotts with everything they might need, and to see that they had good and efficient men to accompany them into the unknown land of Indo-China.
Like so many Frenchmen, Monsieur Alphonse Verplaetze, the consul, was effusively warm in his welcome.
"Letters? Of course, there are, any number of them!" he exclaimed, when Walter asked about the mail. "But, messieurs, the mail only comes once a month, and there is one due in three days; it maybe late, but it will come."
"How late may it be?"
"Sometimes a day, sometimes a week, and at times a month, but it always comes."
There was not much consolation in the thought of having to wait a month for a letter, and Jack's lips quivered as he heard the consul's statement.
But there were letters to be read, and, best of all, there was one from Beatrice for Jack. He read every line.
Then he commenced again and read it from beginning to end once more.
Had it been in some foreign language, he could not have taken more time to decipher it, for he commenced it a third time, and then, having finished it, placed it in his pocket and looked so happy that Walter could not help admiring his youthful spirits.
"Any news, Jack?"
"Yes; she is going back to the States."
"I had a letter from Amy Cottrell, saying they were to sail the next week"
"Yes, that is it, next week."
"Look at the date of your letter, Jack"
"It is dated August the sixth."
"And this is November."
Jack's face was expressive of disappointment.
"Why, she must be there."
"Yes; it does not usually take three months to cross from Genoa to New York. Amy says she will write once more to Bangkok."
"So does Beatrice."
"Then we must wait for the next mail a reasonable time."
Patrick Mulvany was delighted to find a clerk in the consul's office bearing the very Irish name of McMahon. And McMahon was equally pleased to meet with some one who talked English, although with a very decided Irish accent.
Patrick and Denis found that they both originally hailed from the same part of the country, and they reasoned it out to their great satisfaction that their grandfathers must have been boys together.
Jack wandered about the little town, looking at everything with the most intense interest.
He was an observer, and had found that in the Oriental cities the gilded dome or minaret of a temple or palace was the only clean or bright thing about it.
He saw the same peculiarity in Maing.
The minarets were freshly gilded and were dazzling to look upon, but the floors of the temple were an inch thick with filth, and the idols and statues were so begrimed that it was difficult to say of what they had been originally been made.
Walter had warned him to be careful not to get into any unpleasant adventure, and he was very circumspect until, in an unlucky moment, he saw a man whose age must have approached the limit of three score, beating a very good-looking young woman of perhaps eighteen or twenty.
Jack could not understand what the man was saying, neither did he know what the girl was urging as a reason for a cessation of the punishment, but he did know that she was a girl, and with all the chivalry of his American nature he went to her aid.
He caught the man's arm and wrenched the heavy bamboo cane out of his hand. But the man turned on him savagely and made a lunge at him with a nasty looking knife.
Jack used the bamboo with good effect, and knocked the knife out of the man's hand.
The old fellow was strong and wiry, and he turned on the young American and wrestled with him in a manner which would have done credit to a Greco-Roman wrestler of the western world.
Jack at first was at a disadvantage, but he quickly covered himself and, breaking loose, struck the native vigorous blow on the nose, which caused the blood to spurt from that portion of his anatomy.
The native called for help, and a number of men quickly appeared and overpowered Jack.
Fearful that his cries might attract attention, they stuffed a dirty piece of cloth into his mouth and tied another piece over it, so effectually preventing him from calling out.
They carried him along a narrow, filthy street and into a house which was euphoniously called the Palace of Justice.
Its roof was surrounded by a small tower, richly gilded, but its interior was so filthy that Jack shuddered when he saw the dirt.
The old man stated his case, which an interpreter translated into French.
He said he as chastising one of his wives when the white man interfered and attacked him.
"Where is your wife?" asked the judge.
"She ran away." ,
"Did she ask this man to help her?"
"She called for help. She was very unruly. I was beating her with a bamboo, as was my right."
"How was it she was away from home?"
"She was running away at the time, but I caught her."
Jack asked that the French consul should be sent for, and the judge promised to do so.
The sentence of the court was ten lashes of the bastinado for attacking a native of Maing and fifteen for helping a wife to run away from her husband.
Jack heard the sentence, but was very sure it would not be carried into execution when once the consul attended to explain.
To his dismay, he was carried into another room, known as the room of punishment.
He was thrown face downward on a long, broad board, at the end of which was an upright projection about eight inches high.
His legs were bent at the knee and strapped to the upright, so that the soles of his feet were uppermost.
His boots were taken off, and his feet bared.
According to Maing law, the first stroke of the bastinado was to be made by the aggrieved party, and as the sentence was a double one, the old man was allowed to give two strokes on the bare soles.
The bastinado was a stout bamboo, which, when wielded by a strong man, was able to inflict the most excruciating torture.
Jack was game.
The blows descended with a sickening thud, and he winced, but it was scarcely perceptible.
The blows fell thick and fast, and Jack was nearly failing, but still he would not cry for mercy.
The last blow was given, and the presiding genius threw pail after pail of water over the bleeding and swollen feet.
Then another came and spread salt thickly over the wounds.
The agony was intense, and Jack inwardly prayed for death.
When the salt had been washed off he was unloosed, and he rolled over like a log.
They left him there, and the judge fulfilled his promise of sending for the French consul.
Jack was quickly transferred to the official's house, and the consul entered a protest against the torture and a demand for indemnity.
The Maing authorities pleaded that Jack had interfered between man and wife and had attacked the man; he ought to have been punished more severely; in fact, the death-penalty was prescribed, but, out of respect to his being white, the smallest punishment was awarded.
For several days the young explorer was delirious.
He was nursed faithfully by his brother and the daughter of the consul.
The mail was a week late, but its tardiness was made up for by the arrival of three letters from Beatrice, one written on board the steamship and two from the United States.
Jack wrote a very long letter in reply to all, and told her that it might be months, perhaps years, before he would be able to write again.
For two months the Endicotts had to stay in Maing on account of the state of Jack's feet.
At the expiration of that time the Endicotts and Patrick Mulvany, with twenty coolies as guard, left the little town and struck out into the almost untrodden wilds of Indo-China.
At Bien-Hoa fresh oxen were purchased and rude carts secured for the baggage.
The road was so miry that the oxen at times sank up to their knees, and the wheels cut their own tracks through the soft clay.
In some places the coolies were obliged to stop and clear away the brambles that blocked their path.
For hours the dreary march was continued, until the road ended and the forest commenced.
Then began the hardest work they had encountered.
A road had to be literally cut through the forest.
The coolies plied their axes with almost enthusiasm, and seemed to enjoy their work, though at times they looked almost. threateningly at Pat, who was their captain and overseer.
Walter had changed his plans after leaving Maing, and had resolved on entering the Mois country by way of Trian.
For two days the party cut its way through the trackless forest, and were rejoiced when the village of Trian was reached.
No longer did they see gilded domes and fanciful minarets, but houses the like of which Jack had never before seen.
The houses were constructed of straw.
The roofs were supported on a framework of wood shaped like a bow.
The sides of the houses bristled with barbed arrows having poisoned points. Without this poison the people of the Mois district would be at the mercy of the wild beasts.
The little spears are their only weapon, and they are so very frail and insignificant that they would afford no protection. against the tigers, large serpents, and elephants which abound so plentifully.
The word "Moi" is Anamite, and signifies "barbarian."
There was something very strange in seeing men, women, and children crawl out of the strange houses, for only in a few of them could they stand upright.
When they saw the little caravan the people set up a loud shout, and from every house there crawled a number of human beings.
Some were decorated with strings of beads, and a few had bands of feathers round their heads and on their legs.
But the majority were destitute of any ornamentation, and their only garb consisted of a cloth twisted round their loins.
Walter ordered a box to be brought him, and Pat opened it.
The box was full of bits of glass, small mirrors, strings of beads, and little toys. Calling the one he thought was a chief, Walter gave him a small pocket- mirror, one of those little, round, metal-covered ones which we get sometimes at our novelty-stores.
The Moi looked at it, and when he saw his own reflection he gave a leap in the air which made even his friends wonder.
Then he called a woman, presumably his wife, and showed it to her .
He looked over her shoulder, and to his great bewilderment saw her reflection and his own.
He took the precious little mirror and ran toward Walter, throwing himself on his chest and exclaiming, as a coolie explained:
"Kill me, for I have seen the great wonder."
Walter had no intention of killing the man, and lifted him up, giving him a string of beads to put round his neck.
Then he began distributing the beads and little trinkets among the people, and completely won them over.
"We must study these people, Jack."
"And live as they do?"
"Begorra, yer honor, but it's a jack-rabbit I'd be if I wor to live like them there craythers," added Pat.
The people that had gathered round and received the gifts, Walter found, to his sorrow, were only the stay- at-homes.
The true men, the warriors, with their chief, came upon the scene soon after.
They were big, powerful men, with long hair and beards, with nails like talons, and their ankle-bones stood out like the spurs of a game rooster.
Their hair hung in disorder down on their shoulders, while the chief wore a kind of crown made of rattan and bound together with red cord.
Each man wore a girdle of cord made of the long grass, which grew so plentiful close to the forest, and dyed red.
Other villagers had saluted the white men, even prostrating themselves in the dust.
The Siamese rurals had called themselves "dogs" and "carrion," and had humiliated themselves before Walter; but these men, the warriors of Trian, stood erect and did not even incline the head as a mark of respect.
One of the coolies was able to talk a little with them, and through him Walter was given some idea of their code of morals.
"A man should never kneel to another man," said the chief.
Another told Walter that those who prostrated themselves were slaves and cowards, and should be killed.
Jack was deputed to give a mirror to the chief, Walter selecting one larger than that he had given to the stay-at-home chieftain.
As Jack handed it to him and he saw his reflection, he gave a sharp cry, and at once every warrior had his spear at rest.
In a loud voice the chieftain addressed his people.
The coolie could not interpret all that was said, but he learned enough to tell Walter that all their lives were in danger.
"In the days before a white man ever trod the ground of the forest," said the chief, "it was said that a day should come when a bad spirit would show great wonders. He would display to the people the faces of the evil demons, and then destroy the Mois from the face of the earth.
"The evil one has come. He hath shown us the faces of the bad ones, and he must die."
When the chief had finished he pointed to Jack.
The men closed in round him so that their arrows were within an inch of his body.
"Don't move, Jack, for if you are scratched you will die!" shouted Walter excitedly.
"Ask him if it would not be well to kill the evil one," Walter whispered to the coolie.
The question was asked, and the chief laughed loudly.
"Yes, if you can catch him."
Walter took a larger mirror from his box, and, calling the chief to him, crossed to a tree-stump on which a monkey had been sitting watching the proceedings.
Walter put the mirror in front of the monkey and made the chief look.
He saw the face of the monkey reflected, and at once ordered the poor animal seized.
Jack was saved, but only for the time, for who could tell what the effect might be when the mirrors were handed round?
Unfortunately, several mirrors had been distributed, and Walter was uneasy.
The monkey was speedily put to death on the suspicion of being the personification of evil.
Walter tried to get the mirrors back, but the chief said most emphatically that he would keep his, so that future enemies might be guarded against and disaster averted.
Jack advised that the wonderful pieces of glass should not be looked at on the same day that an enemy was discovered, and the chief acquiesced.
That was a point gained, and gave the explorers the remainder of the day and the whole of the night.
"What was your object, Jack?"
"It will give us a chance to escape."
"Yes, but I wanted to study these people a little."
"So you can when we come back. To-morrow they will begin looking into the mirrors, and will denounce each other. Either they will fight, or else arrive at the conclusion that they see their own reflections in the glass. In any case, we shall be all right."
"Jack, you are right; I think we will leave, but we will do so openly."
"If the chief objects?"
"He won't do so. He will be glad to get rid of us."
Walter opened another case, which was full of bright, polished tin toys; such as we often see on Christmas trees, and calling the chief over to him bade him take several as a peace-offering.
The savage was delighted.
He took up one iridescent toy and turned it round and round so that the light could play upon it.
As he saw the sparkling effects, he shouted and jumped about with great glee.
"We shall leave you to-night," Walter said, when the chief was expressing his gratitude.
"Leave us? Why, we thought you would stay until the feast of the white elephant."
Although the chief was very desirous to have the explorers stay at Trian, Walter knew it would be best .to leave.
He therefore ordered the carts to be reloaded and the oxen yoked.
To the men who were to accompany him he said that they would rest in the forest, which would be safer among the Trianese.
The coolies muttered their discontent, but had no thought of disobeying.
An hour later the procession was again formed, and Trian was left behind.
It was the wisest thing to do, for the chief could not keep his promise about the mirror, and here the last rays of the sun had set he had again looked into the glass, and became furious as he recognized an evil spirit.
He was inclined to organize a party of warriors and pursue the explorers, but one of his wives persuaded him against it, for she had learned the true use of the mirror, and with all the vanity of woman appreciated the luxury of seeing herself as others saw her.
The Endicotts struck into the forest and had to cut a way through parts where never had white man been before.
They camped about six miles away from Trian, and made a good supper off fresh cocoanuts and a peculiar fruit almost the shape of the cocoanut, but having no shell, and very like a good, fresh banana.
The cocoanuts grew high up on the palms, and Jack thought it would be a very poor supper if they had to partake of the nuts; but one of the coolies made a strange noise with his lips, and almost immediately threw a stone into the massy foliage of a large tree.
Instantly there was a chattering and jibbering, which told that the coolie had disturbed a tribe of monkeys.
Each coolie threw stones and sticks into the tree and then the object was gained, for the monkeys ran up the palms, pulled off the nuts, and flung them at their human enemies.
This was just what was wanted, and the party had plenty of nuts for supper, and all obtained with no other mishap than a severe contusion of the scalp one of the coolies received from a blow from a nut.
The next day the cavalcade reached the first genuine forest village.
It consisted of a single habitation in the form of a tunnel, made of sticks meeting at the top like the sides of the letter, and covered with leaves.
The tunnel was a hundred and fifty feet long, but only three feet high, and about seven feet wide at the base of the triangle.
It was opened at each end.
There were some children playing outside the tunnel, and they stopped to look at the newcomers.
"Speak to them, Mahid," said Walter to the coolie interpreter, "and ask them who they are and all about them."
The man spoke in several different languages, but the children did not understand, or, if they did, took no heed.
They went on playing, and did not appear at all alarmed at the presence of the strangers.
Jack, a little more venturesome than his brother, went toward them and offered them some glass beads.
The children became frightened, and scampered off to the woods, more like a lot of monkeys than children.
Walter entered the strange dwelling.
He had to go down on his hands and knees and crawl.
Inside he saw rudely shaped pipes and boxes of tobacco, which the natives evidently gathered as it grew wild and dried the leaves in the sun.
Jack had followed his brother, and was surprised at many things which they found.
The long tunnel-like residence was unlighted save by the light which entered at the open ends.
"Walter, we are trapped," Jack suddenly exclaimed.
The place had become dark, and, Jack, looking for the cause, had seen the lower limbs of some savages at each entrance.
Pat was outside with the coolies, and Walter's first impression was that he had been overpowered and made captive.
"Well, Jack, we've got to get out some way. Which end shall we try?" .
"I am afraid it makes but little difference. If we could stand upright, it would be a different matter, but we shall be knocked on the head when we crawl out."
"It looks that way, but here goes; follow me, Jack!"
"No; we will go two abreast, and perhaps one may escape."
Jack had a motive in proposing the method; he thought that they could pin the natives down if they were side by side.
Jack had calculated his chances well, and when near the opening he whispered to his brother:
"Quick; Walter! Pull him down!"
The injunction was obeyed, and before the natives realized what was being done they found their legs clasped tightly and jerked suddenly, throwing them on their backs in double-quick time.
Pat and the coolies were a little distance away from the tunnellike dwelling, and were guarding the oxen and treasure-chests.
When Walter and Jack emerged from the house the natives gathered round and began chanting some gibberish which was not translatable by the coolies.
When Walter bade Pat bring one of the treasure- chests and open it, the eyes of the savages danced with pleasure.
Walter distributed beads and toys, and when the joy was at its height he led them to believe, by pantomimic action, that his party was entirely friendly.
The men who had been so violently pulled down looked morose and angry, but Walter appeased them by giving them extra presents.
The natives were big, powerful fellows, with long, curly hair and beards; their faces beamed with good humor when they realized that the Endicotts had no intention of hurting them.
Never had our friends seen men so strong and powerful.
Their height was above the average, and their weight considerably greater.
One man took Pat up by his belt and raised the astonished sailor above his head, and without the slightest exertion.
Pat grumbled in Irish and English at the indignity, but when he found himself on the ground again he called on all the saints in the calendar to witness his expressed desire to have as great strength.
As the natives were friendly, Walter told the party that they would camp among them for a time, so that he might study their ways and language.
A place was selected for a camp, and an ideal spot it was.
A semicircle of trees, whose trunks nearly touched each other formed the background, and the ox-wagons were arranged on the open side as a sort of barricade.
On one side Walter provided for the coolies and the oxen, and on the other side Pat had charge of the stores, the center being occupied by the shelter-tent for Walter and Jack.
The natives watched the party at work, and exhibited considerable interest in the -- to them -- strange cooking-apparatus, a portable stove, which Walter had picked up in Calcutta, and which had belonged to a prospector for a railroad which was then being built.
"Very soon some coffee was sending its aroma to mingle with the fragrance of the forest flowers and fruits, and a most delicious and appetizing feast was prepared, in the enjoyment of which Pat shared.
During the preparation and partaking of the dinner the natives had stood and watched with looks of mingled wonder and awe on their faces.
"Walter, where are the women?" Jack asked, as he looked at the crowd of villagers, who were all males.
"I had not thought of that," answered Walter; "it is strange. We will find out soon!"
"Yes, I suppose so, but it is strange, for the women are generally the most curious."
"Bedad, an' if it hadn't been for Eve's curiosity we should all be livin' in paradise, wid nothin' to do but play wid the wild bastes," Pat remarked most soberly. .
When the dinner was cleared away, and Walter lighted his pipe, the natives ran to their house, and soon emerged, each with a rudely shaped pipe filled with the sun- dried tobacco.
The natives sat cross-legged on the ground just outside the camp, and clouds of smoke from the half-dried tobacco soon obscured the faces of the men.
For several weeks Walter and his party remained among the natives, and learned much of their language.
It was a difficult proceeding, seeing that nearly everything they used differed from that to which the white men were accustomed.
Jack was especially quick at learning, and he found out very many things about this particular tribe of Mois which were of great value to future explorers.
The greatest puzzle was the absence of women and children, for after that first day not even a child had been seen.
All inquiries about the women were met with expressions of ignorance.
One day the Mois brought several bottles of water as a gift to Walter.
The bottles were the sun-tanned stomachs of animals, which preserved the water as fresh as could any glass or stone demijohns.
For some reason Walter had suspicion that all was not right.
He had been asking about the women and children, and was persistent in inquiring about the native costumes.
It was immediately after this that the water was brought as the bearer said, to show that the chief was not offended.
"Don't drink any of the water, Jack."
"I have my doubts."
"What shall we do with it?"
"We will empty one bottle at a time, so that the Mois will think we have drunk it."
The ruse was successful for two days, but on the third one of the coolies, who was an enormous drinker, took one of the bottles and imbibed very freely.
Almost immediately he was lying on the ground, writhing and groaning in great agony.
His face was convulsed with torture, and his legs and arms moved up and down violently, showing that he was the victim of severe cramps.
Walter administered a strong emetic, and called upon the coolies to rub his body well.
They were excellent masseurs, and soon succeeded in reducing the cramps, while the emetic aided in the recovery of the poor fellow.
"The water was poisoned," Jack remarked.
"Yes, and we were lucky in escaping., Don't touch anything the Mois bring."
Walter secured one of the men and told him he would be killed unless he answered truthfully about the water.
The man was terrified, and told this story:
"When the moon is at the full the mists rise from the forest swamps, and in the mist there appears a demon.
"The mist gets thicker so that the demon cannot be seen, and then he stalks forth and snatches the children from their homes and takes them to the swamp.
"He turns their blood into fire and blinds their eyes; he makes their bodies suffer, and then, when the father or mother finds the child, it is too late; the demon has taken away its life.
"Every full moon we take water in which we have put the juice of the Lliana fruit, and fill all the hollows around the forest.
"The demons drink the water and die.
"But this moon the demons came before the full of the moon and lived with us, so we had to give them the water to drink and prevent them from killing our children."
The Mois did not tell the story as we have written it, but with gestures and emphasis most highly dramatic.
He showed that he believed the legend, and it was of no use to tell him that the demon of the mist was really malarial, or miasmatic fever, which carried off the children because of the ignorance of the parents who exposed them to the night air of the swamps at every full of the moon.
Walter questioned the prisoner about the women, but the man refused to answer.
There was a mystery somewhere which the Endicotts were determined to solve.
Walter held the man as a hostage, telling the natives emphatically that he would be killed if they attempted to injure the white men or their coolies.
The Mois did their own rude cooking, and attended to all the work of their cooperative dwelling.
When it was found that the white men had not taken the poisoned water the Mois thought that some supernatural agency had warned them, and therefore a great feast was ordered to be given. .
The natives exhibited feats of strength, the most remarkable of which was one called palm-swinging.
Two lofty palms growing about ten feet apart were selected.
As every eastern and tropical traveler knows, many palms grow to a great height and yet have very slender trunks.
Two strong, stalwart Mois climbed the trees right to the very top, and plucked therefrom the little cabbage like hearts of the palm and threw them down.
Then the chief clapped his hands, and the men began swaying the trees until the tops touched each other.
After doing this several times the men exchanged trees and allowed the palms to grow steady.
Again the chief clapped his hands, and the men leaped toward each other, touching hands as they passed, and catching the tree.
It was a wild leap across at least ten feet of space at a height of seventy or eighty feet.
Again they made the trees sway until they seemed to keep time to the clapping of hands of those below.
While the trees swayed to and fro the men descended to the earth.
Wrestling, throwing spears and great stones were among the sports provided, and Walter suitably acknowledged the performance, which was really a kind of apology for the attempted poisoning of himself and friends.
A few days after Walter and Jack left the camp in charge of Pat, and started to the east on an exploring expedition.
They walked through the forest for several hours without meeting with a single human being.
Jack thought they had gone far enough, and proposed returning; Walter was disappointed, but agreed, first suggesting that one of them should climb a tall palm and take their bearings.
Before Walter had finished his suggestion, Jack was climbing, and within a few minutes shouted:
"Walter, I've found the women."
It was a curious thing to shout, but it was true.
They had left a womanless village; Jack had seen a manless Eden.
"We will make the acquaintance of the ladies -- eh, Jack?"
"Of course or our work will be but half- done."
About half a mile from the point where Jack had made his discovery there was a tunnel-shaped house, longer and rather higher than the one inhabited by the men.
As Walter and Jack approached it, they both saw a number of women and children seated and standing about the entrances.
As soon as they saw the Americans, who wore the white suit which Europeans always wear in the Asiatic tropics, they screamed and ran into the house.
It was a singular sight to see a hundred women and as many children run to the entrance of the strange dwelling and then suddenly fall on their knees and enter on all fours.
When the Endicotts reached the dwelling they called out to the women that they were friends, and only wished to see how happy they were.
The appeal to them to come forth was of no avail, so Jack began whistling a lively tune.
"Music hath charms," it has often been said, "to soothe the savage beast," and Jack's whistling certainly had more power to draw the savage beauties into the daylight than Walter's appeal.
An old woman, whose wrinkled face, high cheek- bones, and sunken eyes proclaimed that she had well-nigh lived all her days, crawled out of the house and asked what the men from the moon wanted.
Walter replied that they were not from the moon; but from the sun, and that they wished to tell the women of the Moi nation how to be happy.
The old woman reentered the house, and soon returned, followed by the whole of the residents.
Boys and girls, old and young women, crawled out and stood upright before the Americans.
It was a strange sight, and one long to be remembered.
At first the women were inclined to be unfriendly, and surrounded the Americans, declaring that they were prisoners.
But the pretty beads which Walter took from his pockets charmed them, and they danced with almost childlike spirit and abandon.
They insisted on Jack whistling, and he obliged them with everything he knew, and then improvised.
The more he whistled the happier they appeared to be.
Walter -- who, fortunately, had learned considerable of their language -- tried his best to draw them into it conversation about the nation and their peculiar customs.
On the question of why the sexes lived separately they would not speak, but became quite talkative on the subject of their nation.
"We belong to the Shans more than to the Mois," said one of the most talkative women.
"In what way?"
"Would you like to hear?"
"And it would not be wrong for me to tell you?"
"The men from the sun are not the foes of the people of the Lao States?"
"No; we believe in peace and good- will."
"What is peace?"
"You said you were Shans?"
"No, but partly Shans. Many moons ago, before the white man ever came to the Shan country, there was war between the Whitebellies and the Blackbellies, and a great many of the Whitebellies were taken prisoners and driven into the forests.
"They were far away from their own people, and had no one to cheer them or to gather the leaves of the smoke-plant for them."
"Do you mean tobacco?"
"What call you tobacco?"
Walter drew a pipe from his pocket and filled it with the fragrant weed.
He saw a smile of pleasure pass over the woman's face, but when he lighted a match she screamed and ran away, calling on all the women to follow.
They did not go far, but stood watching Walter.
He wanted to prove that there was no need to be afraid, so he gathered a lot of dry leaves, and, striking another match, set fire to them.
The blaze ascended and the women screamed again.
They had never seen a lucifer match before, and its effects startled them.
They gradually drew nearer and soon recommenced talking, but all wanted to know more about the mysteries of the wonderful fire.
When Walter had explained it, he asked them to continue the story of the war between the Shans.
"When the Shans found that they could never get back to their own people they settled in the forest. Then there was a war among the Mois."
"Did they make trouble?"
"The Shans wanted Moi wives, and some Mois said no, and others said yes, and so they fought, and those who said yes won, and the Shans each got a Moi wife; then the Mois moved away up into the forest and left only those women behind who had a Shan husband.
"That was so many moons ago that the men of now are the sons of the sons of those, and are so like the Shans that they have no tails."
Walter looked at Jack, who answered by an equally expressive glance.
"So the true Mois have tails?" Walter asked inquiringly.
"Of course, or they would not be Mois; only they do say that at the time when the Moi women married the Shan men the tails were longer than now."
"Where do the Mois live?"
"Through the forest many days' journey, and then across the sands and the mountains into the forests again many days' journey, and the Mois will be found."
The Americans camped that night a good mile away from the women's house, and early next morning returned to their own camp.
They found Pat and the coolies prisoners, the chief having got an idea that Pat was closely allied with the evil spirits.
The chief refused to liberate his prisoners, and Walter had to use stratagem to accomplish their freedom.
He told the chief that he possessed means of killing them all without any chance of escape.
Re would use no spear nor any poison.
The men laughed at this, for at that time the white men's weapons had not been introduced into the forest.
"Let us see your, power. We know not that you possess it as you say."
Jack took a Marlin from one of the wagons, and satisfying himself that it was loaded, waited an opportunity to show its death-giving properties.
"A huge bird was perched on the top of a lofty palm, looking down defiantly on the men beneath.
Walter saw it, and, pointing upward, bade the chief throw one of his spears into its breast.
The chief trembled, for the bird was a monster vampire which fed often upon young children, if they were left unprotected.
"The evil bird soars high; no spear made by man can touch it," he said almost mournfully.
"Jack, I want that bird; don't miss, whatever you do."
Jack was a better shot than his elder brother, and he took aim with his stick, as the Moi chief called the rifle.
He pulled the trigger; the report made the chief start, but not nearly so violently as he did the next moment, when the vampire -- half-bird, half-beast -- dropped dead at the foot of the palm.
Another, perhaps the mate of the dead bird, with a cry started from among the leaves and flew across the open space.
Jack fired again and wounded the bird; he drew the trigger a second time, and again his aim was good.
The bird fell to the ground, as dead as the first.
The evidence was complete; the white man possessed a power of which the Mois were ignorant.
Orders were given for the release of Pat and the coolies, and on the next day Walter gave the order to march.
Guided by his compass, he went to the northeast of the women's residence, and for several days the party cut its way through the dense forest.
The oxen suffered often for want of water, and even the coolies felt the oppressive heat.
But terrible as was the forest, where the tall trees shaded them somewhat from the sun, it was nothing to be compared with the heat they experienced when they left the forest and reached a strip of sandy desert some three miles across.
The three white men suffered most intensely; their tongues were swollen until it seemed they would be unable to swallow, their eyes were glazed with the fearful heat, and the skin was peeling off their faces.
Jack threw himself down on the hot sand and cried out for death; he felt that he could endure no more.
Every drop of water had been used, and one of the oxen had dropped dead from the heat.
It was in vain that Walter fanned his brother; the fanning was too exhausting. Even the coolies were ready to give up and lie down to die.
When all hope seemed to die within them, a gentle breeze passed over the desert and imparted new life, but its effect was only temporary, for as it passed the heat was more unbearable.
Walter fell down, utterly exhausted, and he, too, wished for death.
There was a sound of marching, but they did not hear it; they were too insensible to all natural sounds.
But one of the oxen heard the sound, and in the agony of death bellowed loudly. The bellow attracted the attention of a lot of naked savages who were skirting the desert by the forest and they followed the sound.
Nearer and nearer the savages approached.
Jack called out the name of Beatrice in his delirium, and Walter was babbling of some newspaper work in which he in which he gloried.
And as he did so there bent over him the strangest-looking creature white man had ever seen.
The strange-looking creature stared at Walter for some time, and then went to the others, who had also been overcome by the terrible heat.
He called to his friends and jabbered away for several minutes.
Then the strange creatures gathered boughs of trees and made litters, on which they placed the three white men.
With gentle movement they carried our friends into the forest to a rude house, or, rather, cave, for it was under-ground.
Walter was the first to awake, and when his eyes opened he saw that which gave him a shock.
The creature bending over him was nearly naked, and was a mixture of a man and monkey.
The face was human, and not bad-looking, but the arms were long and the hand that of a monkey.
As the creature turned away, Walter saw unmistakable evidence of a tail.
It was not long, only some half-dozen joints of the vertebrae, but it was a tail without doubt.
The creature walked upright like a man, though his long arms, so out of proportion to his body, seemed very much in the way.
Walter dozed off again and slept soundly until Jack's cheery voice awoke him.
"Walter, old man, where are we?"
"Eh? What? Is that you, Jack?"
"Of course it is; who else did you think it was?"
"Did you see it?"
"Then you didn't see it. I don't know whether it was man or monkey."
"You've been asleep, old fellow."
"And dreaming, do you think?"
"Shouldn't wonder. But how did we get here? Where are we?"
"I don't know."
"The last I remember we were in the sand, dying."
"Are we dead?"
"Perhaps we are, Walter; anyway, I'm going to explore."
"Stop a bit; I'll go with you. Oh, my! how stiff I am.
"So am I, but I want to find out all about this strange place."
"Why, Pat is here."
"Then we are not dead."
"What makes you say so?"
"Because Pat always said that when he died the saints would take him."
Walter laughed, not so much at Jack's repetition of Pat's oft-asserted opinion, as at the thought of the strange creature he had seen bending over him, and he wondered if it was one of Pat's saints.
"What are you laughing at?"
"Thoughts. Jack, I will tell you. I woke some time ago and I saw a strange-looking creature bending over me. It had a face like a man, but arms like a monkey, and it had a tail."
"Now I know that you have been dreaming."
"Have I? Look, here come some of Pat's saints."
Pat heard his name mentioned, and he rose up just in time to see three of the men-monkeys enter.
"By St. Patrick, but it's dead I must be, an' -- "
"Hush, Pat; these gentlemen want to speak to us."
One of the men monkeys bowed his head as courteously as an American could have done, and then jabbered away very fast.
When he had finished one of the others followed in the same strain.
Not a word could be understood, and the men- monkeys seemed disappointed.
One of them took, Walter's arm and pulled him gently to the entrance of the cave dwelling.
"All right, you wish us to leave."
The native did not understand, so he again took Walter's arm and pulled him into the depth of the forest.
There, in a small clearing, were the coolies, or as many as were left of them, for some had died in the desert.
The coolies were delighted at seeing Walter, for they had got the idea that they were to be killed and eaten.
Walter talked to them, and learned that the oxen were dead, but that all the stores were safe.
Jack and Pat had followed Walter, and they, too, were glad to see the coolies.
All talked of the strange creatures they had seen, and one coolie said he could understand a few words of the language.
"They are the forest Mois," said the coolie, "and claim to be the purest Mois because they have tails."
Jack leaned toward Walter and whispered:
"The missing link!"
The people were friendly and very hospitable as soon as they realized that Walter and his party meant them no harm.
Their dwellings were thrown open to them, and everyone man, woman and child stood ready to act as servants to the three white men.
Their conduct was entirely different toward the coolies, for they were treated as inferiors.
The houses were all underground, and were fashioned with considerable skill. The clay, which was found a few feet below the surface, made good walls, and was dried and baked in some manner.
In the chief's house, or cave, the walls were embellished with rude drawings, and at about the center two life-size figures were drawn.
The man was represented as having a tail long enough to reach over his shoulder, and the woman was entirely covered with long, shaggy hair, almost like a bear.
The food consisted entirely of nuts and fruits, and the people seemed to have no idea of cooking.
Walter set himself the task of learning the language, and found he had undertaken a most difficult job.
He would hold up his hand and get the native to call it by name, then he would repeat it several times to others, and when he saw that they held out their hands he was satisfied that he was correct.
Every object was treated in the same way, but the work was slow.
Day followed day, and no conversation had taken place.
Pat learned the language in another manner.
He followed one of the girls and heard her chatter, then he repeated what she had said; by this means he could talk better than Walter, though he did not understand as much.
For two months this continued, and Walter began to despair of ever being able to master the complexities of the language, when chance or good luck helped him very materially.
He and Jack had wandered off in pursuit of adventure, leaving Pat and the coolies in charge of the stores.
They had got into the forest so far that they had lost their bearings.
Only by the use of the compass were, they able to say from what direction they had come.
Walter had just suggested returning when Jack called his attention to a number of pegs driven in a tree near to them, at regular distances.
Walter saw several other trees served the same way.
Those pegs formed a new point of departure for their investigation.
They walked on a little farther, and came to a regular grove of monster trees, whose trunks were regularly pegged.
"Jack, look up and tell me what you see."
"It is all dark up there; the branches are close together."
"Yes, but the branches never grew that way."
"What makes you think so?"
"I am sure of it; see, they are interlaced until they form a complete roof -- " "Or, floor."
"Yes, that just what I was about to say. You may depend upon it, there are people up there."
"You are right; I hear chattering."
"Hush, Jack. I thought I heard someone moving."
Walter was right.
A big, powerful fellow was seen descending one of the trees, stepping as easily from peg to peg as anyone would on stairs.
When he had reached the ground he made a dive and started to run, but Walter threw out his leg in front of him, and sent him to earth.
He, too, had a tail, and a larger one than the chief of the tribe Walter had left.
The man got up and laughed.
Walter offered him a few beads, which seemed to please him very highly.
He sat down and played with the glass beads as a child might do.
Walter spoke to him in a dialect he had learned, and which he could speak very fluently.
The man shook his head, but soon a smile spread over his great round face, and he again climbed up the tree.
A few minutes later he descended, followed by another, who began jabbering away before he reached the ground.
To Walter's delight, the man could talk the language in which he had addressed the first native.
Walter assured him that they were friends, and were at peace with all the friends of the Mois.
That satisfied the native, who invited Walter and Jack to his house.
"Where is it?"
The man pointed upward, and, to emphasize his meaning, began to ascend the tree.
"Shall we go, Jack?"
"Can you climb?"
"Like a monkey. Shall I go first?"
"Just as you like."
Jack led the way up the tree, closely followed by Walter. Sixty feet above the ground the branches and leaves had been so interwoven that they made a firm floor, on which Jack saw twenty or more people.
At first he hesitated to leave the trunk of the tree where his feet had a firm footing, but his guide jumped to the floor and danced about in a way calculated to give a sense of security.
Jack and Walter followed, and the man led the way across the green floor to a place where the branches above had been plaited into a roof to shelter the residents from the hot sun, or the rain in the rainy season.
He threw himself down with as much certainty of safety as if he had been in a well-carpeted room.
Walter and Jack followed his example, though somewhat dubiously.
The man asked all about the white people -- whether they had come from the sun or the moon, and why they had entered the forests.
Walter answered as fully as he could, and in turn questioned his host.
He asked about the tail, and tile man answered very proudly:
"It is the proof of the purity of my race. The Mois who marry those of other tribes have no such tails. In each generation, alas, the tail gets shorter, and many are born now with scarcely any.
"There was once a Moi king whose tale measured -- here the man got up and took a long stride -- "that much."
The man commenced to recite something which was evidently poetry, but it was in a language which Walter could not understand.
His sonorous voice, his vigorous gestures, his black, flashing eyes, lifted upward, gave to the scene an extraordinary dramatic effect.
When his recitation was finished he told Walter that it could not be spoken in the language the white men knew, but that it was an account of the battles his ancestors had fought with the gods of the air, and how they had driven the gods out of the forests, and, as a punishment, how the gods had ordered that the Mois should always live in the forests.
"Jack, this is strange. I have seen in the temples of Cambodia bas-reliefs representing what he has described, only I thought it was a battle of monkeys with the gods."
"I remember reading about such battles in the sacred books of India," Jack added, "and here we have a confirmation of the story."
Walter and Jack stayed several days among the strange dwellers in the trees, and found that though there was a certain amount of civilization among the people, it was so crude that it was scarcely possible to think of these men as anything but talking monkeys.
When the Endicotts were ready to leave they tried to persuade one of the men, or, better still, a family, to go with them to America.
The chief was very much inclined to accept the invitation, but could not make up his mind positively.
Walter urged him to go as far as the place where the baggage was left, and to this he assented.
"They are Lois," he said, "or cave-dwellers. We are the true Mois; we dwell in the tree- tops."
"Why do you dwell in the trees?" Walter asked.
The man drew Walter across the floor to a little opening between two trees.
The Moi had heard a sound he knew well, and the object-lesson would be the best answer.
As he pointed through the trees to the ground a little distance away, all saw a sight which Arnold has so well described.
For right before them, looking up at the house she could not reach, stood a large tigress.
Walter understood how poor the weapons of the savages would be against the prowess of a tigress, half- starved as that one was.
He unslung his rifle, and, aiming, fired at the beast.
The tigress gave one leap in the air and fell over dead.
But had it not been for Jack; the shot would have been fatal to Walter, also, for the concussion was so great that he nearly fell through the branches.
Had he done so he must have been dashed to pieces, for the ground was sixty feet below.
The shot was an unfortunate one, as it turned out, for the Moi chieftain, by the time he had told the story to the Lois, had so magnified it that the Lois believed their lives were in danger.
Instead of being friendly to Walter and Jack on their return, they gave them to understand that they must leave, as early as possible.
While not openly enemies, Walter knew enough to see that it would be wiser to leave.
The coolies were anxious to get back to their own land, and Pat was almost delirious with joy at the thought of returning.
"There's but one thing, yer honor, that is afther vexin' me."
"What is that, Pat?"
"Arrah, now, an' can't a smart gentleman like yer honor be afther guessin' that same?"
"No, Pat. I am at a loss to know what, vexes you."
"Then I'll tell ye. Whin we git back I'll have to l'ave yer honor, an', sure, I'd rather l'ave me best gurl than do that same."
"Did I tell you that I should dispense with your services?"
"Then don't let to-morrow make to-day wretched."
When Walter found that he could not get any of the Lois or Mois to accompany him beyond the limits of the forest, he got Jack to take a number of snapshots; so that the Western world might see that in the Far East there lived a race of men having tails. At the last minute the Moi chieftain agreed to, escort the party through the forest to a point where they could avoid the desert and cross the country of Xiang Mai, the capital of the Laos country.
The journey was a long one, for the difficulties attendant on marching through the forest were so great that at times Walter despaired of reaching the Laos town.
Trees had to be cut down, and the work was slow, because all the baggage had to be carried.
After a month of hard traveling the Moi chieftain and his followers left the Endicotts, and bade them all sorts of prosperity.
For two weeks longer they marched without seeing a village.
At times they would encounter a few stragglers, some being perfectly nude and their bodies daubed with all sorts of colored paint.
Mostly the men were fine-looking, stalwart fellows with shaggy hair and uncut beards.
They were afraid of the white men, and ran away with all the speed possible.
The first village reached was more like one in the South Sea, or Fiji Islands.
The houses, consisted merely of a roof supported on four bamboo poles, the front ones being eight feet high, while the back ones were only three feet from the ground.
The roof was made entirely of leaves, or rice- stalks.
The chief -- for each village was a separate tribe -- had walls of matting made of rice stalks plaited together.
He welcomed the visitors, but there was a feeling that he was not honest in his welcome.
After a rest of a few days the party entered the Shan States proper and saw a new kind of people.
Each man and woman was tattooed in various designs, their bodies were almost black with the figures.
There was on each person's chest a distinctive mark, which told the person's class and caste.
At the village .there was great excitement, for one of the men had captured a boy and girl belonging to some more northern country, and they were to be sold to the highest bidder.
One-half the value went to the chief and the other half to the man who had captured them.
Had he been rich enough, the property -- that is; the boy and girl -- would have been appraised, and he would have paid half the value to the chief and retained his captives.
Walter determined to watch the sale, which he knew he could not prevent, and report the proceedings for his paper.
All the people of the village gathered to take part in the sale.
The tom-toms were beaten, and a general shouting and singing was indulged in.
When the captives were brought forth they were clothed after the manner of the better class of Burmese.
They were refined children, and were crying bitterly over their troubles.
No one was allowed to speak to them, or Walter would have tried to find out who they were and how they came to be captured.
The chief acted as auctioneer, and told how grand a bargain could be secured.
One of the points on which he dwelt was the fact that they were not tattooed, so the purchaser could put his own devices on them.
There was a spirited bidding, though the prices were very low.
Jack incautiously said:
"I would give double that."
Amidst the laughter of the coolies, and his brother and Pat, Jack was declared the purchaser of a boy and girl.
He paid the money and led his purchases back to the camp.
"What are you going to do with them, eh, Jack?"
"I don't know."
"Did you intend buying them?"
"Of course not; I never thought the fellow would understand what I said."
"Are you going to have them tattooed?"
"Don't be foolish, Walter."
"I shall tell Beatrice."
"Do so. Perhaps I shall tell her first. But say, Walter, you don't blame me, do you?"
"No Jack. They will be better off with you than with any of the Shans."
"I want to find out where they came from -- "
"Try and restore them."
Walter sent for the children, and Pat had to drag them along, they were so frightened.
"Where are you from?" Jack asked, in Chinese.
They shook their heads. .
He repeated the question in the language of the Mois, then in the dialect of the Burmese, but the children did not understand, or were too frightened to speak.
Pat solved the problem by singing a catchy little song, in which the words "Parlez-vous Français?" were used frequently.
The girl smiled and nodded to Pat, exclaiming with glee:
"Oui, oui, monsieur."
"You are French?" asked Walter, in that language.
Conversation became easy then, and the Endicotts learned that their father was a Frenchman, but their mother was from Burmah. They knew only one language -- that of their father.
They had been lured away from home by some travelers, who deserted them when they found that the children had no money or valuables, and that their parents were poor.
The children were lost, and after wandering about for several days, had at last been captured by a traveling band of marauders, who kept them for some weeks, and then, finding them a burden, had lost them in the forest.
They had been found. by their recent owner, who sold them as we have seen.
"Can't we take them home, Walter?"
"Yes, do; it will not take us long."
"Where did you live when at home?" Walter asked, and the girl, who was the smarter of the two, answered by mentioning a place fully three hundred miles to the north.
The Endicotts studied the map carefully, and after mature reflection, promised to take the children home.
The journey through the forests and mountains to Xiang Mai, the capital of the Lao States, was full of adventure, though nothing added to the variety of the previous part of the trip. At Xiang Mai they found the people more civilized, and saw every proof of greater industry.
Temples abounded, and the people were seated by the score round the temple gates, making all sorts of mats and baskets from rice straw.
From the little town the Endicotts followed the river Salnen north into Burmah.
They reached Amarapoora, the ancient capital of the empire, after a weary march of three weeks.
They were footsore and tired.
Jack declared that if ever he reached New York he would never be tempted to leave it again.
But when Walter engaged elephants for thc entire party, and he was seated instate in the howdah on the back of a huge beast, with a native fanning him all the time, he said he was glad that he was in Burmah.
For seventeen miles the most miserable country was traversed, and Mandalay, the new capital, was reached.
The streets were crowded with gaily dressed women and equally gay-looking men, for it was a feast-day, and to Pat's horror the day was set apart for homage to the white elephant.
Mandalay they found to be the filthiest city they had ever seen. The garbage and refuse are thrown into the streets, to be eaten by the pigs, which run wild.
The city was peculiar in its design, and Jack nearly got into trouble by making a rough sketch of its peculiarities.
In the center of the city is the citadel, surrounded by a high wall, and forming a perfect square, one mile each way.
In the citadel are the royal palaces, the Hall of Justice, and the abode of the sacred white elephant.
Outside the citadel, and surrounding it, is the residences of the officers and the barracks.
Both these enclosures are walled and protected by forts, and outside them is the city of the merchants and others.
The city thus forms three squares, of which two are strongly fortified.
On every hand evidences of the greatest tyranny were visible, and Walter was not inclined to stay within the walls of the sacred city long.
A week later the two children were restored to their parents, who had mourned them as dead.
The father was profuse in his thanks, and when he heard that Jack had been accredited by the French government, he fell on his neck and embraced him.
From Mandalay, to which city the Endicotts returned, the little party crossed into Assam and through India to Calcutta.
Here they rested for a whole month, and received some mail which had been forwarded there on the chance of their going to that city.
Jack declared the mail of no importance, because there was no letter from Beatrice, and he was very low- spirited until Walter told him that he had engaged passages for three on the P. and O. steamer, the Adriatic, which was to sail in a week.
Paris -- the queen of the world -- never looked gayer, nor had the sun ever shone brighter than it did on that beautiful day in May, when all Paris, from the dwellers in the palatial hotels to the humble students of the Latin Quarter, moved along the streets to the Elys‚e.
And the cause of the excitement -- for Paris seemed to have gone mad -- was that the president of the French republic was about to receive, and, in the name of the nation, thank two Americans for the knowledge they had imparted to the world, both as regards ethnology and geography.
The president did but voice the sentiment of the entire people when he said that the explorer was as much worthy of honor as the successful soldier.
And when he contrasted the two and showed how the soldier obeyed orders and went where he was sent, the explorer carved out new lines for himself and went where white man had not been before,
It was a proud day for Walter and Jack Endicott, and many a time Jack wished his Aunt Kezia, over in New York, could read French, for he would have liked her to read all about the reception, as it was written by Frenchmen.
In the evening a grand ball was given at the palace, and Jack, bronzed and matured by his travels, extending over four years, was the admired of all.
The ladies cared not for his poor dancing, for he had been so long out of practise; they only wanted the honor of having for a partner the youngest explorer whose name would live in history.
But Jack was puzzled.
He had seen, far away across the ballroom, a face which reminded him of Beatrice Gregory.
He watched it, and, truth to tell, thought more of that face than he did of his partner's.
At last there came a lull, and Jack stood leaning against a gaily festooned pillar, when a voice sounded in his ear:
"Don't you know me?"
Then there were explanations. She had heard there was to be a reception; she had been in Genoa when she heard, and had traveled fast to get to Paris in time.
She missed the public reception, but was in time for the ball.
Jack had been so engaged that she did not like to press forward.
"I am so proud of you, Jack!" she whispered.
"Yes, so proud. You know, it seems as though you belonged to me -- "
"So I do, forever. Beatrice, will you -- "
"Why, you silly fellow, of course I will, if you wish; but there are many who will wish to dance with you -- "
"I did not mean dance; I meant will you let me live for you, and -- "
"Here comes Amy and your brave brother."
Jack was rather disappointed at the interruption; but when, two weeks later, a merry party stood on the deck of the transatlantic steamer Touraine and waved their adieus to Havre, Jack looked so contented that it was easy to see that Beatrice had promised all he wanted.
There was great rejoicing when New York was sighted and Patrick Mulvany declared that he would settle in the Empire City and be an alderman, or something better.
Jack was glad to get back, and the learned men and societies listened to him as he told them of his travels into the realms of unknown worlds.
Walter did not stay in New York many days, for he was assigned to Venezuela, leaving Jack to enjoy all the honors' of being lionized.
Jack bore his honors meekly, but every word of praise he heard was repeated to Beatrice, who always called him her young explorer of unknown worlds.
The next number (304) will contain, "Held for Ransom;
or, The Young Ranch Owner," by Weldon J. Cobb.
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