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It was undoubtedly beyond its highest point, and as he gradually grasped the truth of his companion's words, though feeling no better, Carey's despondency pa.s.sed away, and he became cheerful.
Soon after, as the pair sat together in the shade of the cocoanut grove, eating the lunch they had brought with the greatest of enjoyment, the weary symptoms pa.s.sed rapidly away, and the boy was himself again.
"I say, Bob," he said, "we must have one of those cocoanuts. Couldn't you knock one down by throwing the hatchet?"
"P'raps it would be throwing the hatchet, sir, if I said I could," said the old fellow, with a grim smile. "But I'll try soon. I say, I wonder how the doctor's getting on."
"So do I. I wish he were here to have some lunch."
Carey had his wish a few minutes later, for there was a loud hail from the open, and Carey replied to it and hurried out from the shade where they were hidden, to find the doctor half-way down to the raft with his gun over his shoulder and a brace of huge crowned pigeons hanging from the barrel by their tied-together legs.
Doctor Kingsmead said nothing about his adventures until he had made a hearty meal and grown cooler. Then he began to talk cheerily.
"Something for you to cook, Bostock," he said; "they'll make a pleasant change after so much tinned and salt meat."
"Where did you shoot those?" asked Carey.
"Up yonder in the open forest under one of the trees, not far from the river. There are plenty of them about, and so tame that I felt satisfied that there were no blacks near."
"Then you've seen no signs of any, sir?" asked Bostock.
"Not a sign."
"That's good, sir, but it don't mean much, for we might have a visit from a big canoe-full at any time."
"How far did you go?" asked Carey.
"To where the little river glides out of a lake up yonder in the hills.
I fancy it must have been the crater of a volcano, for I kicked against pieces of obsidian and slag. The volcanic gla.s.s broke up with edges as sharp as a razor."
"But how far was it to the lake?" asked Carey.
"Ah, that I can't tell you in miles. In time it was two hours and a half hard walking. Coming back, one hour and a half. I was away just about four hours."
"Did you get a good view from the lake, sir?"
"No, but I climbed a peak close by it, and from there I could see all round the island."
"Round the island!" grunted Bostock, nodding.
"Yes, round the island; and nearly all round it at a distance are reefs of coral, with the rollers breaking upon them in white foam."
"Then it's only a little place," said Carey.
"Yes, only a few miles across."
"And all ours. Doctor Kingsmead, we ought to take possession of this place for our own. But I say, did you see anything wonderful?"
"N-no. Plenty of beautifully coloured birds; lovely flowers in abundance. Beetles and b.u.t.terflies as beautiful as I ever saw."
"I saw none, and I should hardly think there would be any; but I saw two crocodiles."
"Did you?" cried Carey. "Where--up in the lake?"
"No, directly after I started, in the little river. Monsters."
"Any fish in the lake?"
"I could not tell. Most likely there would be. But I'm tired with my walk. I'll tell you more as I think of what I saw."
"Just one thing, sir," said Bostock, apologetically. "When you was up atop of the peak, could you see land anywheres?"
"I could not be quite sure, but I think so, in three different directions. I certainly saw reefs with the breaking water in several places as far as I could see. I ought to have taken a gla.s.s with me.
Next time I go up I will. Well, what have you been about?"
Carey eagerly related how they had pa.s.sed the morning, not forgetting the fishing and the pearls.
"Well," said the doctor, "we shall not starve. Pearl sh.e.l.l and pearls, eh? We must collect and save all we can, and I should think that we could collect enough cocoanuts to be very valuable, so that when the time comes for us to leave this place we shall not go empty away."
The rest of the afternoon was spent leisurely strolling about the sh.o.r.e, for the most part in the shade of the cocoanut grove, a couple of the nuts being cleverly knocked down by throws with the hatchet, used boomerang fashion, fortunately for the throwers without its displaying any of that weapon's returning qualities.
They strolled on as far as the mouth of the river, where it glided as a shallow stream into the sea, not without result--a satisfactory one to Carey, who was well in advance, threading his way amongst the ma.s.ses of bleached coral which here enc.u.mbered the sh.o.r.e.
Bostock was about to close up with the lad, but the doctor checked him.
"Let him have the satisfaction of saying that he was the first to discover the mouth of the river," he said; but the words were hardly out of his lips when they saw the boy begin to stalk something, for he stopped and crept behind a ma.s.s of rock, and then after peering cautiously round it he crept to another and another till he was hidden from the lookers-on.
But directly after he re-appeared about a couple of hundred yards away, and signed to them to approach cautiously.
"Look to your gun, sir," whispered Bostock, c.o.c.king the one he carried.
"He's seen a canoe."
"Think so?" said the doctor, rather excitedly, following the old sailor's example.
"I just do, sir, for there's nothing else he's likely to see. There aren't no wild beasts and things in an island like this. Better look out."
Following out Carey's tactics, they crept from rock to rock till they reached the ma.s.s which sheltered Carey, who waited till they were close up, and then whispered, "Quick! look round that side drawn out on the sands by the water."
"Then it is," said the doctor to himself, and troubles with a canoe-load of blacks rose before his eyes as he advanced to the rock, peered round one side, while Bostock as cautiously peered round the other, each occupying some time, Carey anxiously eager to follow their example, but unable to do so without being seen.
Quite a couple of minutes had elapsed before the pair drew back, looked at each other, and then turned to Carey.
"Well," he whispered, impatiently, "can't you see it?"