Page:Yule Logs.djvu/382

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366
THE SLAVER'S REVENGE

himself that I was absolutely secure, he walked out again without uttering a word.

I was now left undisturbed for about a couple of hours, during which I strove my utmost to loosen my lashings; but I might as well have striven to fly, I was bound with new ratline, and it had been drawn so tight and knotted so securely that I was as helpless as though chained.

All this while I was conscious of the sounds of many feet passing to and fro outside the hut, and of a perfect babel of jabbering, excited tongues; and at length a couple of natives entered the hut and by significant gestures indicated that I was to rise and follow them. But, bound as I was, the thing was impossible; so after prodding me ineffectually several times with their spears they cut my feet loose, and, seizing me by the arms, half led, half dragged me from the hut.

Once in the open air, I was immediately surrounded by a crowd of laughing, shouting, gesticulating savages, who seemed to be vastly entertained by my helpless appearance—for my limbs had become so completely benumbed by the tightness of my bonds that I had no feeling or strength in them. Thus surrounded, I was dragged for about a quarter of mile to a great open space in the centre of the town, and there securely bound to the trunk of an immense tree, the scorched, blackened, and leafless branches of which told me only too well to what fiendish purpose it was from time to time put. And here for the remainder of that terrible day I was kept bareheaded, exposed to the full blaze of the relentless sun, without either food or drink, while the natives swarmed round me, discussing with great delight and animation what from their looks and gestures I divined to be the subject of my approaching torments.

What my sufferings, mental and physical, were during those few brief hours, language has no words to express;