Page:Yule Logs.djvu/240

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224
"BY DEFAULT OF THE ENGINEER"

the powder up on the saloon table, and perhaps the ladies will help us. Hold on a bit, how about the bullets?"

"Ah, lucky thing you thought of that. We must get old Stewart to put his men on to cast some for us, if we can find any lead."

I ran off immediately to hunt up the carpenter, who fortunately found a big roll of lead in the bottom of his storeroom, which was soon in the course of being transformed into bullets by some of the firemen.

I remembered also that a couple of kegs of powder for our agent at Aden had been shipped with the cargo, and these were soon got out and the contents utilised for large and small cartridges. After all this had been done, time hung heavy on our hands. Nobody seemed to be in good spirits enough to start any amusement, and a week of the most depressing inaction passed away. All this time not the vestige of a native had been seen anywhere in the vicinity of the ship.

The military men on board seemed to feel the situation almost unbearable.

"I'll tell you what it is," said Rivers, the subaltern of Colonel Woodruff's corps, to the other military passengers one morning, "I can't stand this sort of thing any longer. Let's make up a party and try and ascend that mountain there."

"I don't mind," said Captain Thompson.

"We might find something to shoot," said Captain Shaw. "We've all got our rifles with us, haven't we?"

"Yes," said Thompson; "or we might get shot at instead of shooting something."

"What are you talking of doing?" asked the professor, coming up at this moment.

"Oh! we're thinking of doing a kind of picnic up the mountain yonder. Will you join us, professor? You might be able to enrich science with specimens of the flora and fauna of this howling wilderness," said Rivers.