Read CHAPTER XIII - THE REMARKABLE DISCOVERY AT BLAKELY’S MOUNTAIN HOME of The Wonder Island Boys: Conquest of the Savages , free online book, by Roger Thompson Finlay, on ReadCentral.com.

It was the custom of the Professor to take the boys each week for an outing in some direction from Unity.  The most attractive part was toward the great forest, west of the large river.  Several boats had been made, which were used principally for fishing, and one of these was usually taken.  They would then sail down the little branch stream, on which the town was located, and cross the large river.

During the entire time they were at the village Blakely had not gone across the river, although he frequently indicated a desire to do so, particularly to look up the location of the home on the hill at the forest’s edge, where he found seclusion from the savages for nearly nine months.

The Professor and the boys insisted on his accompanying them on this occasion, and having given instructions to the men, they manned the large boat and were soon on the western shore of the river.

The large quantity of driftwood, which was in evidence here, as elsewhere, attracted the attention of Jim, as he turned to the Professor.

“I have often wondered why it is that there is so much driftwood on the western shore of this stream, and hardly any on the eastern shore.”

Blakely, his attention having been drawn to it, remarked that he had found this to be the case in a number of streams, not only on the island, but elsewhere.

“That is a singular thing,” replied the Professor.  “It is accounted for by the rotation of the earth, which is from west to east.  The rotation of the earth in that direction also accounts for the prevailing trade winds which are from the east to the west.”

“In what way should the rotation of the earth cause the drift to move westwardly?”

“There are two forces which act on a free object on the surface of the earth, namely, centrifugal and centripetal.  The first named is that action which tends to throw an object outwardly, like dirt flying out from a rapidly moving wheel; and the latter action is that which draws inwardly.  Thus the spokes might be likened to centripetal force.  The attraction of gravitation in the earth is the centripetal force, and its rotation produces the centrifugal force.  When an object, like a plumb bob, or an article floating on the water is free to move, it is found to lag behind the movement of the earth surface, this retarding movement being sufficient to cause it to creep to the west, with the result you have noticed.”

The hill pointed out by Blakely was fully three miles west of the river.  The four boys, Ralph, Tom, Jim and Will, with Blakely and the Professor, all armed with guns, made a party strong enough to enable them to successfully withstand the attack of any animal, and it was proposed to make a trip through a portion of the forest, so as to get some idea of its character.

To carry out this plan, their course was directed to the west, and within an hour and a half were well in the thick of the wood.  The first thing that attracted the attention of all were the magnificent trees, among them a species of pitch pine, together with immense redwood trees, and numerous oak species abounded.

Before they had penetrated a mile the first animals were seen.  They had never been hunted, as the natives kept away from the forest fastnesses, and it was singular to see the familiarity of the animals.  An immense panther, or tree leopard, fascinated the boys, and they maneuvered to get close enough for a shot.  He was very wary, however, and Blakely and the Professor kept in the background while the boys stalked him from tree to tree, and finally Ralph had him in range and fired.

He crashed down but alighted on his feet, and without waiting for any explanations bounded over to the spot where Ralph and Will were crouched behind a fallen tree.  Will saw the movement and called to Jim and Tom, and the latter, taking careful aim, fired, without, apparently, checking the animal.

With a powerful spring he landed on the tree, not five feet from the boys, and Jim shot the moment he landed, the shot taking effect in the left eye, and he dropped his head and lay still, hanging over the fallen tree.

This was exciting, while it lasted, and gave them something to talk about for the rest of the day.  Blakely dragged the animal down, and Ralph and Will, trembling as they were, had their knives out when Blakely commenced to skin the panther.  It was a fine trophy, made doubly valuable, as it had been their first attempt to secure big game.

The boys regretted that Angel had not accompanied them, as they saw numerous orang-outan; and here for the first time they came across whole tribes of monkeys, particularly the marmoset, an interesting little creature.  The most striking ones were the proboscis monkey, the face being not unlike that of an old man with an extremely long nose, with whiskers around the neck.

Blakely and the Professor made many notes of the trees, and discussed the uses to which they might be put, and the boys had their eyes open for the wonderful display of animal life on all sides.

It was fully two o’clock before their steps were turned toward the north, so that the hill could be reached, and when they emerged from the forest, Blakely pointed out the spot and the best way to reach it.  The boys went forward with a rush, and mounted the hill, but while they searched in every direction could not locate the rocky recess occupied by Blakely.

The latter came up smiling.  “I told the Professor you would have some trouble in finding it.  Look directly above you.”

About twenty feet from where they stood was a projecting rock, and to the left of it another, extending out at right angles.

“But how are we going to reach it?” asked Ralph.

“Go around farther to the right, and you will find a vine.  I used that as a ladder.”

Around to the right the boys scampered, each trying to get there first.  There was no vine in sight.  Blakely was coming up, as the boys turned back, disappointed.

“Not there?” he inquired.  “It ran up this tree.  What is this?  Some one has cut it off and dragged it up to the shelf above; do you see it there?” and Blakely pointed to the vine stump, hidden by the grass and weeds.

The boys saw the plain evidence of the cuts.

“This is decidedly interesting,” exclaimed Blakely, as he turned to the Professor.  “This was done since I was here.”

The only way to reach the ledge was to climb the tree and try to drag the vine from the ledge, and Ralph volunteered to do this.

It was not much of a task, and when the vine had been drawn down he moved out on the limb and easily stepped on the ledge of the nearest rock, and then drew over the vine so the boys could readily reach the main ledge.

Blakely was the last to gain the top, and he led the way around the first projecting rock.  The view from this point was a charming one.

“Look to the east,” cried Ralph; “see Unity beyond; isn’t this fine?”

The boys now understood why this was a desirable place for Blakely.  It appeared to be absolutely safe from either animals or man.

“How did you ever happen to find this place?” asked Tom.

“Simply by accident-the fact is, I stumbled on it.  I mean that literally.  You see there is only one point higher than this.  That is directly above this ledge.  I went up the hill from the forest side, and came out to the point, and, missing my footing, fell down to this ledge, and discovered that the only way I could get out was by the vine ladder.”

“What is that?” exclaimed Will, springing back, and pointing to an object in front.

Blakely started forward like a shot, and moved around the main point from which Will came.  The boys followed.  Directly ahead, and on the ledge in front of the recess were two skeletons.  The boys were shocked at the sight, and the Professor stopped and intently examined them.

“Some one made this his home after I left it, that is sure.  Here are things I never saw.”

“Was this your gun?” asked Jim, as he picked up a rusty weapon.

“Yes,” replied Blakely, in great excitement.  “But how did it get here?  I had it with me when I was captured the first time.”

He looked at the Professor in amazement, and then began a minute search of the articles scattered about, and lying in the little coves within the main recess.  Here were found a sextant, several knives, some coins, a bunch of keys, a package of letters, written in German, a revolver, but no ammunition, various articles of clothing, all in the last stages of decay and eaten with holes by insects.

But the condition of the skeletons caused the greatest speculation.  They were lying near together, and there was no indication of a struggle between them.  One was lying with the head resting on a mass of molding leaves, and this was drawn aside and examined.

Here was the first real clue.  A bit of paper, evidently a page from a scrap book, which showed faint traces of writing.  Parts were entirely eaten away, and after a time the following words were deciphered: 

      “Escaped during the night miles wes
   tains lyas have Rogers right
   faithful
        (Signed) roman

The German letters contained no information, excepting the name “Johan,” to which they were addressed, and were signed, “Matilda,” all dated during the year 1911.

“One of these men was a white or Caucasian, and the other was, undoubtedly, an aborigine, as the skull formation clearly indicates.  I am satisfied that this one was a native,” remarked the Professor, after he had made an extended examination.

“This letter may be an interesting one to decipher,” said Blakely, as he went over the contents again and again.  “It seems to me that the part of the word ‘lyas’ has reference to the ‘Illyas,’ and ‘tains’ is part of the word ‘mountains.’  Probably, it would read, if properly reconstructed, ‘west of the mountains.’”

“Yes, and the space between ‘night’ and ‘miles’ refers to the number of miles,” added Ralph.

“It is remarkable that we should find evidences, of the work of the Illyas at the extreme western part of the island, when they are living near the eastern border,” remarked the Professor.

“I take it,” answered Blakely, “that this letter was transmitted to the man here, and was written by some one, and conveyed, in all probability, by this native.”

“That is a reasonable supposition.  The word ‘faithful’ may have reference to him,” responded the Professor, after some reflection.

“Well, we can do no more than give them a decent burial,” said Blakely.

“It will be a difficult task to do that, as we have no tools, and it would be necessary to carry the bones a distance in order to inter them.  If the boys will gather up a quantity of stones we can make a covering for them against the wall, within one of the coves.”

This suggestion was carried out, and the bones deposited beneath a mound, and after gathering up the various articles they descended the vine ladder and made a hurried trip to the river.

Unity was reached as it was growing dark to learn that two messengers from John had reached them during their absence, detailing the sighting of the Illyas’ village, which was estimated to be five miles west of the mountains.

It was singular how this information seemed to supply the missing word in the mysterious message found with the skeleton on the hill.  The Professor at once made a copy of the letter, and forwarded it by messenger to John.  In the letter he detailed the information of the finding of the message, and he had hopes that they might be able to find some traces of the people mentioned in the letter.

While awaiting the return of Muro, John made a complete examination of the Illyas’ village, encircling it to get its full position, and thus enable him to devise the best mode to attack, if it should be found necessary to do so.

He was astounded to note the character of the buildings.  They had been the work of white men, it was evident.

Muro, with the boys, and the wagons came in sight before ten o’clock, to the intense relief of John.  He suspected the cause of the delay.

“We had a lively brush with them, for a while,” said Harry, “but we had no fear at any time.”

“Harry is right about that, but I want to tell you we have a different class of fighters to deal with than anything we have experienced so far,” added George.  “Why our fire didn’t seem to frighten them a bit, and they adopted the regular Indian plan of getting behind trees and brush.”

“What kind of a town is that!” asked Harry, as he took the first glimpse of the place through the trees.

“Something different in that line, too, as well as in the fighting,” answered John, as he smiled at the question.

“How big a town is it?” asked George.

“I judge, from its size, that there must be fully a thousand natives there, but they are keeping pretty close.  Do you see the line of breastworks all around the place!”

The boys were astonished at what they saw.  No wonder the other tribes hesitated to attack them.

The two warriors captured by Muro were brought before John, after he had made a survey of the place, and by the aid of Uraso one of them was instructed to carry information as to their intention to the Illyas.

This was to the effect that in the event no reply was received before noon no other effort would be made to open communications.  It was distinctly impressed on the warrior that the Illyas must give up all the captives, and that an agreement must be entered into by them not to leave their own boundaries in the future, and John also offered protection and a safe return of any messenger who might be sent back with the answer.

The captive was released, and, bounding forward, was soon within the line of earthworks which surrounded the village.  The message gave a full two hours for them to decide.  There was not a sign of an Illyas until near the time limit, when the same one which conveyed their message was noticed approaching the line of the allies.

He came directly to John, and conveyed this information: 

“The chiefs do not intend to do as the White Chief says.  They are entitled to the captives, and intend to keep them.  If the village is attacked the white chiefs and the tribes will be destroyed.  We do not fear him and his fire weapons.”

John motioned to the warrior to depart.  For a moment he looked at John in amazement.  Judging the actions of the white man by the ethics of the savage, such a message would have meant his death.  He glanced around stealthily.

Uraso saw why he hesitated, and remarked to him:  “You are free to go.  No one will injure you, because the White Chief has given his word to protect you.  He is not like the Illyas.  He does not lie.”