A Sailor Boy with Dewey/Chapter 8

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CHAPTER VIII.


ATTACKED BY THE TAGALS.


"Woora camba, woora!"

Such was the war cry which was raised,—or, at least, that is how it sounded to me. Then came the spears, and Gory gave a yell.

"Oi'm kilt!" he gasped. "Oi'm a dead mon!"

"No, you're not!" I answered. "That spear only nipped your ear. Hurry up, or you will be killed, for certain!" and I grabbed him by the arm.

We had a lead of fifty feet and the Tagals were lessening this steadily, when, to frighten them, Tom Dawson turned and fired a pistol shot over their heads.

The effect was instantaneous. All of the natives came to a standstill and several began to retreat.

"I thought that would fetch 'em," puffed the first mate. "I reckon they don't know much about fire-arms."

But Dawson was mistaken, as we found out later. During the past the natives had known but little of pistols and guns, but now for several years they had seen them in the hands of both the Spanish soldiers and those who were in rebellion against the Spanish crown, and had even stood up in battle, on the side of those who wanted to make the Philippines free and independant of the rest of the world, be that movement, under General Aguinaldo, for good or for evil.

The natives had halted and some had sought safety in flight, but now the chief issued several orders, and they came on again, more determined than ever. Soon they divided, and entered the forest to the north and south of us.

The division gave the first mate a good deal of concern. "It's a splendid move—for them," he muttered. " I reckon they know the woods like a book, too."

"Can they have made prisoners of the party who came up here this morning?" I ventured.

"Sure an' that's more than loikely," put in Matt Gory. "If they catch us I'm afther thinkin' we'll be ristin' in a circle in the sand, too. Come on." And he tried to increase his speed.

But our previous climb had made us tired and soon I became so exhausted I felt ready to drop. Tom Dawson was pufihng painfully, his face the color of a beet.

"I—I can't keep it up—no use of tryin'!" he gasped.

"Neither can I," I returned. "But if we are caught——"

"I don't believe they will dare do much to us."

"We must go on!" urged Gory. "Thim haythins—listen to that!"

The Irish sailor broke off short, as a cry from the beach reached our ears. A yell followed, and then came several pistol shots.

"The other party has arrived, or is trying to break away," I burst out. "Maybe we had better go back."

"I think so myself," answered the first mate. "We count three and if there are three more that will give us six, and six white men ought to be able to subdue four times that number of such wretches."

We turned on our tracks, just as a crashing in the brush to our left came to our ears. Soon we were making for the beach with all of the strength left to us.

When we came out into the open we found Watt Brown, Vincent, and Sandram in a hand-to-hand fight with four natives that had been left to watch the wreck. So far the contest had been an even one, but more natives were hurrying in the direction, and soon the second mate and his men found themselves surrounded. As I came closer I saw Sandram go down, a spear through his left shoulder.

"Messmates ahoy!" shouted Matt Gory. "Hould th' fort until we git there!" and coming closer, he let fly his club, taking one native in the head and landing him on the sand with a cracked skull.

In another moment we were all mixed up, and each one fighting along as he saw best. I was struck twice, once on the head, and this blow dazed me and made me stagger to the edge of the woods and sink down on a rock. I tried to get up, but found myself too weak to do so and had to content myself with taking shots at long range with my revolver, until a Tagal came up and kicked the weapon from my hand and made me a close prisoner by binding my arms behind me with twisted vines.

In less than a quarter of an hour the fight was over, and two natives and poor Sandram lay dead on the beach, while several on both sides were walking around trying to deaden the pain of wounds which were more or less serious. An ear-splitting whistle from the chief of the Tagals had brought twenty or thirty others to the scene, and now our party of five were all made prisoners, Sandram being cast out into the waves which lapped the Dart's sides.

"Here's a pickle, truly!" growled Tom Dawson. "I wonder what they intend to do with us?"

"Mebbe they'll eat us, hang 'em!" answered Watt Brown.

"No, they are no longer cannibals," put in Vincent. "But you can make up your minds that we won't sleep on a bed of roses to-night."

"They have no right to make us prisoners," went on the first mate. "I wonder if there is any Spanish officer near here. I know there is one at Iba."

"We could find out if only some of them understood English," said I. "Let me see. The Spanish name for a Spaniard is Un Español. I'll try them on that."

Walking up to the chief, I repeated the words, "Un Español," several times. At this he gave a sickly grin, then shook his head decidedly.

"If he knows any Spaniard in authority here he is not going to take us to him," was Tom Dawson's comment. "My private opinion is that they know perfectly well that this ship belongs to us, but they mean to keep the prize for themselves, and rather than have any trouble with the Spanish authorities about her, they'll put us all out of the way."

"That's not unlikely," added Watt Brown. "You must remember that all of the people in this part of the world used to be nateral-born pirates—those with Malay blood especially."

"I don't believe in giving up the ship, not if it can be helped," said I.

"Neither do I!" answered Tom Dawson, and the others nodded in agreement.

"The only question is," continued Watt Brown, "now that we abandoned the Dart, doesn't she belong to whoever finds her?"

"What can these nagers do wid a ship like her?" burst out Matt Gory. "Sure an' they wouldn't know how to manage her, even if they sthopped up the lake in her bow!"

At this point the chief of the natives came forward and motioned for us to be silent, and when Gory attempted to go on, slapped the Irish sailor on the cheek. Gory was "boiling mad," as the saying goes, but could do nothing with his hands bound behind him; and so the conversation had to be dropped.

The Dart had stranded at the mouth of a fair-sized stream flowing into the ocean, or to be more correct, the China Sea, and lay secure from any ordinary storm which might come up. I wondered how she had gotten in past the breakers so well, and so did Tom Dawson, as he told me later. It was easily explained when we learned the truth, which now was not long in being revealed.

We had been joined in pairs and were now made to march away from the sea-coast and toward the native village of Bumwoga, a collection of ramshackle bamboo huts, the same we had seen from the top of the hill at the time the Dart was located. We were in the custody of one-half of the chief's guard, the other natives moving off for the vessel, to loot her of whatever came handy.

At the village we met the first Tagal women, creatures by no means bad-looking. They were almost as simply dressed as their husbands and brothers. There were also a great number of little children, who stared at us with eyes as big as moons and then dove into the huts out of sight, fearful that the nooga-nu, or bogie-men, had come to carry them away.

The sun still beat down fiercely, and by the time the center of the village was gained I was ready to drop from exhaustion. Indeed, I did stagger. Seeing this, Tom Dawson, who had been bound to me, braced me up, and then we sank on a grassy mound close to a tall mahogany tree. As we remained quiet, no one, for the time being, disturbed us.

The village of Bumwoga was certainly a curious-looking place, and under other circumstances I would have viewed all that it contained with much interest. But just now my interest was centered in myself and my companions, and I constantly speculated upon the fate which awaited us.

We had been in the village about an hour, and the chief was in earnest conversation with his followers, when there came several pistol shots from the direction of the sea-coast. "Captain Kenny and the others have come up," murmured Tom Dawson. "I hope the natives get me worst of it." He was right, the captain had come up, but the natives overcame him by sheer force of numbers, and he and his men, including the Chinese cook, were bound and placed on the Dart. What this turn of affairs led to we will see in the later chapters of my tale.
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"AT ONCE THE WHOLE PARTY RAN FORWARD AND SURROUNDED US, ASKING A DOZEN QUESTIONS AT ONCE."