After the big blue stone, or, The treasure of the jungle

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After the big blue stone, or, The treasure of the jungle

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After the big blue stone, or, The treasure of the jungle
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Fame and fortune weekly : stories of boys who make money
A self-made man (J. Perkins Tracy)
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New York
Frank Tousey
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1 online resource (29 pages)


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Dime novels -- Periodicals ( lcsh )
Wealth ( lcsh )
Entrepreneurship -- Fiction ( lcsh )
Boys ( lcsh )
serial ( sobekcm )

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University of South Florida
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University of South Florida
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F18-00135 ( USFLDC DOI )
f18.135 ( USFLDC Handle )
031446809 ( ALEPH )
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As he sprang eagerly forward a puff of greenish smoke suddenly issued from under the gem and enveloped his face. Its overpowering odor staggered the boy. He threw up his arms wildly and fell back into the arms of his companion.


.fame and Fortune Weekly STORIES OF BOYS WHO MAKE MONEY luved Wee k lt1-Bt1 Subscription. 12.60 per f1t1ar. Entered tl

2 AFTER THE BIG BLUE STONE. the master of the schooner "Gleam," which was oiie of the Yesscls engaged in the trade. Cli and Ben soon made themselves great favorites aboard. the schooner with t.he captain, the mate, and William Flint, an able seaman who bossed the lascars. They took a particular fancy to Flint, because he proved an inexhaustible storehouse of wonderful adventures in Indian waters, and along the coast, as well as the inte rior of the big peninsula. On the afternoon our story opens he had been telling th em about .aIJ astonishing adventure he hlid participated in during the pirevious year. He and a small party had started on business for a town fifty miles inland from the shore of the Strait of Manaar. Not far from their destination their guide desert e d them, leaving them in a pretty bacl fix. They were forced to keep on without him, and, as a conse quence, got lo s t in one of the numerous Indian jungles which Flint declared were as bad as a labyrinth to one nnacquainted with the country. After wandering several days at random thev came tmon one of ihe small temples so numerou s in 'l'his was a particularly sacred one, hidden in the depihs of the jungle, and dedicate ,d. to a deity called Jumna. They entered the edifice unob&irved and obtained a close Yiew of the idol representing J umna. F'lint declared that this paTticular god war; famed throughout the country for the wonderful blu e stone it wore in the center of a gold star affixed to the region of the stomach. This stone was an enormous sapphire of exceptional purity which had been cut with astonishing s kill lo re semble the human eye. 'l'here wasn't a native, however ignorant, who had uot heard a bout this great blue stone, and. marvelous properties were ascribed to it. It was said that on the annual festival of the god Jumn::i which was observed with many religious rites at the lemph', ihe blue eye of the idol would wink with great s olemnity a of times. No intelligent foreigner believed any such yarn as ih: .LI, bui the natives put absolute faith in the alleged fact, and hundreds of them asserted with every evidence of sincerity thai they seen the eye move in its socket. Probably it did move through some chicanery or lhc prici;ts in charge of the temple, for it was to their interest to keep up the reputation of the god. Clif and Ben had not been long enough in India to learn about this big blue stone with its mysterious qualities, ancl consequently showed their ignorance about ii when Flint spoke of it. That led to his query with which this chapter opens "No," replied Clif, "neither of us ever heard about it. It must be a fine stone, and I'd give a whole lot to see it." "I reckon ye are not likely to see it, my hearty," replied Flint. "Why not? Couldn't Ben and I hire a guide at one of those villages a1ong shore to take us to the temple of Jumna ?" "Ye couldn't hire a guide to do that for love nor money,n replied the sailor, wagging his head in a very positive man ner. "We couldn't?" "No, ye couldn't. It's ag'in their religion to do it. Foreigners are not allowed to inspect that there idol." "But you and your friends inspect e d it," said Clif. "That was :m accident, and we came near losm' our lives. The priest told us we had committed a sacrilege, but one of the party squared him by the present of a fine pearl he owned That there pearl saved our bacon. Them priest<> will wink at anythin' if you pay 'em enough Had the com mon natives nabbed us in that shrine we'd never have got out alive, pearl or no pearl. I believe a million dollars in Britis h sov'rings wouldn' have saved us Them ordinary critters are the worst fanatics about their religion ye ever seen T11e priests, who are high caste and s omewhat edu cated rascals play 'em for all they're worth." 1 "What does that Jumna idol look like, anyway ?n "Y 01, 1've seen a tailor haven't ye, squattin' with crossed l egs on a table?" S U)-'e, I have," s ai cl Clif. "So have I," chipped in B e n. "Does it look like ,11 tailor?'' To. It only ha s ihe attilllllc of a tailor, it looks like a Chinese joss with a sma ll pagoda on his he:id. It has stdngs of all kinds of val uablc gems hangin' from its shoulders, and a rope of the finest pearls you ever seen in your lifo Jung rround its ncrk under the chin. Th n whole thing is made of cl ark bronze with go1c1 trirnmin'R. '' "Real gold?" asked BM. "I couldn't swear that, it's real gold, for I dion'L get close enough to the old thin g Lo make sure of 1L, but it looks eno ugh lik e gold to b e IA.ken for ii." "The big blu e st one i s worn on the idol's stomach, you say?" said Clif. '' Y CR. It's the center-piece of a large blue star." "Does it look like a human eye?" asked Ben. "IL look s enough like it to give you lhe shivers." "What do es the idol s la nr1 on ?" "On Lhe top of three solid blocks of some kind of s lone, each sma ll e r than the lower one, lik e a pair of Rteps." "How much do you s uppose Lhal blue stone is worth?" "l i:;houlcl reckon it's worth a mighty bi g s um of money." ''I1m 'L ilt o door of th e temple l ocked?'' Ii ltasn 't got no door to it, jest 11 big openin' f iu' the jungle.'' "l suppooc it's guarded all Lhr ti tile i"' said Clii. "We didni.i:iec no guard. All we Reen was the priest who out of a t;mall room to one s ide. He turned black wilh whe n h e see n us in thai there temple, and began sayin' somethin' that only one of our party unc1erslood. It wfls a gootl thing h e dicl unde r stand the fellow's lingo. rr he ha.dn "t--" "Well?" said Ben, as the sailor paused. "We'd have been aIJgels long afore this." "How maIJy were there in yotu party?" "Four." "You had some kind of arms, didn't you?" asked Cli.f: "We had our knives, and the fellow who was expert at Hindoo had a revolver." "Then why need you : have been o.fraid of a single priest?" "Ile had his hand on a bell-rope. Had he pulled it, as he easily could have done, he would have had help enough around him in two minutes to have done us up, all righl.


AFTER THE BIG BLUE STONE. 3 The chap who understood and s poke the same dialect as the: The white-heade d boatman ho towered head and shoul priest had presence of mind eno ugh to chip in a little paders above his comrades pushed his way to the front, and Jave1 at the right minute. The priest listened with his hand commanding silence among hi s followers, addressed himself on the bell-rope. rr hen he offered to let us off if we'd swear to the mate of the schoOI1'. to keep our visit to the temple a secret and come up with "Sa'b," said he in pigeon Engli?h, "one year back big enoug h to satisfy his greed. The pearl was the only thing sa'b [meaning Captain Glaze] ordered Salambo eat plenty we had worth hi s notice and h e let the matter go at that." blows for sellin' charm to diver-man. All same, this seaFton "Row did y0u eRcape from the jungle?" he come back and sell plenty charm, tellin' diver-man h1 "'l'he priest furnished us with a guide and so we reached put charm round neek, shark no eat him up He tell our dcsti,rntion.'' plenty lie-this aft'noon one shark clone come, eat diver, "Gee! But you had a hot time of it," laughed Clif. charm, all!" "I reckon we did, my hearty," replied Flint, starting to "Let him stand forward," replied M:r. Robertson, with fill hi s pipe. difficulty suppressing a grin. At that moment Ben, who glanced in the direction of the The culprit, a sleek old fellow with shaven head, crafty diving-boats, jumped on his feet with an exclamation eyes, and a rosary of wooden. beads about his neck wa;; "Look, C'lif, look!" h e cried, pointing across the water. shove d to the .fore. '"l'lwre's Rmnething doing among th e boatmen." "Are you the chap who was whipped off the grounds lnR t C lif got on his feet, and so did Flint, and the three year for selling charms?" demanded the mate. walked over to the starboard rail to get a better look. "I same rascal," aclrnitted the fellow, salaaming unlil CHAPTER II. ,/ HOW THE SHARK-CHARMER IS MADE TO WALK THE PLANK. "Looks like 8 row," suggested Clif, after taking a good view of the scene of the disturbance. "That's what it does," coincided Ben. "Hello They've l!itarted for the schooner. There's something wrong for fair." "I thought the boats were not permitted to leave the div ing ground until the sig nal gun is fired?" sa id Clif, looking at Flint. "They hain 't, but them chaps seem to be so excited over somethin that's happened that they've overlooked the regulations," replied the sailor. "It's probably lucky for them that Captain Glaze is ashore," said Ben. "Well, M:r. Robertson, the mate, will make it just as hot for them if they deserve it," said Clif. By this time the excited cries which had first attracted the attention of those on the schooner's deck had been ex cha nged by the boatmen for a weird chant to which every oar kept time. Erect in the stern of the fol'emost boat an old white h eaded man led the song, while at the end of each measure the voice of every boatman raised a chorus that seemed to fairly lift the boats out of the water. Although Clif and Ben were unaware of the fact 1he song was made up by the old singer as the boats came on, the refrain chorus being the same all the wa) through. The words referred to some incident which had happened at the diving ground, and was the cause of the present manifestation. All that the boys could make out of it was something about a diver and a shark, and then something about a cha rm-seller. Flint, however, seemed to understand the drift of the song, and translated its .import to the boys. 'l'he boa.ts having reached the side of the schooner the chant ceased abruptly, the heavy oars were noisily shipped and, amid a pt'rfect babel of voices, the boatmen came swarming up the s ide, until th, e deck was one mass of wildly-gestic11lating, dusky humanity. \ his shaven head almost touched the deck. "He's a cheeky rooster, upon my word,n remarked Clif. "I'm bound to say that I admire his nerve," said Ben. "I wonder what the mate will do with him?" said Cl if. "I know what I'd d-0 with him," chuckled Ben. "What would you do with him?" asked Clif. "I'd give him a dose of his own physic." "I don't catch your meaning." "I'd make him walk the plank in regular pirate style." "What! You'd give him to the sharks!" almost gasped Clif. "He boasts about the efficacy of his shark charms that he sells to the boatmen, why not compel him to give a public test of their value? If a shark comes along and fails to gobble him up it will give his business a boom. I believe in encouraging trade." "Ha! ha! ha!" laughed Clif. "Why don't you suggest your idea to the mate?" "I will if you back me up." "I'll do it on one condition," replied Olif. "What is your condition?" "That you also s uggest that two of the lascars tak;e a boat and lie under the schooner's quarter in readiness to pick the rascal up as soon as he comes to the surface after his plunge. It would be the joke altogether too far to let the old sinner be actually caught by a shark, for of cours e his charm is a pure fake." "I accept yom amendment," replied Ben. "All I want to do is to give the rascal a good scaJe." Accordingly the two boys walked over to the spot where the mate and the charm-seller stood. "What did you think of doing to this man?" asked Ben of Mr. Robertson. "Give him Llll'ee dozen la s hes on ihe back." "I know a better punishment-for him," said Ben. Sallllllbo heard his words, which he r e adily understood, and favored the boy with a wicked look. rrhe mate looked at Ben in some surprise, and then said : What is it?" "Oom1e this way and I'll tell you." M:r. Robertson and the two boys retired a few steps and then Ben outlined his scheme for giving the diarm-selle!. the shock of his life.


AFTER THE BIG BLUE STONE. The ide a appealed to the waggish side of the mate and he agreed to put it into execution. He motioned to Flint and ordered him to have the boat lowered and in position to pick Salambo up. Then he walked up to the old villain. "Do you happen to have one of those charms about you?" "One here got, sa'b," replied the rascal, producing from the folds of his waist-cloth a fragment of palmleaf covered with cabalistic c:haracters. "Sa'b like to buy? Sell cheap. Sure 'tection gin shark. No eat pusson got one dese 'bout him." "Keep it yourself," replied the mate, "you'll soon need it. Hi, lascar !" to one of the schooner's crew who stood near. "Fetch a plank here and run it out over the side." By the time the plank was brought and run out until half of its length projected over the water Flint came up and by a sign intimated that the boat was in readiness. 'rhe crowd of natives, guessing that something unusual was on the tapis, craned their necks eagerly. The charm-seller seemed to guess what was in store for him, and, being ignorant of the fact that a boat was waiting to pick him up directly he ros e from his involuntary bath, began to give plain of fright. He flopped down on his knees and begged for mercy. The mate, aware that the old villain would incur little danger, was deaf to all his appeals, and made a signal to the lascars to run the old man out on the plank. The quaking wretch was seized and dragged to the schooner's side. His rolling orbs met the laughing glances of the two boys. :Ascribing his persent unhappy predicament to them he favored them with a look so diabolical that they shuddered in &pite of theJnselves. "Lord!" palpitat e d B en. "If there isn't mu1 der in that fellow's eye I don't know what the look i s like.' The rascal was placed upon the plank. "One, two, three-let him slide!" cried the mate. The a .eek end of the plank rose high in the air, then de scended with a ffash, and with a scream of terror the charm vendor disappeared over the side. \ A tremendom shout rose from the natives on the deck, 1nd with one accord they all rushed to the schooner's side, which they reached just as Salambo's head reappeared above the surface. Another moment and h e was dragged into the boat by the two lascars, where, catching s ight of the laugh4:ig coun tenances of the two boys at the rail above, shook his fist at them in mute menace, and was rowed ashore. "I guess that will teach him a lesson that he won't forget in a hurry," said Ben as he and his companion watched the boat recede. \ "Maybe it will," replied Clif. "However, we're not likely to see him again." But in this forecast of the future he was mistaken, as events speedily proved. CHAPTER III. IN WHICH CLT!I DISCOVEHS A FORTUNb: IN PEAP.LS. .. I'm with you," replied Ben. "Any kind of a chani;e will suit me." "I suppose iL's up to me to ask the skipper," said Clif. "Yes. Your father put us in his charge. Ile won't let us go alone, you can bet." "Flint will be just the man to go with us." "But he's busy." "What of it? The captain can let him off duty." "Well, run along and make your application. I'll wait here till you get back." Clif walked aft and entered the cabin. It was a iine day, with a cloudless sky. The breeze was so light and fitful that it barely ruffled the surface of 1he sea about the schooner. The boys had been over to the diving-ground all morn ing and now that they had had their dinner they were longing for some fresh kind of excitement. Captain Glaze listened to Clif's request and did not seem to quite approve of it. "I haven't anybody to send with you," he said, knitting his brows. "Couldn't Flint go?" asked Clif. "I can't spare him," replied the captain. ; The boy looked disappointed. "Isn't there anybody else that could go with us?" he asked. "Nobody I could trust you with." "Can we take the small boat and row as far as the bMch and back?" "You could do that if you will. promis-e not to go further than the beach." "All right, sir. Is it dangerous for us to visit one of the villages alone?" "Not particularly; but you might get into trouble in some way, and I can't afford to talrn any chances. I am re sponsible for your safety and return to Madras." So Clif returned to the deck and his friend, and t0ld Ben the result of his interview with the skippei. "We'll go as far as the shore, anyway," said Ben. "It will be a good idea to carry our revolvers along and a pock etful of cartridges. I don't expect we'll have any occasion to use them unless we see a shark en route, aRd then we can take a pop at him. I wouldn't mind killing a good sized man-eater if only to get revenge for the death of that diver who was eaten up yesterday afternoon because he put too much faith in that charm Salambo sold him. I wouldn't feel so awfully bad if I heard that a shark got hold of the old villain himself. He's a fakir of the nrst water." "What kind of water?" 'Sea water, of course," grinned Ben. "If we had liberty to go a s hore we might meet the rasc:il again." "I'm not anxious to meet him. He's got it in for us, for he holds us responsible for the plank-walking incident." "What of it?" replied Clif. "He wouldn't dare play any trick on us." "You can't tell what he might dare to do. Look at the nerve he had to come back to the grounds to sell his bogus charms after having been whipped for the same offense last Ben, lot's aRk permis'\iOn of Captain Glaze lo go year." nRhorr," RWicl. Clif on the following afternoon. "l'm tired "J must admit that he'R a R ly olcl rodger." of monkeying nronncl the deck of this schooner." "Sly i 1 m't the word. He' s a paRt-master in


AFTER THE BIG BLUE STONE. 5 You saw the look he gave us jus t because the lascars s hoved him on the plank." "I did It was a bad one." "A sort of concentrated essence of hate. Then, aftel' 6e boat picked him up he shook hi fist at us. He means to get square if he can:" 'How can he? We're under Cap Lain Glaze"s protection." "We wouldn't be under -f-he captain's protect ion ashore -that is, only so far as his influence obta in s in this neigh borhood." "Weg, in broad daylight, with a rernher apiece in 01u clothes, I gue s s i)1ere is little fear of Salambo doing u s." The boys got into the small boat alongside, took up the oars and began to row toward the n e ar-by shore. took i.hEil' time, for it was mighty h ot Fmally they reached the beach, got out o f the boat and secured it to the shore by means of a stake. "These sandg are like an oven r emarked Clif liftincr 0 his helmet to cool his dripping foreheacl. "Yes, the shore fee l s hotter than blazes," coi n cided Bc)n lifting his helmet, too. "Come on, there's a row of banyan trees yonder W e can sit in the shade and look a round. There was a small village near by of thatched huts. A crowd of n atives were gathered around a dusky-lookiug man who was standing on an elevat ion in t h e middle of tl;e mob apparently addressing the others. The gather in g was shouting ancl gesticu lating in a stren uous kind of way. "I wonder what's going on ihere ?" Cl if Raid c uriou s lv. "Ask me something easier, Clif Maybe they're holding. a political meeting." are-like fun! They seem to. be bu: l'ing some tlung. See thoee chaps walking out of the crowd with their arms full of brown things." "Let's go over and see what's on foot," sucr0crested B en t The captain made me promise that we wouldn't go very far from the shore." "T&at isn't far. Only about a coup l e of hundred replied B en C lif allowed himself be persuaded, so the boys got U!J and approached the group They soon discovered that the black man in the center of the crowd was auctioning off some pearl oysters. The boys had heard about these sales, which were eacrcr1v patronized by the natives, who sometimes got great gains, though most of the time nothing to spea k of. "It's a kind of lottery, lik e the sales he;ld once or twice a by''tqe express companies in the States," said C lif. "The natives bid on a lot of oysters on the cha nc e of fin cling some valuable pearls in them They're crazy over th e o-ame f 0 ever smce one o the natives found over sixty big pearls :U1 some oysters he had bought in and made his fortune for life. Although these chaps seldom find a pearl of any great value they a.ll hope that some day luck will come to them, and that they'll get rich right off the reel." "There is always the chance," replied B e n. "I'd like to have a go myself, j ;ust for the fun of the thing." "We couldn't bid. W e don't know what to offer." "Any old price would do as lon g as it's l ow." "The auctioneer wouldn't understand us." "Ask one of the natives to do i t for us." "How could we? We ca n't speak their lingo." Ben haJ to admit that there appeared to be i nsurmountable difficulties in their way, and relu ct antly gaYe up the idea. At that moment he spied a nativ e who had been aboard the schoon e r, and whom he knew could speak English after a fashion. On the spur 0 the mom ent he ru s hed up to the fellow and told him what they to do. The nat irn grinned, nodd ed and pushing his way forward bid in a batch of oysters for the boys at an a bsurdly low figure. .. Oli.f handed him the coin with another for himself. 'l' h e native gathered up the oysters and handed them to the boys. They were dirty-looking objects, and Rmelt horribly, for they had been several days out of wat er, standing in the su n in a s mall pyramid. "Gee! But they smell lik e a putrid sew er,'' cried B e n, holding his nose. "Where s hall w e tak e them, Clif? To the boat?" ":No, unde r the palm s wher e we were sitting clown awhile ago." They carri e d the lot to the shady spot, laid them on the ground and got out their jackknive s "Hang me, if I care much to open them," s aid B e n, con templatin g their purchase with an air of disgust. "The s t e n c h i s something terrible, I must admit an sw e r e d Clif, fing ering one, of the oyster s hell s gingerly. "Our .finger s will smell for a week," said B e n. "I don t believe w e'll find a pearl in them, Don't be a quitter," laugh e d C lif. "It was your idea to buy them." I know it was, but I didn't expect to buy something that sme ll s like a morgu e." "Well, l et's divide the m up and try our lu ck. There are twenty of them. rn let you h ave first pick, the n if the r e's a fine p ear l in one 0 them w e won't haYe any excuse to quarrel o\er it. It will b e long to the one who selected the oyster." Accordingly they each picked ten oysters alternately, and then, with no Yery great enthus ia s m, b e g a n tQ open the m, one at a time. The opening of the bivalves was attended with a more acute sme ll that almo s t turned the boys' stomachs "Say, no more of this for me," said Ben, holding up his s limy and foul-smelling fing ers after to ssing away his tenth and la s t oyster. "This i s a r e gular sell. Not a solitary pearl hav e either of u s found for our filthy work "I've got one oyst e r left," s aid Clif. "You'd better fire it away without letting out any more skunk odors," sa id Ben. "It migLt contain a handsome pearl." "If it does I'll eat the oyster." "Yes, you would. I think I see you doing it. You wouldn't even make a bluff at doing it for a hundreddollar bill." "You b et I wouldn t. The;e's poison enough in one of theRe rotten to clepop nlat e a Yilla ge." Clif pick ed up th& last oyster, whi c h 11as a good size d fc1low. I


AF'l'ER THE BIO BLUE STO E "How much am I offered for this last bivalve?" he g rinned. "Hold on there! Don't s hove it in my direction. I know when I've had enough of an'ything," objected B en. "I'm going down to the water to wash my hands." "Wait till w e see if there's anything in thfa fe1low an d then I'll go with you." Ben waited, but without any great display of interest. The chances of their finding a pearl in the last oyster did not strik e him as being very favorable. O lif after a :flouri s h of hi s arm, forced open the she ll of the)Jivalve. As hi s ye caught a g lan ce of the interior of the s h ell he uttered a shout. It contained a magnifi cent pearl. CHAPTER IV. HOW FDRTUNE PLAYS THE BOYS A SLIPPERY TRICK. "Gracious!" gasped Ben, while Cli.f regarded his prize with staring eyes. So taken up were they with the good fortune which come to Olif through the putrip oyster that neither of them observ ed a black face with a c lean shaven head thrust through the thick verdure around the foot of the palm tree behind them. A pair of snak:x eyes, glittering with craft and greed, peered cautiously at them and the opened oyster shells containing tha pearl The intruder was Salambo, the sharkcharme r who had been sleeping in the and who had been awakened by C lif's shout. "There's no :flies on this oyster," said Olif after he had recov ered from his surprise. "Bet your life there isn't. Let's see the pearl you've got." .. Olif extracted the gli stening globt}ffi from its cas e ..;:-....---"A beauty!" he "I'll bet. Captain Glaze will open his eyes when he sees this." "I should remark," replied Ben. "Let me see it." "Sure." "Thanks," said Ben. in a tone of satisfaction. ''IIold on, he added as Olif was about to throw the shell awav. I see s omething yeJ low in one corner. Shck yom knife in the meat, that side." With the point of his knife O lir prodded the substance oi'. the oyster at the point indicated, and preRently laid bare a large pea.rl shape d like a p ea r, in Juster of the purest pale yellow "A gold p earl !" exclaimed Clif. I never saw one like that before." "A. gold pearl!" repeated Ben. "You're in grea.t luck, old man. Don't you remember that the captain told UR at dinner the other day that a gold pearl was a great ra.rity, found about once in twenty years? He aid tha.t though they in no particular demand among foreigners, the wealthy natives more particularly the Indian priests; were always anxious to obtain them, and were rea dy to pay an 3 normous price for a pure specimen." "I rememb e r. I guess I'll b e able to make a goocl thing out of this one "I'll bet you will. Your father w ill be able to sell it for you." Salambo, concea l ed behind the trunk of the banyan tree within a few feet of them, leaned eagerly forward. So close was he to the boys that he could hear every word of their conversation. As he listened an avariciou s glitter sho n e in hi s cmft y eyes, and he rubbed his hands unctuously together. He knew the value oi'. a golde n pearl as well as any per son in India. The possession of such a gem would mean i, fortune t() hin1, for he had in his mirrd's eye a priest who was very eager to obtain a yellow pear l of pure He would be able to name his own price. So he resolved by book or by crook to get that gold pearl away from Olif Halliday. 3.'hat would b e as good as any revenge h e could take upon the boy. The boys walked down t.o the water's edgJ and cleancrl their hands as thoroughly as they were able, but they could / not entirely remove the fetid smell of the putrid oyster meat. Then they returned to the shade of the ban yan tree, utterly unconscious that their movements were under the ob servat ion of as big and crafty a rascal as the sun ever shone upon. Olif had taken the chamois covering from his watch and put the pearls in it as a temporary receptacle until they returned aboard the schooner He now took the chamois bag out of his pocket so that he and Ben could examine the silver globule with its solitary yellow mate at their leisure. When the boys went down to the water Sal ambo gritted his teeth wit h savage disappointment, for he thought they were about to take to their boat and go back to i.he schooner. Such a move on their part would, in all probability have put the yellow pearl, which he prized the most, out of hjs reach. It was with unbounded satisfacti on that he saw them turn around, after washing their hands, and return to the Rhacle of the tree. Oli rubbed off each pearl carefu ll y with his handker chief, and then he and Ben examined and commented upon i.hem separately, the gold pearl coming in a s the finale of their inspection. At l ength he returned them to ihe chamois ba g and wrapped the bag in h is h:indkerchief, which he knotted. "N oborly woulcl dream that there's a king's ran om in that little bundle," he sa id holding it up ligntly. As he spoke a clusky, naked arm was thrust forward through the l eaves, sinewy fingeri> grabbed the handkerchief. and it was wrenched from hi1:1 grasp. Clif and Ben were both too a tonishecl to make a mow or a moment or two, then they sprang to their feet to make things warm for the thief. "There he goes!" cried Ben, pointing to the rascal, who was rnnning in the direction of the villng e as hard aR lie c-ould go. Both recognized the old villa in on the instant. "It's that scoundrel, Salambo !" e jaculated Clif. "He'll get away with t h e goods if w e don t look liv<'ly," Raid Ben.


AFTER IBE BIG BLUE STONE. 'rhe boys started after the shark-charmer as fast as they could. They found to their mortifica.tion that the &d man could run as fast as they. "He'll escape us. Uit us fire at him," said Ben, draw ing his revolver. "No, no," ret.urnetl Clif. "We might hit one of the vil lagers, and then we'd get into trouble. We must try toce,tch him somehow." Sala.mbo; however, soon vanished behind. one of the thatched houses, and whe:rt the bo-ys rellChecl the hut there was no sign of him. "We'll have to hunt hi1n out," said C1if. "This village isn't so large." They hunted the sha.rk -charmer in vain a.ncl were sub-. Jected to the stares of the native men, women and chilclnm. "There's the mm who bought the oysters for us,"' said Ben. "He speaks English pretty well. Let s hire him to help us." Ulif was willing to do anything that promised ta him back his pearls, so the native was stopped and viewed. "Gee.! That's bad," said Ben. "What shall we do about it?" "Follow him," replied Clif tersely. "He may have friends there who are likely to stand up for him, and we may get into all kinds o;f trouble," said Ben. "I'm to chance that," replied Clif. "I can't afford to let that rascal ge.t away with my property." "It will be dark befot'l3 we can get back to our boot, and later still when we reach the schooner. Captain Glaze will have fits over our absence. He w,:)n't let us come ashore alone any more." "I don't care aJ3 long as I recove1.; those pearls." The promise: of an additional rupee induced Kurhora to lead the way to the village Salambo was re.ported to have made for. "I've a;n idoo. we'll catch him thei;e, for he'll bclieve he has thrown us off his track," said Clif. "I hope so," responded Ben. A kind of roadway led to the village in question, and the th;i:ee followed it. The boys were compelled to stop and rest several times as the told hea;vily 00. them. "Salambo, eh?" grinned the man, whose namewas KurThe guide didn't seem to mind it, but then he was ac We want to catch customed to the climate. hora. "Him big rascal." "Bet your life he is," replieJ Ben. him." "What for, sa'b ?" "He stole somethii+g from us:" ''Me seen him makin' tracks for village down dat way," said Kurhora, pointinf. "You help us ca.tch him and we'll pay you well," said Olif. "Me N6 like Salambo. Much bi.g rascal." "Lead the way, then, and step-lively," said Ben impatiently. Stepping out lively was hot work for the boys, but under the circumstances they did not mind it so much as their thoughts were centered in the stolen pearls. "I'm hreaking my word to Capta.i.n Glaze, but I guess we've a good excuse," said Clif as they hurried along toward (he next village, vhich they c01.1ld see in the distance. "Oh, shoot Captain Glaze! I O'lJess we can take Cafe of o. ourselves," repli ed Ben. "It's getting on to sundown. I hope this chase will end at yonder village." In the course of two houl's, or about sundown, they reached the village. Clif decided that they would attract too much attentiro by showing themselves in the place, and this would put Salambo on his guard if he was there. Kurhora was therefore instructed to enter the village alone and investigate the whereabouts af the shark-charmer. U he succeeded in finding where the rascal had taken refuge he was to return at once and report to the boys. "We'll wait at the foot of this tree till you get back," said Clif to the guide. "Understand?" "Me understancliIJj, sa'b," replied Kurhora, who then en tered the village oithis mission. "Gee! We're having quite an adventure after all, Clif," said Ben, lying clown on the grass and fanning his heated brow with his helmet. "That's whaj; we are. On the whole, l'm beginning to feel sorry that we found those pearls. It goo; aogainst my grain to lose them to that rascal above all others. I won der how he knew we had them ?" "He must have seen us buy the oysters and then f'oUowed us, and hid himself in the grass under ilhe banyan." "Suppose the rascal has gone on further? Are you going to follow him?" "How could he guess that we were likely to find pearls in "Yes," replied Clif doggedly. "I don't moan that he those oysters? We suspect the fact m us8tves. No shall have the laugh on us, as well as the profit of those body cou ld possibly tell what those oysters contained besides pearls. The fellow would be made for the rest of his life." putrid meat until they were opened and inspected." "I'd like to fill him full of holes for giving us all this "Mayba he us to play some trick on us in retroul:,ile," said Ben. venge for yesterday afternoon's incident," said Ben. "He deserves soo'ie kind of punish:ment, but I'll be eatis-"'rhat's more like it. When he saw we had found valu-:fiecl if I get the pearls back." able pearls, particularly that gold one, he made up his mind The perspiration was running off them wherr they readied to steal them and succeeded." the village. The boys gradually cooled off while araiting their guide's Kurhora led them hither and thither, making inquiries return. in the native tongue. "It will soon be da;rk," said Ben. "Even if we started Finally a man was found who knew Salam.ho. back at once it woold take us about three hours to reach the I Re furnished the unpalatable informat ion thf1t the sha.rk-j place where we left our boat. I'll bet the skipper has charmer had gone on to another village in the interior. Flint ashore by this look us up.:


' 8 AFTER THE BIG BLUE STONE. ",\. number of the natives of the village there saw us start for the other village with Kurhora, and that will gi vc Flint, if he comes ashore alter us, a clue Lo the direction we've taken," said Clif. "Oh, what 's the odds? We'll get back all right. Our guide knows it's money in his pocket to treat us right." A noise behind them at that moment athacted their at tention. I Did he mean kill them in reYcngc for lhc fright their trick had gi rnn him? 'l'he outlook was certainly not a pleasanL one. Salami.Jo gave some directions to his comrades. A rude wagon was brought forward, in the shafts of which was a one-eyed, sorry-looking horse. Turning to look they were suddenly seized, each by a sinewy pair of arms, and thrown on their faces. The boys were shoved into it as though they were logs, two of the natives followed, while a third got on the seat, with the shark-charmer beside him, and started the horse ahead. In that position they were quickly bound by thongs and turned over again on their backs. Then they were raised into a sitting postur e 'l'hey were so surprised by the attack made upon them, as well as taken at sudden disadvantage, that they "ere able to make but slight resistance in their own behalf. When they looked to see who their enemies were their eyes lighted on the very indi11idual they were in qnest of-the shark-charmer, Salambo, and there was a look of gratified malice on his crafty countenance that did n ot augur well for the future of the two boys. CHAPTER V. The course they took sk irted the village, and when they reached the other side they went on into the interior. "This is a nice fix were in now," said Clif to his friend, who lay stretched out beside him in the bottom of the wagon. "I should say so,' returned Ben. "If we don't see our finish we'll be lu cky." "I can't imagine what the old rascal means to do with us." "He doesn't mean u s any good, that's certain." "He seems to hold all the cards in his hands." "He's frken two tricks so far, and the next may finish the game." "And us as well." A STARTLING OCCURREXCE. "I hope not, but things look pretty blue." "How you feel now, eh, sa'bs ?" grinned Salambo, makThe wagon was a rickety affair, and the road full of ruts, ing a mock bow to them. so that the boys got an unpleasant shaking up during the "What do you mean by treating us in this manner, you ride. villain?" cried Clif angrily. Ben growled every time he got a good bounce, and finally "S'pose you tell why make Salambo walk plank yesterday said that he was getting as sore all orcr as a healthy boil. af'noon, ch?" he replied. It came on dark, but the sky was bright with numerous "That was only a joke. It didn't hurt you any." stars. "Salambo no see joke. S'pose shark come up, catch him, Salambo and his companions talked among th:mscl ves in bite him in two. what then, eh?" their native dialect, and the s hark-charmer appeared to be "You had a charm with you to protect didn t in an excellent humor. you?" "No wonder,'' thought Clif, "when l1e's got the upper Salamho grinned unpleasantly. hand of us, as well as a fortune in pearls in his possession. It was clear that he placed no great faith in his own It seems as if we've been riding this wagon, and charms. yet I see no indications of a stoppage for night." "Yo].l play your joke, sa'b. Now Salambo play joke, too. Another hour went by and the country wilder and How like dat ?" more lonesome. "Where are those pearls you stole from me, you rascal? The boys were not aware of this fact, a-s they couldn't see You'd hand them over or Captain Glaze will make it anything but the high wooden sides of the cart. hot for you." By and by the moon rose, making the night a gorgeous "'No care for big sa'b. Me shore. Him on whooner." one. "He'll send a party on shore to hunt you down." Occasionally the wagon pa ssed a solitary hut by the way" No find Salambo. :Me go way long distance. No need side. sen more charm. Me well fixed. No work more. Live like There w ere no signs of lif e about these dwellings, but prince." they seemed to be inhabited. "I see what you mean, you scoundrel. Yon intend to se ll 'rhe c r y of some wild animal could occasionally be heard those pearls, and go to some other part of India to live." in the distance, but othe,;nvise the night was still. "Sa'b make good guess. He heap wise boy," grinned the At length the wagon entered a wood and traveling for shark charmer. some distance came to a halt in a clearing. Clif considered the situation a moment or two. The natives jumped down and two 0 fhem began gather" I tell you what I'll do with you," he said. "Hand over ing the material for a fire. the white pearl and release us and you may keep the gold The fire was lighted and wood put on it till it became one. quite a ruddy blaze. "No good do dat," the rascal answered. "When me done The boys could see its reflection on the leaves and with sa'b>0 you no need anyt'in'." branches of the trees. Salambo's remark sounded rather ominous. Salambo and his gang gathered abouL the fire and proThc boys what his intentions were toward cluced some food from the folds of lhe <:lolh auout their them. waists.


AFTER THE BIG BLUE STONE. 9 'rhis they ate leisurely, carrying on an animated con versation all the while. o attention was paid to the boys in the wagon. "I wonder if we're going to stay here all night ?" said Clif. -"I wouldn't be surprised. I'm pretty hungry, do you know? I wish e were on board the schooneT. "You don't wish it any more than I do," repli e d Clif. "We made a mistake intchasing Salambo It might be bad enough to lose those pearls, but they didn't cost anything worth mentioning It would be a great sight worse if we lost pur lives. These chaps could put us out of the way and bury us in this wood so that our parents would neveT get the.slightest clue as w our fate Ben didn't feel easy over his companion's suggeP.tion. Salambo's woTds that when he was clone. with them they wouldn't need anything, and the fact that they were wholly at the rascal's mercy, furnished the boy with unplea.ciant food for thought. After Salambo and his companions had finished their al fresco meal the fire was replenished The shark -ch armer and two of the natives lay down to rest while the fourth sat up on watch. The boys lay awake for hours, tortured by anxiety and hunger, and then fell into an uneasy sl umb er They awoke at inter-lals during the night to find no c hang e in the situat ion. The fire continued to burn brightly, and the natives took turns in watching the encampment. 'I'he moon went down and finally morning dawned. Soon afterwards all hands were astir and the journey wru; resumed without any particular attention being paid w the prisoners. After an hour's travel the wagon came to a stop before a native hut. Salambo interviewed the Hindoo who lived there and secur ed some provisions of a simp l e kind. A portion of this was allotted to Clif a nd Ben, and they were partially unbound and to ld to eat They were very glad to do so, though the food was not particularly to their liking. They ate. the cakes and drank i;he sweetened water with a relish and were then tied up again. Salamborand his bunch ate their breakfast, then the horse and cart v:ere started on ag,ain. The fad that they were still alive when Balambo had such an e:xcellent chance to put them out of the way during the preceding night somewhat revived the drooping spirits of the boys. "I guess h e doesn't intend to kill u s," Clif said to his friend as the cart jogged along across the country; "but I'd give something to know where the rascal is taking us, and why he is carrying us so far away from the coast." "It wouldn't do us any good to know," returned Ben. "He's bent on getting square with us in some measly way. I wouldn't be surprised if he intends to leaYe us in some far-away and secluded place to starve to death, or maybe hand us over to: a band of thugs to be strang l ed." Th e l atter s u ggestio n sent a shiver through Clif. Both he and Ben had read enough about the murderou s fraternity to fear contact with them. While it was true that these r eligious scoun dr e ls were not n ear so numerous in India as they had once been, there were st ill e nough of them scattered around the country to make the nam e feared. :Murde r for plunder was their trade, and they lived chiefly upon the propert y obtained from their victims, who were invariably s trangled by a rope or cloth at a moment when they were off their guard. "Can't you think of something pleasant instead of bring ing up s uch a s ubject a s that?" a ked Clif. "The idea occurred to my mind, and I couldnt help mentioning it," answered B e n gloomily. Clif did ".not reply, and the boys remained silent for some lime, during which tl.te cart continued on its way at the same old }Jace. A long about noon a stop was made at another solitary habita tio n. Here more food was obtained, and the boys received a slrnre as befor e 'rhe meal, however, was not near the dwelling, but in a lonesome sp ot a mile distant where the party rested for perhaps a n hour when the journey was ren ewed. "Captain Glaze is in a big stew over us by this time," sai d Clif. "I'll bet he is." "I'll wage r he has several parties out scouring the coun try." "Probably Sa.lambo has a pretty good idea of what course the captain would pursue as soon a.S we were missed, and that is why he is carrying us so far inland." "I wish we could get our hands loose. We could make it mighty hot for these rasca ls with our revolvers. a wonder they didn't search us when they captured us." "Salambo couldn't have considered u s worth searching." H e'd have found a fine gold watch on you if he had, and some rupees on both of us." "Probably he ll search us later on when we reach our desti nation." "Kurhora is bound to report that we disappeared on the outskirts of that village he piloted us to. Don t you think that the captain will send a search party into the interior after us?" "There is little doubt that he will. The querotion is, will he hit the direction Salambo has taken?" "I'm afraid his attempt t o find us will be like hunting for a needle in a haystack. India is a big country, and there are jungles and other lonesome places to burn in it. Flint sai d a jungle was little better than a labyrinth, and I'm willing to b e lieve him, though I was never in one." "Captain Glaze will l eave no stone unturned to firid us," said Clif hopefully : "He'll employ the most experienced guides he can find. He can't afford to return to Madras and report to my father that we have disappeared untp he has exhausted every possible effort to find us." "There isn't much doubt of that, but he has a mighty foxy old rascal to deal with. Salambo owes him a grudge, anyway, for the whipping he got last season. It will give him a whole lot of sa tisfaction to make the captain as much trouble as possible." Th e boys continued to talk off and on during the whole of the long afternoon while the cart jolted along without a stop. 'I'hc half-blind, weary-looking nag possessed of a


J 10 AFTER THE BIG BLUE STONE. wonderful fund of vitality to keep the pw::e up so steadily, though it was true he went at no great No doubt he was accustomed to traveling lor indefinite periods around the country, and took the present trip aR a "matter or course. Apparently Salambo avoided the beaten track and kept at a distance from the scattered villages, for as far as tlw boys were aware the party met with no one except the resi dentR of the out-of-the-way huts at which they had stopped to procure food. They stopped at another of these clwellings just before su n set, got more food, and went on to a seclttded spot to eat it. This kind of provender not at all to the boys' liking. 'rhey were not used to it, besides their portion was very scanty anyway, so that they felt half starved by this time. It was just dark when the party entered the gloomy pre cincts of a dense jungle. For an hour the cart continued on its way anc1 then a halt was called at an open space where a .fire was lighted and preparations made to pass the night as the previous one had been spent. Hardly was the fire under way when a blood-curdling screech awoke the si lenc e of the glade. Something struck the cart with such force that it toppled over on one side, dumping the boys out toward the fire. "GooQ. Lord l" cried Olif, as his eyes rqved hack to the cart. "It's a tiger!" CHAPTER VI. A NIGHT IN AN INDIAN JuNGLE. It was a tiger, and a mighty big one at that. The boys had often seen and admired specimens of these man-eaters at the American circus m enageries. It was-one thing to view a captive beast behind the strong steel bars of his cage, but it was quite another to meet him at liberty in his native stamping grounds. The unexpected appearance of this one carried conster nation to Sa.lrunbo and his associates. They crouched around the fire in abject fear, that is, all of them Lut one who happened to be approaching the blaze with an armful of stic ks. He stopped in his tracks, petrified with terror, not daring to more. The tiger remained crouching on the oYeriurned cart, glaring at the party, his tail la shing the air. The fire evidently deterred him from making a spring at the natives. The feelings of the two bound boys, who were nearest to the beast, were pretty acute. They expected that the tiger would pounce upon one of them at any minute. 'l'hey lay as inert as statues, hardly daring to wink an eyelid. This fact, together with their general attitude, prevented the animal from giving them any partichlar attention. Probably he took them for a. couple of corpses, and he had no use for s uch things. At length the tiger noticed the native with the woofi. The man was not in line with the fire ana offered a fair mark for the beast. The tiger crouched lower and lower, watching for a moYe on his pa1t. The native was careful not to make any. Unfortunately for him, several of the sticks slipped away from his grasp. 'rhe man made a convulsive grab at them. In a moment the tiger was in the air. I The native's eye detected the spring the moment it made, and with a yell of terror sprang for the fire. The ani1nal missed him by a hair, but the poor wretch plunged head foremost into the blaze, scattering the cmbC'rR right and left. Screaming with pain he sprang up with his waistband on fire and a score of burns on his person. 'rhe fire was almost extinguished and the disappointecl beaRt, in his to secure a human victim, no longer feared it. He swung a.round and flew at the group of natives. With howls of alarm the party scattered and fled, all hut the wood carrier, whom the tiger caught. The tragedy occurred within a few feet of the paralyzed boys. The strain was too great on lif. He made a clesperate struggle to escape anrl his bonrl::; burst apart. As he scrambled to his knees he saw the tiger carrying the insensible native off by the neck. In another moment the animal vanished into the intricacies of the jungle, and for a few moments Clif heard tlH' receding sounds of his passage through the underbrush. Then complete silence fell on the little encampment. "Gee! That was a narrow shave," said Cllf. "Has he gone?" asked Ben fearfully 4 "YOU mean the tiger ?" "Yes." "He's gone, and carried off one of the natives in his mouth." "Where are the others?" "Skipped off.'' "What's to become of us now?'' "We must get a move on, too.'' 'How can we when we're tied up?" "I'm not tied. I'm free." "Is that a fact?" asked Ben eagerly "As sure as you live." "Then cut me loose, will you?" "Sure, I will, just as soon as I can-get my jackknife out of my pocket." In less than two minutes Clif relieved his comrade of the thongs that had. held his arms long. "My arms feel almost paralyzed," said Ben. "That's the way 1ine felt at first. The feeling won't last more than a minute or two." "Where do you suppose Salambo and the other two fel lows went?" ''They ran into the wood." "They'll be back as soon as they get over their scare. \Ye don't want l.o be here when they return.'' "That's right, we don't," agreed Clif. "The further we're away from them the better." "Where's the horse? "Tied to a stump close to where the fire was."


AFTER THE BIG BI,1JE STONE. 11 "How a bout the cart? Do you s uppose we can use it to I'm afra id the horse will be a gone goose before the sun rid e back? rises. I'd light a fire for his. protection if I dared," said I guess we can right it eas ily enough, and harness the Clif to himself as he listened to the chorus "' beasts round nag to it." about. "We're only about two da y s journey from the coast. I The two hours of his watch passed slowly enough, but guess we can find our way back." eleven by his watch came at last and Clif ar<>nsed Ben to "Probably, if we take the right direction." relieve him. "I should hope we wouldn't take the wrong direction," "You ll have music enough to enteirtain you/" said Clif replied Ben. "Where do you imagine we are now, anyway?" with a chuckle. "How should I know? I haven't the remotest id ea "Musiq !"ejaculated Ben. "What do yoo mren ?" whether we've been traveling north, s outh or west. Of "Don t you hear the cries of the savage denizens of the course we didn't go east, because the coast lies that way." fore st?" Ben scratched his chin reflectively. "Savage denizens of the forest is good," replied Ben with "We might as well admit tha.t we're as good as lost in a grin which Clif couldn t see in the darkness. "I hear the wilds of India, don't you think so?" he said. t hem. 1 gue s s we wouldn't have lasted long if we had tried "I'm willing to admit it." to travel to-night. Salambo and his friends haven't turned "I think we can't do better than stay around this place up eh?" till morning. I don't like the idea of venturing into the "Not to my knowledge, they haven't. If they had come wood in the dark. We might nm across another tiger, or bac k they would have lighted a fire." a big s nake or some other live thing that might do us up." "We might have done that as an additional protection.'' "I agree with you there; but the trouble is Salambo and "The n w e'd have surely brought those rascals back here. hi s friend s are lik e ly to return before long." Of two evils I'd rather take my chance without a fire I "Let them come. We've got our revolvers and can stand don t think any beast can get at us here--that is, a n y boost the m off." likely to come this way." "We'll have to sit up all night and watch; will "Well, turn in and take your forty winks," said Ben l eave us out b y the morning." with a yavm. "We can watch b y turn can t we?" "I'm going to. See don't go to sleep or 13o me"We--can do tha.t 1 suppose aclmittedl Clif thing might happen that.we wouldn't like." "I'll tell you what we'll do. Turn that cart entirely1 Ben promised to keep awake and Clif lay dotWn and wa1 over and crawl under it. Then we'll b e safe from any soon asleep. prowling wild animal a s w ell a s from Salambo and his An hour later Ben was startled by a cry from the horse. companions. They won' t bother ri g hting the cart till The r e w e re sounds of a struggle, more cries from the nag morning, and th e n w e' ll give them the surprise of their and then s ilence in. the glade. lives. We c an e v e n force th a t old villain to hand over the Shortly alterward some animal came nosing around the pearls und e r a threat of s hooting him if he refuses." inv e rted cart. "All right," re.plie d Clif; "but one of u s must watch H e trie d to find an.opening, but couldn't. whil e th e 0the r slee ps. We can take two-hour spells by my It w a s evident he smelt human flesh and blood, and was watch." eager to get at it. "Your watch ought to be stopped b y this time." -His action s kept Ben in a state of alarm. What of it? I can set it g oing again in about half a The boy lighted a. mat c h and by the glare sa.w a goodminut e I've got a matchs afe. I ll s et it at nine o'clo ck, s ized paw scratching around under the back edge of tl1e which won' t b e R O far out of th e way. -J{ ou can turn in cait. firs t I'll wake y o u around eleven, and then after you've H e took out hi s revolver, and putting it close to the rov stood guard till one you can rouse me up." ing paw, fired. This aJTangement was decid e d on, and the boys proceed e d 'rhe animal gave a scream and drew off. to turn the cart completel y ove r. 1 '!'h e r e port of the rewlver Clif, and Ben told him Then they crawled und e r it from th e rear and five min-why he had fired. ntes lat e r Ben was sound a s le e p, while Clif s a t with his back B ell' was troubled several times again, and so was Clif again s t th e front of th e cart and k ept his wits on the al ert. whe n he resumed hi s watch, but there was no more firing During his two-hour watch Clif heard all sorts of strang e Altogetaer it was a night of alarm, and the boys didn't noises around the cleaJ"ing. soon forget their: first night's experience in an Indian Many kinds of animals made night hideous with their jungle. c ri e s as they prowled about the jungle in search of food. "It was a good idea of Ben s for us to g e t under cover when we had it at hand. I wouldn't care to travel through this wood in the dark Salambo and his pals knew better, that's why they camped in this glade and lighted a fire as a kind of protection against th,e wild beasts. It's a wonder they don't come back. Perhaps they can't find the place agai,n in the darkness. Probably they got separated and are roosting up trees for a change. No doubt they'll show up in the morning, for they'll want their horse and cart. CHAPTER VII. IN THE GRASP OF SURE DEATH. Daylight soon after Clif went on watch foDthe third time, and he crawled out from under the cart and look e d around. It was a strange scene that met his eyes. The y w e re evidently in the midst of a dense tropical


12 AF'I'ER 'rHE BIG BLUE STONE. \ l looking forest, and Clif at once decided that il was an Indian jungle. At any rate it corresponded with descriptions of jungles he had read about in books. "Perhaps it's the very jungle that Flint and his party were l ast in. In that case Ben and I may happen to run across the temple of J umna, where t h e god is that wears the famous big blue stone on his stomach. Gee! But I'd give a whole lot and take some risk to be able to sav that I saw that god and the big blue sto1re face to fare. It would be a big feather in our caps, bet your life. Hello! What's this?" \: Clif stooped and pi.eked up a small bundle. ''By George! If it isn't mv handkerchief and I'll bet the pea rl s are inside. must have lost it last night when he skipped out in such a hurry Gee! This is great luck!" He hq,stily unknotted the handkerchief aucl, n: he antici pated, there was the chamois bag with iTic siher pearl the gold one. Clif was tickled to death. He was so overJ"oved that he rushed over to lhe wao-on J b awoke Ben and showed him the recovered pearl s ''where did you find them?" asked Ben, highly pleased "By the dead embers of the fire." "We haven't done so bad after all." "Not if we can get out of the jungle alive." "Are we in a jungle?" asked Ben in s ; urprii:\e. "Looks like one. Doesn't it seem so to you? Take a look around." Ben admitted that they were in a jungle a s far as he could see. "We'r e not Yery far in it," he said '1We hadn't reached it when Salanibo stopped to get something to eat last night about s unset." "How

AFTER THE BIG BLUE STONE. 13 jungle," rt:plied d l if "It was a fortunate thing for us 1 brain, and th'e great reptile began to thresh the verdure that we found the saddle -bags, at any rate. Might be the of the jungle in its death struggles. means of savin g u s from starvation." Its winding folds held Ben in a close embrace, and the '"l'hose sandwi ches did us a whole lot of good, bet your boy was rolled around and swung from side to side, while life," nodded Ben. "I felt as empty as a bag of wind." the snake's body whipped itself about like a live electric "That rifle ought to come in very handy, Ben," said wire on a rampage. Clif "We s hould be able to shoot some game that we can Clif could do, nothing further to finish the boa concook and eat on our way to the coast." strictor. "Great id!}a," sai d Ben. "What game are we likely to The serpent was practically dead, for its head followed find? Elephan ts?" the movements of the body in a limp and aimless fashion. "Don't be funny. We'll find monkeys, for one thing." The vitality of the reptile, however, was great, and there" Oh, Lord! I couldn t eat a monkey." in lay Ben's peril. "How do you know you couldn't if you were hungry It loosened and then tightened its folds spasmodically, enough?" but Ben'5 arms pressed against his body saved bis "I'd sooner sho ot birds." ribs from fracture. "Well, we'll shoot anything that looks good enough to Had the snake got a firm grip on a tree before he was eat when cooked." shot Clif's chum would in all probability have been squeezed After that Ben kept his weath e r eye liftit'g for _Ome to death. kind of ga.rne. Gradually the serpent's st111ggles grew les s violent, and He saw plenty of monkeys, but h e wouldn't throw a carClif, seeing hi s chance, got out his jackknife, and rushing tridge away on one. forward began hacking away at its body where it encircled Finally he wounded a bird of gay plumage that looked his friend. s omet!1ing like a quail in s ize and build. He had the time of his life trying to make headway, Putting a fresh cartridge in the rifle he tossed the gun though the knife was sharp, but as he cut partly through to Clif and then clashed into the underbrush after the fold after another of the three the strain on Ben was wounded bird. eased up till Clif was f)nally able to release him from his Why he paused to put that cartridge in the gun he never terrible position. could explain afterward, but if he bad not done it it is As Clif dragged Ben back to the spot where the saddleprobable he never would have left the jungle alive. bags lay the boy looked like death. Clif heard him beating around among the luxuriant Clif was in a fever of suspense over his comvegetation in his efforts to locate the bird. panion's predicament. Several minutes passed, and then Clif heard his comBen s white face, closed eyes, and inert condition was panion give a c r y of tenor, and immediately afterward he far from reassuring. began shouting fo r help in a tone tba.t showed something Clif fished the flask of brand y out of the cc1mpartment serious had happened to him. of one of the saddle-bags and forcing open Ben's mouth Clif lost not a moment in hurrying to his assistance. poured some of it down his throat. Ben's cr ies continued and directed his friend to the spot No immediate result followed, and so Olif started in to where he appeared to be making a desperate struggle with bathe his friend's face and forehead with the cognac. some denizen of the jung le. Many minutes passed before Clif's heart was gladdened It took Clifbut a bri ef time to reach the scene of trouble, by a faint sigh from Ben's lip s and then a sight met his gaze that fairly staggered him. This encouraged him to persevere in his treatment. Ben was in the gras p of a huge boa constrictor, which was A second dram adminioterecl to the insensible boy brought trying to get its tail around a big tree in order to secure on a spasmodic fit of coughing, at the end of which Ben the necessary purchase to squeeze its victim into a pulp. opened his eyes. CHAPTER VIII. SAVED. Clif uttered a gasp of consternation and then woke up to the necessity for instant action if Ben's life was to be saved. The unfortunate bo y's cries suddenly ceased. The horror and ap parent hopelessness of his situation bad proved too much for him, and he relapsed into unconsciousness The noise made by Chf attracted the notice of the huge snake, and suspecting the presence of an enemy it stopped its movements and h eld up its hideous looking head in a wary manner Instantly C li f san k on one knee, took careful aim at one of the gleaming eyes and fired. The ball went st raight through the eye and I "How do you feel, old man?" asked Clif eagerly. Ben looked up into his face in a dazed way that showed he did not realize the situation. After a moment or two Clif repeated the question. Ben tried to raise himself, but fell back on the gi;ass. Hs was dizzy and weak, and it was some little time before he remember e d what had happened to him. Then he shuddered and uttered a frightened cry. "The sna*'! The snake!" he palpitated. "Out of business," replied Clif coolly "Out of--" "Dead." "Dead?" "As a coffin nail." "How---" "I shot it." "You shot--" "Exactly. Through the head. Had I missed--"


14 AFTER THE BIG BLUE STONE. Ben stared at him. "Had I missed," repeated Olif, "I'm afraid I could not have sared you. I never saw but other serpent like that and it was a dopy looking thing in the Greaicst Show on Earth at the Madison Square Garden two years ago. This one was a holy terror to 19ok at in his native wild s To tell you the truth, old chap, I don't know how you escaped. I wouldn't take a million dolla rs and run the risk you did." Ben shuddered again. "It was awful," he whispered in a weak tone. "I believe you. I hope we won't meet anoth er. One is enough to frighten a year's growth out of a chap. How did you run foul of it?" "It was coiled up among the bushes, and I stepped right on it whe!l searching for that bird." ''And then--" "It was around me before I could get out of its reach. The squeez e it gave me was something I sha'n't forget in a hurry. I could feel my bones almost crack." "If it had got a hold on one of the trees you'd have un derstood how it feels to get between the jaws of a closing vise. Y 0ur ribs would have folded up like so much paper, and you would have been a fit subject for an undertaker." "Don't talk about it any more. I'll see that snake in my sleep for a month." "I wouldn't be surprised. How do you feel now?" "Pretty good, but awful sore about my chest and arms." "Are you able to go on a bit?" "H!ilp me up, and I will make a bluff at it if I can't do any better." "Take another mouthful of UJC Grandy. It will brace you up." "Gee! But I feel as weak as a Raid Ben with a rue ful smile as Clif a ssiste d him on bi feet and he attempted to walk unaided. "I'll come around all rigr t in a little while." Clif threw the s addle-bag s over his s hould er again and picked up the rifle. "Where's my helmet?" asked B en "Lord, where are my eyes? I nerer noticed that you didn't have it on," replied Clif. "I must be getting dopy. I guess your helmet is in the bushes where the dead snake is." He tluew down the bags and the rifle and went tO hunt up his friend 's headgear. As he approached the spot where the dead s nak e Jay he heard a great chattering going on. Not knowing exactly what it meant he advanced with some caution. When he reached the eclge of the spo t a comical sight met his view. Four monkeys-father, mother and two youngsters, were amusing themselves with Ben's helmet. The one Clif took for the mother, because iL was a littl e smaller than the largest, had the helmet on her head. Being much too large for her it hid her head and shoul ders from view, and she was making desperate efforts to escape from it. She was balked in this by the two ones, who, seem ingly impressed by the idea that th eir parent was lost in the helmet, were searching for her on the outside of it, sitting on top of it and feeling all over it, with such a series of grimaces and c hattering s Uiai Olif couldn'L help laughi'ng heartily at the ocld sight. Th e olrl. chap made no effort to relieve his embarrassed spouse, but sat at one side scratching his tail and grinning like a fiend as if he were greatly tickled aL his wife's dilemma and her franti c contortions to get rid of the hel met. Finally lhe female monk got out of the and seiz ing the article in both hands flung it in the direction that Cli s tooc1. He stoopecl and picked it up. \Vhen be straightened up the four monkeys had re treated to a near-b y tree and were making all kinds of grim aces at him. Olif laughed again and r eturned to Ben whom he i"e galed with the monkey incident. "It was the funniest thing I ever saw in my life," he said, chuckling at the recollection. Ben said he wished he had been a spectator also. He was feeling gieatly improved, and so they resumed their way through the jungle. CHAPTER IX. IN THE GRIP OF A THUG. They got ori by slow stages during the morning, but Ben gradually improved, and when U1ey stopped to eat some moro of the rations in the bag he declared he frlt almost as well as ever, barring a of the ribs. Late in the afternoon they struck a kind of trail through the jungle, and they decided to follow it, though it took them a bit off their course. "This path may lead us., right out of the jungle," said Olif. "We can't get out any Loo quick Lo suit me," replied Ben. "Or it might guide us straight to temple J umna, where the idol is with the great blue sto n e," suggeste d Clif. "Do you know, I'm awfully curious to see that stone." "So am I. It would be great if we could capture it and take it home with u s," said Ben with spark ling eyes: "Not much chance of our doing that, to Flint's statement of the case." "Flint be jiggered!" snorted Ben. "It's my opillion that he laid a whole lot of bluf:I on that yam. 1 clon't believe he and his crowd were in half the danger he asserted. If it really is a fact that foreigners are not permitted to enter the temple he a.ncl his frienils would nev er have got back alive. I'm satisfied that he was joshing us, with the idea of making himself out as some pumpkins.'' "That might be so," admitted OJ if. "Sailors like to spin tough yarns." "He's treated us to some hard ones, all rig lit. You re member that one about the old grizzled mariner he said his ship met crossing the Indian Ocean on a hen-coop?" "Do I? I should smile! H e told that yarn as solemnly as if it were gospel truth. I wonder if he really expected u s to swallow such a lie?" "Sure, he qid. He said he saw that sailo r and that hen coop as plain IJ.S he saw us while he was telling the story. The captain hailed the chap a.nd asked him how lon g he'd been knocking about on that craft." "And the fellow replied six weeks," grinned Ulif, "at the 4


AFTER THE BIG BLUE STONE. 15 same time claiming that he felt as jolly as a sand-boy, whatever that is." "He refused to be picked up, saying he expected to make the coast of Ja. a month. When the captain asked him what he lived on he pointed at three hens in the coop and remarked that he had fresh eggs cv<::ry morning, at the same time tossing a couple up to the skipper to prove the fact. If Flint can get off such a yarn aR that we art justified in taking his story about the risk he and his friends ran in the temple of Jumna with a large grain of salt." "I guess so. If we run across that temple, I, for one, am going to see the sapphire eye that winks once a year." "That's another yarn as bad a.c; Flint's." "I reckon it is." The boys followed the trail until they reach<.:d a c l earing about sundown. "We'd better camp here for the night," said Clif. "I don t see any chance of our getting out of this jungle before dark." "I'm willing/' agreed Ben. "You can see it has been used as a camping-ground somebody, for there are the ashes of several fires." Clif threw down the saddle-bags in the center of the clearing, and then both he and Ben started to gather a bountiful supply of fuel to make a couple of fires for the purpose of keeping at bay the tigers, hyeras, jackals, leopards, and other beast.:; that made night vocal with their cries and. preyed upon the unwary. While thus engaged Clif discovered a wild tmkey perched on a neighboring tree. The bird fell a victim to his accurate aim. How shall we cook it?" asked Ben. ".Roa < t him on a spit?" / "We haven't any spit. We'll cook it gypsy fashion." "How is that?" "Cover it, feathers and all, in a casing of mud. Then dig a hole, fill it with hot embers, placing the bird on top of them, and cover all well with dry earth." "Who showed you hqw to cook that way?" "Nobody. I read about it in a story book." "Wherf! are you going to get the mud?" "There's a rirnlet of fresh water yonder. We can get all the mud we want there.'' "Well, you can boss tlie job. l'li devote my energies to malcing a fire and digging the hole,'' replied Ben. Clif carried the turkey to the little stream and soon had a thick coating of mud around it. By that time the fire was burning in fine shape and Ben was just finishing the hole. In the course of time the dinner was cooked to a tum. The feathers came off c le an, and then an incision in the abdomen got rid of the entrails. "Gee! This is bang-up,'' said Ben as he began on a drumstick "It knocks spots out of some turkeys I've eaten at home. Who'd have thought it could be cooked so fine in such primitiYe style?" "It takes the gypsies to do things up brown in the cqok ing line," replied Olif. "It's a flue thing to know when a fellow g(){'S out camp ing with a friend or two in the woodR. '' "It's beginning to get dark. We mu s t replenish the fire and get a second ready to J ight. I hop e they ,1 ill protect .-. -; us against th e beasts of prey. You ha ven't forgotten wha! we heard last night at the other camping spot." "Bet your life I haven't.. I'm sorry we haven't the cart here. It was as good a.s a fort." "I've heard it said that even tigers have a strong objec tion to venturing too close to a fire. One of us must keep awake at a time to keep the fires going." Darkness, as usual in tropical e:ountries, came on quite suddenly. The second fire was lighted, and Clif, alter a survey of. the fuel remaining, decided to get some more before the wild animals began to get busy. He started off into the bu shes, keeping a sharp eye out for a snake. Hardly had he departed before a dusky form appeared at the opposite edge of the clearing. Ben had lain qown to rest himself, and from all indica tions he seemed to be asleep. The dark figure worked around till Ben 's back was to ward him, then he began crawling out toward the boy. He made his way so noiseles s ly across the dry g'l'ass that Ben was not cognizant of his stealt h y approach. At last he got quite close to the recumbent boy, who by that time had grown drowsy between the heat of t1le fireq and the climate, added to the fatigue of the day and the rough handling he had received from the boa constrictor. The intruder listened carefully to Ben's breathing. Satisfied that the boy was asleep he came closer still till he actually bent over him. "A white boy and alone in the jm1g1e," he muttered in IIindoostanee. "He will do as well as another to fulfill 1ny vow to Kali." Those words proclaimed the man to be a thug. Why he was alone was not apparent. It was probable that he had friends at no great distance. To discover a lone white boy in the clearing "as a great surprise to him, but as he needed a victim to propitiate the goddess he served in common with his fanatical sect he greeted the stra nger' s presence with extreme satisfaction. Indeed, his s uper s titiou s mind actually conceived the idea that Kali had herself provided the victim that he might lose no more time in making the sacrifice. Slowly and cautiously he drew from about his waist the piece of cloth provided fo1 the purpose of strangling bis \rictim. Ben's postme prevented him from using it as effectiYely as he wished, so he proceeded f.Q arouse the boy and frighten him with the hiss of a snake. This procedure was frequently adopted by the thugs af\ a preliminary to the strangulation, wltich followed al_ most immediately while! the victim was somewhat dazerl by being suddenly awakened. Ben started into wakefulness with more alertness than ihc thug had bargained for, but h e was not to be deterrerl from his murderous act on thai account. "Hello! Who are you?'' demanded Ben, not relishing the wicked look refl.ectefl by the fire in the fellow's eyeR. "Look out! Snake! Snake!" cried the thug in Hindoo language. Ben didn't understand his meaning, but he followed the direction that the rascal pointed. Tbat was what the thug wanted


16 AFTER THE BIG BLUE STONE. \Yith a swift movement, born of long he whi sked the cloth around Ben's neck and drew it tight. 'l'he boy st ruggled violently, but the villain had him at a disadvantage. It would have been all up with Ben in a few seconds but for the fact that at that crucial moment Clif issued from the shrubbery with an armful of wood. He saw the thug bending over his companion and Ben struggling in his grip He dropped the wood, drew bis revolver and sprang for ward He fired straight at the black face that looked strange and uncanny in the glow of the fire With a cry of agony the thug fell back, writhed for a m oment on the grass and then lay still. CHAPTER X. CLIF AND BEN MEET WITH AN ADEPT AND GET EVIDENCE OF OCCULT FORCES. Clif sprang forward as Ben tore the cloth from his neck and gasped for breath. He looked down at thenative. He was not dead by any means, as the ball had not entered bis bra in, but had glanced off his thick skull. "What was he doing to you, Ben?" Clif inquired. "Trying to choke me with that cloth "What! A thug?" "Gee! That's what he must be," replied Ben. "I was dozing her e waiting for you to get back, when l felt a hand on my shoulder. I staried up arid saw the fellows villainous countenance peering into mine. I think his eyes were worse than Salambo's, and that's saying a good deal. He said something in his outlandish language and pointed a t the grass beyond this fire. When I looked to see what he was at be put the cloth around my neck and R tarted to choke me with it. If you hadn't shot him he'd have done me up. Is he dead?" "No. He' s breathing." "He deserves to be finished. He meant to murder me, all right.'' "I'm not sorry I didn't kill him, bad as he is. I'm not 1 anxious to have human blood on my hands." "Self-ddense is the first l ,aw of nature, Clif. If we let him get away he may hang around and creep upon us later on. He's like a snake in the grass." "There's a strap in that bag. We'll tie his hands behind him," said Clif. "You'fl better lose no time doing it, then," said Ben Clif at once tied the thug's arms securely and left him just outside one of the fires Then they drew lots to see who would watch first. That duty fell to Ben. Clif had been asleep perhaps thirty minutes when he was awakened by a shriek. "Good Lord!" he ejaculated. "What was that?" "Some beast crept up and nabbed the thug," said Ben in a tremc,r of excitement "What! In pite of the fire?" "Yes." "Why didn't you shoot?" u Couldn't if I'd wanted to. I didn't see the an,imal till he had the rascal and was dragging him away. Serves the chap right. We're well rid of him." The air was full of animal cries, and the boys could see glaring eyes circling in the darkness aroun d the edge of the clearing. Clif seized the rifle and fired directly at a pair 0 fiery orbs. A snarling whine followed, then a rush of other animals to the spot, a tussle in the gloom of the jungle, growls, yelps and other hideous sounds, and after that a temporary silence. "You killed or wounded some beast and the rest of the prowlers have made short work of his body," sald Ben. "I'll bet there isn't much left of him now." The night passed in constant alarm, and the boys were glad when daylight drove the bea sts back to their lairs. After a good breakfast of the remain s of the turkey and a drink of water from the s tream they proceeded onward, still following the trail. Once more midday overtook them still in the jungle. They .'.Ylade a meal off the r est of the provender in the saddle-bags and finished the soda. They still had a good part of the brandy and one 0 the soda watei bottles fill ed with water they had taken from the rivulet that morning. "No u1>c carrying these bags aLy further," said Clif. "They're a nuisance. The stuff that's in them i s of little value to us." Accordingly when they moved on again the bags were left hanging on a low branch of a tree for some wandering na tive to appropriate if h e saw fit. An hour later the boys saw a caYe a short ddance from the trail. "Let's go over and see what it looks like inside," sug gested Ben. Clif had no objection. As they drew near the place the entraJ,lce was suddenly filled by a medium-sized old man of dark skin, with a weird and uncanny look. ""Welcome, sa'bs," he said in good Rnglish. "I've been expecting you. Enter my habitation where you 1 may rest and refresh yourselves. It is written that I am to offer hospitality to two young sa'bs lat ely from America." Clif iooked at Ben in sqme astonishment and his friend returned his gaze. How was it possible for this old man to know that they were coming that way; and, more wonderful still, how did he learn that they were fresh from the United States? They regarded him with awe and some little trepidation. "Be not alarmed, young sa'bs. I am Feringeea, the Mahatma. I have reached that degree of enlightenment that has placed me on the spiritual plane. What is hidden from those of material mold is as plain to me as the sun light. Enter and you shall behold much that is not often accorded to mortal eyes." As if impelled by some power ihey could not resist the boys followed the adept into the cave The Mal1atma led the way into an inner cavern of some size, and as soon as Clif and Ben were able to di stinguish objects they saw, to their consternation, that the place was peopled by a collection of s nakes, birds and a tiger. "Keep dose to me and be not afraid," said the Hindoo.


AF'l'ER rrHE BIG BLUE STONE. 17 He took a brass vessel from a stone shelf and sprinkled a portion of its contents about. He also took down a long staff and placed it acros the cavern. I 'rhe effect astonished the boys. The reptiles recoiled from the spot as if in great fear. The tiger receded to the darkest corner and crouched against the wall. The birds flew as high as they could go and perched about in various nooks in the rocky walls. "You are perfectly safe as 'long as you do not pass across that staff,'J said the strange man in soft tones. "Be not disturbed by any. sights or sounds that may appear to be incomprehensible to you. My power is absoiute over all living and inanimate objects. This power I have acquired by a lifetime of self -d e nial and contemplation." "You say you were expecting us?" said Olif. "How did you know we were coming this way?" "By the power I possess. You were brought to the jungle by a man who i s a great rascal." "That im't any lie,'' replied Olif in surprise. "He intended to turn you both over to a society of phansigars, who would have murdered and robbed you." "Phansigars !" exclaimed Olif. "You know them as thugs." "Ah said the boy. "I saved you." "You!'' "I sent the tiger you see yonder to scatte r the man and his companions." "Gracious!" ".The saddle-bags and rifle I placed in your way for your sustenance and protection." Ben gasped and looked at the Mahatma. "Had you not shot and wounded one of the sacred birds of India you would have come hither unmole sted. Had you killed the bird,'' he continued,. looking at Ben, "your death by the serpent would havebeen As it you were punished for the sacrilege." "You to know all we've gone through,'' said Clif. "I do. You wish further evidence of my power?" asked the adept, fixing the boy with his da.rk, liquid eyes. "I don't know," replied Clif hesitatingly. "At this moment there is an adept talking to your father in his office at Madras,'' said the Mahatma. "There is?" "He is asking him to send you a bri e f message." Olif had his doubts about that. "That message will reach me in a f e w minutes," said the man solemn ly. Olif anJ Ben looked at each other in'some incredulity. "I see you doubt it. Be silent and wait." As the Mahatma spoke he grew rigid and his eyes as sumed a stony stare, like one in a trance. The boys regarded him with growing fear, as the light from the suspended brazier f e ll upon his dark, set coun tenance. They asked themselves what was going to happen, and did not dare break the injunction of th e adept to remain silent. Not a sound broke the stillness of the cavern. Not even a move from the reptiles, the birds and the tiger, all of whom seemed to be carved in stone. It was a thrilling moment for the boys, and one they never forgot. Suddenly the man's features and limbs relaxed. He was himself again. "It is coming," he said in solemn tones. As the boys gazed at him spellbound something white fl.uttered into his lap. The Mahatma picked it up and handed it to Clif. "Open,'' he said laconically. Olif obeyed the injunction. This is what he read in his father's well -i-."1wwn hani! writing: "CONSULATE OFFICE, MADRAS, 3 P J\L, July 20. "MY DEAR BoY: Your mother and I are quite well and eagerly awaiting your return. I write this at the requesL of a religious enthusiast known in this country as an adept. He says he will se. e that you get it. It will no doubt bG easy for him to send it down the coast to the schooner, as the natives will do anything for thes e men. Hoping it will come to hand all right, I will close with a God bles' you, and the wish for your s peedy return. "Your affectionate father, "GEORGE HALLIDAY." Olif \lttered a gasp of amaz e ment. There was no ge. tting away from the fact that this waB his father's handwriting. A bri e f mental retrospect told him that this day was July 22. Mechanically he pulled out his watch. The time indicated, according to his own guess-work setting two nights before a s he sa.t under the cart after breaking up of Salambo's party by the tig e r, was 3 :30 It was piobably at least half an hour out of the way, one way or the other. Here was a note written by his father in his offce at Madras two days previous and the distance between the ca\'e and the town was--well, h e did not know,. but it was more than 100 miles ; he could swear to that. By what kind of hocus pocus had that note come to his hand? Clearly her e seemed proof of the occult powers claimed by the adepts of In. dia. But the real fact was that this fakir had stolen the note from a messenger who was carrying it to the ship, and learning who the boys w e re he had been trying to mystify them. "Are you satisfied?" asked the Mahatma. Ere Olif could reply a succession of piercing shrieks pen e trated the cave from the outside. CHAPTER XL THE RESCUE OF ELISE HOLT. The screams came from a female in evident distress, and the natural American chivalry of Clif and Ben toward the weaker sex caused them to involuntarily spring to their feet and make a dash for the outside. In his hurry Ben forgot his rifle.


18 AFTER THE BIG BLUE STONE. Clif reached the open air first, and saw a young and lo>ely white girl struggling in the arms of a powerful Hindoo. Her cries of distress filled the air, and her unhappy pre dicament appealed at once to the plucky boy. Dashing forward he struck the Hindoo a heavy blow in the face that dislodged his turban and caused r. part of it to fall over his eyes. Partl y releasing the girl he grasped the cloth to raise it from his eyes so that he could make out who his assail :mt was, at the same time uttering maledictions in Hindoostanee that Clif did not underi;tand nor care for. "Save me I Save me!" cried the.girl frantically, in Eng lish Clif gave the native another s tagg eri ng blow and tore the gfrl from his grasp. The Hindoo pulled the cloth from his face and glared at his young aggressor. He was evidently astonished to see two white boys before him. That :fact, however, did not deter him from seeking to recover the girl, who was now dinging to Olif as h ar d as i

AFTER THE BIG BLUE STO:N"E. 19 To be told that they must not go there was not at all to their liking. They were sure that they would never get another chance to visit it. As for the peril of the undertaking, they were inclined to t believe it was much magnified. How could foreign eyes hurt an old bronze 1r1ol? However, Clif felt that it would not be polite to argue the with the fair girl. As a matter of fact, both he and Bell' were greatly struck by het freeh, girlish beauty and engaging ways, and both wished to make a good impression on her. It needed no great astuteness to see that Elise Holt was particularly to Clif. He hac1 perfo'rmecl a daring and gallant act in her behalf, and that alone predisposed her in his farnr. His manly ways and good looks had their effect on her, too. Therefore, before long Ben had to admit tJ,at Clif had the pull with the handsome English girl, and he metaphor ically threw up the sponge. Suddenly Clif recollected the adept. "Go into the inner cave, Ben, and see what the fakir is doing. Look out for the tiger and the snakes." Ben entered the cavern and was gone but a moment ,or two. "He isn't in there," he told Clif. "He isn't?" "No, nor his menagerie, either. The rave iR empty of living things. There is a supply of rice and fruit laid out in bowlR on a rug. Probably it is meant for .for lhe old fellow told us it was written we were Lo enjoy his hos pitality." "As he and his animals couldn't have left the cavern this way without our seeing them go, there must be a back entrance to tho place." f' ":N"o doubt there is, but I didn't notice it." "Are you hungry, Miss Holt?" asked Clif politely. ''YeR," she answered with a little rueful smile. "Then you shall dine with us. ls that brazier alight, Ben?" "Yes." "Then we'll go inside and eaL I wouldn't mind a peck myself. We haven'L had any fruit since we left the ;ich ooner." "Nor rice, either," said Ben. 'The girl looked doubtfully at the entrance to the inner c-avcrn, and hugged close to Clif, as her protector, as Ben led the way inside. There was a bou ntiful supply of proYisions L1ispl ayed on the rug. "The fakir figured on Miss Holt," said Olif, pointing at three small mats placed about the rug, and three bowls of cooked rice in front of each of them. "The fakir is all to the mustard in. my opinion," said Ben approvingly. "I wonder what'::; in those little stone bottles?" "Taste it and see," said Clif. "Some kind of a sweet drink, like light wine," replied Ben, after taking a sup. The three made a hearty meal on the gooci things, and while eating Clif told the girl all about their expe r iences r since leaving the schooner on the afternoon of the third day previous. Miss Holt shu

20 ..,\.FTER THE BIG BLUE STONE. C1L\PTJ.:U Xll. WIIA1' lIAl>PENED lN TUE NlGIIT. time What made me insensible? That's what I want t o know Daylight came on quickly once it got started, and then Olif discovered Ben within a cpuple of feet of him. Soon after Clif went on watch the wind outside in His friend was just recovering consciousness. ihe jungle "Say, you're a hard one to wake up," said Clif. "I see And with the wind came a terrible thunder and lightning you're in the same fix I'm in-bound hand imd foot. I storm. s'pose you haven't any idea how this thing happened." .For an hour it raged with a fearful violence Ben hardly heard him, so astonished was he lieve you've W h en he attempted to sit up he found he couldn't hit the nail on the head," said Clif excitedly. "Good gracious! I'm bound hard and fast What's the "With your great head it's a wonder that you didn't meaning of it?" he asked himself in no little consternation think of that right off. "Ben Ben Where are you, old fellow?" "If she'e really gone that rascal has come on us unawares He received no reply, for although Ben was stretched and nabbed her. He has taken her to the temple of Jumna close beside him he was still insensible to his surroundings. as sure as you're alive." "What the deuce can have happened?" continued Clif in "Sure, for that's where she told us he was bound for in a fever of perplexed impatience. "Who could have bound the first place /. me, and how could it have been done without my becoming "We must follow and rescue her." aware of the fact?" "Sure, but it will be necessary for us to get free first." From his reflections it was apparent that Clif had no idea "Then let's see what we can do in that line. I have made that he and his friend had been knocked out by the thunder two or three attempts on my bonds, but they hold as fast as bolt. giant cement." "Can this be some crooked work on the part of the fakir? Nothing more was said for a few minutes, during which I hardly think so. He acted very friendly to us Had he the boys tried to free themselves. wanted to do us up he had every chance when we first en' At last Ben gave a shout of satisfaction. tered the cave. Where can Ben be? Ben! Ben! I say, "I've got one hand free; yes, and the other, too!" he Ben!" added joyfully. "If my knife is still in my pocket I'll have As before, he received no reply to his shouts. my legs out of limbo in a minute, an,.d then I'li get you out Then he began shouting for Miss Holt, but the girl didn't of your fix." appear, as a matter of course. Ben found his knife all right and a minute later he was "Th ere is something decidedly wrong. The l ast thing I hacking at Clif's bonds remember we having a terrible thunderstorm. Now The sharp jackknife made short work of the thongs, and the is gone. I must have been insensib l e for s o me Clif was eoon free, too.


AFTER THE BIG BLUE STONE. 21 "'They didn't take my revolver." "Xor mine, either." "I don't miss a thing." "Nor I. They must have been in a great hurry when they failed to clean us out. Wait a minute; I'm going to make sure that Miss Elise is gone." Clif rushed into the inner cave and soon saw that she was missing. There was no longer any doubt in his mind as to what had happened to her. "It won't be well for that rascal if I meet him," gritted the boy. "There's our rifle, which they never tcnched." Clif retnrned to the outer cave and held a council of war with Ben. / ."We must start for the temple of Jumna at once," he I "I'm with you," agreed Ben. ""i\1iss Elise must be saYed at all hazards." "That'.:; right, and in rcYengc for the way she's been treated we must get away with that big blue stone if we get half a chance. I want you to und ersta nd that I for one am after that idol's eye. If we can bring that to Madras get our names in the papers." Clif was more interested in the fate of the girl just then than in the prospect of getting possession of the big blue stone. "I wonder where the fakir went?" he said. "If he were here now he migh t be able to help u s ." "As he isn't here we must help ournelves,'' replied Ben. "W c'Il eat a bite or two and then make a start," said CliL "We left enough last night to make a respectable breakfast." 'l'he boys re-entered the inner cavern, got away with the remaincle, of the rice and fruit, and then, there bein(J" noth ing more to detain them, they left the fakir's cave route for the temple of Jumna. CHAPTER XIII. TIIE TREASURE OF THE JUNGLE. The sun was well up aborn the horizon when the boys spied a small village in the distance "We are get ting close to the temple," said Clif. "This must be the Yillage that Flint said lay within half a mile of the building." Ben nodded. The village was built in a wide cleared spot in the jungle, and lookc

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