Never had runaways from Berande
been more zealously hunted. The
deeds of Gogoomy and his fellows
had been a bad example for the
one hundred and fifty new recruits.
Murder had been planned, a gang-
boss had been killed, and the
murderers had broken their contracts
by fleeing to the bush. Sheldon
saw how imperative it was to
teach his new-caught cannibals
that bad examples were disastrous
things to pattern after, and
he urged Seelee on night and
day, while with the Tahitians
he practically lived in the bush,
leaving Joan in charge of the
plantation. To the north Boucher
did good work, twice turning
the fugitives back when they
attempted to gain the
One by one the boys were captured.
In the first man-drive through
the mangrove swamp Seelee caught
two. Circling around to the north,
a third was wounded in the thigh
by Boucher, and this one, dragging
behind in the chase, was later
gathered in by Seelee's hunters.
The three captives, heavily ironed,
were exposed each day in the
compound, as good examples of
what happened to bad examples,
all for the edification of the
seven score and ten half-wild
Poonga-Poonga men. Then the Minerva,
running past for Tulagi, was
signalled to send a boat, and
the three prisoners were carried
away to prison to await trial.
Five were still at large, but
escape was impossible. They could
not get down to the coast, nor
dared they venture too far inland
for fear of the wild bushmen.
Then one of the five came in
voluntarily and gave himself
up, and Sheldon learned that
Gogoomy and two others were all
that were at large. There should
have been a fourth, but according
to the man who had given himself
up, the fourth man had been killed
and eaten. It had been fear of
a similar fate that had driven
him in. He was a Malu man, from
north-western Malaita, as likewise
had been the one that was eaten.
Gogoomy's two other companions
were from Port Adams. As for
himself, the black declared his
preference for government trial
and punishment to being eaten
by his companions in the bush.
"Close up Gogoomy kai-kai me," he
said. "My word, me no like boy
Three days later Sheldon caught
one of the boys, helpless from
swamp fever, and unable to fight
or run away. On the same day
Seelee caught the second boy
in similar condition. Gogoomy
alone remained at large; and,
as the pursuit closed in on him,
he conquered his fear of the
bushmen and headed straight in
for the mountainous backbone
of the island. Sheldon with four
Tahitians, and Seelee with thirty
of his hunters, followed Gogoomy's
trail a dozen miles into the
open grass-lands, and then Seelee
and his people lost heart. He
confessed that neither he nor
any of his tribe had ever ventured
so far inland before, and he
narrated, for Sheldon's benefit,
most horrible tales of the horrible
bushmen. In the old days, he
said, they had crossed the grasslands
and attacked the salt-water natives;
but since the coming of the white
men to the coast they had remained
in their interior fastnesses,
and no salt-water native had
ever seen them again.
"Gogoomy he finish along them
fella bushmen," he assured Sheldon. "My
word, he finish close up, kai-kai
So the expedition turned back.
Nothing could persuade the coast
natives to venture farther, and
Sheldon, with his four Tahitians,
knew that it was madness to go
on alone. So he stood waist-deep
in the grass and looked regretfully
across the rolling savannah and
the soft-swelling foothills to
the Lion's Head, a massive peak
of rock that upreared into the
azure from the midmost centre
of Guadalcanar, a landmark used
for bearings by every coasting
mariner, a mountain as yet untrod
by the foot of a white man.
after dinner, Sheldon and Joan
were playing billiards,
when Satan barked in the compound,
and Lalaperu, sent to see, brought
back a tired and travel-stained
native, who wanted to talk with
the "big fella white marster." It
was only the man's insistence
that procured him admittance
at such an hour. Sheldon went
out on the veranda to see him,
and at first glance at the gaunt
features and wasted body of the
man knew that his errand was
likely to prove important. Nevertheless,
Sheldon demanded roughly, -
you come along house belong
me sun he go down?"
"Me Charley," the man muttered
apologetically and wearily. "Me
stop along Binu."
"Ah, Binu Charley,
eh? Well, what name you talk
What place big fella marster
along white man he stop?"
Joan and Sheldon together listened
to the tale Binu Charley had
brought. He described Tudor's
expedition up the Balesuna; the
dragging of the boats up the
rapids; the passage up the river
where it threaded the grass-lands;
the innumerable washings of gravel
by the white men in search of
gold; the first rolling foothills;
the man-traps of spear-staked
pits in the jungle trails; the
first meeting with the bushmen,
who had never seen tobacco, and
knew not the virtues of smoking;
their friendliness; the deeper
penetration of the interior around
the flanks of the Lion's Head;
the bush- sores and the fevers
of the white men, and their madness
in trusting the bushmen.
"Allee time I talk along white
fella marster," he said. "Me
talk, 'That fella bushman he
look 'm eye belong him. He savvee
too much. S'pose musket he stop
along you, that fella bushman
he too much good friend along
you. Allee time he look sharp
eye belong him. S'pose musket
he no stop along you, my word,
that fella bushman he chop 'm
off head belong you. He kai-kai
But the patience of the bushmen
had exceeded that of the white
men. The weeks had gone by, and
no overt acts had been attempted.
The bushmen swarmed in the camp
in increasing numbers, and they
were always making presents of
yams and taro, of pig and fowl,
and of wild fruits and vegetables.
Whenever the gold-hunters moved
their camp, the bushmen volunteered
to carry the luggage. And the
white men waxed ever more careless.
They grew weary prospecting,
and at the same time carrying
their rifles and the heavy cartridge-belts,
and the practice began of leaving
their weapons behind them in
"I tell 'm
plenty fella white marster
look sharp eye belong
him. And plenty fella white marster
make 'm big laugh along me, say
Binu Charley allee same pickaninny--my
word, they speak along me allee
Came the morning when Binu
Charley noticed that the women
and children had disappeared.
Tudor, at the time, was lying
in a stupor with fever in a late
camp five miles away, the main
camp having moved on those five
miles in order to prospect an
outcrop of likely quartz. Binu
Charley was midway between the
two camps when the absence of
the women and children struck
him as suspicious.
"My word," he said, "me
t'ink like hell. Him black
pickaninny, walk about long way
big bit. What name? Me savvee
too much trouble close up. Me
fright like hell. Me run. My
word, me run."
Tudor, quite unconscious, was
slung across his shoulder, and
carried a mile down the trail.
Here, hiding new trail, Binu
Charley had carried him for a
quarter of a mile into the heart
of the deepest jungle, and hidden
him in a big banyan tree. Returning
to try to save the rifles and
personal outfit, Binu Charley
had seen a party of bushmen trotting
down the trail, and had hidden
in the bush. Here, and from the
direction of the main camp, he
had heard two rifle shots. And
that was all. He had never seen
the white men again, nor had
he ventured near their old camp.
He had gone back to Tudor, and
hidden with him for a week, living
on wild fruits and the few pigeons
and cockatoos he had been able
to shoot with bow and arrow.
Then he had journeyed down to
Berande to bring the news. Tudor,
he said, was very sick, lying
unconscious for days at a time,
and, when in his right mind,
too weak to help himself.
"What name you no kill 'm that
big fella marster?" Joan demanded. "He
have 'm good fella musket, plenty
calico, plenty tobacco, plenty
knife-fee, and two fella pickaninny
musket shoot quick, bang-bang-bang--just
The black smiled cunningly.
too much. S'pose me kill 'm
big fella marster,
bimeby plenty white fella marster
walk about Binu cross like hell.
'What name this fellow musket?'
those plenty fella white marster
talk 'm along me. My word, Binu
Charley finish altogether. S'pose
me kill 'm him, no good along
me. Plenty white fella marster
cross along me. S'pose me no
kill 'm him, bimeby he give me
plenty tobacco, plenty calico,
plenty everything too much."
"There is only the one thing
to do," Sheldon said to Joan.
She drummed with her hand and
waited, while Binu Charley gazed
wearily at her with unblinking
"I'll start the first thing
in the morning," Sheldon said.
"We'll start," she corrected. "I
can get twice as much out of
my Tahitians as you can, and,
besides, one white should never
be alone under such circumstances."
He shrugged his shoulders in
token, not of consent, but of
surrender, knowing the uselessness
of attempting to argue the question
with her, and consoling himself
with the reflection that heaven
alone knew what adventures she
was liable to engage in if left
alone on Berande for a week.
He clapped his hands, and for
the next quarter of an hour the
house-boys were kept busy carrying
messages to the barracks. A man
was sent to Balesuna village
to command old Seelee's immediate
presence. A boat's-crew was started
in a whale-boat with word for
Boucher to come down. Ammunition
was issued to the Tahitians,
and the storeroom overhauled
for a few days' tinned provisions.
Viaburi turned yellow when told
that he was to accompany the
expedition, and, to everybody's
surprise, Lalaperu volunteered
to take his place.
Seelee arrived, proud in his
importance that the great master
of Berande should summon him
in the night-time for council,
and firm in his refusal to step
one inch within the dread domain
of the bushmen. As he said, if
his opinion had been asked when
the gold- hunters started, he
would have foretold their disastrous
end. There was only one thing
that happened to any one who
ventured into the bushmen's territory,
and that was that he was eaten.
And he would further say, without
being asked, that if Sheldon
went up into the bush he would
be eaten too.
Sheldon sent for a gang-boss
and told him to bring ten of
the biggest, best, and strongest
"Not salt-water boys," Sheldon
cautioned, "but bush boys--leg
belong him strong fella leg.
Boy no savvee musket, no good.
You bring 'm boy shoot musket
They were ten picked men that
filed up on the veranda and stood
in the glare of the lanterns.
Their heavy, muscular legs advertised
that they were bushmen. Each
claimed long experience in bush-
fighting, most of them showed
scars of bullet or spear-thrust
in proof, and all were wild for
a chance to break the humdrum
monotony of plantation labour
by going on a killing expedition.
Killing was their natural vocation,
not wood-cutting; and while they
would not have ventured the Guadalcanar
bush alone, with a white man
like Sheldon behind them, and
a white Mary such as they knew
Joan to be, they could expect
a safe and delightful time. Besides,
the great master had told them
that the eight gigantic Tahitians
were going along.
The Poonga-Poonga volunteers
stood with glistening eyes and
grinning faces, naked save for
their loin-cloths, and barbarously
ornamented. Each wore a flat,
turtle-shell ring suspended through
his nose, and each carried a
clay pipe in an ear-hole or thrust
inside a beaded biceps armlet.
A pair of magnificent boar tusks
graced the chest of one. On the
chest of another hung a huge
disc of polished fossil clam-shell.
"Plenty strong fella fight," Sheldon
warned them in conclusion.
They grinned and shifted delightedly.
"S'pose bushmen kai-kai along
you?" he queried.
"No fear," answered their spokesman,
one Koogoo, a strapping, thick-lipped
Ethiopian-looking man. "S'pose
Poonga-Poonga boy kai- kai bush-boy?"
Sheldon shook his head, laughing,
and dismissed them, and went
to overhaul the dunnage-room
for a small shelter tent for