Read CHAPTER VIII - THE SUBMISSION OF THE TUOLOS of The Wonder Island Boys: Conquest of the Savages , free online book, by Roger Thompson Finlay, on ReadCentral.com.

The situation was a tense one to the entire party, and John moved forward, placing himself directly in front of them.

“Do you think the Great Spirit can prevent us from punishing you?  If you do not answer immediately I will call on him to lay stripes on you.  Do you answer?”

He stepped back slowly, and then suddenly spoke out the warning signal that he had arranged with Muro, and instantly six of the most powerful Saboros sprang upon them and bound them together face to face.  John stood there with arms folded.  He raised a hand, and two of the warriors raised the supple and toughened twigs, and brought them down on their bare backs.

It was all done with such wonderful celerity and precision that it astounded the circle of warriors beyond measure, and the effect was doubly so to the two Krishnos.  John had staged this to produce the greatest effect.  The Krishnos were bound with their heads side by side, and a cloth put over their heads, so that they had no knowledge who their tormentors were.

They danced about, and in their shrieks called out imprecations on their enemies, but soon, as the blows continued, begged for mercy, and Muro signaled them to cease.

The cloth was removed and John again addressed them.  They again persevered in their silence, and at a motion the cloth was again placed over their heads.

Before the second chastisement began they yielded and the cords were released.

“You see the Great Spirit did not come to your assistance.  Why were you going to the village?”

“To tell the chiefs not to yield to you.”

“The Great Spirit has told me to tell you that the Tuolos must give up their captives, and cease war.  Will you tell the chief so?”

“The Great Spirit did not tell you so,” they defiantly answered.

At a signal from John the cords were again brought into play, and the cloth exhibited.  At this sight they pleaded for mercy, and promised to do as John requested.  They were released and conducted to the outer line of pickets, and quickly disappeared within the village.

It was now nearly four in the morning, and the first streaks of light began to show in the east.  Muro knew the Tuolo character.  They regarded themselves to be the superiors of all the tribes, and hitherto had treated the others with contempt, excepting the Illyas, whom they respected only because they were the most powerful.

“They are having a warm time discussing the situation,” remarked John, as he noted the surging inhabitants.  That there was indecision became apparent, and the condition of the Krishnos more precarious, as light began to give them a more decided glimpse of the activities in the village.

Soon warriors were noticed rushing to and from the large circle within which the Krishnos sat.  Bows and spears were hurriedly grasped.

“What does it mean?” asked John.

“It is likely they know they are surrounded, and have decided to defend themselves,” answered Muro.

A warrior of distinguished appearance emerged from the circle, and advanced toward the position occupied by John.  Muro beckoned to John, and together they moved into the open.  The warrior saw the two approaching, and he halted.

Turning to his band he spoke a word, and another no less distinguished stepped from the rank and moved toward him.

“The first one is the chief, and the other one he called to follow is the next in rank.  As there are two of us, so must there be two on his side.”

John and Muro advanced without halting, and as they neared each other the chief, in the most haughty manner, addressed Muro as follows: 

“Why do you come to make war on my people?”

Muro, taking his cue from John’s previous attitude, rose to his full height and replied:  “You have always been the aggressor against the other people, and you have within the last moon killed and taken two Brabos in captivity, and we demand their return.”

“That I will not do.”

“Then the White Chief will speak to you.”

John advanced and began the conversation.  “The white people do not desire war.  You captured two of my people and I took them from you with only four men.  All the tribes but you and the Illyas have united to compel you to submit, and you shall not again be free to murder and injure other people.

“If you want war, we are prepared to fight you.  Your village is surrounded, and we have the fire guns which will compel you to yield.  If you will surrender, we will see to it that you and your people shall not be harmed, but if you resist you will be killed.  You cannot escape.”

The chief was stunned, and could not answer.  John saw the impression the address had made, and proceeded:  “What did the Krishnos tell you?  Did they not tell you to surrender?  Did they not tell you that they lied when they said the Great Spirit wanted you to kill us?”

The chief was silent.  Was he debating the matter in his mind?  John continued:  “When this speaks,” he said, pointing to his gun, “all of the fire guns about your village will speak.”

“How shall we know you will keep your word?”

Muro held up his hand, as he spoke:  “Ask the Kurabus whether the White Chief keeps his word.”

Before he could reply, John added:  “The White Chief keeps his word.  He believes the people here will keep their word if they know the others will do so.  He has armed the tribes who have allied themselves with him, because he believes in them, and we do not want to make you captives, or offer sacrifices of your brave men.”

“The White Chief speaks wisely,” said Muro.  “He does not believe in making sacrifices.  The Great Spirit has told him that is wrong.”

Still the chief pondered, and, slowly raising his head, said:  “I believe the white man, and what he says.  I will tell my people.”

He turned and moved toward the village, John and Muro remaining there, as an indication that they expected an immediate answer.

“He will yield,” said Muro, “and according to custom, will first tell his people what his decision is.”

Muro was right.  Within a half hour the chief advanced at the head of his warriors, the latter of whom had left their bows and spears at the circle, and the two stood ready to receive them.

As the two chiefs appeared the warriors lined up behind them.

“I have brought my warriors here to show you that we will be friends.”  And John advanced and took the hand of the chief.

“In my country we become friends when we take each other’s hands, and I am glad to see that you have wisdom to accept us as your friends.”

At a signal from Muro, the warriors advanced from all sides, and together they marched into the village, the different ones telling the Tuolos the wonderful things the White Chief was doing, and how they were bringing all the tribes together, and making them stop war.

The first act of the Tuolo chief was to liberate the two Brabo warriors.  When the wagon was driven into the village, the people gathered around the curious contrivance.  Some of them remembered it when it was there nearly a year before, but under quite different circumstances.

The boys, Ralph and Tom, soon attracted the attention of the chief.  He went up to them, and simulating the act of John, held out his hand.  The boys understood it, and respectfully responded and saluted the chief, in regular military fashion.

Then, climax to the foregoing events, Blakely gave a word of command to the fifty who were armed with the guns, and for the benefit of their new allies, put them through a manual of arms.  The precision with which this was done, and the remarkable manner in which the subsequent evolutions were performed, astonished the Tuolos.

While this was going on there was little time to notice the condition of the Krishnos.  They had been bound; and were now lying in disgrace at the place where the circle had been formed, trembling at their fate.

Before preparations had been made for breakfast, the chief gave a command, and a number of warriors rushed up to the poor fellows, and began to drag them to the large hut.

Muro motioned to John, and quietly said:  “They will probably torture them.”

John appeared before the chief and said:  “The Great Spirit will be offended if you injure the Krishnos.”

“What would you have me do with them?”

“Give them to me.”

The chief ordered them to be brought forward, and spoke to them:  “The White Chief has asked me not to injure you, and at his command I have given you to him.”

This announcement seemed to stun them, but Muro was quick to assure them that the White Chief meant no harm.

The boys took complete satisfaction in going over to the large hut, to again witness the place where they had spent two weeks in terror, expecting that each day would be their last.

But we must return to the Professor and the colony.  Two days after the departure of John and his force, the second insulting message came from the Illyas, in which the statement was made that they and the Tuolos had united to drive the White Chief from the country and to destroy the tribes who were allied against them.

A messenger was sent after John, but this was not necessary, as the Tuolos were in their power before the messenger came.

The Professor had ordered the building of a number of small houses, each containing two or three rooms, and these were plainly fitted up for comfort.  Some of the natives became quite expert at putting up these structures when once directed.

George and Jim were set to work, with a half dozen of the men, at building chairs and tables for the houses, and the work of weaving the cloth goods was not interrupted for a moment.  As stated, the women began to drift in, and the Professor welcomed them.  When they arrived, many of them with their children, the Professor assigned them and their husbands to these cottages.

This was an intense delight to them.  Each cottage had a small patch of ground surrounding it, and the first care was to advise them how to lay off and plant flowers about the place, to make the surroundings attractive.

It must not be thought that the houses were gifts.  It was not the purpose to instill the idea that this work was one of charity.  Instead each head of a family was made to understand that he must pay for the home, and this was done in as simple a manner as possible, so it would be appreciated and understood.

Individual effort was stimulated on the part of the different workers.  As fast as the members of a worker’s family arrived, they were installed in houses, and then began a new system of providing for their keep.  Hitherto, they had boarded at the expense of the common fund; but now this was gradually changed, and they were informed that each family must provide its own food, and that those who did so would receive a larger number of coins.

This resulted in each one trying to find some new direction in which they could get the coins.  It is curious how this new phase of living brought out traits common to humanity everywhere.  Some more eager than others, and having less honesty than the common run of natives, sought to get their sustenance by resorting to trickery and thievery.

In their native state this was not considered a crime.  It was commendable, unless detected.  But by constant talk, on the part of the Professor, and by example, he instilled into the policemen, which he had installed, the principles of honesty.  He awarded those who were vigilant, and the result was that they were most acute to detect the rogues.

The first thief was caught the day after John’s party had gone.  He was immediately brought before the Professor.  The arrest of a thief was such a new proceeding that the workers could not be kept at work, and the Professor suggested that they should all be present at the trial.

The inquiry was conducted with decorum, Harry being appointed to prosecute him, and George to defend the prisoner.  George did it vigorously, too, but it was a plain and palpable case, and he was found guilty.  This proceeding was another entirely new manner of treating an offender, and the people marveled at the attempt to defend the thief.

The Professor saw the cause of the wonderment, and said:  “We do not defend the wrong, but we believe that each man who is charged with a crime should be permitted to defend himself.  If he does not know how to properly defend himself, then it is our duty to see that he is protected in all his rights, for he is not a criminal until it is proven.”

“He has tried to explain why he took the goods, but you know what he has said was not true, and he must be punished for it.  He must work two moons without getting any of the coins, and if he repeats the crime, he must work until he restores the value of the goods taken, so that each one will know that a thief cannot take things from another without paying for it.”

The incident for a long time deterred anyone from repeating the offense.  It was an object lesson, because it instilled a respect for a law which was fair to all.

Suros, the chief of the Berees, was the most impressed by the scene, and could not express himself too forcibly at the wonderful effect which the principle would have on the tribes in their dealings with each other.  He was really an intelligent native, far ahead of the others in his comprehension of the duties of one to the other.

The fact that he was regarded with reverence by all but the Kurabus, and was even respected by them, was a strong factor in determining the Professor to set in motion a form of government which it was hoped would forever terminate all bitterness of feeling between the tribes, and which will be detailed hereafter.

During the day on which the Tuolos submitted, the two chiefs, together with John, Blakely and Muro, were frequently in consultation.

“The Great White Chief, who rules all of us, wishes to see you, and you must bring fifty of your warriors with you to his village,” said John.  “He will show you how you can be made strong, and your people happy.  He will tell you what our purpose is, and what the Great Spirit asks you to do.  We will start in the morning.”

The chief, to the surprise of all, did not demur at this.  That night John called in Blakely, Muro, Ralph and Tom.

“I want you to go with me to the cave on the hill to the east.  There are some things which belong to us.  We shall take them, since they are of no use to the people here, and we may be able to put some of the things in such a condition that they will be of value to the people on the island.”

The wagon was taken along, and the people wondered at the strange proceedings.  Many of them followed, but Muro warned them to remain behind.  It was evident to all, however, that they were going to the Krishno cave, and its purport was a mystery to them.

John’s sense of direction did not deceive him.  He soon found the entrance on the village side, and, lighting the candles, immediately entered the cavern.  John led the way, as his experience in its hollows enabled him to point out the direction to be taken.

The interior, lighted up by the candles, was most weird and beautiful.  The stalactite hangings were not massive, but showed the most delicate tracings, in the first chamber reached.  This was the western wing of the great interior cross which John had previously described.