Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Books, poems, drama…

Dick Sand by Jules Verne

Part 7 out of 8

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.9 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

"We shall see about that!" howled Negoro. "You count on help of some
kind, perhaps--help at Kazounde, where Alvez and I are all-powerful!
You are a fool! You say to yourself, perhaps, that your companions are
still there, that old Tom and the others. Undeceive yourself. It is a
long time since they were sold and sent to Zanzibar--too fortunate if
they do not die of fatigue on the way!"

"God has a thousand ways of doing justice," replied Dick Sand. "The
smallest instrument is sufficient for him. Hercules is free."

"Hercules!" exclaimed Negoro, striking the ground with his foot; "he
perished long ago under the lions' and panthers' teeth. I regret
only one thing, that is, that those ferocious beasts should have
forestalled my vengeance!"

"If Hercules is dead," replied Dick Sand, "Dingo is alive. A dog like
that, Negoro, is more than enough to take revenge on a man of your
kind. I know you well, Negoro; you are not brave. Dingo will seek for
you; it will know how to find you again. Some day you will die under
his teeth!"

"Miserable boy!" exclaimed the Portuguese, exasperated. "Miserable
boy! Dingo died from a ball that I fired at it. It is dead, like Mrs.
Weldon and her son; dead, as all the survivors of the 'Pilgrim' shall
die!"

"And as you yourself shall die before long," replied Dick Sand, whose
tranquil look made the Portuguese grow pale.

Negoro, beside himself, was on the point of passing from words to
deeds, and strangling his unarmed prisoner with his hands. Already
he had sprung upon him, and was shaking him with fury, when a sudden
reflection stopped him. He remembered that he was going to kill his
victim, that all would be over, and that this would spare him the
twenty-four hours of torture he intended for him. He then stood up,
said a few words to the overseer, standing impassive, commanded him to
watch closely over the prisoner, and went out of the barrack.

Instead of casting him down, this scene had restored all Dick Sand's
moral force. His physical energy underwent a happy reaction, and at
the same time regained the mastery. In bending over him in his rage,
had Negoro slightly loosened the bands that till then had rendered all
movement impossible? It was probable, for Dick Sand thought that his
members had more play than before the arrival of his executioner. The
young novice, feeling solaced, said to himself that perhaps it would
be possible to get his arms free without too much effort. Guarded
as he was, in a prison firmly shut, that would doubtless be only a
torture--only a suffering less; but it was such a moment in life when
the smallest good is invaluable.

Certainly, Dick Sand hoped for nothing. No human succor could come to
him except from outside, and whence could it come to him? He was then
resigned. To tell the truth, he no longer cared to live. He thought of
all those who had met death before him, and he only aspired to join
them. Negoro had just repeated what Harris had told him: "Mrs. Weldon
and little Jack had succumbed." It was, indeed, only too probable that
Hercules, exposed to so many dangers, must have perished also, and
from a cruel death. Tom and his companions were at a distance, forever
lost to him--Dick Sand ought to believe it. To hope for anything but
the end of his troubles, by a death that could not be more terrible
than his life, would be signal folly. He then prepared to die, above
all throwing himself upon God, and asking courage from Him to go on
to the end without giving way. But thoughts of God are good and noble
thoughts! It is not in vain that one lifts his soul to Him who can do
all, and, when Dick Sand had offered his whole sacrifice, he found
that, if one could penetrate to the bottom of his heart, he might
perhaps discover there a last ray of hope--that glimmer which a breath
from on high can change, in spite of all probabilities, into dazzling
light.

The hours passed away. Night came. The rays of light, that penetrated
through the thatch of the barrack, gradually disappeared. The last
noises of the "tchitoka," which, during that day had been very silent,
after the frightful uproar of the night before--those last noises
died out. Darkness became very profound in the interior of the narrow
prison. Soon all reposed in the city of Kazounde.

Dick Sand fell into a restoring sleep, that lasted two hours. After
that he awoke, still stronger. He succeeded in freeing one of his
arms from their bands--it was already a little reduced--and it was a
delight for him to be able to extend it and draw it back at will.

The night must be half over. The overseer slept with heavy sleep, due
to a bottle of brandy, the neck of which was still held in his shut
hand. The savage had emptied it to the last drop. Dick Sand's first
idea was to take possession of his jailer's weapons, which might be of
great use to him in case of escape; but at that moment he thought
he heard a slight scratching at the lower part of the door of the
barrack. Helping himself with his arms, he succeeded in crawling as
far as the door-sill without wakening the overseer.

Dick Sand was not mistaken. The scratching continued, and in a more
distinct manner. It seemed that from the outside some one was digging
the earth under the door. Was it an animal? Was it a man?

"Hercules! If it were Hercules!" the young novice said to himself.

His eyes were fixed on his guard; he was motionless, and under the
influence of a leaden sleep. Dick Sand, bringing his lips to the
door-sill, thought he might risk murmuring Hercules's name. A moan,
like a low and plaintive bark, replied to him.

"It is not Hercules," said Dick to himself, "but it is Dingo. He has
scented me as far as this barrack. Should he bring me another word
from Hercules? But if Dingo is not dead, Negoro has lied, and
perhaps--"

At that moment a paw passed under the door. Dick Sand seized it, and
recognized Dingo's paw. But, if it had a letter, that letter could
only be attached to its neck. What to do? Was it possible to make that
hole large enough for Dingo to put in its head? At all events, he must
try it.

But hardly had Dick Sand begun to dig the soil with his nails, than
barks that were not Dingo's sounded over the place. The faithful
animal had just been scented by the native dogs, and doubtless could
do nothing more than take to flight. Some detonations burst forth. The
overseer half awoke. Dick Sand, no longer able to think of escaping,
because the alarm was given, must then roll himself up again in his
corner, and, after a lovely hope, he saw appear that day which would
be without a to-morrow for him.

During all that day the grave-diggers' labors were pushed on with
briskness. A large number of natives took part, under the direction
of Queen Moini's first minister. All must be ready at the hour named,
under penalty of mutilation, for the new sovereign promised to follow
the defunct king's ways, point by point.

The waters of the brook having been turned aside, it was in the dry
bed that the vast ditch was dug, to a depth of ten feet, over an
extent of fifty feet long by ten wide.

Toward the end of the day they began to carpet it, at the bottom and
along the walls, with living women, chosen among Moini Loungga's
slaves. Generally those unfortunates are buried alive. But, on account
of this strange and perhaps miraculous death of Moini Loungga, it
had been decided that they should be drowned near the body of their
master.

One cannot imagine what those horrible hecatombs are, when a powerful
chief's memory must be fitly honored among these tribes of Central
Africa. Cameron says that more than a hundred victims were thus
sacrificed at the funeral ceremonies of the King of Kassongo's father.

It is also the custom for the defunct king to be dressed in his most
costly clothes before being laid in his tomb. But this time, as there
was nothing left of the royal person except a few burnt bones, it was
necessary to proceed in another manner. A willow manikin was made,
representing Moini Loungga sufficiently well, perhaps advantageously,
and in it they shut up the remains the combustion had spared. The
manikin was then clothed with the royal vestments--we know that those
clothes are not worth much--and they did not forget to ornament it
with Cousin Benedict's famous spectacles. There was something terribly
comic in this masquerade.

The ceremony would take place with torches and with great pomp. The
whole population of Kazounde, native or not, must assist at it.

When the evening had come, a long cortege descended the principal
street, from the _tchitoka_ as far as the burial place. Cries,
funeral dances, magicians' incantations, noises from instruments and
detonations from old muskets from the arsenals--nothing was lacking in
it.

Jose-Antonio Alvez, Coimbra, Negoro, the Arab traders and their
overseers had increased the ranks of Kazounde's people. No one had yet
left the great _lakoni_. Queen Moini would not permit it, and it would
not be prudent to disobey the orders of one who was trying the trade
of sovereign.

The body of the king, laid in a palanquin, was carried in the last
ranks of the cortege. It was surrounded by his wives of the second
order, some of whom were going to accompany him beyond this life.
Queen Moini, in great state, marched behind what might be called the
catafalque. It was positively night when all the people arrived on
the banks of the brook; but the resin torches, shaken by the porters,
threw great bursts of light over the crowd.

The ditch was seen distinctly. It was carpeted with black, living
bodies, for they moved under the chains that bound them to the ground.
Fifty slaves were waiting there till the torrent should close over
them. The majority were young natives, some resigned and mute, others
giving a few groans. The wives all dressed as for a _fete_, and who
must perish, had been chosen by the queen.

One of these victims, she who bore the title of second wife, was bent
on her hands and knees, to serve as a royal footstool, as she had done
in the king's lifetime. The third wife came to hold up the manikin,
while the fourth lay at its feet, in the guise of a cushion.

Before the manikin, at the end of the ditch, a post, painted red, rose
from the earth. To this post was fastened a white man, who was going
to be counted also among the victims of these bloody obsequies.

That white man was Dick Sand. His body, half naked, bore the marks of
the tortures he had already suffered by Negoro's orders. Tied to this
post, he waited for death like a man who has no hope except in another
life.

However, the moment had not yet arrived when the barricade would be
broken.

On a signal from the queen, the fourth wife, she who was placed at the
king's feet, was beheaded by Kazounde's executioner, and her blood
flowed into the ditch. It was the beginning of a frightful scene of
butchery. Fifty slaves fell under the executioner's knife. The bed of
the river ran waves of blood.

During half an hour the victims' cries mingled with the assistants'
vociferations, and one would seek in vain in that crowd for a
sentiment of repugnance or of pity.

At last Queen Moini made a gesture, and the barricade that held back
the upper waters gradually opened. By a refinement of cruelty, the
current was allowed to filter down the river, instead of being
precipitated by an instantaneous bursting open of the dam. Slow death
instead of quick death!

The water first drowned the carpet of slaves which covered the bottom
of the ditch. Horrible leaps were made by those living creatures,
who struggled against asphyxia. They saw Dick Sand, submerged to the
knees, make a last effort to break his bonds. But the water mounted.
The last heads disappeared under the torrent, that took its course
again, and nothing indicated that at the bottom of this river was
dug a tomb, where one hundred victims had just perished in honor of
Kazounde's king.

The pen would refuse to paint such pictures, if regard for the truth
did not impose the duty of describing them in their abominable
reality. Man is still there, in those sad countries. To be ignorant of
it is not allowable.

* * * * *

CHAPTER XIII.

THE INTERIOR OF A FACTORY.

Harris and Negoro had told a lie in saying that Mrs. Weldon and
little Jack were dead. She, her son, and Cousin Benedict were then in
Kazounde.

After the assault on the ant-hill, they had been taken away beyond the
camp on the Coanza by Harris and Negoro, accompanied by a dozen native
soldiers.

A palanquin, the "kitanda" of the country, received Mrs. Weldon and
little Jack. Why such care on the part of such a man as Negoro? Mrs.
Weldon was afraid to explain it to herself.

The journey from the Counza to Kazounde was made rapidly and without
fatigue. Cousin Benedict, on whom trouble seemed to have no effect,
walked with a firm step. As he was allowed to search to the right and
to the left, he did not think of complaining. The little troop, then,
arrived at Kazounde eight days before Ibn Hamis's caravan. Mrs.
Weldon was shut up, with her child and Cousin Benedict, in Alvez's
establishment.

Little Jack was much better. On leaving the marshy country, where he
had taken the fever, he gradually became better, and now he was
doing well. No doubt neither he nor his mother could have borne the
hardships of the caravan; but owing to the manner in which they had
made this journey, during which they had been given a certain amount
of care, they were in a satisfactory condition, physically at least.

As to her companions, Mrs. Weldon had heard nothing of them. After
having seen Hercules flee into the forest, she did not know what had
become of him. As to Dick Sand, as Harris and Negoro were no longer
there to torture him, she hoped that his being a white man would
perhaps spare him some bad treatment. As to Nan, Tom, Bat, Austin, and
Acteon, they were blacks, and it was too certain that they would be
treated as such. Poor people! who should never have trodden that land
of Africa, and whom treachery had just cast there.

When Ibn Hamis's caravan had arrived at Kazounde, Mrs. Weldon, having
no communication with the outer world, could not know of the fact:
neither did the noises from the _lakoni_ tell her anything. She did
not know that Tom and his friends had been sold to a trader from
Oujiji, and that they would soon set out. She neither knew of Harris's
punishment, nor of King Moini Loungga's death, nor of the royal
funeral ceremonies, that had added Dick Sand to so many other victims.
So the unfortunate woman found herself alone at Kazounde, at the
trader's mercy, in Negoro's power, and she could not even think of
dying in order to escape him, because her child was with her.

Mrs. Weldon was absolutely ignorant of the fate that awaited her.
Harris and Negoro had not addressed a word to her during the whole
journey from the Coanza to Kazounde. Since her arrival, she had not
seen either of them again, and she could not leave the enclosure
around the rich trader's private establishment. Is it necessary to
say now that Mrs. Weldon had found no help in her large child, Cousin
Benedict? That is understood.

When the worthy savant learned that he was not on the American
continent, as he believed, he was not at all anxious to know how that
could have happened. No! His first movement was a gesture of anger.
The insects that he imagined he had been the first to discover in
America, those _tsetses_ and others, were only mere African hexapodes,
found by many naturalists before him, in their native places.
Farewell, then, to the glory of attaching his name to those
discoveries! In fact, as he was in Africa, what could there be
astonishing in the circumstance that Cousin Benedict had collected
African insects.

But the first anger over, Cousin Benedict said to himself that the
"Land of the Pharaohs"--so he still called it--possessed incomparable
entomological riches, and that so far as not being in the "Land of the
Incas" was concerned, he would not lose by the change.

"Ah!" he repeated, to himself, and even repeated to Mrs. Weldon, who
hardly listened to him, "this is the country of the _manticores_,
those coleopteres with long hairy feet, with welded and sharp
wing-shells, with enormous mandibles, of which the most remarkable is
the tuberculous _manticore_. It is the country of the _calosomes_ with
golden ends; of the Goliaths of Guinea and of the Gabon, whose feet
are furnished with thorns; of the sacred Egyptian _ateuchus_, that
the Egyptians of Upper Egypt venerated as gods. It is here that those
sphinxes with heads of death, now spread over all Europe, belong, and
also those 'Idias Bigote,' whose sting is particularly dreaded by the
Senegalians of the coast. Yes; there are superb things to be found
here, and I shall find them, if these honest people will only let me."

We know who those "honest people" were, of whom Cousin Benedict
did not dream of complaining. Besides, it has been stated, the
entomologist had enjoyed a half liberty in Negoro's and Harris's
company, a liberty of which Dick Sand had absolutely deprived him
during the voyage from the coast to the Coanza. The simple-hearted
savant had been very much touched by that condescension.

Finally, Cousin Benedict would be the happiest of entomologists if he
had not suffered a loss to which he was extremely sensitive. He still
possessed his tin box, but his glasses no longer rested on his nose,
his magnifying glass no longer hung from his neck! Now, a naturalist
without his magnifying glass and his spectacles, no longer exists.
Cousin Benedict, however, was destined never to see those two optical
attendants again, because they had been buried with the royal manikin.
So, when he found some insect, he was reduced to thrusting it into his
eyes to distinguish its most prominent peculiarities. Ah! it was a
great loss to Cousin Benedict, and he would have paid a high price
for a pair of spectacles, but that article was not current on the
_lakonis_ of Kazounde. At all events, Cousin Benedict could go and
come in Jose-Antonio Alvez's establishment. They knew he was incapable
of seeking to flee. Besides, a high palisade separated the factory
from the other quarters of the city, and it would not be easy to get
over it.

But, if it was well enclosed, this enclosure did not measure less than
a mile in circumference. Trees, bushes of a kind peculiar to Africa,
great herbs, a few rivulets, the thatch of the barracks and the huts,
were more than necessary to conceal the continent's rarest insects,
and to make Cousin Benedict's happiness, at least, if not his fortune.
In fact, he discovered some hexapodes, and nearly lost his eyesight in
trying to study them without spectacles. But, at least, he added to
his precious collection, and laid the foundation of a great work on
African entomology. If his lucky star would let him discover a new
insect, to which he would attach his name, he would have nothing more
to desire in this world!

If Alvez's establishment was sufficiently large for Cousin Benedict's
scientific promenades, it seemed immense to little Jack, who could
walk about there without restraint. But the child took little interest
in the pleasures so natural to his age. He rarely quitted his
mother, who did not like to leave him alone, and always dreaded some
misfortune.

Little Jack often spoke of his father, whom he had not seen for so
long. He asked to be taken back to him. He inquired after all, for old
Nan, for his friend Hercules, for Bat, for Austin, for Acteon, and for
Dingo, that appeared, indeed, to have deserted him. He wished to see
his comrade, Dick Sand, again. His young imagination was very much
affected, and only lived in those remembrances. To his questions Mrs.
Weldon could only reply by pressing him to her heart, while covering
him with kisses. All that she could do was not to cry before him.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Weldon had not failed to observe that, if bad
treatment had been spared her during the journey from the Coanza,
nothing in Alvez's establishment indicated that there would be any
change of conduct in regard to her. There were in the factory only
the slaves in the trader's service. All the others, which formed
the object of his trade, had been penned up in the barracks of the
_tchitoka_, then sold to the brokers from the interior.

Now, the storehouses of the establishment were overflowing with stuffs
and ivory. The stuffs were intended to be exchanged in the provinces
of the center, the ivory to be exported from the principal markets of
the continent.

In fact, then, there were few people in the factory. Mrs. Weldon and
Jack occupied a hut apart; Cousin Benedict another. They did not
communicate with the trader's servants. They ate together. The food,
consisting of goat's flesh or mutton, vegetables, tapioca, _sorgho_,
and the fruits of the country, was sufficient.

Halima, a young slave, was especially devoted to Mrs. Weldon's
service. In her way, and as she could, she even evinced for her a kind
of savage, but certainty sincere, affection.

Mrs. Weldon hardly saw Jose-Antonio Alvez, who occupied the principal
house of the factory. She did not see Negoro at all, as he lodged
outside; but his absence was quite inexplicable. This absence
continued to astonish her, and make her feel anxious at the same time.

"What does he want? What is he waiting for?" she asked herself. "Why
has he brought us to Kazounde?"

So had passed the eight days that preceded and followed the arrival
of Ibn Hamis's caravan--that is, the two days before the funeral
ceremonies, and the six days that followed.

In the midst of so many anxieties, Mrs. Weldon could not forget that
her husband must be a prey to the most frightful despair, on not
seeing either his wife or his son return to San Francisco. Mr. Weldon
could not know that his wife had adopted that fatal idea of taking
passage on board the "Pilgrim," and he would believe that she had
embarked on one of the steamers of the Trans-Pacific Company. Now,
these steamers arrived regularly, and neither Mrs. Weldon, nor Jack,
nor Cousin Benedict were on them. Besides, the "Pilgrim" itself was
already overdue at Sun Francisco. As she did not reappear, James W.
Weldon must now rank her in the category of ships supposed to be lost,
because not heard of.

What a terrible blow for him, when news of the departure of the
"Pilgrim" and the embarkation of Mrs. Weldon should reach him from
his correspondents in Auckland! What had he done? Had he refused to
believe that his son and she had perished at sea? But then, where
would he search? Evidently on the isles of the Pacific, perhaps on the
American coast. But never, no never, would the thought occur to him
that she had been thrown on the coast of this fatal Africa!

So thought Mrs. Weldon. But what could she attempt? Flee! How? She
was closely watched. And then to flee was to venture into those thick
forests, in the midst of a thousand dangers, to attempt a journey of
more than two hundred miles to reach the coast. And meanwhile Mrs.
Weldon was decided to do it, if no other means offered themselves for
her to recover her liberty. But, first, she wished to know exactly
what Negoro's designs were.

At last she knew them.

On the 6th of June, three days after the burial of Kazounde's king,
Negoro entered the factory, where he had not yet set foot since his
return. He went right to the hut occupied by his prisoner.

Mrs. Weldon was alone. Cousin Benedict was taking one of his
scientific walks. Little Jack, watched by the slave Halima, was
walking in the enclosure of the establishment.

Negoro pushed open the door of the hut without knocking.

"Mrs. Weldon," said he, "Tom and his companions have been sold for the
markets of Oujiji!"

"May God protect them!" said Mrs. "Weldon, shedding tears.

"Nan died on the way, Dick Sand has perished----"

"Nan dead! and Dick!" cried Mrs. Weldon.

"Yes, it is just for your captain of fifteen to pay for Harris's
murder with his life," continued Negoro. "You are alone in Kazounde,
mistress; alone, in the power of the 'Pilgrim's' old cook--absolutely
alone, do you understand?"

What Negoro said was only too true, even concerning Tom and his
friends. The old black man, his son Bat, Acteon and Austin had
departed the day before with the trader of Oujiji's caravan, without
the consolation of seeing Mrs. Weldon again, without even knowing that
their companion in misery was in Kazounde, in Alvez's establishment.
They had departed for the lake country, a journey figured by hundreds
of miles, that very few accomplish, and from which very few return.

"Well?" murmured Mrs. Weldon, looking at Negoro without answering.

"Mrs. Weldon," returned the Portuguese, in an abrupt voice, "I could
revenge myself on you for the bad treatment I suffered on board the
'Pilgrim.' But Dick Sand's death will satisfy my vengeance. Now,
mistress, I become the merchant again, and behold my projects with
regard to you."

Mrs. Weldon looked at him without saying a word.

"You," continued the Portuguese, "your child, and that imbecile who
runs after the flies, you have a commercial value which I intend to
utilize. So I am going to sell you."

"I am of a free race," replied Mrs. Weldon, in a firm tone.

"You are a slave, if I wish it."

"And who would buy a white woman?"

"A man who will pay for her whatever I shall ask him."

Mrs. Weldon bent her head for a moment, for she knew that anything was
possible in that frightful country.

"You have heard?" continued Negoro.

"Who is this man to whom you will pretend to sell me?" replied Mrs.
Weldon.

"To sell you or to re-sell you. At least, I suppose so!" added the
Portuguese, sneering.

"The name of this man?" asked Mrs. Weldon.

"This man--he is James W. Weldon, your husband."

"My husband!" exclaimed Mrs. Weldon, who could not believe what she
had just heard.

"Himself, Mrs. Weldon--your husband, to whom I do not wish simply to
restore his wife, his child, and his cousin, but to sell them, and, at
a high price."

Mrs. Weldon asked herself if Negoro was not setting a trap for her.
However, she believed he was speaking seriously. To a wretch to whom
money is everything, it seems that we can trust, when business is in
question. Now, this was business.

"And when do you propose to make this business operation?" returned
Mrs. Weldon.

"As soon as possible."

"Where?"

"Just here. Certainly James Weldon will not hesitate to come as far as
Kazounde for his wife and son."

"No, he will not hesitate. But who will tell him?"

"I! I shall go to San Francisco to find James Weldon. I have money
enough for this voyage."

"The money stolen from on board the 'Pilgrim?'"

"Yes, that, and more besides," replied Negoro, insolently. "But, if
I wish to sell you soon, I also wish to sell you at a high price.
I think that James Weldon will not regard a hundred thousand
dollars----"

"He will not regard them, if he can give them," replied Mrs. Weldon,
coldly. "Only my husband, to whom you will say, doubtless, that I am
held a prisoner at Kazounde, in Central Africa----"

"Precisely!"

"My husband will not believe you without proofs, and he will not be so
imprudent as to come to Kazounde on your word alone."

"He will come here," returned Negoro, "if I bring him a letter written
by you, which will tell him your situation, which will describe me as
a faithful servant, escaped from the hands of these savages."

"My hand shall never write that letter!" Mrs. Weldon replied, in a
still colder manner.

"You refuse?" exclaimed Negoro.

"I refuse!"

The thought of the dangers her husband would pass through in coming
as far as Kazounde, the little dependence that could be placed on the
Portuguese's promises, the facility with which the latter could retain
James Weldon, after taking the ransom agreed upon, all these reasons
taken together made Mrs. Weldon refuse Negoro's proposition flatly and
at once. Mrs. Weldon spoke, thinking only of herself, forgetting her
child for the moment.

"You shall write that letter!" continued the Portuguese.

"No!" replied Mrs. Weldon again.

"Ah, take care!" exclaimed Negoro. "You are not alone here! Your child
is, like you, in my power, and I well know how----"

Mrs. Weldon wished to reply that that would be impossible. Her heart
was beating as if it would break; she was voiceless.

"Mrs. Weldon," said Negoro, "you will reflect on the offer I have made
you. In eight days you will have handed me a letter to James Weldon's
address, or you will repent of it."

That said, the Portuguese retired, without giving vent to his anger;
but it was easy to see that nothing would stop him from constraining
Mrs. Weldon to obey him.

CHAPTER XIV.

SOME NEWS OF DR. LIVINGSTONE.

Left alone, Mrs. Weldon at first only fixed her mind on this thought,
that eight days would pass before Negoro would return for a definite
answer. There was time to reflect and decide on a course of action.
There could be no question of the Portuguese's probity except in his
own interest. The "market value" that he attributed to his prisoner
would evidently be a safeguard for her, and protect her for the time,
at least, against any temptation that might put her in danger. Perhaps
she would think of a compromise that would restore her to her husband
without obliging Mr. Weldon to come to Kazounde. On receipt of a
letter from his wife, she well knew that James Weldon would set out.
He would brave the perils of this journey into the most dangerous
countries of Africa. But, once at Kazounde, when Negoro should have
that fortune of a hundred thousand dollars in his hands, what guaranty
would James W. Weldon, his wife, his son and Cousin Benedict have,
that they would be allowed to depart? Could not Queen Moini's caprice
prevent them? Would not this "sale" of Mrs. Weldon and hers be better
accomplished if it took place at the coast, at some point agreed upon,
which would spare Mr. Weldon both the dangers of the journey to the
interior, and the difficulties, not to say the impossibilities, of a
return?

So reflected Mrs. Weldon. That was why she had refused at once to
accede to Negoro's proposition and give him a letter for her husband.
She also thought that, if Negoro had put off his second visit for
eight days, it was because he needed that time to prepare for his
journey. If not, he would return sooner to force her consent.

"Would he really separate me from my child?" murmured she.

At that moment Jack entered the hut, and, by an instinctive movement,
his mother seized him, as if Negoro were there, ready to snatch him
from her.

"You are in great grief, mother?" asked the little boy.

"No, dear Jack," replied Mrs. Weldon; "I was thinking of your papa!
You would be very glad to see him again?"

"Oh! yes, mother! Is he going to come?"

"No! no! He must not come!"

"Then we will go to see him again?"

"Yes, darling Jack!"

"With my friend Dick--and Hercules--and old Tom?"

"Yes! yes!" replied Mrs. Weldon, putting her head down to hide her
tears.

"Has papa written to you?" asked little Jack.

"No, my love."

"Then you are going to write to him, mother?"

"Yes--yes--perhaps!" replied Mrs. Weldon.

And without knowing it, little Jack entered directly into his mother's
thoughts. To avoid answering him further, she covered him with kisses.

It must be stated that another motive of some value was joined to
the different reasons that had urged Mrs. Weldon to resist Negoro's
injunctions. Perhaps Mrs. Weldon had a very unexpected chance of being
restored to liberty without her husband's intervention, and even
against Negoro's will. It was only a faint ray of hope, very vague as
yet, but it was one.

In fact, a few words of conversation, overheard by her several days
before, made her foresee a possible succor near at hand--one might say
a providential succor.

Alvez and a mongrel from Oujiji were talking a few steps from the hut
occupied by Mrs. Weldon. It is not astonishing that the slave-trade
was the subject of conversation between those worthy merchants.
The two _brokers_ in human flesh were talking business. They were
discussing the future of their commerce, and were worried about
the efforts the English were making to destroy it--not only on the
exterior, by cruisers, but in the interior, by their missionaries and
their travelers.

Jose-Antonio Alvez found that the explorations of these hardy pioneers
could only injure commercial operations. His interlocutor shared his
views, and thought that all these visitors, civil or religious, should
be received with gun-shots.

This had been done to some extent. But, to the great displeasure of
the traders, if they killed some of these curious ones, others escaped
them. Now, these latter, on returning to their country, recounted
"with exaggerations," Alvez said, the horrors of the slave-trade, and
that injured this commerce immensely--it being too much diminished
already.

The mongrel agreed to that, and deplored it; above all, concerning the
markets of N'yangwe, of Oujiji, of Zanzibar, and of all the great
lake regions. There had come successively Speke, Grant, Livingstone,
Stanley, and others. It was an invasion! Soon all England and all
America would occupy the country!

Alvez sincerely pitied his comrade, and he declared that the provinces
of Western Africa had been, till that time, less badly treated--that
is to say, less visited; but the epidemic of travelers was beginning
to spread. If Kazounde had been spared, it was not so with Cassange,
and with Bihe, where Alvez owned factories. It may be remembered,
also, that Harris had spoken to Negoro of a certain Lieutenant
Cameron, who might, indeed, have the presumption to cross Africa from
one side to the other, and after entering it by Zanzibar, leave it by
Angola.

In fact, the trader had reason to fear, and we know that, some years
after, Cameron to the south and Stanley to the north, were going
to explore these little-known provinces of the west, describe the
permanent monstrosities of the trade, unveil the guilty complicities
of foreign agents, and make the responsibility fall on the right
parties.

Neither Alvez nor the mongrel could know anything yet of this
exploration of Cameron's and of Stanley's; but what they did know,
what they said, what Mrs. Weldon heard, and what was of such great
interest to her--in a word, what had sustained her in her refusal to
subscribe at once to Negoro's demands, was this:

Before long, very probably, Dr. David Livingstone would arrive at
Kazounde.

Now, the arrival of Livingstone with his escort, the influence which
the great traveler enjoyed in Africa, the concourse of Portuguese
authorities from Angola that could not fail to meet him, all that
might bring about the deliverance of Mrs. Weldon and hers, in spite of
Negoro, in spite of Alvez. It was perhaps their restoration to their
country within a short time, and without James W. Weldon risking his
life in a journey, the result of which could only be deplorable.

But was there any probability that Dr. Livingstone would soon visit
that part of the continent? Yes, for in following that missionary
tour, he was going to complete the exploration of Central Africa.

We know the heroic life of this son of the tea merchant, who lived
in Blantyre, a village in the county of Lanark. Born on the 13th of
March, 1813, David Livingstone, the second of six children, became,
by force of study, both a theologian and doctor. After making his
novitiate in the "London Missionary Society," he embarked for the
Cape in 1840, with the intention of joining the missionary Moffat in
Southern Africa.

From the Cape, the future traveler repaired to the country of the
Bechnanas, which he explored for the first time, returned to Kuruman
and married Moffat's daughter, that brave companion who would be
worthy of him. In 1843 he founded a mission in the valley of the
Mabotsa.

Four years later, we find him established at Kolobeng, two hundred
and twenty-five miles to the north of Kuruman, in the country of the
Bechnanas.

Two years after, in 1849, Livingstone left Kolobeng with his wife, his
three children and two friends, Messrs. Oswell and Murray. August 1st,
of the same year, he discovered Lake N'gami, and returned to Kolobeng,
by descending the Zouga.

In this journey Livingstone, stopped by the bad will of the natives,
had not passed beyond the N'gami. A second attempt was not more
fortunate. A third must succeed. Then, taking a northern route, again
with his family and Mr. Oswell, after frightful sufferings (for lack
of food, for lack of water) that almost cost him the lives of his
children, he reached the country of the Makalolos beside the Chobe, a
branch of the Zambezi. The chief, Sebituane, joined him at Linyanti.
At the end of June, 1851, the Zambezi was discovered, and the doctor
returned to the Cape to bring his family to England.

In fact, the intrepid Livingstone wished to be alone while risking his
life in the daring journey he was going to undertake.

On leaving the Cape this time, the question was to cross Africa
obliquely from the south to the west, so as to reach Saint Paul de
Loanda.

On the third of June, 1852, the doctor set out with a few natives.
He arrived at Kuruman and skirted the Desert of Kalahari. The 31st
December he entered Litoubarouba and found the country of the
Bechnanas ravaged by the Boers, old Dutch colonists, who were masters
of the Cape before the English took possession of it.

Livingstone left Litoubarouba on the 15th of January, 1853, penetrated
to the center of the country of the Bamangouatos, and, on May 23d,
he arrived at Linyanti, where the young sovereign of the Makalolos,
Sckeletou, received him with great honor.

There, the doctor held back by the intense fevers, devoted himself to
studying the manners of the country, and, for the first time, he could
ascertain the ravages made by the slave-trade in Africa.

One month after he descended the Chobe, reached the Zambezi, entered
Naniele, visited Katonga and Libonta, arrived at the confluence of
the Zambezi and the Leeba, formed the project of ascending by that
watercourse as far as the Portuguese possessions of the west, and,
after nine weeks' absence, returned to Linyanti to make preparations.

On the 11th of November, 1853, the doctor, accompanied by twenty-seven
Makalolos, left Linyanti, and on the 27th of December he reached
the mouth of the Leeba. This watercourse was ascended as far as the
territory of the Balondas, there where it receives the Makonda, which
comes from the east. It was the first time that a white man penetrated
into this region.

January 14th, Livingstone entered Shinte's residence. He was the
most powerful sovereign of the Balondas. He gave Livingstone a good
reception, and, the 26th of the same month, after crossing the Leeba,
he arrived at King Katema's. There, again, a good reception, and
thence the departure of the little troop that on the 20th of February
encamped on the borders of Lake Dilolo.

On setting out from this point, a difficult country, exigencies of the
natives, attacks from the tribes, revolt of his companions, threats of
death, everything conspired against Livingstone, and a less energetic
man would have abandoned the party. The doctor persevered, and on the
4th of April, he reached the banks of the Coango, a large watercourse
which forms the eastern boundary of the Portuguese possessions, and
flows northward into the Zaire.

Six days after, Livingstone entered Cassange, where the trader Alvez
had seen him passing through, and on the 31st of May he arrived at
Saint Paul de Loanda. For the first time, and after a journey of two
years, Africa had just been crossed obliquely from the south to the
west.

David Livingstone left Loanda, September 24th of the same year. He
skirted the right bank of that Coanza that had been so fatal to Dick
Sand and his party, arrived at the confluence of the Lombe, crossing
numerous caravans of slaves, passed by Cassange again, left it on
the 20th of February, crossed the Coango, and reached the Zambezi at
Kawawa. On the 8th of June he discovered Lake Dilolo again, saw Shinte
again, descended the Zambezi, and reentered Linyanti, which he left on
the 3d of November, 1855.

This second part of the journey, which would lead the doctor toward
the eastern coast, would enable him to finish completely this crossing
of Africa from the west to the east.

After having visited the famous Victoria Falls, the "thundering
foam," David Livingstone abandoned the Zambezi to take a northeastern
direction. The passage across the territory of the Batokas (natives
who were besotted by the inhalation of hemp), the visit to Semalembone
(the powerful chief of the region), the crossing of the Kafone, the
finding of the Zambezi again, the visit to King Mbourouma, the sight
of the ruins of Zambo (an ancient Portuguese city), the encounter with
the Chief Mpende on the 17th of January, 1856 (then at war with the
Portuguese), the final arrival at Tete, on the border of the Zambezi,
on the 2d of March--such were the principal halting-places of this
tour.

The 22d of April Livingstone left that station, formerly a rich one,
descended as far as the delta of the river, and arrived at Quilimane,
at its mouth, on the 20th of May, four years after leaving the Cape.
On the 12th of July he embarked for Maurice, and on the 22d of
December he was returning to England, after sixteen years' absence.

The prize of the Geographical Society of Paris, the grand medal of
the London Geographical Society, and brilliant receptions greeted the
illustrious traveler. Another would, perhaps, have thought that repose
was well earned. The doctor did not think so, and departed on the
1st of March, 1858, accompanied by his brother Charles, Captain
Bedinfield, the Drs. Kirk and Meller, and by Messrs. Thornton and
Baines. He arrived in May on the coast of Mozambique, having for an
object the exploration of the basin of the Zambezi.

All would not return from this voyage. A little steamer, the "My
Robert," enabled the explorers to ascend the great river by
the Rongone. They arrived at Tete, September the 8th; thence
reconnoissance of the lower course of the Zambezi and of the Chire,
its left branch, in January, 1859; visit to Lake Chirona in April;
exploration of the Manganjas' territory; discovery of Lake Nyassa
on September 10th; return to the Victoria Falls, August 9th, 1860;
arrival of Bishop Mackensie and his missionaries at the mouth of the
Zambezi, January 31st, 1861; the exploration of the Rovouma, on the
"Pioneer," in March; the return to Lake Nyassa in September, 1861, and
residence there till the end of October; January 30th, 1862, arrival
of Mrs. Livingstone and a second steamer, the "Lady Nyassa:" such were
the events that marked the first years of this new expedition. At
this time, Bishop Mackensie and one of his missionaries had already
succumbed to the unhealthfulness of the climate, and on the 27th of
April, Mrs. Livingstone died in her husband's arms.

In May, the doctor attempted a second reconnoissance of the Rovouma;
then, at the end of November, he entered the Zambezi again, and sailed
up the Chire again. In April, 1863, he lost his companion, Thornton,
sent back to Europe his brother Charles and Dr. Kirk, who were both
exhausted by sickness, and November 10th, for the third time, he saw
Nyassa, of which he completed the hydrography. Three months after he
was again at the mouth of the Zambezi, passed to Zanzibar, and July
20th, 1864, after five years' absence, he arrived in London, where
he published his work entitled: "Exploration of the Zambezi and its
Branches."

January 28th, 1866, Livingstone landed again at Zanzibar. He was
beginning his fourth voyage.

August 8th, after having witnessed the horrible scenes provoked by the
slave-trade in that country, the doctor, taking this time only a few
_cipayes_ and a few negroes, found himself again at Mokalaose, on the
banks of the Nyassa. Six weeks later, the majority of the men forming
the escort took flight, returned to Zanzibar, and there falsely spread
the report of Livingstone's death.

He, however, did not draw back. He wished to visit the country
comprised between the Nyassa and Lake Tanganyika. December 10th,
guided by some natives, he traversed the Loangona River, and April 2d,
1867, he discovered Lake Liemmba. There he remained a month between
life and death. Hardly well again August 30th he reached Lake Moero,
of which he visited the northern shore, and November 21st he entered
the town of Cayembe, where he lived forty days, during which he twice
renewed his exploration of Lake Moero.

From Cayembe Livingstone took a northern direction, with the design of
reaching the important town of Oujiji, on the Tanganyika. Surprised by
the rising of the waters, and abandoned by his guides, he was obliged
to return to Cayembe. He redescended to the south June 6th, and six
weeks after gained the great lake Bangoneolo. He remained there till
August 9th, and then sought to reascend toward Lake Tanganyika.

What a journey! On setting out, January 7th, 1869, the heroic doctor's
feebleness was such that be had to be carried. In February he at last
reached the lake and arrived at Oujiji, where he found some articles
sent to his address by the Oriental Company of Calcutta.

Livingstone then had but one idea, to gain the sources of the valley
of the Nile by ascending the Tanganyika. September 21st he was at
Bambarre, in the Manonyema, a cannibal country, and arrived at the
Loualaba--that Loualaba that Cameron was going to suspect, and Stanley
to discover, to be only the upper Zaire, or Congo. At Mamohela the
doctor was sick for eighty days. He had only three servants. July
21st, 1871, he departed again for the Tanganyika, and only reentered
Oujiji October 23d. He was then a mere skeleton.

Meanwhile, before this period, people had been a long time without
news of the traveler. In Europe they believed him to be dead. He
himself had almost lost hope of being ever relieved.

Eleven days after his entrance into Oujiji shots were heard a quarter
of a mile from the lake. The doctor arrives. A man, a white man, is
before him. "Doctor Livingstone, I presume?"

"Yes," replied the latter, raising his cap, with a friendly smile.

Their hands were warmly clasped.

"I thank God," continued the white man, "that He has permitted me to
meet you."

"I am happy," said Livingstone, "to be here to receive you."

The white man was the American Stanley, a reporter of the New York
_Herald_, whom Mr. Bennett, the proprietor of that journal, had just
sent to find David Livingstone.

In the month of October, 1870, this American, without hesitation,
without a word, simply as a hero, had embarked at Bombay for
Zanzibar, and almost following Speke and Burton's route, after untold
sufferings, his life being menaced several times, he arrived at
Oujiji.

The two travelers, now become fast friends, then made an expedition
to the north of Lake Tanganyika. They embarked, pushed as far as Cape
Malaya, and after a minute exploration, were of the opinion that the
great lake had for an outlet a branch of the Loualaba.

It was what Cameron and Stanley himself were going to determine
positively some years after. December 12th, Livingstone and his
companion were returning to Oujiji.

Stanley prepared to depart. December 27th, after a navigation of eight
days, the doctor and he arrived at Ousimba; then, February 23d, they
entered Kouihara.

March 12th was the day of parting.

"You have accomplished," said the doctor to his companion, "what
few men would have done, and done it much better than certain great
travelers. I am very grateful to you for it. May God lead you, my
friend, and may He bless you!"

"May He," said Stanley, taking Livingstone's hand, "bring you back to
us safe and sound, dear doctor!"

Stanley drew back quickly from this embrace, and turned so as to
conceal his tears. "Good-by, doctor, dear friend," he said in a
stifled voice.

"Good-by," replied Livingstone, feebly.

Stanley departed, and July 12th, 1872, he landed at Marseilles.

Livingstone was going to return to his discoveries. August 25th, after
five months passed at Konihara, accompanied by his black servants,
Souzi, Chouma, and Amoda, by two other servants, by Jacob Wainwright,
and by fifty-six men sent by Stanley, he went toward the south of the
Tanganyika.

A month after, the caravan arrived at M'oura, in the midst of storms,
caused by an extreme drought. Then came the rains, the bad will of the
natives, and the loss of the beasts of burden, from falling under the
stings of the tsetse. January 24th, 1873, the little troop was at
Tchitounkone. April 27th, after having left Lake Bangoneolo to the
east, the troop was going toward the village of Tchitambo.

At that place some traders had left Livingstone. This is what Alvez
and his colleague had learned from them. They had good reason to
believe that the doctor, after exploring the south of the lake, would
venture across the Loanda, and come to seek unknown countries in the
west. Thence he was to ascend toward Angola, to visit those regions
infested by the slave-trade, to push as far as Kazounde; the tour
seemed to be all marked out, and it was very probable that Livingstone
would follow it.

Mrs. Weldon then could count on the approaching arrival of the great
traveler, because, in the beginning of June, it was already more than
two months since he had reached the south of Lake Bangoneolo.

Now, June 13th, the day before that on which Negoro would come to
claim from Mrs. Weldon the letter that would put one hundred thousand
dollars in his hands, sad news was spread, at which Alvez and the
traders only rejoiced.

May 1st, 1873, at dawn, Dr. David Livingstone died. In fact, on April
29th, the little caravan had reached the village of Tchitambo, to the
south of the lake. The doctor was carried there on a litter. On the
30th, in the night, under the influence of excessive grief, he moaned
out this complaint, that was hardly heard: "Oh, dear! dear!" and he
fell back from drowsiness.

At the end of an hour he called his servant, Souzi, asking for some
medicine, then murmuring in a feeble voice: "It is well. Now you can
go."

Toward four o'clock in the morning, Souzi and five men of the escort
entered the doctor's hut. David Livingstone, kneeling near his bed,
his head resting on his hands, seemed to be engaged in prayer. Souzi
gently touched his cheek; it was cold. David Livingstone was no more.

Nine months after, his body, carried by faithful servants at the price
of unheard-of fatigues, arrived at Zanzibar. On April 12th, 1874, it
was buried in Westminster Abbey, among those of her great men, whom
England honors equally with her kings.

CHAPTER XV.

WHERE A MANTICORE MAY LEAD.

To what plank of safety will not an unfortunate being cling? Will not
the eyes of the condemned seek to seize any ray of hope, no matter how
vague?

So it had been with Mrs. Weldon. One can understand what she must have
felt when she learned, from Alvez himself, that Dr. Livingstone had
just died in a little Bangoneolo village.

It seemed to her that she was more isolated than ever; that a sort of
bond that attached her to the traveler, and with him to the civilized
world, had just been broken.

The plank of safety sank under her hand, the ray of hope went out
before her eyes. Tom and his companions had left Kazounde for the lake
region. Not the least news of Hercules. Mrs. Weldon was not sure of
any one. She must then fall back on Negoro's proposition, while trying
to amend it and secure a definite result from it.

June 14th, the day fixed by him, Negoro presented himself at Mrs.
Weldon's hut.

The Portuguese was, as always, so he said, perfectly practical.
However, he abated nothing from the amount of the ransom, which his
prisoner did not even discuss. But Mrs. Weldon also showed herself
very practical in saying to him:

"If you wish to make an agreement, do not render it impossible by
unacceptable conditions. The exchange of our liberty for the sum you
exact may take place, without my husband coming into a country where
you see what can be done with a white man! Now, I do not wish him to
come here at any price!"

After some hesitation Negoro yielded, and Mrs. Weldon finished
with the concession that James Weldon should not venture as far as
Kazounde. A ship would land him at Mossamedes, a little port to the
south of Angola, ordinarily frequented by slave-ships, and well-known
by Negoro. It was there that the Portuguese would conduct James W.
Weldon; and at a certain time Alvez's agent would bring thither Mrs.
Weldon, Jack, and Cousin Benedict. The ransom would be given to those
agents on the giving up of the prisoners, and Negoro, who would play
the part of a perfectly honest man with James Weldon, would disappear
on the ship's arrival.

Mrs. Weldon had gained a very important point. She spared her husband
the dangers of a voyage to Kazounde, the risk of being kept there,
after paying the exacted ransom, and the perils of the return. As to
the six hundred miles that separated Kazounde from Mossamedes, by
going over them as she had traveled on leaving the Coanza, Mrs. Weldon
would only have a little fatigue to fear. Besides, it would be to
Alvez's interest--for he was in the affair--for the prisoners to
arrive safe and sound.

The conditions being thus settled, Mrs. Weldon wrote to her husband,
leaving to Negoro the care of passing himself off as a devoted
servant, who had escaped from the natives. Negoro took the letter,
which did not allow James Weldon to hesitate about following him as
far as Mossamedes, and, the next day, escorted by twenty blacks, he
traveled toward the north.

Why did he take that direction? Was it, then, Negoro's intention to
embark on one of the vessels which frequent the mouths of the Congo,
and thus avoid the Portuguese stations, as well as the penitentiaries
in which he had been an involuntary guest? It was probable. At least,
that was the reason he gave Alvez.

After his departure, Mrs. Weldon must try to arrange her existence
in such a manner as to pass the time of her sojourn at Kazounde as
happily as possible. Under the most favorable circumstances, it would
last three or four months. Negoro's going and returning would require
at least that time.

Mrs. Weldon's intention was, not to leave the factory. Her child,
Cousin Benedict, and she, were comparatively safe there. Halima's good
care softened the severity of this sequestration a little. Besides,
it was probable that the trader would not permit her to leave the
establishment. The great premium that the prisoner's ransom would
procure him, made it well worth while to guard her carefully.

It was even fortunate that Alvez was not obliged to leave Kazounde to
visit his two other factories of Bihe and Cassange. Coimbra was going
to take his place in the expedition on new _razzias_ or raids. There
was no motive for regretting the presence of that drunkard. Above all,
Negoro, before setting out, had given Alvez the most urgent commands
in regard to Mrs. Weldon. It was necessary to watch her closely. They
did not know what had become of Hercules. If he had not perished in
that dreadful province of Kazounde, perhaps he would attempt to get
near the prisoner and snatch her from Alvez's hands. The trader
perfectly understood a situation which ciphered itself out by a good
number of dollars. He would answer for Mrs. Weldon as for his own
body.

So the monotonous life of the prisoner during the first days after her
arrival at the factory, was continued. What passed in this enclosure
reproduced very exactly the various acts of native existence outside.
Alvez lived like the other natives of Kazounde. The women of the
establishment worked as they would have done in the town, for the
greater comfort of their husbands or their masters. Their occupations
included preparing rice with heavy blows of the pestle in wooden
mortars, to perfect decortication; cleansing and winnowing maize, and
all the manipulations necessary to draw from it a granulous substance
which serves to compose that potage called "mtyelle" in the country;
the harvesting of the _sorgho_, a kind of large millet, the ripening
of which had just been solemnly celebrated at this time; the
extraction of that fragrant oil from the "mpafon" drupes, kinds
of olives, the essence of which forms a perfume sought for by the
natives; spinning of the cotton, the fibers of which are twisted by
means of a spindle a foot and a half long, to which the spinners
impart a rapid rotation; the fabrication of bark stuffs with the
mallet; the extraction from the tapioca roots, and the preparation of
the earth for the different products of the country, cassava, flour
that they make from the manioc beans, of which the pods, fifteen
inches long, named "mositsanes," grow on trees twenty feet high;
arachides intended to make oil, perennial peas of a bright blue,
known under the name of "tchilobes," the flowers of which relieve the
slightly insipid taste of the milk of sorgho; native coffee, sugar
canes, the juice of which is reduced to a syrup; onions, Indian pears,
sesamum, cucumbers, the seeds of which are roasted like chestnuts; the
preparation of fermented drinks, the "malofori," made with bananas,
the "pombe" and other liquors; the care of the domestic animals, of
those cows that only allow themselves to be milked in the presence of
their little one or of a stuffed calf; of those heifers of small race,
with short horns, some of which have a hump; of those goats which, in
the country where their flesh serves for food, are an important object
of exchange, one might say current money like the slave; finally, the
feeding of the birds, swine, sheep, oxen, and so forth.

This long enumeration shows what rude labors fall on the feeble sex in
those savage regions of the African continent.

During this time the men smoke tobacco or hemp, chase the elephant or
the buffalo, and hire themselves to the traders for the raids. The
harvest of maize or of slaves is always a harvest that takes place in
fixed seasons.

Of those various occupations, Mrs. Weldon only saw in Alvez's factory
the part laid on the women. Sometimes she stopped, looking at them,
while the slaves, it must be said, only replied to her by ugly
grimaces. A race instinct led these unfortunates to hate a white
woman, and they had no commiseration for her in their hearts. Halima
alone was an exception, and Mrs. Weldon, having learned certain words
of the native language, was soon able to exchange a few sentences with
the young slave.

Little Jack often accompanied his mother when she walked in the
inclosure; but he wished very much to go outside. There was, however,
in an enormous baobab, marabout nests, formed of a few sticks, and
"souimangas" nests, birds with scarlet breasts and throats, which
resemble those of the tissirms; then "widows," that strip the thatch
for the benefit of their family; "calaos," whose song was agreeable,
bright gray parrots with red tails, which, in the Manyema, are
called "rouss," and give their name to the chiefs of the tribes;
insectivorous "drougos," similar to gray linnets, with large, red
beaks. Here and there also fluttered hundreds of butterflies of
different species, especially in the neighborhood of the brooks that
crossed the factory; but that was rather Cousin Benedict's affair than
little Jack's, and the latter regretted greatly not being taller,
so as to look over the walls. Alas! where was his poor friend, Dick
Sand--he who had brought him so high up in the "Pilgrim's" masts? How
he would have followed him on the branches of those trees, whose tops
rose to more than a hundred feet! What good times they would have had
together!

Cousin Benedict always found himself very well where he was,
provided insects were not lacking. Happily, he had discovered in the
factory--and he studied as much as he could without magnifying glass
or spectacles--a small bee which forms its cells among the worm-holes
of the wood, and a "sphex" that lays its eggs in cells that are not
its own, as the cuckoo in the nests of other birds. Mosquitoes were
not lacking either, on the banks of the rivulets, and they tattooed
him with bites to the extent of making him unrecognizable. And when
Mrs. Weldon reproached him with letting himself be thus devoured by
those venomous insects: "It is their instinct, Cousin Weldon," he
replied to her, scratching himself till the blood came; "it is their
instinct, and we must not have a grudge against them!"

At last, one day--it was the 17th of June--Cousin Benedict was on the
point of being the happiest of entomologists. But this adventure,
which had unexpected consequences, needs to be related with some
minuteness.

It was about eleven o'clock in the morning. An overpowering heat had
obliged the inhabitants of the factory to keep in their huts, and one
would not even meet a single native in the streets of Kazounde.

Mrs. Weldon was dozing near little Jack, who was sleeping soundly.
Cousin Benedict, himself, suffering from the influence of this
tropical temperature, had given up his favorite hunts, which was a
great sacrifice for him, for, in those rays of the midday sun, he
heard the rustle of a whole world of insects. He was sheltered, then,
at the end of his hut, and there, sleep began to take possession of
him in this involuntary siesta.

Suddenly, as his eyes half closed, he heard a humming; this is one
of those insupportable buzzings of insects, some of which can give
fifteen or sixteen thousand beats of their wings in a second.

"A hexapode!" exclaimed Cousin Benedict, awakened at once, and passing
from the horizontal to the vertical position.

There was no doubt that it was a hexapode that was buzzing in his hut.
But, if Cousin Benedict was very near-sighted, he had at least very
acute hearing, so acute even that he could recognize one insect from
another by the intensity of its buzz, and it seemed to him that this
one was unknown, though it could only be produced by a giant of the
species.

"What is this hexapode?" Cousin Benedict asked himself.

Behold him, seeking to perceive the insect, which was very difficult
to his eyes without glasses, but trying above all to recognize it by
the buzzing of its wings.

His instinct as an entomologist warned him that he had something to
accomplish, and that the insect, so providentially entered into his
hut, ought not to be the first comer.

Cousin Benedict no longer moved. He listened. A few rays of light
reached him. His eyes then discovered a large black point that flew
about, but did not pass near enough for him to recognize it. He held
his breath, and if he felt himself stung in some part of the face or
hands, he was determined not to make a single movement that might put
his hexapode to flight. At last the buzzing insect, after turning
around him for a long time, came to rest on his head. Cousin
Benedict's mouth widened for an instant, as if to give a smile--and
what a smile! He felt the light animal running on his hair. An
irresistible desire to put his hand there seized him for a moment; but
he resisted it, and did well.

"No, no!" thought he, "I would miss it, or what would be worse, I
would injure it. Let it come more within my reach. See it walking! It
descends. I feel its dear little feet running on my skull! This must
be a hexapode of great height. My God! only grant that it may descend
on the end of my nose, and there, by squinting a little, I might
perhaps see it, and determine to what order, genus, species, or
variety it belongs."

So thought Cousin Benedict. But it was a long distance from his skull,
which was rather pointed, to the end of his nose, which was very long.
How many other roads the capricious insect might take, beside his
ears, beside his forehead--roads that would take it to a distance from
the savant's eyes--without counting that at any moment it might retake
its flight, leave the hut, and lose itself in those solar rays where,
doubtless, its life was passed, and in the midst of the buzzing of its
congeners that would attract it outside!

Cousin Benedict said all that to himself. Never, in all his life as
an entomologist, had he passed more touching minutes. An African
hexapode, of a new species, or, at least, of a new variety, or even of
a new sub-variety, was there on his head, and he could not recognize
it except it deigned to walk at least an inch from his eyes.

However, Cousin Benedict's prayer must be heard. The insect, after
having traveled over the half-bald head, as on the summit of some wild
bush, began to descend Cousin Benedict's forehead, and the latter
might at last conceive the hope that it would venture to the top of
his nose. Once arrived at that top, why would it not descend to the
base?

"In its place, I--I would descend," thought the worthy savant.

What is truer than that, in Cousin Benedict's place, any other would
have struck his forehead violently, so as to crush the enticing
insect, or at least to put it to flight. To feel six feet moving on
his skin, without speaking of the fear of being bitten, and not make a
gesture, one will agree that it was the height of heroism. The Spartan
allowing his breast to be devoured by a fox; the Roman holding burning
coals between his fingers, were not more masters of themselves than
Cousin Benedict, who was undoubtedly descended from those two heroes.

After twenty little circuits, the insect arrived at the top of the
nose. Then there was a moment's hesitation that made all Cousin
Benedict's blood rush to his heart. Would the hexapode ascend again
beyond the line of the eyes, or would it descend below?

It descended. Cousin Benedict felt its caterpillar feet coming toward
the base of his nose. The insect turned neither to the right nor to
the left. It rested between its two buzzing wings, on the slightly
hooked edge of that learned nose, so well formed to carry spectacles.
It cleared the little furrow produced by the incessant use of that
optical instrument, so much missed by the poor cousin, and it stopped
just at the extremity of his nasal appendage.

It was the best place this haxapode could choose. At that distance,
Cousin Benedict's two eyes, by making their visual rays converge,
could, like two lens, dart their double look on the insect.

"Almighty God!" exclaimed Cousin Benedict, who could not repress a
cry, "the tuberculous _manticore_."

Now, he must not cry it out, he must only think it. But was it not too
much to ask from the most enthusiastic of entomologists?

To have on the end of his nose a tuberculous _manticore_, with large
elytrums--an insect of the cicendeletes tribe--a very rare specimen
in collections--one that seems peculiar to those southern parts of
Africa, and yet not utter a cry of admiration; that is beyond human
strength.

Unfortunately the _manticore_ heard this cry, which was almost
immediately followed by a sneeze, that shook the appendage on which it
rested. Cousin Benedict wished to take possession of it, extended his
hand, shut it violently, and only succeeded in seizing the end of his
own nose.

"Malediction!" exclaimed he. But then he showed a remarkable coolness.

He knew that the tuberculous _manticore_ only flutters about, so to
say, that it walks rather than flies. He then knelt, and succeeded in
perceiving, at less than ten inches from his eyes, the black point
that was gliding rapidly in a ray of light.

Evidently it was better to study it in this independent attitude. Only
he must not lose sight of it.

"To seize the _manticore_ would be to risk crushing it," Cousin
Benedict said to himself. "No; I shall follow it! I shall admire it! I
have time enough to take it!"

Was Cousin Benedict wrong? However that may be, see him now on all
fours, his nose to the ground like a dog that smells a scent, and
following seven or eight inches behind the superb hexapode. One moment
after he was outside his hut, under the midday sun, and a few minutes
later at the foot of the palisade that shut in Alvez's establishment.

At this place was the _manticore_ going to clear the enclosure with a
bound, and put a wall between its adorer and itself? No, that was not
in its nature, and Cousin Benedict knew it well. So he was always
there, crawling like a snake, too far off to recognize the insect
entomologically--besides, that was done--but near enough to perceive
that large, moving point traveling over the ground.

The _manticore_, arrived near the palisade, had met the large entrance
of a mole-hill that opened at the foot of the enclosure. There,
without hesitating, it entered this subterranean gallery, for it is in
the habit of seeking those obscure passages. Cousin Benedict believed
that he was going to lose sight of it. But, to his great surprise, the
passage was at least two feet high, and the mole-hill formed a gallery
where his long, thin body could enter. Besides, he put the ardor of a
ferret into his pursuit, and did not even perceive that in "earthing"
himself thus, he was passing outside the palisade.

In fact, the mole-hill established a natural communication between the
inside and the outside. In half a minute Cousin Benedict was outside
of the factory. That did not trouble him. He was absorbed in
admiration of the elegant insect that was leading him on. But the
latter, doubtless, had enough of this long walk. Its elytrums turned
aside, its wings spread out. Cousin Benedict felt the danger, and,
with his curved hand, he was going to make a provisional prison for
the _manticore_, when--f-r-r-r-r!--it flew away!

What despair! But the _manticore_ could not go far. Cousin Benedict
rose; he looked, he darted forward, his two hands stretched out and
open. The insect flew above his head, and he only perceived a large
black point, without appreciable form to him.

Would the _manticore_ come to the ground again to rest, after having
traced a few capricious circles around Cousin Benedict's bald head?
All the probabilities were in favor of its doing so.

Unfortunately for the unhappy savant, this part of Alvez's
establishment, which was situated at the northern extremity of the
town, bordered on a vast forest, which covered the territory of
Kazounde for a space of several square miles. If the _manticore_
gained the cover of the trees, and if there, it should flutter from
branch to branch, he must renounce all hope of making it figure in
that famous tin box, in which it would be the most precious jewel.

Alas! that was what happened. The _manticore_ had rested again on
the ground. Cousin Benedict, having the unexpected hope of seeing it
again, threw himself on the ground at once. But the _manticore_ no
longer walked: it proceeded by little jumps.

Cousin Benedict, exhausted, his knees and hands bleeding, jumped also.
His two arms, his hands open, were extended to the right, to the left,
according as the black point bounded here or there. It might be said
that he was drawing his body over that burning soil, as a swimmer does
on the surface of the water.

Useless trouble! His two hands always closed on nothing. The insect
escaped him while playing with him, and soon, arrived under the fresh
branches, it arose, after throwing into Cousin Benedict's ear, which
it touched lightly, the most intense but also the most ironical
buzzing of its coleopter wings.

"Malediction!" exclaimed Cousin Benedict, a second time. "It escapes
me. Ungrateful hexapode! Thou to whom I reserved a place of honor in
my collection! Well, no, I shall not give thee up! I shall follow thee
till I reach thee!"

He forgot, this discomfited cousin, that his nearsighted eyes would
not enable him to perceive the _manticore_ among the foliage. But he
was no longer master of himself. Vexation, anger, made him a fool. It
was himself, and only himself, that he must blame for his loss. If he
had taken possession of the insect at first, instead of following it
"in its independent ways," nothing of all that would have happened,
and he would possess that admirable specimen of African _manticores_,
the name of which is that of a fabulous animal, having a man's head
and a lion's body.

Cousin Benedict had lost his head. He little thought that the most
unforeseen of circumstances had just restored him to liberty. He did
not dream that the ant-hill, into which he had just entered, had opened
to him an escape, and that he had just left Alvez's establishment.
The forest was there, and under the trees was his _manticore_, flying
away! At any price, he wanted to see it again.

See him, then, running across the thick forest, no longer conscious
even of what he was doing, always imagining he saw the precious
insect, beating the air with his long arms like a gigantic
field-spider. Where he was going, how he would return, and if he
should return, he did not even ask himself, and for a good mile
he made his way thus, at the risk of being met by some native, or
attacked by some beast.

Suddenly, as he passed near a thicket, a gigantic being sprang out and
threw himself on him. Then, as Cousin Benedict would have done with
the _manticore_, that being seized him with one hand by the nape of
the neck, with the other by the lower part of the back, and before he
had time to know what was happening, he was carried across the forest.

Truly, Cousin Benedict had that day lost a fine occasion of being able
to proclaim himself the happiest entomologist of the five parts of the
world.

* * * * *

CHAPTER XVI.

A MAGICIAN.

When Mrs. Weldon, on the 17th of the month, did not see Cousin
Benedict reappear at the accustomed hour, she was seized with the
greatest uneasiness. She could not imagine what had become of her
big baby. That he had succeeded in escaping from the factory, the
enclosure of which was absolutely impassable, was not admissible.
Besides, Mrs. Weldon knew her cousin. Had one proposed to this
original to flee, abandoning his tin box and his collection of African
insects, he would have refused without the shadow of hesitation. Now,
the box was there in the hut, intact, containing all that the savant
had been able to collect since his arrival on the continent. To
suppose that he was voluntarily separated from his entomological
treasures, was inadmissible.

Nevertheless, Cousin Benedict was no longer in Jose-Antonio Alvez's
establishment.

During all that day Mrs. Weldon looked for him persistently. Little
Jack and the slave Halima joined her. It was useless.

Mrs. Weldon was then forced to adopt this sad hypothesis: the prisoner
had been carried away by the trader's orders, for motives that she
could not fathom. But then, what had Alvez done with him? Had he
incarcerated him in one of the barracks of the large square? Why this
carrying away, coming after the agreement made between Mrs. Weldon and
Negoro, an agreement which included Cousin Benedict in the number
of the prisoners whom the trader would conduct to Mossamedes, to be
placed in James W. Weldon's hands for a ransom?

If Mrs. Weldon had been a witness of Alvez's anger, when the latter
learned of the prisoner's disappearance, she would have understood
that this disappearance was indeed made against his will. But then, if
Cousin Benedict had escaped voluntarily, why had he not let her into
the secret of his escape?

However, the search of Alvez and his servants, which was made with the
greatest care, led to the discovery of that mole-hill, which put the
factory in direct communication with the neighboring forest. The
trader no longer doubted that the "fly-hunter" had fled by that narrow
opening. One may then judge of his fury, when he said to himself that
this flight would doubtless be put to account, and would diminish the
prize that the affair would bring him.

"That imbecile is not worth much," thought he, "nevertheless, I shall
be compelled to pay dear for him. Ah! if I take him again!"

But notwithstanding the searchings that were made inside, and though
the woods were beaten over a large radius, it was impossible to find
any trace of the fugitive.

Mrs. Weldon must resign herself to the loss of her cousin, and Alvez
mourn over his prisoner. As it could not be admitted that the latter
had established communications with the outside, it appeared evident
that chance alone had made him discover the existence of the
mole-hill, and that he had taken flight without thinking any more of
those he left behind than if they had never existed.

Mrs. Weldon was forced to allow that it must be so, but she did
not dream of blaming the poor man, so perfectly unconscious of his
actions.

"The unfortunate! what will become of him?" she asked herself.

It is needless to say that the mole-hill had been closed up the same
day, and with the greatest care, and that the watch was doubled inside
as well as outside the factory.

The monotonous life of the prisoners then continued for Mrs. Weldon
and her child.

Meanwhile, a climatic fact, very rare at that period of the year, was
produced in the province. Persistent rains began about the 19th of
June, though the _masika_ period, that finishes in April, was passed.
In fact, the sky was covered, and continual showers inundated the
territory of Kazounde.

What was only a vexation for Mrs. Weldon, because she must renounce
her walks inside the factory, became a public misfortune for the
natives. The low lands, covered with harvests already ripe, were
entirely submerged. The inhabitants of the province, to whom the crop
suddenly failed, soon found themselves in distress. All the labors
of the season were compromised, and Queen Moini, any more than her
ministers, did not know how to face the catastrophe.

They then had recourse to the magicians, but not to those whose
profession is to heal the sick by their incantations and sorceries, or
who predict success to the natives. There was a public misfortune on
hand, and the best "mganngas," who have the privilege of provoking or
stopping the rains, were prayed to, to conjure away the peril.

Their labor was in vain. It was in vain that they intoned their
monotonous chant, rang their little bells and hand-bells, employed
their most precious amulets, and more particularly, a horn full of mud
and bark, the point of which was terminated by three little horns.
The spirits were exorcised by throwing little balls of dung, or in
spitting in the faces of the most august personages of the court; but
they did not succeed in chasing away the bad spirits that presided
over the formation of the clouds.

Now, things were going from bad to worse, when Queen Moini thought of
inviting a celebrated magician, then in the north of Angola. He was
a magician of the first order, whose power was the more marvelous
because they had never tested it in this country where he had never
come. But there was no question of its success among the Masikas.

It was on the 25th of June, in the morning, that the new magician
suddenly announced his arrival at Kazounde with great ringing of
bells.

This sorcerer came straight to the "tchitoka," and immediately the
crowd of natives rushed toward him. The sky was a little less rainy,
the wind indicated a tendency to change, and those signs of calm,
coinciding with the arrival of the magician, predisposed the minds of
the natives in his favor.

Besides, he was a superb man--a black of the finest water. He was at
least six feet high, and must be extraordinarily strong. This prestige
already influenced the crowd.

Generally, the sorcerers were in bands of three, four, or five when
they went through the villages, and a certain number of acolytes, or
companions, made their cortege. This magician was alone. His whole
breast was zebraed with white marks, done with pipe clay. The lower
part of his body disappeared under an ample skirt of grass stuff, the
"train" of which would not have disgraced a modern elegant. A collar
of birds' skulls was round his neck; on his head was a sort of
leathern helmet, with plumes ornamented with pearls; around his loins
a copper belt, to which hung several hundred bells, noisier than the
sonorous harness of a Spanish mule: thus this magnificent specimen of
the corporation of native wizards was dressed.

All the material of his art was comprised in a kind of basket, of
which a calebash formed the bottom, and which was filled with shells,
amulets, little wooden idols, and other fetiches, plus a notable
quantity of dung balls, important accessories to the incantations and
divinatory practises of the center of Africa.

One peculiarity was soon discovered by the crowd. This magician was
dumb. But this infirmity could only increase the consideration with
which they were disposed to surround him. He only made a guttural
sound, low and languid, which had no signification. The more reason
for being well skilled in the mysteries of witchcraft.

The magician first made the tour of the great place, executing a
kind of dance which put in motion all his chime of bells. The crowd
followed, imitating his movements--it might be said, as a troop of
monkeys following a gigantic, four-handed animal. Then, suddenly, the
sorcerer, treading the principal street of Kazounde, went toward the
royal residence.

As soon as Queen Moini had been informed of the arrival of the new
wizard, she appeared, followed by her courtiers.

The magician bowed to the ground, and lifted up his head again,
showing his superb height. His arms were then extended toward the sky,
which was rapidly furrowed by masses of clouds. The sorcerer pointed
to those clouds with his hand; he imitated their movements in an
animated pantomime. He showed them fleeing to the west, but returning
to the east by a rotary movement that no power could stop.

Then, suddenly, to the great surprise of the town and the court, this
sorcerer took the redoubtable sovereign of Kazounde by the hand. A
few courtiers wished to oppose this act, which was contrary to all
etiquette; but the strong magician, seizing the nearest by the nape of
the neck, sent him staggering fifteen paces off.

The queen did not appear to disapprove of this proud manner of acting.
A sort of grimace, which ought to be a smile, was addressed to the
wizard, who drew the queen on with rapid steps, while the crowd rushed
after him.

This time it was toward Alvez's establishment that the sorcerer
directed his steps. He soon reached the door, which was shut. A
simple blow from his shoulder threw it to the ground, and he led the
conquered queen into the interior of the factory.

The trader, his soldiers and his slaves, ran to punish the daring
being who took it upon himself to throw down doors without waiting for
them to be opened to him. Suddenly, seeing that their sovereign did
not protest, they stood still, in a respectful attitude.

No doubt Alvez was about to ask the queen why he was honored by her
visit, but the magician did not give him time. Making the crowd recede
so as to leave a large space free around him, he recommenced his
pantomime with still greater animation. He pointed to the clouds, he
threatened them, he exorcised them; he made a sign as if he could
first stop them, and then scatter them. His enormous cheeks were
puffed out, and he blew on this mass of heavy vapors as if he had the
strength to disperse them. Then, standing upright, he seemed to intend
stopping them in their course, and one would have said that, owing to
his gigantic height, he could have seized them.

The superstitious Moini, "overcome" by the acting of this tall
comedian, could no longer control herself. Cries escaped her. She
raved in her turn, and instinctively repeated the magician's gestures.
The courtiers and the crowd followed her example, and the mute's
guttural sounds were lost amid those songs; cries, and yells which the
native language furnishes with so much prodigality.

Did the clouds cease to rise on the eastern horizon and veil the
tropical sun? Did they vanish before the exorcisms of this new wizard?
No. And just at this moment, when the queen and her people imagined
that they had appeased the evil spirits that had watered them with so
many showers, the sky, somewhat clear since daybreak, became darker
than ever. Large drops of rain fell pattering on the ground.

Then a sudden change took place in the crowd. They then saw that this
sorcerer was worth no more than the others. The queen's brows were
frowning. They understood that he at least was in danger of losing
his ears. The natives had contracted the circle around him; fists
threatened him, and they were about to punish him, when an unforeseen
incident changed the object of their evil intentions.

The magician, who overlooked the whole yelling crowd, stretched his
arms toward one spot in the enclosure. The gesture was so imperious
that all turned to look at it.

Mrs. Weldon and little Jack, attracted by the noise and the clamor,
had just left their hut. The magician, with an angry gesture, had
pointed to them with his left hand, while his right was raised toward
the sky.

They! it was they'! It was this white woman--it was her child--they
were causing all this evil. They had brought these clouds from their
rainy country, to inundate the territories of Kazounde.

It was at once understood. Queen Moini, pointing to Mrs. Weldon, made
a threatening gesture. The natives, uttering still more terrible
cries, rushed toward her.

Mrs. Weldon thought herself lost, and clasping her son in her arms,
she stood motionless as a statue before this over-excited crowd.

The magician went toward her. The natives stood aside in the presence
of this wizard, who, with the cause of the evil, seemed to have found
the remedy.

The trader, Alvez, knowing that the life of the prisoner was precious,
now approached, not being sure of what he ought to do.

The magician had seized little Jack, and snatching him from his
mother's arms, he held him toward the sky. It seemed as if he were
about to dash the child to the earth, so as to appease the gods.

With a terrible cry, Mrs. Weldon fell to the ground insensible.

But the magician, after having made a sign to the queen, which no
doubt reassured her as to his intentions, raised the unhappy mother,
and while the crowd, completely subdued, parted to give him space, he
carried her away with her child.

Alvez was furious, not expecting this result. After having lost one
of the three prisoners, to see the prize confided to his care thus
escape, and, with the prize, the large bribe promised him by Negoro!
Never! not if the whole territory of Kazounde were submerged by a new
deluge! He tried to oppose this abduction.

The natives now began to mutter against him. The queen had him seized
by her guards, and, knowing what it might cost him, the trader was
forced to keep quiet, while cursing the stupid credulity of Queen
Moini's subjects.

The savages, in fact, expected to see the clouds disappear with those
who had brought them, and they did not doubt that the magician would
destroy the scourge, from which they suffered so much, in the blood of
the strangers.

Meanwhile, the magician carried off his victims as a lion would a
couple of kids which did not satisfy his powerful appetite. Little
Jack was terrified, his mother was unconscious. The crowd, roused to
the highest degree of fury, escorted the magician with yells; but
he left the enclosure, crossed Kazounde, and reentered the forest,
walking nearly three miles, without resting for a moment. Finally he
was alone, the natives having understood that he did not wish to be
followed. He arrived at the bank of a river, whose rapid current
flowed toward the north.

There, at the end of a large opening, behind the long, drooping
branches of a thicket which hid the steep bank, was moored a canoe,
covered by a sort of thatch.

The magician lowered his double burden into the boat, and following
himself, shoved out from the bank, and the current rapidly carried
them down the stream. The next minute he said, in a very distinct
voice:

"Captain, here are Mrs. Weldon and little Jack; I present them to you.
Forward. And may all the clouds in heaven fall on those idiots of
Kazounde!"

* * * * *

CHAPTER XVII.

DRIFTING.

It was Hercules, not easily recognized in his magician's attire, who
was speaking thus, and it was Dick Sand whom he was addressing--Dick
Sand, still feeble enough, to lean on Cousin Benedict, near whom Dingo
was lying.

Mrs. Weldon, who had regained consciousness, could only pronounce
these words:

"You! Dick! You!"

The young novice rose, but already Mrs. Weldon was pressing him in her
arms, and Jack was lavishing caresses on him.

"My friend Dick! my friend Dick!" repeated the little boy. Then,
turning to Hercules: "And I," he added, "I did not know you!"

"Hey! what a disguise!" replied Hercules, rubbing his breast to efface
the variety of colors that striped it.

"You were too ugly!" said little Jack.

"Bless me! I was the devil, and the devil is not handsome."

"Hercules!" said Mrs. Weldon, holding out her hand to the brave black.

"He has delivered you," added Dick Sand, "as he has saved me, though
he will not allow it."

"Saved! saved! We are not saved yet!" replied Hercules. "And besides,
without Mr. Benedict, who came to tell us where you were, Mrs. Weldon,
we could not have done anything."

In fact, it was Hercules who, five days before, had jumped upon the
savant at the moment when, having been led two miles from the factory,
the latter was running in pursuit of his precious manticore. Without
this incident, neither Dick Sand nor the black would have known Mrs.
Weldon's retreat, and Hercules would not have ventured to Kazounde in
a magician's dress.

While the boat drifted with rapidity in this narrow part of the river,
Hercules related what had passed since his flight from the camp on
the Coanza; how, without being seen, he had followed the _kitanda_ in
which Mrs. Weldon and her son were; how he had found Dingo wounded;
how the two had arrived in the neighborhood of Kazounde; how a note
from Hercules, carried by the dog, told Dick Sand what had become of
Mrs. Weldon; how, after the unexpected arrival of Cousin Benedict,
he had vainly tried to make his way into the factory, more carefully
guarded than ever; how, at last, he had found this opportunity of
snatching the prisoner from that horrible Jose-Antonio Alvez. Now,
this opportunity had offered itself that same day. A _mgannga_, or
magician, on his witchcraft circuit, that celebrated magician so
impatiently expected, was passing through the forest in which Hercules
roamed every night, watching, waiting, ready for anything.

To spring upon the magician, despoil him of his baggage, and of his
magician's vestments, to fasten him to the foot of a tree with liane
knots that the Davenports themselves could not have untied, to paint
his body, taking the sorcerer's for a model, and to act out his
character in charming and controlling the rains, had been the work
of several hours. Still, the incredible credulity of the natives was
necessary for his success.

During this recital, given rapidly by Hercules, nothing concerning
Dick Sand had been mentioned.

"And you, Dick!" asked Mrs. Weldon.

"I, Mrs. Weldon!" replied the young man. "I can tell you nothing. My
last thought was for you, for Jack! I tried in vain to break the cords
that fastened me to the stake. The water rose over my head. I lost
consciousness. When I came to myself, I was sheltered in a hole,
concealed by the papyrus of this bank, and Hercules was on his knees
beside me, lavishing his care upon me."

"Well! that is because I am a physician," replied Hercules; "a
diviner, a sorcerer, a magician, a fortuneteller!"

"Hercules," said Mrs. Weldon, "tell me, how did you save Dick Sand?"

"Did I do it, Mrs. Weldon?" replied Hercules; "Might not the current
have broken the stake to which our captain was tied, and in the middle
of the night, carried him half-dead on this beam, to the place where
I received him? Besides, in the darkness, there was no difficulty in
gliding among the victims that carpeted the ditch, waiting for the
bursting of the dam, diving under water, and, with a little strength,
pulling up our captain and the stake to which these scoundrels had
bound him! There was nothing very extraordinary in all that! The
first-comer could have done as much. Mr. Benedict himself, or even
Dingo! In fact, might it not have been Dingo?"

A yelping was heard; and Jack, taking hold of the dog's large head,
gave him several little friendly taps.

"Dingo," he asked, "did you save our friend Dick?"

At the same time he turned the dog's head from right to left.

"He says, no, Hercules!" said Jack. "You see that it was not he.
Dingo, did Hercules save our captain?"

The little boy forced Dingo's good head to move up and down, five or
six times.

"He says, yes, Hercules! he says, yes!" cried little Jack. "You see
then that it was you!"

"Friend Dingo," replied Hercules, caressing the dog, "that is wrong.
You promised me not to betray me."

Yes, it was indeed Hercules, who had risked his life to save Dick
Sand. But he had done it, and his modesty would not allow him to
agree to the fact. Besides, he thought it a very simple thing, and he
repeated that any one of his companions would have done the same under
the circumstances.

This led Mrs. Weldon to speak of old Tom, of his son, of Acteon and
Bat, his unfortunate companions.

They had started for the lake region. Hercules had seen them pass with
the caravan of slaves. He had followed them, but no opportunity to
communicate with them had presented itself. They were gone! they were
lost!

Hercules had been laughing heartily, but now he shed tears which he
did not try to restrain.

"Do not cry, my friend," Mrs. Weldon said to him. "God may be
merciful, and allow us to meet them again."

In a few words she informed Dick Sand of all that had happened during
her stay in Alvez's factory.

"Perhaps," she added, "it would have been better to have remained at
Kazounde."

"What a fool I was!" cried Hercules.

"No, Hercules, no!" said Dick Sand. "These wretches would have found
means to draw Mr. Weldon into some new trap. Let us flee together, and
without delay. We shall reach the coast before Negoro can return to
Mossamedes. There, the Portuguese authorities will give us aid and
protection; and when Alvez comes to take his one hundred thousand
dollars--"

"A hundred thousand blows on the old scoundrel's skull!" cried
Hercules; "and I will undertake to keep the count."

However, here was a new complication, although it was very evident
that Mrs. Weldon would not dream of returning to Kazounde. The point
now was to anticipate Negoro. All Dick Sand's projects must tend
toward that end.

Dick Sand was now putting in practise the plan which he had long
contemplated, of gaining the coast by utilizing the current of a
river or a stream. Now, the watercourse was there; its direction was
northward, and it was possible that it emptied into the Zaire. In that
case, instead of reaching St. Paul de Loanda, it would be at the mouth
of the great river that Mrs. Weldon and her companions would arrive.
This was not important, because help would not fail them in the
colonies of Lower Guinea.

Having decided to descend the current of this river, Dick Sand's first
idea was to embark on one of the herbaceous rafts, a kind of floating
isle (of which Cameron has often spoken), which drifts in large
numbers on the surface of African rivers.

But Hercules, while roaming at night on the bank, had been fortunate
enough to find a drifting boat. Dick Sand could not hope for anything
better, and chance had served him kindly. In fact, it was not one of
those narrow boats which the natives generally use.

The perogue found by Hercules was one of those whose length exceeds
thirty feet, and the width four--and they are carried rapidly on the
waters of the great lakes by the aid of numerous paddles. Mrs. Weldon
and her companions could install themselves comfortably in it, and it
was sufficient to keep it in the stream by means of an oar to descend
the current of the river.

At first, Dick Sand, wishing to pass unseen, had formed a project
to travel only at night. But to drift twelve hours out of the
twenty-four, was to double the length of a journey which might be
quite long. Happily, Dick Sand had taken a fancy to cover the perogue
with a roof of long grasses, sustained on a rod, which projected fore
and aft. This, when on the water, concealed even the long oar. One
would have said that it was a pile of herbs which drifted down stream,
in the midst of floating islets. Such was the ingenious arrangement
of the thatch, that the birds were deceived, and, seeing there some
grains to pilfer, red-beaked gulls, "arrhinisgas" of black plumage,
and gray and white halcyons frequently came to rest upon it.

Besides, this green roof formed a shelter from the heat of the sun. A
voyage made under these conditions might then be accomplished almost
without fatigue, but not without danger.

In fact, the journey would be a long one, and it would be necessary
to procure food each day. Hence the risk of hunting on the banks if
fishing would not suffice, and Dick Sand had no firearms but the gun
carried off by Hercules after the attack on the ant-hill; but he
counted on every shot. Perhaps even by passing his gun through the
thatch of the boat he might fire with surety, like a butter through
the holes in his hut.

Meanwhile, the perogue drifted with the force of the current a
distance not less than two miles an hour, as near as Dick Sand could
estimate it.

He hoped to make, thus, fifty miles a day. But, on account of this
very rapidity of the current, continual care was necessary to avoid
obstacles--rocks, trunks of trees, and the high bottoms of the river.
Besides, it was to be feared that this current would change to rapids,
or to cataracts, a frequent occurrence on the rivers of Africa.

The joy of seeing Mrs. Weldon and her child had restored all Dick

Book of the day: