The Adventure of Mark Styler

General Information

Dear readers,

The Adventure of Mark Styler is an adventure story about a young boy's accidental discovery of an old book which leads him to seek the mysterious city of silver. It is based on a very old story and the image is courtesy of Pixabay.

K. C. Lee
Story Collector
August 11, 2014

Wrecked On A Coral Reef

CITY with walls shining like silver, with golden minarets and battlements of crystal, inhabited by a people with the manner and dress of their ancestors of a thousand years ago, and, unitedly, guarding a subterranean treasure-chamber holding more gold than the Spaniards took from the Incas of Peru !

This was the luring phantom that had taken possession of Mark Styler, a New England boy nineteen years old, coast born and farm bred.

It all came about from his reading that old book. No one knew how or when it came into the Style farm garret; but everybody in the village of Selim knew that it was there, and that it had charmed and infatuated here a young man and there an old one for at least three generations. Mark Styler, when he came to reading days, found it there in company with the Voyages of Captain Cook, and kindred books. He had read it through at least once a year ever since he could remember ; and he was far more familiar with the map of Yucatan than with any other in the atlas.

It is more than ordinary attention that he is giving to the relation of the Spanish adventurer this October afternoon. By his side, as usual, is spread a map. He is tracing upon it ( for the hundredth time ) here a line of march, there the locality of some sharp skirmish, yonder the probable scene of death and defeat. Slowly and thoughtfully he turns page after page, collating, and constantly recurring to the map, picking up different points like an Indian on the trail of a foe. At last he seems to have found the object of his search ; his finger circles around the figure of a lake in the centre of a region of forest, gradually approaches it, and finally is brought down with a triumphant thump.

" That's it ! the very place ! Hurrah ! I surely have found it this time! "

" What have you found, my boy ? " said a soft voice behind him ; turning around, he saw his mother standing in the doorway.

" Found ! Why, that mysterious city we boys have always wondered about so much in reading this old book. Look, mother! here it is, here it must be, right in the midst of this great forest! As true as you live, mother, here's the spot where Cortes hung the Aztec emperor; here where the army nearly all perished in crossing the river; here is the lake with its lovely island where the Indians made an image of a horse of the Spaniards and worshipped it as a god; and here, right down in this big wilderness, must be that city of temples and palaces no white man has ever seen, but which I am determined to discover ! "

Despite his bold words, he half caught his breath, and but glanced at his mother as he made this announcement.

Mrs. Style reached out and took the book. She held it close, looking earnestly at her son. " This wicked old book !" she exclaimed at last, laying it down. " Its spell must be on me too, or I should have burned it years and years ago, before my boys could read.. Mark, listen to me. I have never told you, but this very book laid its spell upon your father before you were born ; he was always talking of that 'mysterious city.' Mark, they believe his ship was wrecked, or burned, but I never did. What I firmly believe is that your father secretly sailed for those dangerous regions of which no man knew anything for certain, and there lost his life. I have never spoken of this, but, Mark, you surely are old enough now to hear it, and to be warned by it too."

Mark seemed to consider his mother's earnest words in a sort of astonished silence.

"Mother," he said at last, "if I really believed this yes, if even you really believe it, there is all the more reason for my carrying out my plan. For mother, you may as well know it now as at any time, and get used to it " and the smile was as tender as bright which flashed all over his face "I really have resolved to go."

" My boy, when you are making such wild plans, do you ever consider that you are only nineteen ? Such a step at such a time of life may prove your ruin. You will return, if you return at all "

" Older men than I have been in search of this city," interrupted Mark.

" Yes, yes," said his mother, " but have never returned."

" That was because they were not well-informed. They had not studied the matter in detail as I have. If only I had the two missing leaves of this book ! Mother, I feel sure that from what goes before and comes after, that those leaves would locate the city for me to a dot ; and now, mother, look at this matter with me reasonably, I am sure that I never will be fit to undertake anything else until I have disposed of this matter. I am perfectly sure of success. I am not a dreaming boy, mother. I cannot only make plans, but I can manage them step by step. What if I tell you that I have found a man, a coolheaded, scientific man, too, who has such faith in me that he is quite willing to advance me money on certain work that I am to do for him ; if I do that I can start at once. Shall I read you this letter ? "

Mrs. Style drew a long breath. Mark looked pained, too, as he gazed down at his delicate little mother, and noted how she turned her pale face away from his glance.

"Come down into the sitting-room," she said. " I should like to call in uncle David to hear this letter read."

Left sprawling upon the floor where it had been dropped, lay the wizard book, the cause of such an upheaval in the Style household. It was bound in parchment, and bore upon its back, printed in great gilt letters : " THE TRUE HISTORY OF THE CONQUEST OF MEXICO ; by One of the Conquerors,'' An innocent title enough ; but lying behind it was a narrative of strange incidents and deeds of valor and records of great guarded treasures, so vividly written that its influence upon its readers, boys especially, was wonderful, bewitching.

It lay now in the dusty sunshine, glaring up at the rafters with its glittering eyes.

" I will be picked up again soon enough never inind," it seemed to say. " I am not at all disturbed. I am perfectly sure of my prey."

At first glance it would seem that a more unlikely place for a romance could not be found on the whole New England coast than this old Style farm with its gray mossflecked house, settled down in an orchard of apple-trees ; yet from beneath the gable roofs of just such weather-beaten dwellings have come forth the world's hardiest adventurers; for to boys there, of all places in the world, comes the leisure of long solitary winter evenings to read books and dream dreams ; and was there ever a dream so likely to set on fire a boy's brain as this one of the possible discovery of a grand, beautiful treasure city deep buried in a tropical forest of Central America ?

Some ten years before this momentous October day, the father of Mark Styler, a brave young seacaptain, had sailed away to the South, leaving his family on the small coast farm. After three years of waiting, Mrs. Style acquiesced in the neighborhood belief that his ship and all hands had gone down, although she refused to "put on black."

As soon as her two boys were half-grown, they had been taken from school and set at work. In summer they worked on the farm, and made an occasional fishing-trip down the bay ; and in winter they hunted and trapped. They were now grown into strong and sturdy boys. Mark was two years the senior of Ben, now seventeen, and though slender, was of good height, and in perfect health, agile, and quick as a young panther, and bound to accomplish whatever he undertook. Though taken so early from school, he had clung to his books, and, during the long winter evenings, he had gone, more or less meditatively, over a wide range of reading.

From a book, found also in the garret, he had learned the art of preserving birds, and during odd hours he had collected and stuffed all the most interesting birds of the coast. One study leads to another, and in order to learn the names of the birds he shot, he sought books on natural history and travel. Thus his mind developed in several extraordinary directions, until he felt that the quiet little world in which he had lived so long was but a chimney-corner; that there was a beautiful, wonderful unknown world outside , and he grew restless to go, and ripe for the bursting forth of some romantic plan like this search for the Silver City.

The past summer had been an eventful one. He had met on one of his hunting trips, an ornithologist who, like himself, was in pursuit of specimens. He proved to be a famous naturalist whom Mark knew well by reputation; and he in his turn became interested in the young enthusiast of the New England woods, and saw at once his value in certain important plans of his own.

The letter which Mark carried down to read in the sitting-room was from him. Even "Uncle David," the shrewd neighbor who generally assisted in their family councils, could not deny that it was straight to the point, and all that an adventurous boy could ask :

WASHINGTON, October 73, 18 --.
MY DEAR Mark : In regard to the matter on which we have corresponded, I am now ready to say that I place three hundred dollars at your disposal, inclosing you a check for the same. With this money I wish you to do all that is possible towards securing the institution with which I am connected a collection of the birds of Yucatan. You will, I hope, do your utmost to procure a complete representation of its fauna--

" Arn't those summat dangerous animals ? " interrupted uncle David. " And you a-knowin' little of their habits, bein' furren as it were."

"Uncle David, fauna isn't an animal, it's only a word meaning the animal life of a country all the animals."

" Wuss yit, if it means the hull on 'em," said uncle David, with a decisive shake of the head.

Mark smiled reassuringly and continued :

"The professor goes on to say that he wants two of each kind of the birds of Yucatan, and will give me a dollar apiece for theii skins. So you see this three hundred dollars is only part payment in advance. Now, what do you think of it? Any young fellow ever had a better chance ? "

A long silence followed. It was broken at last by uncle David. " Well, Mark, you know what / think pretty well. You know I think New England farms need New England boys, an' '11 pay 'em too, if they'll only stick by. All the same, no discontented young feller's going to plow deep, or take much int'rest in iinportin' stock. You're teched, an' you'll go, prob'ly. So we might as well say go, an' good luck go with ye. I feel better about it that you're goin' under the protection of an insthoot>as it were, an' for a def'nit object ; so much apiece for a skin, as it were, an' not a huntin' as you've -sometimes talked, for that city of moonshine, with silver walls."

Mark smiled. " That is the funniest part of it," he said; "for, uncle David, if you'll believe it, this region the professor has pitched upon to have me explore is the very one containing that mysterious city. Come, now, isn't that a clear indication of Providence ? "

Uncle David's brow lowered, and his mouth twitched as it always did when he was much disturbed by something he could not change, but he made no reply.

" Let me make one more appeal," said his mother ; " I want to make you this offer. Here is the farm, it has thirty acres of good land, and you and Ben shall have it to yourselves ; all you can make upon it from this day, this season's crops and all, if you will stay and work it faithfully for five years. I'll deed it to you to-morrow on these conditions."

Ben broke in eagerly': "And /have something to say, Mark : if you'll do as mother proposes you shall have my share too; the whole farm shall be yours I'll be content to simply be your hired man, if you'll only stay at home, Mark."

Mark shook his head, though his eyes filled with warm tears.

" Then," continued his brother, the glow dying away on his honest face, " I will stay and work mother's farm alone. You save all you can, we'll do the same ; return to us in a twelvemonth and let us compare notes. I will pu-t the farm against the sea and the Silver City."

" All right, old fellow," said Mark cheerily, springing up. " None of you believe in me, of course, but when I come home with money enough to pay the village debt and buy out uncle David beside, you'll admit that I dreamed dreams to some purpose."

It was difficult to find a vessel going to that part of the world Mark wished to reach, especially one that would either take out a passenger for a small sum, or let one work his passage, as he proposed doing. This country of Yucatan was a long way off, especially to Mark's mother and Ben. Every day now they looked at it on an atlas ; it lav south and west of Cuba, projecting upward from Central America. At that time but few vessels sailed to it direct ; the only chance seemed to secure a passage to Cuba and there await some coasting vessel.

But good luck still seemed to come to Mark It was not a week before there might have been seen a schooner in Selim harbor with sails loose hung to the breeze, toward which uncle David's dory was being rowed, two sturdy young men at the oars. Half an hour later, the sails were drawn aft, the schooner was trimmed to the wind, and the little dory left behind, its occupants gazing seaward tear fully, the one they had left on board looking landward with straining eyes.

The spires of the town, the rocky headlands, the smooth beaches, gradually faded from sight; the little brown house sank down amongst the trees, and then Mark turned away and set his face toward the Silver City.

By the time the new sailor had stowed away his luggage and donned sea-clothes, the sunset was gilding a distant cloud bank ; all that remained in sight of his native land. Midnight found them tossing upon the long waves of the open ocean, two thousand miles between Mark and his destination.

The Dappled Diver was a stanch craft, though small and old, of about one hundred tons' capacity ; and as she sailed along steadily, requiring very little "handling," the young sailor, though he shared both night and day watches, found time heavy on his hands.

The ship's crew and officers promised no great variety of interesting acquaintanceship. Captain Bowker was a " down easier," a native of that vague country located anywhere along the New England coast. His mate was a connection, and the cook a brother of his wife, so that the discipline aboard the Dappled Diver was rather lax, especially as the four men constituting the crew were also from the captain's own neighborhood. Of a kind disposition, he soon treated his new "hand" as he might his own son. He became interested in his plans, gave him advice, and steadily discouraged his idea of setting off into the interior of Yucatan. " Your project of exploring all along the coast," said he, " is safe enough, if you are tolerable cautious ; but once you get fifty miles inland, you leave the region of towns and cities where the people are kind and peaceable, and you fall into the hands of savages who don't show any mercy to strangers, but put 'em to death with all kinds of torture."

"But it happens that the portion of Yucatan I want to explore most is a long ways inland, in a region so wild no white man has ever been known to penetrate it and yet return to describe it." " And what's your idea of going there ? " Mark colored up. He knew the reception his pet scheme would meet with from this bluff sailor But he came out boldly : " Well, there is said to be somewhere in the wild interior a large and populous city with "

" Yes, yes ; bless your heart," broke in the captain, "I know all about it with walls shining like silver, with golden minarets and battlements of crystal, where the people have all the ways and costumes of their ancestors of a thousand years ago, and where they guard a subterranean treasure-chamber containing more gold than the Spaniards got from Montezuma."

" That is it, truly," admitted the astonished young man ; " but where did you get that description ? "

"Oh, I've seen that old book; and what's more, it was nearly the means of leading me off on just such a trip as you are thinking of now, only I had the resolution to fight it. There was one poor fellow, though, who wa'n't so fortunate. He sailed a schooner the mate to mine built on the same stocks and launched the same season, and though only a few know it, I know that he actually went down there to hunt that city."

" How long ago was it, and what became of him ? " asked Mark.

" Nigh on to ten years ago, I reckon, and as to what became of him, nobody ever knew; but it is supposed that he sailed down towards Honduras and was wrecked off that coast somewhere. Some of the sailors, it is said, reached the shore, but they were took by the Indians and killed."

" Then you do know what became of him " He stopped abruptly, the blood almost standing still around his heart. " Captain, do you remember his name ? "

." I don't exactly. You see, I was never intimate with him; only see his schooner now and then, and hardly ever within hailing distance. But it seems to me that they called him let me see Cap'n Style; yes, that was it, I think. Halloo, halloo, what's the matter?" for Mark had seized him by the shoulder. Mark smiled faintly as he sat down again. " My father was lost at sea about ten years ago," he said, "and my mother believes he went to look for this city. I think it is the same man, and, Captain Bowker, he may not be dead, if there is nothing sure known about the shipwreck."

" This is strange ; how things do come about ! " said the captain. And then he shook his head. " My boy, there isn't the faintest show of his being alive now. Don't let that lead you into that old Yucatan wilderness."

Mark said not a word. Deep down in his heart was forming the resolve to reach that region, and never to leave it till he had found out the whole truth. The captain seemed to divine his thoughts. He was about to speak, when something skyward caught his eye. " Look at that cloud ! " he cried ; " there's a squall, sure's you're born. All hands shorten sail ! lively now ! "

It proved something more serious than a squall, the wind blowing before night with fury, and the sea running higher than Mark at least had ever seen it.

For several days the gale kept after them, sending the little craft along at a speed that shortened the voyage by nearly a week.

But at last there came again pleasant weather, and the vessel sailed along on even keel wafted onward by the trade winds. One of those pleasant days, when the sun shone and the flying-fish and dolphins were playing about the bows, two weeks out, they entered the " Horse Latitudes."

They sailed slowly through vast stretches of gulf weed, like those which frightened Columbus and his sailors. The wind weakened so that they hardly moved ahead : it was several days before they left a-stern this famous " Sargasso Sea." The water assumed a deeper hue as they sailed southward, and from out the cool depths of blue darted the beautiful flying-fish, skimming the waves and glancing like silver in the sun a sight to delight our young naturalist. " There ain't no end to the sights you'll see once we fairly enter the tropics," said the mate, enjoying his enthusiasm. "Walkin' in them tropic forests is a round red face and twinkling black eyes. The whole crew liked him, but they did detest his cooking; his pastry was something horrible, and "plum duff " day, which is usually looked forward to with expectancy, always caused a thrill of horror to run through the crew of the Diver.

" Tom," repeated the mate, ' trot cut that poim." But Tom with a big blush under Mark's kindly but keen gaze, said he had other fish to fry, and turned a. deaf ear to the mate's commands.

As he turned out next morning Mark was surprised at the swarms of sea birds flying along with the vessel jest like goin' through the 'Arabian Nights,' somethin' that's scrumptious hoppin' up at every step. There's subjects for a poit, every time. Tom, here, 's a dabster at a poim. Now there was a accident happened to the Diver last v'yage, and Tom, the cook here, he jest went to work and slung off some of the tallest kind of poitry about it. Tom, what did you do with that poim ? "

Tom was a hardy young "down caster" about Ben's age, who had charge of the galley and did the cooking a jolly good-natured boy, short and fat, with gulls and terns, sea swallows, frigate-pelicans and tropic birds, diving and wheeling in the clear ether, while flocks of petrels, or "Mother Gary's chickens," floated on the waves astern.

" They's curl's critters," remarked the mate as they hung over the rail looking at the " chickens " skimming the sea and darting at the galley refuse thrown over by the cook ; " and they have a way of appearin' and disappearin' that there ain't nobody can account for. They're an evil bird, let me tell you, and though I've seen millions of 'em in my life, I'd no mnre dare harm one than I would the spirit of my grandma'am. I've known more'n one occasion when the ketchin' of one has brought bad luck to a vessel."

A cry forward just then called them that way, and running up they found that one of the sailors in a spirit of mischief had caught one of the little creatures, and was hauling it in, fluttering and struggling, at the end of a line. He had just got it in his hands as they reached him, and with a sudden jerk broke its neck and flung it to the deck at their very feet.

For a moment the mate stood dazed ; then with a cry of rage he darted at the sailor, who turned in time to evade him and rush up the shrouds.

" You cub ! if I ketch you on deck within twentyfour hours, I'll serve you as you've served this bird ! Just you stay there in the riggin' till I tell ye to come down ! We're in for it now sure ; I'm as sartin something will happen to us before the v'yage is ended, as that the sun will set this night."

As the mate thus spoke his great breast heaved and the perspiration stood on his brow. All on board, from the captain to the cook, shared in the feeling of depression. Immediately that their companion had been killed, the petrels had disappeared just as though the sea had opened and swallowed them up; one moment they were dancing on the water by scores, the next and there was not one in sight !

"Rats leave, a sinking vessel," muttered the captain, "and Mother Gary's chickens always skip away when a vessel's bound for bad luck. However, we're within two days of Cienfuegos, and if we don't have it contrary within forty-eight hours, we're all right."

The Dappled Diver was bound for the port named, on the south coast of Cuba, there to load with sugar and molasses for New York. The captain's plan was to get into the Caribbean Sea, as he had, and, after passing south of the Bahamas, and between Cuba and Hayti, to sail westerly until in about the longitude of the port, and then bear up for it. By this means he took advantage of the rather strong current setting up from the Caribbean into the Gulf of Mexico. He was now approaching the point whence to change their course to the Styleward, and, late in the afternoon, after getting the longitude, he told the mate that at midnight they would point the Diver's nose for Cienfuegos.

As the sun went down, and as the cook called them below for supper, the mate directed attention to the sky in the west, which had taken on a hard, brassy glare, while the intervening sea was black as ink. The vessel had been sailing an easy jog all day, but now the wind became baffling, and she was already tossing uneasily on the restless waves.

"I don't like it," said the captain, as he and the mate and Mark went in. "The barometer's falling fast. Soon's we're through, Mr. Walker, better have the men clew up them topsails, and double-reef the mainsail."

But there was to be no supper that night. Bang ! a loud report sounded overhead. The vessel heeled till the water came running in at the lee scupper. The captain and mate were out in an instant.

" Guess we won't have to clew up that fore-topsail, cap'n, for there 'tis hangin' in tatters. We're struck fearful ! " cried the mate.

The captain ran to the wheel, and, as he took it from the man on duty, shouted hurriedly:

" Run up aloft and take in what's left of the main-topsail ! Come aft, two of you, by the main halliards. There ! hold on hard ; there she comes 1 Now go ahead and put in a double-reef in the mainsail. Lively, now, our lives depend on't ! "

All the other sails were clewed up tight ; then, under a rag of the mainsail and the flying-jib, she was put before it, and scud away for dear life, with a hurricane howling behind her.

After the ropes had been gathered up and everything made snug, the captain gave up the wheel to Mark (as it was his watch from eight o'clock to midnight) and went below to consult charts and barometer.

" It's a hurricane, sure as guns," said the mate as he came aft to coil up a rope. " Where we are now is right on the edge of the hurricane region, and we'll be sure to git enough of ft in the next two days."

Captain Bowker found he had five hundred miles between them and the nearest land to westward, and as the gale was after them from the eastward, there was no alternative but to let her drive westward. It was a terrible night, but the next morning brought no relief, for the wind was blowing the tops off the white-crested waves, and whistling dismally through the rigging.

The day passed. Night again fell upon a stormy sea. The next day saw them still driving before the unabated fury of the storm. The blackness of the third night was only relieved by flashes of foam and the glare of lightning through an inky sky. The crew were wet through, and hungry and weary with watching. For the past forty-eight hours they had only snatched a moment's sleep where they happened to fall in their clothes.

A new cause of anxiety now harassed the captain. Having been driven so long to westward, they must now be very near the coast that lay five hundred miles to leeward when the gale struck. They had been speeding along at a rate not less than ten miles an hour, possibly twelve, and it needed no deep reasoning to show that most imminent danger waited just ahead. Long and anxiously the mate and captain debated what it was best to do.

" We can only let her drive," muttered the captain despairingly, " and put our trust in the God of storms. To-morrow will show us where we are, and the wind may then be blown out."

They were running under bare poles ; most of their sails were torn into ribbons. Everything movable had been swept from the deck. The man on watch and the helmsman were lashed to their posts. No fire had been lighted for two days. Only hardtack and raw bacon had been their food.

This was their condition on that third black night of storm. The sun went down in a cloud, and the lights in the rigging struggled feebly with the midnight darkness. The wind wailed and shrieked, the sea roared and bellowed like a hundred lions chasing the fleeing vessel to their dismal dens. Like a flying fish before the jaws of a dolphin, she still sped on. At last above the roar of the storm came a hoarse cry the long-expected cry from the man at the bow " Breakers ahead ! "

There was nothing to do. The trembling craft dashed right on, leaped high into the clashing waves, sank upon the rocks.

A mighty billow came thundering along with flecks of foam dripping from its jaws ; it hung, crouched, one moment above those helpless souls ; another, and it fell; the next, and there was not a living thing in sight.

After The Hurricane

DON PEDRO PINTO, Mexican fisherman on the coast of Yucatan, lived in a small hut on the border of Lake Santa Cruz, in the island of Cozumel. He had dwelt solitary on this island for nearly three years, holding little or no communication with either white men or Indians. The fearful hurricane that had blown across his island preventing him from going to sea for fish and turtles for the past three days, had now died away. Sweet was the air of the forest with odors of a thousand flowers and vines, and bright shone the sun on the waves at the mouth of the bay as he drew his canoe from under its shelter of palm branches and pushed it over the silver sand that bordered the water. Placing in it his net and lines, his turtle peg, some provisions and water, he paddled slowly out from shore, Indian fashion, facing the bows.

This is perhaps the loveliest lake to the eye that lies in any island of that western Caribbean Sea. It is about two miles in length, and a mile in width, its deep pearl-blue water circled by a belt of snow-white sand, and enclosed by a wall of forest trees displaying all the varied beauty of the tropic wilderness.

Standing at his door, Don Pedro could view its entire length and breadth; could see at a glance the myriads of sea-birds that hovered over its surface, and the black forms of deer and wild hogs that roamed the beach on the other side. These, his only neighbors, did not disturb his meditations that morning as he paddled easily down towards the point where the lake connected with the sea, now hidden by great abrupt cliffs. As he rounded this promontory the roaring of the sea broke upon his ears, telling him that though the storm had subsided, the waters of the ocean had not, and his little canoe presently began to toss lightly upon water agitated by the rolling waves outside. He saw that he could not venture in his frail craft ; that his fishing must be confined to the lake.

Looking about for a choice spot, something beneath the cliff at the farther wall of the narrow entrance arrested his attention.

" Santa Maria!" muttered he in Spanish, his mother tongue. " Santa Maria ! that looks like a good boat for me."

Swiftly plying his paddle, he was soon alongside it r indulging in the prospect of now being able to go turtling in any weather, since so large and strong a boat as this appeared to be, had been cast up especially for him bythe waves. Reaching over to grasp the rail, his eye fell on an object lying across a thwart that caused him to exclaim in horror, and cross himself. " Ah ! Mother of Mercy! There's a poor boy who must have perished in last night's gale."

Clambering into the boat, he found an oar lashed inside, and with this he brought his capture up the bay near his hut. Running the boat upon the sand, he gently lifted out its occupant, bore him up the bank beneath a palm-tree, and softly laid him down.

" Pobrecito ! poor little one ! " exclaimed he in pity. " To think thou art so young ! To think that thou should be borne ashore only to be buried ! Thou seem'st a gentle lad, and might have been bon camerado with poor Don Pedro ! "

He sat down beside the boy. He took one of his hands, and scanned the pallid face from which the dark hair fell away wet and heavy.

" As though he might be asleep," he muttered. " It is strange his eyes should be closed. When people are drowned their eyes are always open. How many have I looked into, staring wide at me from the waves ! And his hand, it is not very cold ; it is all but warm. Do I dare think he is alive ? It is not. possible ; yet I can fancy that his eyelids move. Ah, Dios, they do move!"

Don Pedro wasted no more time in words. He flew to his hut for restoratives. There could be no assistance, no advice. But Don Pedro needed none. He knew the very moment when a flush of color should come into the cheeks ; he could time the faint gasps of breath ; he paused for the slow opening of the great brown eyes that looked up into his so wonderingly as though for the first time they were gazing upon the world. Then the eyelids drooped, and a deep sleep fell at once upon the boy.

"All is right," murmured Don Pedro.

He proceeded at once to remove him to his own bed of moss and palm leaves ; to take off his wet clothes, and wrap him in warm garments.

Soon the brown eyes opened once more ; this time a troubled soul looked through, sorely perplexed. The pale lips framed a question :

" Are you my father ? "

Now Don Pedro though he spoke only Spanish and the language of Yucatan, had often visited the English settlement of Belize, and understood much of the English tongue. It was an uncertain idea that this strange voice now conveyed to him, yet after some thought he grasped and understood the question ; but he could not reply in English. Taking the feeble hand in his, he answered slowly in his own language :

"St, su padre!" yes, I am your father.

" He has been given to me by the sea," reasoned the fisherman. " He shall henceforth be my son. So I am his father."

But a look of doubt deepened on the lad's face. Don Pedro saw he had not been understood. He bowed his head upon his hands and murmured a touching prayer :

" Padre mio, I beseech thee give me a language that can be comprehended by this my son, given to me by the sea ! "

There was a common language at command. Unconsciously, Don Pedro gave expression to it in the stronggrasp of his hand and the tender light that played on his usually grave and sad face. The boy understood. He felt a father's protection.

" Where am I ? " was his next question.

After pondering awhile, Don Pedro answered with careful distinctness :

" Cozumel."

An expression of astonishment now took the place of doubt. He let his mind wander back to the chipcharts. He slowly recalled the position of an island named Cozumel.

" What ! " said he, trying to rise, " am I so near the coast of Yucatan ? "

" Si yes cerca de near Yucatan," responded Don Pedro. Slowly the boy's lips moved. He meant to speak aloud ; but Don Pedro heard no sound. The boy rehearsed the past only to his own consciousness :

" Ah, yes ; it was that great wave hanging over us ! It crushed down and swept us all into the sea, and I was dashed into the boat that hung over the stern. I suppose I clung to the seat. Probably I drifted. I have been picked up, I suppose, story-book fashion. Where are the others ? " he cried suddenly and audibly. " I ought to see about it at once ! See here ! there are several besides me ; let us set out at once."

Vainly trying to rise, he sank back with a groan, and, turning his face to the wall, wrestled with the anguish of full recollection.

Don Pedro was in despair. He could catch only a fragment of the boy's meaning. But he gathered that he had been wrecked on the southern reef, and that there were others in need of assistance. He walked the floor, pulling at his long white beard, devoutly wishing again that there was some common language between him and the boy.

The reader has already concluded that Don Pedro's patient was no other than our adventurous Mark Styler. The first great sea that toppled over the Dappled Diver swept him into the longboat hanging by its davits ; the second freed the boat from its fastenings and flung her over the reef into a sheltered lagoon, where she floated, beyond the reach of the breakers, and drifted finally, with the unconscious occupant, against the northern point forming the entrance to the lake. (See map.)

By the time Mark had awakened from the heavy sleep into which he fellat length, it was noon. The sun hung above the lake, a ball of fire above a glowing mirror. Don Pedro, meantime, had resolved upon a visit to the wreck, which he knew must lie near. He was only waiting for a word with the boy. Now that he had wakened, he brought him a great green cocoanut full of cool delicious water; and after drinking it, Mark felt so much better that he insisted upon rising and setting forth at once.

Don Pedro protested ; made him understand that the sun was too hot, the distance too far, the excitement too great ; that he would be back by sunset. But the coast-bred New England boy laughed at the idea of being unmanned by a night's wetting. He rose and shook himself, staggered for a moment, and then in expressive^ pantomime demanded his clothes. Don Pedro, cheered with the young man's energy, fished up some old garments from a battered seachest. In these Mark was soon dressed, and they set out.

Don Pedro carried a great wicker haversack upon his shoulders, in which he had placed cooked provisions and some stimulants. Each had a large stick, and Don Pedro buckled about his waist a broad leather belt full of cartridges, with a pistol and long knife.

By referring to the map, the reader will notice that Don Pedro's hut was set down on the shore of a little bay on the west side of the lake, and that between it and the sea or open channel where the wreck occurred, there was but a narrow strip of land, covered with dense forest. Through this forest Don Pedro had long since opened a path ; for the wreck of the Diver was not the first that had happened on that reef ; in fact, he depended more upon what the sea cast up to him, than upon the fish and turtle he drew out of it ; and it was his custom to visit the point once a week every Sunday and this he had done for years, accumulating in his weekly excursions much valuable spoil. Evidence of this might be seen in the furnishings of his hut, and he had another cabin at the reefs where he stored whatever he could not move to the house by the lake.

The path was about two miles in length, and led on through deep woods where underfoot was white coral rock, and overhead a dense canopy of leaves. Don Pedro strode ahead with his great knife, cutting away the vines that had fallen across the trail since his last visit,and in spite of the solemn errand upon which they were bound, and his own weakness, Mark felt a sense of joy and courage as he followed, inhaling the delicious forest odors. He was half bewildered by the strange forms of vegetation. Long vines hung from great trees, dropping suddenly from out the maze of branches above, without visible root or support ; and these coiled about each other, intertwined and hung with giant ferns and long mosses. Through these vines, and from tree to tree, darted bright-colored birds, the whole forest musical with their song and chatter.

At sight of these Mark felt stir a pulse of his old ambition. He longed to begin his commission for the museum that moment. But how could he work ? His gun and ammunition were lost; so was the money that had been paid him in advance. But he cheered up presently; partly from the DON PEDRO'S HUT. Yankee consciousness of a birthright of good luck, and partly from a tingling of strength and vim along vein, nerve and sinew.

The freshness of the great green sea-washed region was like balm and wine. Hungrily, thirstily, he took great draughts of these subtle restoratives. Confident that a way would be opened to his work, even as one had been for his escape from the sea, he followed Don Pedro, watching for the first glimpse of the sea.

After an hour or so the trees became smaller, the forest more open, dwindling to low bushes, then came in sight the sand dunes ; and at the same time the roaring of the sea burst upon their ears. Anxiously, without a word, they climbed the last sand-hillock and looked off upon the open water. Below were the reefs, from which the breakers were tossing sheets of foam, and between were quiet lagoons filled with sea-mosses and bright-banded fish.

" Is there nothing, not a spar left of the vessel? " said Mark to himself.

The next moment there loomed up the battered hulk of the Divet without masts, rigging gone, but standing bolt upright on the edge of a reef of coral. Her entire hull was out of water, and he saw that a pathway of coral led out and nearly reached her. He started on a run clown the bank, but Don Pedro, partly by signs and partly by words, halted him.

" Stay here till I go and examine. It is better, because I know the coast."

Mark understood. Much against his will he remained on the sand. His heart beat so wildly that at last he sat down. In a short time he was to know whether any remained of the crew, or whether he was a lone castaway. It seemed only a half-mile to the wreck, but Don Pedro proceeded slowly, the coral points were so sharp and so slimy with seaweed ; and Mark's gaze was divided between him as he picked his way and the forlorn hulk, so pitiful in its helpless condition.

Once as his eyes rested upon the vessel, he fancied he saw a wreath of smoke rise into the air amidships. Rubbing his eyes, he looked again. This time he was sure. A thin column of smoke rose straight up in the still air. He could not contain himself. He shouted to Don Pedro :

" Hullo ! Hurrah ! hurrah ! "

The Mexican looked back. Following the direction of Mark's hand, he too saw the smoke, and waved his arms as token of it. Mark rushed down the bank and out upon the coral strand, though Don Pedro waved him back. But he kept on ; and he paid the penalty of disobedience too, for as he reached the Mexican, he found him bending above a startling, sorrowful sight one of the Dappled Diver's crew stretched out cold and stiff, one hand clinging to the seaweed, and his vacant eyes rolled up to the sky.

It was from an apprehension of this very thing, and from a doubt of his strength to stand the shock, that Don Pedro had cautioned him to await his return. Now he had the grim satisfaction of seeing the wilful boy's face grow ghastly, and his legs weaken so that he must have fallen but for an outstretched arm.

" Now you go back," entreated Don Pedro ; " there'll be more."

" No," persisted Mark. " I go on. I can endure now, if I find them all. I must reach the vessel ; there there is at least one man alive."

Taking him by the hand, Don Pedro led the way, muttering prayers ; and finally they reached a point whence their voices might reach the ears of whoever might be on board.

" Ship ahoy ! " shouted Mark ; but his voice was not the clear clarion it was when he could make a person hear distinctly across the old North farm. It must have fallen far short of the mark.

Then Don Pedro joined in with a wild, grim Mexican sort of " Hullo ! "

It answered the purpose, though addressed to Yankee ears. They heard a faint answering shout, like an echo ; but it was not an echo, for soon a head appeared above the rail, and then the figure of a man with wildly waving arms ; and they heard joyful, though unintelligible, shouts.

And now another figure joined the first. Mark made a telescope of his hand. He thought he recognized Tom Bolton, their cook. A little later he was sure, for no other man or boy would have stood on his head for joy, and waved his legs instead of his arms.

Soon they got near enough to hear one another's calls. Then they learned that the two were Tom Bolton and Mr. Walker, the mate.

"Where are the others ? " called Mark.

"Gone! every one !" shouted Mr. Walker. "Can you get us ? "

They had reached the limit of the reef. Between them and the vessel lay an open channel nearly sixty feet wide. Mark looked doubtful. " Hold on ! " shouted the mate. " I can bring you aboard, if you can't bring us ashore."

He disappeared, was gone for a few minutes, then came in sight again with a coil of line. To one end of this he tied a heavy lead. " Now stand from under ! "

He whirled the lead about his head, then let fly the coil, which straightened out, reached across the channel and well up upon the coral. " Pull in the slack," he cried.

Mark and Don Pedro pulled until they brought up from the water the end of a heavy rope which the mate had bent on to the line.

" That's the talk," he shouted again ; "now make the cable fast about one of them rocks some ways from the shore."

This done, the mate and Tom took several turns about the capstan, and soon drew the cable tight as a drumhead.

" Three Swiss Family Robinson cheers for our suspension bridge ! " cried Tom. " Let's see how she works ! "

Before the mate could prevent, he had darted over the side, and swarmed across the rope-bridge like a monkey across a grape-vine between trees.

" How are you, Mark, old fellow ? " he demanded eagerly, as the two boys grasped each other by the hand. " I'm mighty glad to see you, 'specially " and here he looked as sorrowful as was possible to Tom Bolton " 'specialty's the mate and I thought we was all there was left. Come aboard, and see how snug we're fixed, you and your friend here. What's the old chap's name anyway ? Don't-ee he speak-ee English ? "

" Easy, Tom," said Mark, feeling the enlivening effect of his presence, and smiling. " He understands sufficient English for you to have a care in what you say; as for his name, I don't know what it is yet myself."

" No matter ; good feller, anyhow ; saved your life, did he ?

"Old gentleman, if you're a friend of Mark's you're my friend too. Shake-ee now, shake-ee ! "

Don Pedro smiled, much amused at this odd, rosy, plump specimen of a boy, and gave Tom's hand a hearty grip.

" Now come aboard, both of you ! " cried Tom, "and hallo! look at that shark! And there's a dozen more taking up their stations right under the rope. This 'ere bridge is a leetle nearer the water than I'd like for the first few feet from shore."

" Oh, I'll go ahead if you say fear's the word, Tom," said Mark ; and lightly climbing the rope, he was soon over the rail with his hands in the horny palms of the mate. Don Pedro after signing Tom to be careful, which Tom mimicked behind his back in very excess of high spirits, also reached the vessel's side in safety; and after they were aboard Tom shouted out that he was going to cruise along shore a little, to see what he could pick up.

The old Dappled Diver decks were desolate enough.

" You can see what a pickle we're in," said the mate ; " not a loose piece of plank left big enough to swim by, let alone make a raft of. Howsoever, if you hadn't hove in sight when you did, we should have up anchor and made a lay for land to-morrow ; for though the Diver's high and dry now, the fust west wind'll likely drift her out to sea. You see how she's fixed sot right into a cradle in the reef, and can't budge an inch long's the wind holds the way 'tis ; but when the wind changes, then look out, says I."

Mark asked for an account of the wreck from shipboard standpoint, and Mr. Walker sat down to spin the dark yarn.

"Well, Mark," said he, "you see that big wave just knocked everybody over like tenpins, and every single soul that was on deck was washed overboard. After that the waves weakened, till finally they throwed us on to the reef just far enough to be out of reach of the M'ust ones, and there we sot, jest as safe as if we was shored up on the stocks ; you see everything had gone by the board a long time before, and there wa'n't nothing to topple her over no masts nor riggin'."

" But where were you all this time, mate ? "

" I was below ; I said to Captain Bowker, said I, 'Cap'n, it's my opinion we're better off below, for whatever comes, we can't do no good on deck.' That was a few minutes before that wave hit us ; but he up and said that his duty was on deck, and if he'd got to die he'd be found with his hand on the wheel ; and so I s'pose he was, poor fellow !

"I went below and got into my bunk. The next thing I know'd I heerd an , awful screeching, and the vessel heeled over a minute, and then there was a lull, and the water came pouring into the cabin till it was half-way up to my bunk. But I lay there till mighty near daylight, when not seein' the water gainin', I ventured to wade to the cabin stairs, and put my head up outside. ' Ahoy on deck there ! ' says I. There wa'n't no answer. ' Anybody alive ? ' says I. There wa'n't no sound except the dash of the waves against the counter, and the wailin' of the wind. I tell ye I felt* scared. The blood kind o' settled 'round my heart, and I fell down on the deck, and I tried to pray. Says I : 'O Lord, am I the only living thing aboard this vessel ? Every one that went is a better man than I be why did you leave me ? ' Then I sot there till daylight."

"But where was Tom all this time ?"

"Well, I'll tell ye: Tom was asleep ! "

" Asleep ! How could he sleep through all that terrible night ? "

" That's what I say. But sleep he did. Blamed if he didn't sleep through the hull on't. And the fust thing I know'd was his comin' up and layin' his hand on my shoulder, and a-sayin', ' Seems to me, mate, they's a good deal of water in the cabin,' says he. And when I looked up, amazed that there had somebody been alive all that time in the vessel, he says, says he, ' Mate, where's the rest of us ? '

" And then I answered and said, ' Tom, there ain't no rest of us now; we're all there is? He dropped down on the bitts there as though he'd been struck by a marlinespike. There we both sot without sayin' a word till noon. Bymeby Tom up and picks himself up kinder slowly, and says he, ' Mate, I reckon we've got to have somethin' to eat. I'll rummage the caboose.' Then I see there wa'n't no use settin' there. I gathered myself together and hunted round for -something to make a fire; and we'd jest got our breakfast, and had time to bail the heft of the water out of the cabin when you diskivered us. Go below and take a look ? Invite your chum, if you like. Mexican, ain't he ? What d'you say his name was ? "

" You know as well as I, for I haven't heard him Siay, and don't know how to ask him."

"Just so. But all these fellers speak Spanish, and when I was on the Spanish Main I learnt to jabber that. Now you just lay back and listen. Here goes :

" I say Seenor, parlez vous Espanol, hey ? "

"Si, Senor"

" You no speaky English lettly bit, hey ? "

" No, Seuor."

" Understandy some, hey ? "

" Si, Senor, comprendo unpoco" (Yes, sir, I understand a little.)

" Well then, you don't mind tellin' me your name, do you ?' "

" Como ? " (How ?)

" Your name ; can't you tell us what your daddy calls you to hum ? "

" Ah, usted quiere mi nombre ? " (You wish to know my name ?) " To soy " (I am) " Pedro Pinto, a su disposition" (At your service.)

" There, now you're talkin' ! Well, Mark, he calls himself Pedro Pinto. Pedro is Peter, and to do the correct thing, we oughter call him Don Pedro, or Mr. Peter. Well, Don Pedro, I'm mighty glad to see you, though we have come on to you rather sudding. There, Mark, I guess I've done the business up kinder slick; come below now.


"You see everything jest about as you left it," continued the mate cheerfully, as they descended the cabin stairs and passed into the wet and dismal rooms. " 'Bout the same, only 'tain't. Here's thechronometer, jist as Captain strapped it up to take with him. Well, he's gone himself, but he didn't take no timepiece. Here's all his charts and papers and cur'os'ties that he's been a-savin' for his wife and children, poor things ! All this property and all there is movable aboard, I've got to make myself responsible for to the owners and underwriters. What's yourn, you take. Nobody knows if I'll ever git away home to render an account at all. Here's your room, and here's your chist and box; guess you'd better git 'em up on deck, and take out what's in 'em, and dry 'em in the sun ; guess your powder's pooty wet by this time, and your gun some rusty. It's nigh onto sunset, but and if you an' Don Pedro'll take hold, we'll git out what we can. Here we air on deck ; to-night we'll stretch a awning, and sleep here. Wonder what's become of Tom 'bout dark ; ought to be here."

As if in reply, Tom's voice reached them ringing out from the water edge to which the rope-bridge was stretched : " Help ! help ! "

Rushing to the rail, they saw Tom struggling in the water, clinging to the slackened cable.

" Help. ! " he cried. " The sharks are after me! "

In the thickening twilight, they saw three ghostly white bodies gliding through the water towards the spot where poor Tom was splashing, his bocfv half submerged. It seemed a hopeless case, for there was nothing at hand to throw at the sharks, and if one descended the rope to grasp the boy, it would only slacken the more and plunge him the deeper. Mark turned white. Was the most terrible incident of all sea-life stories to come true under his very eyes ? The Mexican was the first to act. Motioning the mate to the capstan to tighten the cable, he took his long bright knife between his teeth, and swinging over the rail, crept cautiously along the rope.

He drew nearer and nearer, but he was fully a rod away when the leading shark turned over on his back and glided beneath the boy with open mouth set with white and glistening teeth.

Out Of Danger In To Danger

CARAMBA!" muttered Don Pedro between his teeth, slipping along the rope ; " the boy's gone ! ha ! that was not badly done ! "

By a convulsive upward fling, Tom had raised himself out of water at the right instant, and the shark's jaws closed on empty air ; not on air alone either, for they clutched the lower portion of his jacket, and held on.

The sweat broke out on Don Pedro's forehead and hands. If he advanced one move nearer, he would sink the cable deeper, and Tom's hold would probably give way. There was but just one thing to do a risky thing. But he reached around, drew his revolver from his belt, and levelled it at the head of the shark. The aim was a sure one ; at the report the jaws relaxed, and Tom was for a moment free. But only for a moment, for before he could move on into safety, the blood that tinged the water from the wounded fish drew a score of others, cruel and eager ; four at once swam straight for the place of the wounded one, in their blind, furious haste disregarding Tom, who now hung helpless with one arm over the cable, and his eyes starting from his bloodless face as he beheld the eddying horror beneath him. Don Pedro was again equal to the emergency. Dropping his revolver he crept forward, seized the heavy, inert fellow, and by a mighty lift and spring, cleared the horrible seething waters below, and placed Tom before him above him on the rope. The tightening of the cable through the combined efforts of Mark and the mate at the capstan, raised them a little, but not beyond the reach of the sharks, who by a lucky leap could still have seized them both.

" For your life," gasped Don Pedro as he motioned Tom to climb along the rope. The boy understood the situation well enough to draw himself though slowly and clumsily up the slanting cable towards the ship's side, where at last Mark grasped him by the collar and lifted him over the rail.

This had occupied several long minutes ; and meanwhile Don Pedro was in peril himself. Had he followed Tom immediately, he might have escaped; but the sturdy old fisher lingered to have a blow at the sharks. He bore them an ancient grudge, for they were constantly besetting him at sea, and had robbed his nets of many a catch. They were not slow to meet him half-way. One after another they rose, with open mouths, gnashing their white teeth in vain efforts to seize him as he dealt them blow after blow with his keen-edged knife.

Mark and the mate watched this battle with dismay, for they saw Don Pedro's danger better than he himself. And now knotting a rope around his waist and taking another in his hand, leaving the mate holding the slack of both, Mark crept in his turn down the cable towards the rash man who had saved his life. He had evidently become conscious of his folly and his peril, and would have turned, but he could not ; for when he should turn, so near was he to the water, his leg would be bitten off in an instant ; as it was, the mass of sharks below were only kept at bay by repeated blows. Without moving his head, he called vehemently : " Carne ! came : "

"What does he mean ? " called the mate to Mark ; " he is saying meat, meat/'' Then he caught his breath with an angry laugh. " Oh, what a dunderhead ! Tom, can't you get at the storeroom and haul out some bacon ? That's what he means. Quick ! bestir yourself whether you can or not, and heave it over at the stern ! That will draw them sea-wolves away from him ! Quick, now ! he can't last there much longer ! "

At the repeated splashings of the great pieces of pork, the attention of the sharks was drawn, and all but the desperately wounded ones swam in that direction ; all but one which refused to leave, and at him, as his head appeared above the surface, Don Pedro darted a savage and despairing blow. The knife struck deep, stuck fast, and, in his efforts to withdraw it, Don Pedro fell into the seething waves. This was Mark's opportunity. In an instant he was in the place just occupied by the Mexican, and reaching him the rope. Don Pedro was no slowthoughted, unwieldy Tom. In a flash he grasped it, running his arm through the noose getting a firm grip on it, and the mate at the other end drew in with a will. But now it appeared that the obstinate Mexican had refused to let go his hold on the knife, and what with his weight and the struggle of the shark, the mate could make but slow headway. He got him at last to the side of the vessel, but that was all he could do. Mark had crept up the cable, and now as he struck deck, he lent a hand ; but together, they could not raise the combined weight of the fisherman and the shark.

"Le' go that knife !" howled the mate ; "here come the rest of the sharks, and in two minutes they'll make mince-meat of ye ! Le' go, I say; le' go! "

With a groan, Don Pedro loosed his hold on the knife, and they had him out of the water ; and not a second too soon either, for the channel was fairly seething with sharks.

" Look at the beggars ! " cried the mate in mingled wrath and disgust, as they landed Don Pedro on deck. " I can count more'n forty fins cuttin' the water there. Well, old fellow, how d'ye feel ? "

" Mi cuchillo, y mi pistole ! oh, my knife and my pistol ! " groaned the fisherman : " I've lost them both."

"Well, yes, I sh'd say you had; but don't mind that, we've enough aboard here," answered the mate, shaking off his fatigue with a shrug and a smile. "And now is not this a merry-go-round ! fust Don Pedro rescoos Mark, then he saves Tom, and then Mark saves Don Pedro, and then I save the lot of ye; all it lacks is, I should fall overboard and the rest of ye turn to and rescoo me ; an' I ain't so sure, Mr. Peter Pinto, that your knife's gone either; they say that nothin' ain't lost when you know where 'tis, and there's your knife a-held into that shark's jaws. II I had a harpoon now, I'd soon have him on deck, knife an' all. Tom, don't you know -where there's a harpoon, or grains, or somethin' ? "

"I don't know where nothin' is, and don't care," said Tom feebly : " but I believe there's one in the cap'n's room all rigged, with a line on it."

The mate went into the cabin, and soon came out with a harpoon. Lashing one end of the rope to the taffrail, rigging a block, and then running a line to the stump of the mainmast, he announced himself ready for business. Don Pedro's shark lay on his side stone dead, and of course immovable, except when his brethren dashed to take a mouthful ; and he offered a fair mark for the harpoon. "There she is, my hearties ! now pull away," cried the mate.

All tumbled to with a will except Tom, and the shark was soon stretched on deck, the handle of Don Pedro's knife still protruding from his under jaw.

It may be necessary to state for the information of those who have never closely examined a shark, that* his mouth being underneath, he must turn over upon his back before he can bite. This shark evidently was just turning over when the fatal stroke pierced the brain from the inside. But for this lucky blow, Don Pedro might have been badly torn by the wounded fish when he fell.

" Well ! " exclaimed the mate as he vainly tried to pull out the knife, " what a tremenjus muscle you must have, Mr. Mexican ! I can't even start that knife ! "

But at last with an axe from the after-hold, they cleft the stout skull, and Don Pedro drew forth his precious knife and replaced it in his scabbard.

" Now if you had your revolver you'd be happy, wouldn't ye ? " said the mate kindly as to a child. " Well, we'll have to find a better one for ye somewhere amongst the cap'n's things ! Now le's dissect this chap and see what he's swallowed sence he's been cruising round these waters; they say sharks sometimes swallow strange objects."

Don Pedro drew his knife with a will and plunged it deep, intending to lay the shark entirely open. It struck something hard. He drew it forth with a great gap in its bright blade.

" Must be a harpoon," observed the mate, " or somethin'."

With an exclamation of astonishment, Don Pedro drew forth the object that the knife had struck. He looked at it with amazement.

" Jumping grasshoppers ! if that ain't a pistol," cried the mate, coming up and looking over his shoulder.

" Es tnio," gasped Don Pedro. "It is mine."

" So 'tis ! the same identical weepin you saved Tom's life with! Carve away, and le's see what else the rascal's stowed away ! "

The carving brought to light a rather miscellaneous assortment of hardware a condensed milk can, a reeving block, and a small tin box which had been so long in the interior of the shark as to be completely encysted, or enclosed, in a sack of skin.

" A regular swimmin' curios'ty shop," commented the mate ; " they do says a ostrich'll swaller anything, and grow fat on board nails and gimlets ; but a shark '11 just beat him, it seems ! Open the box, Mark, and le's see what's in that ! "

They pried the cover off, and disclosed a wad of oiled paper, or silk. Separating this, they found a roll of brown, time-discolored paper.

" That all ? " cried the mate. " Thought it was a wad of bank bills, sure ! Overboard with it! "

" Wait ! " cried Mark, arresting his arm. " Don't you see what that is ? It's worth more to me than all tht money aboard 7 Read it ! "

The mate carefully spread out the paper. It proved to be two leaves from some old book. "Well," said he, " there it is, all before you, and the title at the head of the page is, The Con The Conquest of Mexico. Don't see nothin' startlin' in that ! What different do you see, my young friend ? "

Mark stood staring at the paper. His thoughts were travelling back to the farmhouse garret two thousand miles away. By a great effort, he recalled himself. His voice was hoarse as he reached for the paper. "Mate, that belongs to me. It is my lost clue!"

" Belongs to you, does it ? Well, you can have it, of course; but what do you mean ? "

Without answer, Mark took the lantern and went to his chest, followed by the curious mate. He drew out an old book bound in parchment. Opening it at a certain place he said, " Mate, can you make out the numbers on those pages we have just found ? "

"The first one's numbered two hundred and twenty-seven, and the last two hundred and thirty."

" Now look in this book, and tell me what are the two pages lying open before you."

'Two hundred and twenty-six and two hundred and thirty-one," said the mate ; " seems to be two leaves missing."

"Exactly; and those two leaves you have in your hand."

The mate gave a long, expressive whistle. " That's a fact ! the same title on to the pages, and the very numbers that air missing ! Mark, how comes it ? "

"Ah, mate, I would give the world to know for certain," said Mark wearily, pressing his brow with both hands. " These two leaves are the last clue to the location of the Silver City. They were missing from my book. Just where the description ofthe city .should come in, there was this gap. Now I can trace my way ; but oh, to solve the deeper mystery how these two leaves drifted from New England down upon this coast ! "

" I know what you're thinkin' of," said the mate "kindly ; " that story the cap'n told you about the old sea-feller lost down here about ten years ago, and who you thought might be your father."

" But you know I am not sure that he was lost," said Mark firmly. " Even in a shipwreck, why not he be rescued as miraculously as I ? How do I know that he has not penetrated the interior, and is alive somewhere this moment ? Answer me that ! You know no one else could have brought hither leaves from my book, don't you ? "

" And you think it likely the fish has carried that air tin box in his stummick for ten years 'twould a given him the dyspepsy, Mark ! But I'm not goin' to take the hope out of ye. I'll just set ye right, and mebbe give ye more hope. This shark might have carried the box six months or a year that ain't , nothin' unnateral. So it's my opinion your father didn't carry it in his pocket before the accident, but in his chist, or on a shelf in his cabin. Now, what's the inference from this? Why, jist this; That we have here a sartin proof that somebody was wrecked down. here who had read your book, and took out them leaves for a purpose; second, that it's more than likely that person was your father ; third, that the findin' it here ain't no proof positive that he's drowned ; fourth, it is likely that this tin box sot in the cabin somewhere, and was washed overboard when the vesssl broke up, and that might a-been at the time of the wreck, but was most likely a good many years after. But we can't place no whereabouts. Sharks is a wanderin' animal ; they don't allers cruise in the same place ; and then again, the currents might a-drifted the box for a hundred miles or more. Lookin' at it this way, I should say that this ere box come from somewhere south o' here. Further than this I can't say ; but we can ask Don Pedro about it to-morrer. He's likely to know all the wrecks on the whole east coast. Not to-night ; you're all played out. If it hadn't been for this excitement, you couldn't kept up as you have."

Mark acquiesced; he was indeed weak, and was trembling now from his shipwreck and from the excitement, of the afternoon.

By the time the deck had been washed off, blankets spread, and a sail stretched over, it was late into the night. But Mark could not sleep. After the others had dropped off, he rose and went to the rail. The moon was sailing grandly up the sky, stretching a pathway of light across the still sea, and bringing into relief the black wall of forest on the eastern shore of the island.

No life was stirring except for a black fin cleaving the channel beneath ; and no sound broke the quiet except the roar of the breakers outside the reef. A great surge of homesickness swept over the young adventurer on the wreck. The quiet security of the old New England farm sleeping in the moonlight, seemed too precious a possession to have been so recklessly abandoned. But presently the old inbred New England belief in " leadings of Providence," got the better of this tender longing for the peaceful shelter of the roof-tree. What a miraculous shipwreck ! What a miraculous restoration of the missing leaves of the old Spanish book the clue-leaves. He took out the old, discolored worn pages and looked at them tenderly. But it was his father, not the treasure city, which was .uppermost in Mark's thoughts and plans. "It cannot be for nothing at all!" said Mark with reverent firmness. "God would not so play at fast-and-loose with poor mother. If I live, I know that I am to find father before I go back."

Mark really felt most satisfactorily certain of this ; and presently, feeling he could best help affairs by laying in a stock of sleep and rest, he returned to his rough bed under the sail.

It was early morning, the moon still hanging above the island forest, when the mate woke them all, and laid before them the work he had planned for the day.

" I reckon," said he, as they ate breakfast, " that it'll take jest about a day to git out all of value in the Diver, and house it on the beach there above the coral."

After breakfast they set at work with a real Family Robinson vim. From the shocks and staves in the hold, and some pieces of timber, they made a raft much as Tom and the mate had originally planned, and let it down into the water, which served them much better than the cable bridge of yesterday. A rope was rigged so that they could draw it from vessel to shore, and back again ; then it was loaded with provisions and valuables, and drawn over and unloaded on the coral rock. It was slow work, and hard work ; but by noon they had the ship's stores piled upon tjje rocks ; and during the afternoon, managed to get most of it to the sand beach and into Don Pedro's wrecking camp.

" Anyhow," said Tom, who was fast getting his tone again, " we've an island, and a vessel, and a year's provisions, to begin life with. We aren't quite orphans."

The mate and Don Pedro understood each other's queer Spanish-English fairly well, and it was agreed that Don Pedro should be their guide and chief while they remained on the island ; and his first order after the moonlight burial of poor Jack Rawlins was, that they should return with him through the woods to his home cabin which was larger and more comfortable than this wrecking hut, where, in fact, there was no room at all inside, it being so full of the effects from the vessel, that they would be obliged to sleep on the sand under a sail.

Tired as they were, and late as it was, they agreed to this, and at once prepared for the two-mile tramp through the forest.

" Dunno but it's a resky thing," said the mate aside to Mark. " The Mexican says nobody ever comes round here except himself, but between you and me, Mark, there's some valooables here. Did you mind that small box I was keerful to carry myself all the way to shore ? Well, there^s over two thousand dollars in it in gold belongin' to the owners of the Diver, that cap'n brung with him to buy sugar with and sich. Now wouldn't ye meditate a spell before ye let on to the Mexican there's that amount o' gold a-lyin' about ? "

Mark agreed that it would do no harm to " meditate " first, and concluded to leave his own Institute money along with the Diver gold, in the solitude of the wrecking cabin, though in his heart he felt a warm impulsive trust in the old fisherman.

Don Pedro led the way over the path he and Mark had followed the day before. There was no necessity for cutting away vines and bushes now ; still the trail was so obscure, they were obliged to follow their guide single file.

" Kinder pokerish," said Tom, who waddled along close behind Don Pedro's heels. "And kinder pleasant too ! Mighty nice air! Seems like somebody'd bust a barrel of cologne water all over the ground ! Rather a fine thing this, Mark, eh?"

But Mark was occupied with the weird effects produced by the moonlight as it struggled through the trees and vines above their heads. Only now and then did a beam penetrate so far as the path, or glance athwart the gloomy space before them ; but overhead there was an indescribable fretwork of ebony and silver. Where the light did pierce so, it transformed everything leaves, vines, plants into grotesque images of beasts and reptiles. A great vine stretching across their path, and doubling upon itself in numerous folds, seemed a great boa constrictor waiting motionless for them to approach. Dark forms appeared to lurk in the shade only to skulk off silently as they came near. Real bats and owls softly fluttered above their heads, and myriads of night insects kept up so dense a noise they could scarcely hear one another speak.

They had made more than half the distance, and were passing through a particularly lonely spot, when Tom broke the silence again. He too had become wrapt in watching the transformed shapes of trees and vines, and the resemblance some of the leaves bore to spiders and lizards.

" Look, Mark ! " cried he, pointing to a bright 9pot in the gloom. " Don't that leaf there look like a big spider? I'm going to pull it off and take it along, and see how it looks by daylight."

As he spoke, he reached out to seize it. The leaf darted forward to meet him, and he cried out suddenly in great pain :

" Oh, I'm bitten ! That was a spider ! "

Don Pedro sprang back. He drew Tom into the moonlight, and examined his thumb. It was swelling, and the boy was already in great anguish. He shook his head, and taking Tom by the arm, hurried him along.

" What is it ? " demanded Mark and the mate.

" A mi casa/" said he ; " to my house at once ! It was a tarantula ! "

The Camp On Cozumel

BURIED beneath groups of cocoa palms stood the cabin of Don Pedro, silent and secure as he had left it two days before.

The party emerged from the darkness of the forest, crossed the glade flooded by the moonlight, and plunged under the dimly-lighted arches of the palm crowns. With a mighty kick Don Pedro hastily burst open the loosely-secured door and dragged Tom in. Seating him on a heap of turtle nets in the corner, he hastened behind the grass matting partition, and after searching a minute, came out with a tiny bottle and glass. Pouring out a few drops of the liquid, he handed it to the boy, motioning him to drink. Tom did so ; but immediately his whole body seemed to be on fire, and he shouted for water. ' But Don Pedro motioned his friends impatiently aside. He saturated a strip of cloth in the same liquid, wrapped it about the swollen thumb, repeatedly moistening it. It was some time before he gave him water; but at last, looking into his eyes, he nodded hopefully and allowed Mark to place the waiting draught to his lips. Then he laid his patient upon a bed of turtle nets, and covered him with a blanket, and bade him sleep.

Don Pedro then lighted a candle, and beckoning the men, held up the bottle to the light. They started back with exclamations of disgust, for it contained nothing less than a huge spider a tarantula "pickled," as the mate expressed it, in brandy.

"And is that what you have given Tom to take?" demanded Mark.

"6V," (yes,) answered Don Pedro calmly. He explained that it was an infallible cure, and in common use in the tropics.

Don Pedro shrugged his shoulders as much as to say that the mate could do as he pleased, but he would rather take spider, bottle and all, than be bitten in the forest without his favorite remedy handy.

He dismissed the affair by reaching up to a smokeblackened rafter and untying a string, thus letting down two hammocks suspended side by side from the corner of the room.

"Todos son tmty a son dispositions, senores?" said he,' bowing, and gracefully waving his hand to include everything there was in the cabin.

" What does he say, mate ? " asked Mark, yet half interpreting their host's hospitable meaning by his sweeping gestures.

" Well, that's a little too long for me to take in all at once," replied th,e mate pondering.

" Oh, I've got it ! He says that his house and all there is in it is ours s'long's we want to stay. All these Mexicans say that, but I can tell you they.don't always mean it, by a long chalk ; but let me tell you again, our friend here does, I'll bet a dollar. Thank you, Don Peter; much obliged. Don't put yourself out a mite, but jest make us one of the folks. Shall we take the hammocks or the bench ? "

" Donde ustades quieren" (where you please), said Pedro, smiling. So they took the hammocks, into which had been thrown a couple of handsome Indian blankets, the mate remarking as they stowed themselves away:

"Mark, this interpritation business is gittin' too heavy for me. I can understand the ord'nary sailor Spanish, but when he comes any of the fancy dodges, sich as the different tenses of them verbs, and the singular and plural numbers, et cetery, blowed if I ain't all to sea. You're quick at book larnin'; can't you come to the rescoo?"

Mark laughed. " I have studied Spanish at home from a book evenings," said he; "but it is so different when you come to hear it spoken, that I don't recognize many of the words yet. However, to-morrow I'll get out my conversation book and try it on a new plan."

The last one to wag his tongue at night, the mate was the first to break silence next morning: "Hullo! Tumble out, youngsters ! sun's up ; leastwise, though they ain't no winders in this hut, it's streamin' through a chink there. Ain't it cold ? Thought this was a hot country ! 'Cording to the charts, we're in the tropics; but a blanket wa'n't any too much last night."

Mark and Tom were awakened by this time, and the latter stretched himself and rolled over on the

clay floor, where he lay on his back looking up with surprise until the voice of his superior officer called out:

"How's your thumb?"

"Oh, yes; here I am! I thought I was, but didn't know but I was a-dreamin' yet. A shipwreck an' a pair of rescues; first from a shark's jaws and second from a spider's jaws. Oh, yes; I'm the feller, and here I am, thumb all right ! Isn't this prime though ? " By this time Tom was taking an observation through a big chink in the walls of the cabin. "A breakfast a-getting ready with none o' my help; a-growin' as 'twere, out o' doors its own self; leastwise here's Don Pedro out here with a pot a-bilin' over a blazin' fire under a cocoanut-tree. I say this is fun alive ! A whole island all to ourselves, fish and turtle in the sea, and game a-roamin' in the woods! So, boys, I'm goin' to consider myself fixed for life, if Don Peter's no objection to the same! "

"Now see here," said Mr. Walker, "don't you go to kitin' about here as if the whole hut belonged to you, and the island thrown in ! Don Pedro's a polite man, an' it's my intention he shall have politeness in return. I know you mean well, Tom, but your man* ners ain't always agreeable ; and it kinder reflects on the place where you's born and brought up, and on me as comin' from the same town."

" Brought up ! " cried Tom, turning on him. " Yes ! I had a lot of bringing up, didn't I? Brought up with a round turn by the ear, that's the only kind I had; and cuffed about ever sence I can remember, till I took up maratime cookery as 'twere. That's what's soured my temper, gentlemen ! "

Tom grimaced so comically that all burst into a hearty laugh, including the Mexican who just then entered to invite them to a breakfast of fish and turtle steak. As they ate they planned the work for the day : the mate and Don Pedro to go around by the inland channel in the long-boat, and bring over the valuables, the boys to remain at the lake cabin to get thoroughly rested for the morrow, when the Mexican was to take them over the island and show them the extent of the domain he now very politely offered to share with them for life.

"Ain't he the cleverest feller you ever met in your life? "said Tom, as the boat containing Don Pedro and the mate disappeared around the rocks that hid the channel to the sea. " He ain't at all that sassy sombrero kind o' Mexican you meet in your books. You feels like he was your father or your uncle. I'm going to stay."

Mark did not make his intentions known. He felt it no harm to give himself up for one day to the romance of the situation.

All that day till late in the afternoon the boys lounged about the cabin under the palm-trees. They got out the hammocks from inside, and swinging them between the trees, lay there in perfect content and restfulness, drinking cocoanut water from the nuts they knocked off of the palms, and feasting on delicious fish they broiled on the coals in the open air.

When the boat returned it was loaded deep, and they turned to with a will to carry its contents up to end of the long thatched hut had stone walls, and was used by Don Pedro as a store room ; it had a clay floor hard as cement, and as the roof was tight, it was an excellent place to store the ship's provisions.

"Enough here to last us a year!" said the mate as the final barrel was rolled inside ; " that is, what we have here and at the other hut. All the chists and articles of value air here. Here's your chist, Mark, and you better git that Spanish book and larn a lesson to once, for this talkin' a language you don't know nothing about'll be the death of me. You jest throw yourself into it."

Mark did " throw himself into it." Don Pedro signified his willingness to become both teacher and scholar, and the whole party grew to understand one another more readily every day ; the book was rarely out of hands, and the mate, as he remarked, " Jest wrastled with them Spanish verbs till he was blue in the face."

Another boatload in the afternoon about completed the transportation of their goods, except some of the heaviest of the stores, some barrels of beef and pork, which they thought could be left with safety, along with anchors, ropes, cables, etc., that they had no present use for.

"I tell ye, boys," said the mate, as he stretched himself in the hammock while Don Pedro prepared supper the Mexican declared they were his guests for that day to-morrow they would begin to "have things in common," work and all "it kind o' made me feel bad to leave the old Diver a standin' there all dismantled on the rocks, so lonesome like, and 'specially when I thought of the cap'n and all our old neighbors the crew as now lays at the bottom of the sea. And le' me tell you, if we could only get that vessel off to Cuby, there'd be more'n a thousan' dollars comin' to us from the cargo alone, settin' aside what the underwriters'd give us for savin' her hull ; but of course she won't stan' it long, and the fust gale'll be likely to damage her some, if not split her up."

They all felt " lonesome like " that evening. They sat around the bright out-door fire in silence. Even the jolly Tom whittled away in absolute dumbness. The Mexican respected their mood, and smoked his pipe like a statue. The mate spoke at last. He seemed to have prepared a speech.

" Boys ! " he began argumentative!}', " there ain't no disguisin' the fact that we're on a island. We ain't got to climb no hill and look about, as Robinson Crusoe did, to find that out. And this island's off the coast of Yucatan ; and Seenor Don Pedro Pinto, who found this island uninhabited, and consequently owns it, places it all at our disposal. There ain't no nonsense about the Don ; he means it. Me and him talked the matter over this forenoon, and we come to the conclusion to up and divide fair and square his with us and ours with him. They's four of us, and each will be entitled to one fourth part of the plunder on the island, and these ere huts and boats while we chooses to stay ; and then we agreed to make common property of everything, and not have no yourn nor mine about it, except that every man keeps his own private property, of course. Ain't that so, Seenor ? "

Don Pedro removed his pipe, and gravely nodded assent, then went on calmly smoking.

" I've explained to him jest how we're sitooated ; that in the course of time I ought to take the first vessel home, being bound to render an account to the owners of the Diver, an' that you, Mark, in the course of time would feel obliged to prosecoot that little matter about your father's absence ; and that you, Tom, also in the course of time would go 'long home with me."

" You may jest bet your boots Tom won't do no such thing," broke in that gentleman. " I'm on this island, and I'm goin' to stick here, too, for I ain't got any home to go to. My home in futur' is on my one fourth."

" But," continued the mate, undisturbed, " Don Pedro and me after this talk kind o' concluded we would "

" Would what ? " asked Mark, as the* mate paused.

" Well," went on the mate, " when I told Don Pedro as how you'd a notion you'd got a parint layin' round loose somewher'n this wilderness, he felt summat cut up. It seems he looked on you as his property ; bein' as the sea had gi'n you to him, and a lot o' talk of that kind."

" Oh ! " interrupted Tom, " if he's a lookin' for a son he might adopt me. I'd be a dutiful son. Come now, why not? You just put it afoot if he says any more about wantin' a son. I'm as much cast up by the sea as Mark."

" But," continued the mate, " when I mentioned that Mark wanted to find his father, and had particulars about the book, et cetery, he said he prob'ly knowed where the wreck was, and he'd pilot us there. He says 'tain't only a day's run below here, and soon's we've been over the island we'll fit up the long-boat and take the cruise."

Mark was listening with a pale face.

"Did he know anything about the crew of the vessel, Mr. Walker ? " he asked now in a husky tone.

" He knows more'n he's willin' to communicate. We must wait. He's too polite a man for us to 'urge much. I made him my best bow, and said, ' Ef you please, Senor,' which was as good as anything under the circumstances."

It was late that night before they turned in, and Mark thought he could not have been more than two hours asleep when the mate awoke him and gently drew him out of the hammock into the open air. There he saw Don Pedro standing behind a box, a machete in his hand. He motioned them to follow, and the mate picked up the box, and Mark went after as in a dream.

The Mexican opened a way with the machete through the thick underbrush on the edge of the forest, and they soon reached a glade enclosed by a ring of immense old trees. By the moonlight they saw a mound in the centre with white stones gleaming up through a tangled mass of vines and bushes. Cautiously parting this, Don Pedro entered a low doorway in the ruins of what Mark at once saw was an ancient tomb about eight feet in height. No word had been spoken, and their guide now placed his finger on his lips, to indicate that none should break the silence.

There was Just light enough for them to distinguish the outlines of the room. It seemed to our well-read Mark to have once served as an adoratory, or place of worship, for some past people, for in one wall was a niche with steps leading up to it, as if to furnish a place upon which to kneel.

Don Pedro paused at the great stone forming the lower step. Taking hold of one corner, he raised it up, with the mate's assistance, and drew it half aside. As he did so, Mark and the mate peered into the cavity it had concealed. They nearly forgot the injunction to keep silence in their amazement, for the faint light that filtered through the crevices of the walls revealed a heap of silver coins nearly filling the hole. Don Pedro knelt, thrust his hand into the glittering pile, and let them fall, jingling musically, evidently enjoying the expression of the faces above him at sight of so much wealth. Mark, at a smile from the Mexican, plunged his hand in, but could not touch the bottom of the pit, though he worked his arm in to the elbow.

And now the mate opening the box he had brought, took out a package wrapped in tarred paper, and digging a hole in the coins, placed it in the centre and covered it. At a nod from Don Pedro, they worked the flat stone back into position, and scattering a little earth and lime about to conceal the joints and cracks, made their way out and back into the glade again.

Once more in the slight path leading to the cabin, Don Pedro striding before, the mate explained to Mark the meaning of so much mystery :

" That was the cap'n's money in that package, and that silver there belonged to Don Pedro. The Lord only knows how much there is, and where he got it; but I have s'picion he's been a pirate in his younger days leastwise, a wrecker. But he's made an even deal now one-fourthed it fair and square; and when I concluded to tell him about the cap'n's money, and ask him where to hide it till such time as I could turn homeward, he volunteered to show us where he hid his own sp'iles. Share and share alike, that's him. He only don't want Tom to know. So mum's the word, till each is actily ready to shoulder his share and march off. Tom's young yet, but he'll get over that. The Don wouldn't 'low nothin' spoke in the tomb, cause he said if we did, the evil genius, or some sort of a ghostly critter, would fly away with the hull find before we could .say Jack Robinson. When we git back from your search, then I'll git my money and go home ; and mebbe you'll be ready too, and Don Pedro will git his and travel to Spain to spend the rest of his days."

Tom proved wholly ignorant next morning of any moonlight adventure ; and as nothing more was said . about it, it soon appeared to Mark himself more like a dream than reality. The ruin, however, had brought to mind much he had read in his old book about such structures, and before breakfast he had brought out the volume.

Don Pedro saw it as he sat with it on his knee.

He frowned ominously when he read the title, Conquest of Mexico.

" Es malicioso" muttered he; "a malicious book; throw it into the sea ! It is a wizard ! it makes weak men of strong men. You give up that book so evil, son of mine."

Mark smiled at the Mexican's deep earnestness. "Why," said he lightly, "it describes this very island of yours, Cozumel."

"I well know that; it was written by Captain Bernal Diaz, who came here first in 1518, with the first Spaniards who landed here ; and again with the great captain, Hernando Cortes, in 1519. Read further and you will find much to please you ; but it is a bad book. It leads to treasure-hunting, which is evil, and only evil."

All this Don Pedro had said with difficulty; but Mark understood him from his familiarity with the book itself.

" It is strange to read here about Cozumel," he said, " and then to realize that I myself am upon the very island; only try to realize it here the great Cortes landed and reviewed his troops, just before he invaded Mexico. They found temples with idols in them, and these images they threw down and broke to pieces, setting up an image of the Virgin Mary in place of the idols in the temples. They counted fourteen towers as they coasted the shore, and the entire island was peopled with peaceful Indians who cultivated the soil. Now, Don Pedro, you tell us it is desolate ; that the forest we see around us covers the island, and that it is filled with only the ruins of temples and chapels. But there probably are treasures here, deserted treasures. Where is the wrong of hunting them ? "

Still Don Pedro shook his head. Presently he remarked : " Y una iglesia grande al norte"

" He says," explained the mate, "that there's the ruins of a big old church up in the forest to the north, that the Spaniards built, but that all the other ruins are of the Indian houses and sacred places. I wish we had time to explore ; but we won't, Mark, not till we get back from your search. We'll fit up the long-boat this very day, and start to-morrow."

" There's good huntln' here ; droves and droves of wild hogs peccaries, he calls them and plenty of deer," complained Tom. "Confound your search, I say, Mark."

Presently, book in hand, Mark drew the mate aside. "It's mighty interesting reading this old book is here on the very spot, so to speak. Now do you suppose that underground room we were in last night could be one of those old Indian sacred places? I read here that this whole island of Cozumel was a holy place; that the Indians from all over Yucatan came here to worship a goddess called the Swallow Goddess. I judge that their adoratory was built after the very fashion of the ruin we buried the money in last night. What do you think?"

"This is a bunkum old island, no doubt!" said the mate thoughtfully. " Probably a good place to see sights and hear sounds. You better call the Mexican."

Don Pedro was called, and after hearing Mark's query, he whispered with a side glance at Tom, " Sies el mismo it is the same. Once all the Indians of this great region venerated that chapel , but now they believe it held by a spirit, and are afraid to enter it or even approach it. That is why," added he significantly, " I bury my treasure there."

The day was spent in fitting and loading the boat. Even the idle, jovial Tom worked with a will. They furnished it with a month's provisions ; guns and revolvers for the four; with abundance of ammunition; and the mate passed the evening in making rough knapsacks of oiled canvas to contain their necessary equipments when on the march. Mark's chief care was given to his sketching materials and preservatives for the bird skins. A goodly sum of money in gold was distributed amongst the four, stuffed into "leather money-belts which Don Pedro furnished, and which were buckled about their waists under their clothing.

" All aboard ! " called the mate next morning, long before the sun had looked over the forest that surrounded the lake. " Now's the time if we want to git out in the channel before the breeze gits up. Tom and Mark, you two take the oars. Don Pedro'll steer, and I'll h'ist sail soon's we're clear of the p'int yonder."

They rowed slowly over the calm lake, leaving behind the little cabin to which they hoped to return in a month, with no living thing about it except a few half-wild fowls and two fish-hawks circling high above in the air. The turn at the entrance to the sea hid the cocoa grove, and they entered the rougher waters of the channel. Before them, dim in the distance, lay the coast of Yucatan. The point at which they were to spend the night was exactly southwest of Cozumel, where there was a sheltered bay in the rockbound coast ; and sixty miles below that lay the deep bay where they hoped to find some remains at least of the almost legendary wreck. It was only thirty miles in a straight line to their first port. They were halfway over long before noon, the boat behaving beautifully and sailing swiftly with a fresh breeze on her quarter. Tom had stationed himself at the bows, and the rest sat aft; and it was about noon when they were interrupted in their labored Spanish conversation by a shout from the boy :

"Say! Hurrah! Glory! All hands look here! There's a castle! a real lord's house! bet it's old England herself; and I can see great buildings of stone shining through the trees white as snow. Good ! We shall see some people now ! "

"No," said Don Pedro quickly, " es despoblado it is uninhabited."

Mark had sprung to his feet. He looked landward, with his heart in his eyes. For a moment all was illusion. Could these beautiful white gleaming walls be the walls of the Silver City ? It was but for a moment. He sat down, smiling at himself for a romantic boy instead of a sensible traveller. Did not the book say the Silver City was far inland? And this was a town on the sea wall itself. Still again, did not this visible wonder make other wonders very probable indeed ? As Don Pedro talked, Mark felt surer than at any time before, that all he came to find was a reality and within reach.

"El Castillo." The castle, as Don Pedro called it, stood upon a high cliff, against the base of which beat the great sea waves. It was pierced with loopholes, and had battlements and turrets ; but no mailed face looked through the openings, and no darkskinned sentry paced the lonely battlements. They ran into a protected cove unchallenged ; and, bringing the boat up to the rocks where she lay in still water, anchored her head and stern, and climbed ashore.

" This is Tuloom," said Don Pedro, " an ancient Indian city built hundreds of years ago, perhaps a thousand. Nobody lives here now. Sometimes the Sublevados the unconquered savages come here to hunt; but not now; it is not their season."

They carried up the solitary rocks all they needed with which to make camp, and then devoted the afternoon to an exploration of the ruins. They found a great wall of stone surrounding a large area, in which were temples and tombs, and ruins of buildings spacious enough to have once been palaces.

Mark, like a born archaeologist, at once set to making surveys and measurements, notes and sketches.

The castillo itself was one hundred feet broad, and there were other buildings almost as large. In the centre was a group of massive stone houses, built on the summit of a high mound, and reached by a grand stone staircase. Over its doorways were sculptured figures, and the walls were decorated with carved men and animals. The doors were so low that they had to crouch to enter ; but when inside they found themselves in a room forty feet long by twenty wide, and fifteen feet high, with a triangular arched ceiling.

Referring to the low doorway, Don Pedro said there was a tradition that these buildings were erected for the dwarfs and hunchbacks who once lived in Yucatan Los Chiquititos the very little people ; and promised to sometime tell the story of their origin, and how they once inhabited an island north of Cozumel.

Many sculptured altars were scattered about through the forest; and on a corner of the wall rose the ancient watch-tower, while before the principal house was the senate, or cavern, from which they once drew water.

The explorers took possession of the large room of the castle. They built a fire in it as night came on ; and the boys mightily enjoyed the novel prospect of sleeping in a thousand-year-old castle in the forest.

Don Pedro chanced to go into the farther end of the great room before they finally stretched themselves on the floor to sleep. Suddenly they heard a loud exclamation. The next moment he came rushing back to the fire.

" The red hand!" said he in a trembling voice ; " it is there on the wall ! "

Wondering, the three went and looked where the Mexican directed. To their surprise they each saw it too ; the imprint of a hand on the wall as though it had been dipped in blood. They could scarcely credit the evidence of their matter-of-fact American eyes, and they looked again; but there the rude imprint surely was, and whether freshly painted, or an old fresco, Mark could not decide. He, for one, had no fear that it was a phantom hand. Still much excited and disagreeably impressed were they all.

Don Pedro had gone outside. They could hear him pacing up and down the corridor.

The moon was in its last quarter, and but feebly lighted up the groups of ruins ; but as Mark joined him, he chanced to look out of the low doorway, and he saw, or thought he saw, a dusky figure skulking behind an altar, and another creeping behind a tree.

For a moment he stood still in astonishment. But Don Pedro had seen them also. He grasped Mark's arm. He whispered sharply :

" The red hand is not for naught ! and those are the Sublevados!" With that he darted within, drawing Mark with him.

The Night In Tuloom

DON PEDRO'S first impulse as he plunged under the low doorway, was to alarm the others at once and hurry them down to the boat; but the bright fire blazing in the room in contrast to the gloom without, the array of firearms and his own natural fearlessness when unswerved by superstitious influences, soon exerted their calming power. He paused before the fire as if in deep thought. He lifted his eyes at last and turned resolutely toward the dusky red hand upon the wall. He felt a slight shudder, as any mortal classed among Spaniards well might. But yet this hand of threat and warning was probably limned there centuries ago, and the dusky shades flitting without wholly ignorant of its presence there. At any rate four cool, well-armed men, on the alert, might defy scores of wild savages. He glanced at Mark who stood near him in an anxious, waiting attitude, with a quiet, reassuring smile.

With a touch on the shoulder he beckoned the mate aside. These two men were totally different in nationality, speech and nature; the one with the hot blood of the Spaniard seething along his veins, and the other with the cool and self-possessed temperament of the North American. The man of Spanish birth much admired the sturdy, slow-moving strength of the Northener, much respected his quiet decisions. With his penetrating eye well upon him, he now hastily laid before him his fears, and his reasons for fears.

The mate listened to Don Pedro's statements without interruption, unless a low, short, underbreath whistle now and then might be taken as comment.

"Yes, senor," he said at last, "just so. You're right to be alarmed ; all the same, I don't see's there's any necessity of vacating the premises. We'll be on the alert, that's all. Perhaps we better tell both the boys, so as they can comport themselves properly as 'twere."

"Por su puesto of course " replied Don Pedro.

"My young friends," said the mate, assuming a bantering tone to hide the real depth of his concern as he returned to his place by the fire, " our elderly guide here, thinks there's a right smart chance of our bein' gobbled by the sociable inhabitants of this new country. He thinks that though they've had no notice of our movin' in, they'll prob'ly give us a regul'r house-warmin', and air waitin' just outside for that there purpose. He ain't seen nothin' definit, to be sure, but thinks we'd better be a lookin' out. Now the question is," he went on, not regarding Tom's big, terrified eyes, " shall we stay up here all night, or retreat to the boat best as we can? I'd like the voice of the meetin' on that pint."

Consulting together, Tom's voice being but a shiver and a groan, however, they concluded, when they considered the difficult climbing over the cliff by night, and the probability of lurking, following Indians, that it would be better to wait until daylight under cover, where they could act in concert.

They were now too excited to sleep, although the mate advised that two of the party should lie down while the other two kept watch.

" Sleep ! " growled Tom, " d' you think I can lay down and sleep when there's a chance for an Injun to be feelin' 'round for my scalp ? No, sir ! I prefer to be awake and see how it's done."

" My son, I feel some so myself," replied the mate ; " therefore we'll all bear a hand at this watching out, my hearties. Le's see now ! We've got all our weepins here, ain't we, Mark ? Le'me see ! a revolver apiece all around, two rifles and a shotgun, besides knives and sich, and plenty of cattridges and powder. Better put the fire out, Mr. Peter."

But the Mexican was sure it had already been seen and could do no further harm. " But," suggested he, "we may push those burning logs up in the corner near the door, where it will light up the entrance and leave us in gloom."

This suggestion was acted upon, and the group drew away into the farther darkness, where they huddled together on their blankets.

It will be remembered that they were in a room which was forty feet long, and fifteen high, the walls, roof and floor of solid stone. There was but one entrance, the square doorway near the end, and but three other openings, small slits, or loopholes, cut in the wall, high up, overlooking the sea. Had they anticipated trouble and chosen a place to withstand a siege they could not have selected a stronger point; but as they had not foreseen this they had brought only a little food from the boat, and had little water. There was a " shivering sense of danger," as Tom put it, in the possibility of an attack, but it can't be denied that Mark, at least, rather enjoyed it as he looked about and saw himself surrounded by strong walls and felt his own good New England rifle in his hand. Could the doorway but have been barricaded, he would have dared the Sublevados of all Yucatan. The only shadow on his fearless mood was a remorseful feeling that it was his own personal adventure that had led his companions into this possible danger ; and presently he began to consider some way of pursuing his journey and his quest alone, without involving his friends farther.

Over their heads they could trace the mystical fresco that had excited Don Pedro's fears ; and now the mate asked for its meaning.

" Quien sabe who knows" replied he, shrugging his shoulders ; " it has probably been there these thousand years. It is found in all these ruins. All same, I shudder when I look upon it. It means death to the Spaniard. The tradition is that it is death that day or night it is looked upon for the first time by a stranger. Perhaps not to the stranger himself, but to some one within the ruins at the time. So when I saw it with my three friends all strangers, and later thought I saw the savages, I was sorry much that I had brought you here. There are many red hands, and many times have I seen them, but not with strangers ever before."

They looked upward with strange feelings, despite their Yankee hard sense ; and Tom moved a little nearer the centre of the group.

" It does look 's though it was stretched out to clutch you, don't it ? " said he.

Crowds of bats flew through the darkness of the high arched ceiling, and among them vampires as large as pigeons flapped their hideous wings. Every time they swooped from their dark hiding-places, the Americans dodged, and put up their hands to protect their heads. Don Pedro alone was insensible to their presence. He sat grasping his rifle, his eyes on the flickering fire near the doorway. The wind howled outside, the moon had become obscured, and a storm beat upon the sea-wall, blowing through the loop-holes chill and freezing.

Don Pedro shook himself from his revery. "These savages," said he, " are fierce and bloodthirsty. I love not to think they stand outside. They are the unconquered Indians who never submitted to the Spaniards. We call them Sublevados, or rebels, and they hate us of Spanish blood with undying hatred. They may have had cause, in those times when Yucatan was first conquered ; but though that is more than three hundred years ago, they hate us still. They kill every Spaniard that comes into their country. Sometimes at once ; but oftener they save him for the torture. I knew a man probredto they tortured ; they played toro with him."

" And that ? " demanded his heroes in whispers.

"Why, a bull-fight; .they put a ring through his nose, tied him to a stake, and then pierced him with their spears and shot arr o w s into him."

This he had uttered slowly, Mr. Walker and Mark translating aloud. Tom grew sick at heart, and evidently Mark and the mate loved not " to think of them as standing outside."

" Hark ! " whispered the mate. " I hear a noise; somebody's sartin outside the steps." They listened ; there was, without mistake, a confused movement like the soft treading of many feet.

With straining eyes, the four inmates of the room watched the doorway, lighted by the glowing firebrands, each one grasping gun or rifle.

Presently the mate touched Mark on the shoulder. There was something coming through the aperture. Another second, and the flickering light from the coals showed the head and shoulders of a man.

" Halt ! " Don Pedro shouted in Spanish. " Who is it ? "

The figure made no reply, but crouched on the floor, still moved slowly in ; others were behind they inside could hear the smothered voices.

" Don't understand Spanish," muttered the Mexican under his breath. " Who are you ? " he added aloud in Maya, the language of the Sublevados.

No answer, but the forms retreated. Soon a voice outside cried in Spanish to those within: " Amigosl"

" What do you want ? " answered Don Pedro.

" To go in and talk with you." '"You can't."

" We will ; we are amigos friends ! "

" How many are you ? "

" We are more than a hundred."

"One may come in ; one only."

" Bien! I, then, will come in."

" Only one ; more only at their peril."

" Beware, now ! " whispered Don Pedro hurriedly. " Watch the doorway with your guns ; if more come fn, shoot! If you hesitate, they can kill us all ! "

A tall form now stood erect by the fire, the feeble blaze lighting up his massive frame and showing e knife gleaming in one hand.

" Friend, what wish you? "

Without answer, the stranger blew a shrill whistle, *nd sprang suddenly in the direction of Don Pedro's voice. The beleagured four as yet had the advantage, being in darkness ; but a moment of hesitation would have lost their lives, for the doorway was now choked with forms struggling to get inside.

Bang! bang! bang! The dark mass ceased to advance. Howls of pain and rage testified that the shots had been effective.

Don Pedro was struggling with his treacherous amigo. He had evaded the spring, but had fallen upon the slippery stone floor, and before he could rise, the Indian was well upon him. No word escaped either. Fiercely they fought, each straining every muscle ; the one to use his knife, the other to arrest the blow.

"Guard the door, you two fellows with your revolvers ! I can't stand this ! " cried the mate, rushing upon the writhing forms in the corner. He might have received that knife himself, but he threw himself recklessly upon them, feeling for the naked body of the Indian. A deep groan told him that one was hurt ; but he had the Indian by the throat, and quickly bent and held his arms to the floor. It was not the Indian that was harmed, for he could struggle like a giant, and all the strength that lay in the mate's massive body was needed to hold him down; but at last the iron grip on the tower-like throat began to tell, and finally the savage lay quiet.

Nor did Don Pedro move. The mate after becoming satisfied that the Indian was harmless, released his hold and moved over to raise his friend ; but a new stir at the doorway called him back ; the bodies had been drawn out, and a fresh horde now dashed at the opening.

" Revolvers again ! " shouted Mark. " Let 'em have it, Tom ! "

An outburst of cries followed the discharge, but the desperate creatures still pressed in, only desisting when the passage was again blocked by the slain.

"That's it, my sons ! " cried the mate ; " shoot as they come, but not a needless shot. We don't want to kill 'em, as I know of, only so far as to keep them from killin' us. Watch out again, while I see about Mr. Peter here."

"You come here ! " cried Mark, " and let me go to him. I must! "

"All right; only keep your eyes about you. That Indian ain't wholly dead, I suspicion."

Mark lit a match and held it low to the face of his good friend who now lay so quiet there. It was deathly pale, but his heart beat ; he was unconscious, but not dead. Blood flowed from a cut in one arm, and in his right temple ; but his present unconscious state Mark thought resulted from the concussion when his head struck the stone floor.

With hasty charing and a dash from the Mexican's own brandy-flask, he soon had the gladness of seeing the heavy eyes open, and a look of recognition flash upon him. He was hurriedly binding up the wounded arm, when another arm a naked one was thrown about him, and he was drawn within the suffocating clasp of the Indian, who also had returned to consciousness.

Mark's own resistance was vain ; but Don Pedro, feeling swiftly over the floor, found the knife the savage had dropped, and thrusting it against his breast, was about to end the matter, when the brawny fellow released his hold, and cried for quarter.

" No ! " hissed the Mexican. " My turn this time."

" Don't, Don Pedro ! " gasped Mark, regaining his breath by a mighty effort. " Let us simply bind him, and hold him captive, and so buy our way out."

" Oh, kill me, if you like ! my people are here, plenty, to avenge my death ! " scoffed the Indian in fierce Spanish, evidently ashamed that he had begged quarter.

" No, tie him ! " said Mark.

They dragged him forward to the fire, and the mate set about binding his arms. The Indian was passive ; they thought him weakened by loss of blood. But he was gathering his energies up ; suddenly, in one lightning-like leap, he was on his feet ; another, and he had darted through the doorway.

For a moment they were alone. The mate picked himself up from the corner into which the Indian had tossed him, and pulled Tom away from the coals near which he had been tumbled in that desperate leap for freedom.

" Hear 'em yell ! " growled Tom. " I'd give all I'm worth to be back on Don Peter's green little island. It's ten times wus'n a shipwreck."

He had followed orders without a word, and had fired wherever he saw a head ; but now, in the first silence, he gave way. War was not the young cook's forte.

" Patience ! " said Don Pedro in a changed, cheery voice; "we will presently escape."

" How escape ? "

Four walls and a solid roof, the only entrance watched by probably a hundred Indians. They regarded the Mexican wonderingly.

"I know these ruins," said Don Pedro ; "I believe that it is in this one that there is an underground passage to the sea. Keep them back long enough for me to feel round for the stone that covers it, and if it is here, as I believe, we are safe. Strange I did not think of it before."

This guard was an easy matter, for the Indians no longer tried to enter. They could sit down and wait. The beseiged must emerge sometime. They crouched in the quadrangle outside, behind pillars, in the black shadows of ruined altars, like famished wolves at the door of a sheepfold.

Groping in the dark, the Mexican found, so soon as he expected, the rough edge of the slab that covered an opening. Exerting all their strength, he and the mate silently lifted and laid it aside. A strong current of air blew out of the aperture.

" It is from the sea ! " whispered Don Pedro joyfully.

Then, in the silence, they disputed hastily and stealthily as to who should not go in first. The post of danger was behind ; each insisted upon taking it ; even Tom. At last Don Pedro led the way, dropping noiselessly down into the passage. The mate next , Tom and Mark wereto follow.

" It's my adventure," said Mark. " I take the risk."

Before he entered he crept back to the door and peered out. An arrow or two flew by him. But no demonstration was made toward storming the entrance. Satisfied as to their plan, he dropped into the hole. It was dark and damp ; the rocks were slimy ; every step was a slippery one. But the way led to the sea and the boat !

His companions had paused for him and now they all groped their way downward and onward. Little was said. Each knew it was the push for life.

At last they reached a narrow opening ; hitherto they had been able to stand erect, but now the passage narrowed like theneck of a bottle and descended rapidly. " Slowly now, and carefully," said Don Pedro. He slid in. The mate followed. Both landed on their feet upon a ledge and in sight of the sea. But as they struck, a deafening noise roared in their ears ; the wall overhead seemed to fall behind them. They looked back; an immense bowlder in some way jarred from its poise by their descent, had fallen into the passage and was so firmly wedged no human power could move it.

They were probably safe but the boys? As in ft tomb ! Their advance was cut off and a horde of savages were in their rear, for they could hear them swarming into the apartment above, warned by the roise of the escape of their prisoners.

Both men were almost stupefied by this sudden calamity. Presently the mate's voice reached the boys. " Boys, are you hurt ? Are you alive ? "

Mark answered him ; they were alive, and unhurt.

Then the mate's voice came again full of agony.

" Boys, we can't help you. Don Pedro says it's capture for you. He says, don't make no resistance and they won't harm you. Don Pedro knows 'em ; they will keep you a month, not less'n a month, before they will hurt a hair of your heads ; then "

" I know ! " returned Mark in the voice of one who had resolved that death was now to be faced without flinching. " They will sacrifice us as an offering to their gods ! However, as you won't forget us, mate, we won't give up."

" Say you won't, Mr. Walker ! " added Tom, "an' I won't give up either. We'll expect you afore the month's out, shan't we ? "

"So long's we live, Don and I'll follow on your trail," said the mate's voice again. "Tom, Mark, we've got to go now; the fiends are swarmin' over the cliffs and down to the boat, the Don says. It's to be good-by now."

" Adios, my sons / Look out for us again. Don't resist ; they will not kill you. Adios!" Don Pedro spoke last, then all was still.

But the silence about the two boys was again soon broken. There was the report of a revolver, then another, then the outcry of wounded Indians. Then another period of silence, after which the fall of oars and a shout told them their companions had reached the boat and were probably safe.

"Mark," said Tom, as they held each other's hands in the fresh silence of the dismal cavern, "don't you feel bad for me. I know what's likely you're thinkin' of. It's likely you're a-thinkin' of me. But I ain't afraid to go wherever you do. Now shall we shoot 'em as they come down on us as long as we can ? "

"No, Tom, we'll do nothing to enrage them. We can only try to get back to the room and give ourselves up since it must end in that anyway, unless indeed we are shot down at once. I am sorry, Tom, that any business of mine brought you into this trap."

" Never you mind me, Mark Styler ! I get my fun as I go along. I wish we's somewhere else, but seein's we ain't, what's the use ? "

Mark was beginning to think there was better stuff in Tom than he had thought, and that he might not prove so bad a comrade after all, when a light suddenly danced above them, between them and the aperture. It must be the savages; but without exchanging a word they followed it, went towards it, slipping, falling, till they reached the bright opening in the floor.

Mark thrust his head up at once, not knowing but it might be taken off at a blow ; then he passed out his gun, which was seized by the bearer of the torch. A dozen hands roughly aided him to regain the room, and they did the same for Tom as he appeared.

It cannot be affirmed that they did not quake as they faced the throng of Indians filling the room, keeping ominous silence, the red light from the torches playing on their scowling faces. But both had prepared themselves for the worst, and they met the fierce creatures with bold front.

But there was no haste, no threats. Their arms were taken from them, and they were led outside. Here in the corridor stood the chief of the band, a tall, sinewy man of bronze, with long black hair and a piercing eye. Mark started, for he was the same who had first entered the room, the same with whom both the Mexican and the mate had fought.

He stood facing the west, and the moon being in that portion of the heavens, threw upon him a feeble light from between the storm-clouds, and Mark was calm enough to observe him closely. He wore, after the fashion of the ancient Mayas the primitive people of Yucatan a cincture about his loins, and a short manta, or blanket, upon his shoulders, sandals of deer-skin bound to his feet by hempen thongs, and a short garment of feather-work about his waist and hips. His hair was cut short in front and gathered upon his head from the sides in a sort of coronet, or crown, hanging long behind. He grasped' a bow taller than himself, and a ponderous war-club, while hisquiver full of arrows hung upon his back, and a gleaming knife was suspended from his girdle. Portions of his body and his massive legs were naked, and as he stood, wholly motionless, it looked as if this barbaric attire might have been hung upon a noble statue of bronze, except that his eyes sparkled as he beheld his prisoners before him.

" About as fine as they make them ! " reflected Mark, appreciating the grand physique of the man.

In ranks loosely formed, his men now gathered around their chief, naked, except for cincture and sandals, and with long hair falling down their backs. They like him were armed with bows and arrows, with spears, and the ancient two-edged sword, or battle-axe, of wood edged with sharpened flints.

There they stood, this remnant of a people celebrated in antiquity, amid the ruins of the temples of their ancestors, ready at order to punish these two adventurers for invading their sacred precincts. In spite of danger Mark could but look on it all as a part of the pageantry of his romantic dreams made real.

The chief at last motioned them to stand before him. His eyes emitted fierce rays as they approached ; and Mark was well aware that many a hand clutched the bow as he and Tom passed along the ranks.

The chief alone could speak Spanish ; his people only Maya, the Indian tongue. He accosted them.

" Why are you here ? "

" We have come," replied Mark, " to see your country, to see its birds, its people, and its wonderful cities. We are but peaceful scientific explorers."

A moment the chief eyed him wrathfully.

" Caramba f Explorers ! To explore my country ! I am Christobal, Chief of the Sublevados ! My castle is Chan Santa Cruz. Never yet have I spared a Spaniard's life, and yours shall not be the first I have offered to my gods. Ha ! You did not speak of the gods ! Do ye not want to see the gods of this country ? Ye shall ! Ye shall see the country, the birds, the people, the cities, the gods and then ye shall die!"

A thought flashed through Mark's brain. He whispered it to Tom :

" They take us for Spaniards, the enslavers of their race. It is possible they have different feelings toward Americans."

He spoke up boldly : " Senor Capitan, somos Americanos / " " Your Excellency, we are Americans ! "

Christobal stepped forward. He gazed at their weather-bronzed faces doubtfully.

"Como? How ? not Spaniards ? Americans?"

He turned to his followers and rapidly translated the meaning of that magic word. The effect was electrical. The dusky throng leaped to its feet as one man. They poured out a prolonged strange cry :

" Quetzalcoatl ! Quetzalcoatl ! "

The chief nodded approvingly. His men sank again to the ground, but now no longer regarding the boys vindictively, but smiling, and conversing excitedly amongst themselves. The chief advanced. He placed his hands on the boys' shoulders. He looked at them piercingly, but not unkindly.

" From the north ? Ye came from the north ? whence the white-winged canoes come down to trade with our coast ? From the Snow King's home ? "

" Si, Senor Capitan."

"Then you are my sons. Ye are children of Quetzalcoatl. This land is yours ! "

Speaking thus, he gathered his unwilling sons to his breast in a hearty embrace. They submitted, too amazed to speak; but Torn was not at all grateful for this turn of affairs.

" See here now ! " he said afterwards. " I was a little shaky when they all glared at us so, and I thought our hour had come ; but, hang it all ! I'd ruther they'd knock me on the head than give me one of their family embraces ! "

And now the scene and atmosphere changed rapidly. It was one thing to be a Spaniard, quite another to be a North American. At Christobal's command, his men prepared a soft couch in a sheltered portion of the corridor, of the silky down of the ceiba, or the silk cotton-tree, elastic as eider down. Upon this were spread mantas. Then the weary men were politely bidden to lie down and rest. They obeyed, wondering what would happen next. But it was nearly daylight when they fell asleep, and broad sunlight spread over the forest when they opened their eyes some hours later.

As soon as it was found they were awake, two olive-skinned boys hurried to their side, each with a cup of coffee and a basin of water fragrant with me wild bay leaves floating in it. Kneeling, and with every sign of respect, they offered their service to the young strangers, and when they had bathed gave them a handful otpita fiber to dry the moisture.

Then they hastened away and soon returned with their arms full of clothing. There were two full suits belonging to the boys themselves (which they evidently had brought up from the boat). These they placed on one side of the couch. On the other they cast a heap of Indian fabrics, bright-colored blankets, leggings of deer skin embroidered with beads or feathers, sarapes, or blanket-shawls of gorgeous coloring ornamented with silver braid and buttons ; sandals made with nicest care, and to be secured by the softest of deer-skin thongs.

It was the garb of civilization and the garb of a semi-barbaric people. By signs they offered the young men their choice.

The boys looked from one pile to the other. Tom broke the silence first. "Mark, these Injuns are a-tryin' us. This is to see whether we will go with them of our own free will, or whether we ain't true sons and still hanker after the region of the Snow King, as they call him. And there may be more dependin' on the choice than we think. I motion we take their toggery, and be big Injuns too."

" That's about the level of the thing, I guess," said Mark, " and you're right ; we may as well go in for whatever fun there is in it. On with the toggery ! "

With the assistance of their two Indian valets, they dressed themselves as Mayas. The moment they were left alone, they turned upon each other, restraining their laughter, however, as fully as possible. Tom, with his round rosy face was specially " jolly " with a bright scarlet blanket hanging around him, his head thrust through a hole in the centre, a girdle of tiger skin about his waist and leggings shining with silver bells and buttons.

" Oh, look at home now, you young Injun," said he at last ; " you don't seem to realize that your arms are bare and that you haven't half clos' enough to cover you anyway ! Come now ! Hullo ! what now ? "

Their pages were approaching with small calabashes in their hands containing different colored paints.

" Blamed if they ain't going to paint us ! " Yes, verily ; but the boys winked at each other and submitted. First their valets coated whatever portions of the body were not covered by the sarape and leggings with roucon, or a pigment from the annatto berry ; then they proceeded, as Tom expressed it, " to do the ornamental," by drawing various colored stripes across their cheeks and foreheads.

Tom could hardly contain himself while all this was gravely going on ; and as soon as the toilet was completed, he sank down, overcome with silent laughter, while the tears ran down his cheeks so fast as to threaten to wash away all his decorations.

"O Mark!" he whispered, "I'd give a dollar if you could see yourself ! You look just like the tattooed man in Barnum's. You only want a little red on your nose to be a first-class aurora borealis."

Mark could but laugh as he gazed at Tom for a reflection of his own probable appearance ; he felt the process of adoption was rather more picturesque than was needful. Still the question of the good faith of the adoption was enough to sober him.

" Hello ! " said he ; " here they come again. And, Tom, they are going to trust us with our pistols and guns. That looks well."

During these slow toilet processes the Indians had kept in the background ; but now Chief Christobal advanced and embraced them, wishing them goodmorning, and gazing upon them admiringly. Mark's fine figure really showed well in the Maya costume, and the chief patted him on the shoulder affectionately, "JBien, hijo mio .> well done, my son."

Now that it was daylight they saw more fully what a magnificent man was this chief of the Sublevados. He was over six feet in height, and both face and figure were handsome. His men were rather under medium height, but robust and well-shaped. Their countenances were not ferocious ; they indicated tempers fiery and strong, but held in check. They had buried their dead during the night, and only the presence of the wounded, and some blood-stains on the stone floor, told of the desperate struggle. Christobal showed no traces of the mate's mighty grip on his throat. But the boys were touched when they saw the wounded lying helplessly about. Mark examined one after another, wishing for the box of medicines he had placed in the boat when they left Cozumel. Christobal watched both his movements and his face attentively. Presently he sent some men down the cliff. When they returned, they bore not only the box of medicines, but nearly all the boat had contained.

The boys looked at each other in dismay. Had the boat, had the mate and Don Pedro been captured !

Christobal laid his hand on Mark's shoulder. Smiling, he beckoned them to follow. He took them to the top of the watch-tower, pointed out a shining speck in the sunlight, a white sail far over toward Cozumel.

With wondrous kindness for a savage, Christobal explained how their companions escaped by shooting two Indians, who had found the boat, and had removed nearly everything from it, and then cutting the moorings, and pushing beyond reach of the pursuers coming over the cliff.

Both the wounded and the well displayed gratitude as Mark and Tom went to and fro dressing wounds. Mark felt almost sure they had now their good will.

Breakfast was next offered them. In a remote building, two of the Maya women had been busy preparing corn-cakes, and baking them over a quick fire. They crushed the corn upon a flat stone, by rolling over it a round one, until it was almost as fine as flour. Then they quickly made a paste, and spreading it thinly over another hot stone, quickly baked it. These were the famous tortillas, the corn-bread that these people have prepared in the same manner for hundreds of years. These cakes were now brought on palm leaves, and placed upon an altar-top. A savory stew of deer meat and wild turkey was also set before them, served in bowls made of calabash shells.

Christobal explained during the repast, that being a war party they were without much provisions, and promised better things when they should arrive at his stronghold, which was several days' march, and which he was going to start for at once. He and the boys only " ate at the first table," and by observing him they soon managed to eat Mexican fashion, without knife or fork. A tortilla served as a plate being flat, broad and round on this they placed meat, beans or child, and ate it by means of a piece of another tortilla rolled up like a spoon. When through, Christobal ate his spoon and then his plate. Following his example, the board was literally cleared. Orders were issued to break camp at once.

Long before noon all was in readiness. A group of men approached with two rude palanquins, or litters, made by stretching elastic vines between a framework of poles, over which was a roof of light poles thatched with leaves. A layer of palm leaves at the bottom made a springy mattress, and a roll of manias a pillow. Tom and Mark were assisted each into his litera, which four men took upon their shoulders, and the line of march was begun. Ahead went men with machetes, or great knives, to cut the way, and behind them marched the dusky warriors. Chief Christobal was borne in front in another litera. The wounded were behind similarly conveyed.

Tom actually chuckled aloud with delight. "Mark, we're right along in the procession, ain't we ? " he called back.

But Mark, alone now to reflect, was not so light of heart. Despite the change in the manner of the Indians, he saw no positive assurance that they were not two victims intended for sacrifice. He well knew from books, that such victims were not looked upon with hate, but rather with good will ; and he saw in the homage paid them, a possible omen of danger. They certainly were prisoners, though with willing servitors as captors. All that long, hot day, as they travelled through the steaming forest, this question tortured him :

" What do they mean to do with -us ? "

A Great Magician

Mark Styler was not a coward. He was serious, reflective, and, despite his many romantic dreams and projects, he instinctively weighed both sides of a question. Once having made up his mind, no danger could deter him from carrying out a plan. But he felt uneasy, remorseful, because his search for his father had drawn others into trouble so serious.

To be sure Tom's jolly view of the situation somewhat relieved him. He experienced a constant surprise at the way Tom accepted anything seen to be inevitable. " Hang sorrow, care will kill a cat," seemed to be Tom's motto. He would not listen to Mark's apprehensions.

" Pshaw, Mark," he laughed : " don't go to borrowing trouble. Just you look at things as they actually are, not as they might, could, would or should be. Here we be carried along like princes on the shoulders of men who are appinted our slaves. Just look at 'em, smilin' up at us whenever we condescend to look their way. How long'd you have to live Down East before the people'd turn out and wheel yer in a wheelbarrow, let alone a-totin' you on their shoulders ! It's a shame to slander these Injuns, even in your heart. I'm ready to fight for 'em instid of against 'em. The late onpleasantness was simply because they didn't know who we were." " Perhaps I ought to be ashamed of distrust," said Mark with a faint smile. "But it wasn't on my own account, Tom."

"Well, you chirk up, then. I'm goin' to be happy till I see the executioner comin' for me with his knife, and then I'll bet I'll manage to trip him up and offer him to his own idols. Besides," continued Tom, "they've given us all our weapons ; you've got your gun and revolver, and I my pistol and rifle, and all the cartridges we want. In fact, I think they are rather timorous about our guns lying about anyway. They've got nothing theirselves but spears and bows and arrers. We're the dangerous party at present, I take it. Le's think of something else. Say ! how about your stuffin' birds ? Your institute work don't come on very fast, does it ? "

" No," said Mark. " We've just been hurried from one accident to another all the time."

" Well," said Tom shrewdly, " I should say you might improve this 'ere present accident. All your stuffin' things are here, for them Injuns have saved 1 everything of ours, and are bringing 'em along as if they was sacred."

" Tom, you're right. Even if I can't save the specimens I preserve, it will be a diversion. It will give us something to think about."

They were journeying in a vast forest. It was. open underneath, and the sunlight lighted it even down to the flat coral rock that forms all the under stratum of Yucatan, upon which the giant trees, spread their roots. It was a lively scene to a naturalist's eye. Every tree and bush seemed to contain a new bird or butterfly. Mark observed many orioles like our golden robin, only brighter and more worthy the name of " fire bird ; " and instead of one species, he noted half a dozen. There were few familiar birds, but before the day waned he counted hundreds new and strange. Their Indian pages,bright-eyed, tawnyskinned striplings of sixteen, who ran by the side of their litters, delighted

in pronouncing the names of both birds and trees. They spoke in Maya, a musical tongue, but Mark wrote down the distinctly uttered names. He was particularly interested in the cha-cha-la-ka, a bird like our ruffled grouse, but smaller, and with a longer tail; the Mayas must have named it from its cry. It was very shy, and would wait till they were quite near, then fly away with a great rattle of cha-cha-la-ka ! cha-chala-ka !

All Mark's old-time longing for new hunting-fields and new specimens, came strong upon him. "Tom," he cried excitedly, " I must get some of these birds. The Professor would be delighted with them : we may pass out of their region and I miss them thus ! "

Tom was overjoyed to see his comrade's wakening interest. " If I was you," said he, " I'd shoot some as I went along and then skin and stuff 'em when we make a halt. At the worst, they'll only be to throw away, and you may get them through."

Mark was a good shot. His long collecting practice in the New England woods had perfected his aim. The neighbors had always said that when Mark Styler sighted a bird over a gun barrel, it was as good as dead. It is pleasant to know that he never " sighted " one as mere sportsman's pleasure.

This was the reason he had not shot birds on shipboard, when the sea-birds came about by hundreds ; why he had not hunted in Cozumel : he could not then preserve their skins properly for the museum.

A bright-banded parrot was chattering noisily in a tall tree-top. The procession was filing across an open glade. Without stopping the men, Mark raised himself in the litera, brought the gun to his shoulder, and fired.

The Indians were for a moment thrown into consternation. As they looked about for a reason for the shot, the parrot came tumbling down from his high perch, and fell into Mark's litter. It \vas a chance aim, a chance fall, but these dusky aborigines seemed to look upon the occurrence as supernatural.

They approached the young North American reverently. The bearers of his Htera, at a sign from Christobal, lowered it to the ground.

Mark held up the parrot. It was stone dead. Christobal gave a low command to two Indians. They departed, ranging the woods. In ten minutes they returned. Christobal produced a small bronze cup. In it he placed the lumps of gum copal which the men had collected. This he lighted. A rich perfume stole forth. Three times the chief walked about Mark swinging his censer until the fragrant smoke enveloped him. The same ceremony was accorded Tom. Not a word was spoken. The literas were then lifted and the first inarch resumed.

"How'd you like that ?" demanded Tom as soon as they were once more moving.

"Well, it's rather a novel sensation," said Mark, " to sit and have incense burned before you. But I remember reading in my old book about just such a performance when the Spaniards first landed on the shore of Yucatan, in 1517. For the first time in the New World they saw houses of stone, like those \vhose ruins we were in last night. The Indians came out to meet them, and before they would communicate with them, their priests fumigated them with incense just as these Indians their descendants have done to us. It has never been settled whether they thought the Spaniards were gods as in the Bahamas or whether they ought to be fumigated to render them fit for acquaintance." "Well, in our case, it's probably gods." laughed Tom. " I rather think they intend to set us up on pedestals and fall down and worship us, when they git us to their town. Hello!" he broke off. "I say, Mark, look at them big birds running through the woods there over to the right ! big as turkeys they are turkeys ! where's your gun ? Halt the men ! Let's git down ! Quick ! there's another ! "

Christobal had noticed Tom's gesticulations. He ordered a halt. He came to Mark's side. Mark in his rude Spanish explained.

" My men will get you many," said Christobal, smiling.

" I long to shoot one myself," said Mark. " Bien. This boy will show you where to find them. But your gun is not loaded."

The chief evidently had seen only old-fashioned firearms, like those the English of Belize sold the Indians ; never a breech-loader.

Mark had managed to slip a cartridge in unperceived a paper shell loaded with large turkey shot. " Always loaded," said he impressively, perceiving the chief's ignorance.

Christobal repeated the words to his followers. All fell back in silence. They regarded the mysterious gun with an expression of mingled cautiousness and amazement.

One of the young Indians, at a signal from the chief, led the way the turkeys had gone, the whole band turning to look, waiting, wondering.

Mark had swung his game bag over his shoulders ; his gun lay in the hollow of his arm. He followed the half-naked lad with long, eager strides. The chase stirred the blood in his veins. The Indian stopped, pointed ; in sight was a flock with a great gobbler at the head, marching unsuspiciously along, flashing and shimmering like strange peacocks. Mark raised his double-barreled gun ; a puff of smoke darted out, then a report. Two turkeys fell to the ground. The rest were all in the air in a second, whirring or else crashing through the underbrush, right across his path.

He turned, threw up the gun again, aimed a foot: ahead of the swiftly-flying birds, and pulled the trigger. The leader fell like lead, right at Christobal's feet, where it fluttered a moment, then lay still.

The Indians were astonished. What must he be who was endowed with a gun with two barrels, that loaded itself, that killed more than one bird at a time ! and never before had they seen a bird shot on the wing. This young man must be nearly related to the powers of the air, if not one of them.

Mark could easily read all this on those unfeigning faces. Taking advantage of their amazement, with almost no perceptible movement, he slipped two more cartridges into his gun.

The reports had startled the turkeys in all directions, and they were flying wildly through the forest. Two noble birds came crashing and sparkling through the near tree-tops like meteors. They were most magnificent specimens weighing at least twenty pounds apiece. They were a rod apart. Up went the mysterious gun. The foremost doubled up like a crumpled paper at the report, and came whirling to the ground in a cloud of flashing feathers. Without turning his eye, or removing the gun from his shoulder, Mark fired the second barrel, and the other turkey followed in the track of the first. Then, while the smoke was yet curling from the muzzle, he drew out the exploded cartridges, and slipped in two more.

The entire band was thunderstruck. Christobal stood pressing his hand to his brow. Presently he gathered his manta about him, and with a majestic wave of his hand silenced the murmurs of admiration.

" My son, thou hast done what none in Maya has ever done before. Still I will risk the future thine and mine. I have dared much for thee, thou wilt soon learn; thou art henceforward to be chief of a band of thy own. I, Christobal, will it so ; here and now I appoint thee next in power and authority to myself."

Turning, he singled out ten of the handsomest young men, tall, slender, with animated faces.

" These, " said he, " are thy body-guard. Night and day they will attend thee."

The young men approached, one by one, and taking Mark's right hand, each placed it upon his forehead, bowing to his feet.

The line of march was again formed. The bodyguard with bows, arrows, clubs and spears, formed around the litera containing their young chief. Thus they travelled till late in the afternoon^

" See what you get by following my sage advice ? " queried Tom when they were well under way. " If it hadn't been for me you wouldn't thought of your birds. And yit, here I'm left out in the cold, with no body-guard nor nothin'."

But Mark spoke gravely in reply: "Tom, all I get I will share with you."

" By the way, " said Tom, " do you s'pose they s'picioned what's in the belts we had round our bodies when they saw us change our clo's for their war paint ? And how much have we got ? "

" I have no fear of their robbing us," said Mark. <l We have a little over a hundred dollars apiece, in .gold, besides a few bank bills that are of no use in this country. In fact, :ur gold is not good here; we are like Robinson Crusoe after he had all the gold in the ship, for nobody knows its value.

" Well, it will keep. I hope to see the time when 'we can spend it. But, Mark, why don't you ever talk! you ain't given up hopin' to find track of your father, have you?"

" Given him up ! hardly, Tom."

" That's the talk, my young chief ; now I want you to understand that I'm rather taken with that project myself. You've got that old book all safe, the Conquest, you know ? "

" Safe in my haversack ; and do you know, Tom, I think we are going straight to the Silver City ! Why, I feel to-day as though we were almost a part of that old book ! If I understand the region, we are certainly moving in its general direction."

" Shouldn't wonder," said Tom. " Shouldn't wonder at anything."

" It's just strange and wild enough to be true," said Mark. " And when I have learned more Spanish, or better yet, a little Maya, I shall inquire cautiously of the chief."

"So I would. It's pleasant enough being carried along this way, day after day, laying on our backs and safe as in our cradles, but still I'd like to know where we're going to fetch up, as the feller said when he'd tried the flyin'-machine and fell into the cowyard."

" Well," said Mark, " so long as we travel southwardly, and these Indians are friendly, I've no objection, for in that direction lies the city, if it lies anywhere."

In this manner they went on, chatting whenever the literas came near together, and enjoying philosophically al' that came in their way. They made a short stop about noon, but only to dip some water out of a smote and to munch some dry tortillas. Late in the afternoon they came to a place selected for camp. The machete bearers had gone ahead, and with their sharp knives had cleared of its underbrush a little knoll crowned with great trees. When the band arrived fires were blazing, and the tortilla women busy over their primitive mills grinding corn.

After their literas had been placed on the ground, and their various luggage deposited near, Mark requested Christobal to allow him to skin the finest turkey before the cooks should have deprived the fowl of its feathers.

And why should Mark care for a turkey skin ?

Well, there are three species of wild turkey in North America. The most beautiful of the three is this one of Yucatan, familiarly known as the Honduras turkey. Ours of the United States, now found in Florida and the Southwest, is a larger bird, and the best known. Ours bears the Latin name of Meleagris galloparo. Then there is another, in Mexico, called Meleagris Mexicana, much smaller; this glorious bird of Yucatan is called Meleagris ocellatus. Wasn't it Benjamin Franklin who thought the turkey should have been our national bird ? Whoever it was, he was right ; for we have none other so truly American.

As I have said, no other of the family can compare with the Yucatan turkey in beauty of plumage. It is our American peacock. Its very name, ocellatus, signifies' something of its beauty large eyes, or spots, of blue, which enamel the long tail, surrounded by circles of brilliant yellow and purple. Its wings are like burnished gold and copper, and when the sun shines on its glossy black, it reflects every color of the rainbow.

It was with a sense of exultation that Mark took this gorgeous creature in hand to prepare him for preservation. It seemed a sin to crumple such beautifully burnished plumage ; but he reflected that there were not four in all the museums of the United States, and how rejoiced the Professor would be to secure specimens of so rare a bird ; and he experienced a keen feeling of pleasure and triumph. By the time the gorgeous skin was prepared and stuffed with cotton to its natural shape, it was sundown ; and his Indian hosts had supper in waiting.

It was plain beyond question that Christobal and all his men now regarded him as a magician ; as a necromancer, or medicine man. They could scarcely take their eyes off the stuffed skin which lay there the exact counterfeit of the bird.

Some of them stroked it softly, then hurriedly drew their hands away, as if afraid some spell surrounded it ; and then talking together in low tones, congratulated themselves that a wonder-worker had come into their tribe. Over Christobal's grave face strange expressions passed ; now of anxiety, now of exultation.

That night the two pages were comparing notes as they lay on the ground apart from the others.

" I like my new master," said Tom's servant, " because he always laughs whin he speaks."

" And I like mine the young wise man," returned Mark's boy, speaking thoughtfully, " because he doesn't laugh so much, and his eyes think, think, think."

The next morn they learned that they were within thirty miles of Chan Santa Cruz, the Maya capital, and that probably they might reach it by nightfall.

It was noon before they again stopped. The way had been through dense forest of copal, liquid amber, and cedar. They had now reached the edge of a plain. They halted under the border trees. Tom, from his high perch, had discovered a curious yellow cloud moving slowly over the plain, which stretched away before them till bounded by a line of blue hills. The cloud, now watched by both Mark and Tom, drew nearer and nearer. It wavered and fluttered, rose and fell with the breeze, and when quite near they saw it was composed of butterflies. A cloud of butterflies in migration to the forest. It was an hour before it had passed. There must have been millions billions. They were sulphuryellow, with pale spots on their wings. Christobal much enjoying their wonder at the wonders of his country, explained that other clouds would follow, some blue, some green, and some again yellow.

After a light meal the Indians again trudged on. Mark's guard of honor kept close, anticipating every want, their dark faces breaking into smiles when he spoke. But it was a tedious progress. The hot plain was covered with dry grass; little clumps of trees alone gave shade at intervals.

It was drawing near sunset when they reached outlying fields of cotton, then sugar-cane. Little huts squatted here and there in gardens of tropical plants. These grew more numerous. Presently they entered a long narrow lane between hedges of wild plants.

Apparently the entire population came down to meet them with shouts of welcome ; and at last they halted in a green square before a large thatched house.

They were in the Indian capital, in Chan Santa Cruz.

In many years no one had seen a white man in that whole region. The few people who recollected this event were old and white headed. They regarded the young strangers with a strange expression. Hardly less strange were the looks they cast upon Christobal, their war chief, but with great solemnity they set apart a house for the captives, and then the tocsin beat for council. Christobal was arraigned. Christobal was their war chief ; but he was amenable to the civil authorities. He had transgressed an ancient law of the tribe he had captured two prisoners, when he should have killed both. By their sacred tribal laws, the chief forfeited his own life for this transgression. Rarely had such offence been committed, and in those instances, after the captives had been welcomed and reserved for torture, the offenders had been put to death.

The council chamber was crowded. The great cacique sat upon a rude throne hung with tiger skins ; those next in civil rank were grouped about him. Christobal's warriors were there, stalwart savages, naked to the waist, who would have fought for their beloved chief to the death ; but they, likewise, were under oath to respect the laws. Christobal stood forth to speak :

"Fathers, brothers, ye know me. I am Christobal ! "

" You are Christobal, the white man's foe !"

" Ye know I would not lightly break the laws the sacred commands of our ancestors. But who are these prisoners? Are they Spaniards, accursed enslavers of our race ? "

"Are they not?" asked the cacique.

"They are not."

" Are they Mestizos, in whose veins flows the corrupted blood of our brother Mayas ? "


" Fathers, brothers, they are strangers from the North ! " uttered Christobal impressively.

The great cacique started, and clutched the sides of his throne.

"They are Americanos!" continued Christobal. The cacique arose in excitement. " Bring them in ! " he cried.

Mark and Tom were conducted to the council chamber, dimly lighted by smoking torches of ocote, or pine wood.

"Luck's changed," whispered Tom; "that old duffer on the throne there's cock of the walk. Shouldn't wonder if our time had come."

The young men were OWLS. in their Indian garb, and the cacique could not conceal his admiration as he glanced at Mark's straight figure and met the fearless glance of his eye. "They are not Spaniards nor Mexicans," he said after a prolonged gaze.

At a signal, the guard of honor escorted them back to their quarters.

"Ye know," continued the war chief, "our traditions; that from the North came Quetzalcoatl, God of the Air, the 'Feathered Serpent ' whom our ancestors called Ku-kul-can. To him we owe our sacred religion ; he taught us the art of building our temples and palaces; he taught us agriculture and the weaving of hemp and spinning of cotton. When his mission was ended he left us and went back to his abode in the North. Our forefathers beheld him enter his winged canoa of serpent skins, and embark with his retinue. All the population of our ancient cities followed him to the coast, entreating him to return ; and at the last moment, he promised to send a wise man from the region of the Snow King. We have looked for that messenger many hundred years in vain, have we not? Our sentinels have paeed with weary feet the roof-tops of our temples, greeting every morning the rising of the sun as the dawn of that new day in which this herald was to arrive.

"In Tuloom, that deserted city of our fathers, I encountered these white strangers. I knew not whence they came. There were four; two escaped by the subterraneo, but that trap prepared so many years ago fell, and alloted us these two. I questioned, moved by the gods. Lo, they were from the North ! Did I not well ? "

" Thou hast not done ill, but I see nought superhuman in these strangers, that they are sent hither by Quetzalcoatl."

"Thou hast not seen all. The elder bears with him a wonder engine in which are confined the forces of the elements, thunder and lightning."

" With that same weapon met the Spaniards our ancestors three centuries ago," replied the cacique.

" True ; but when once it had spit forth its fire and lead it rested. This is ever filled with death ; with it he destroys the birds of the air as they cleave the clouds. Yea, though they speed on like the wind."

" We have seen it ! " thundered forth the warriors.

" I, too, would see," said the cacique ; " order them forth into the square where the birds of night wing the upper darkness. If I behold any miracle, then will I pardon thee."

So saying, the cacique strode into the central square, followed by the warriors and the council.

"Thy life," whispered Christobal as he placed the gun in Mark's hand, " is the forfeit if thou failest ; thy life and mine ! "

Darkness was settling fast. A thousand eyes were straining for a glimpse of the mysterious marksman. Myriads of swifts and bats were sporting in the warm heavy air overhead, and now and then a night hawk, or an owl, sailed through the upper atmosphere.

" Point me the bird he would have," said Mark to Christobal quietly.

A great bird came flapping out of the west, its black form indistinct and weird in the gloom. Softly it sailed along, its broad wings fanning with regular strokes.

The cacique raised his hand, pointing. The bird sailed above as if circling about for prey ; higher and higher it rose. " He will miss it," Tom whispered to himself. " He waits too long."

A jet of flame leaped out of the darkness, followed by a roar that disturbed the silence of the heavy tropic night like the explosion of a cannon. Before its echoes had died, a shrill shriek came down from the clouds, but the winged creature still went up higher, higher, till lost to sight.

The cacique looked gravely at Christobal : " Where is thy miracle ? "

But presently, with a wild sound from the crowd, a dark mass appeared in the warm darkness, rapidly descending, and growing larger until it fell straight to the feet of the cacique. Its crooked claws clutched his trailing robe, and at the moment it looked reproachfully up into his face, the death-gurgle sounded in its throat.

A prolonged wailing cry rose from the square.

The cacique stood stupefied. Mark rested on his gun, waiting with some curiosity the signification of the sudden and universal dismay.

" It is the owl ! " whispered Christobal in Mark's ear. " It is our sacred bird. Now I know not the result. But our Ruler bade thee. I think it bodes him disaster, not thee and me."

The cacique raised his stern gaze at last. " Away with them to the temples!" he cried angrily. " Hither, Christobal ! "

Three hours later, the American boys were led out of their dwelling and placed in their literas. A hundred men joined the same warriors who had brought them here, and led the march.

" Where are we going ? " asked Mark of Christobal.

"To the temples to the city our fathers built, where dwell our priests," he answered, departing at once to the head of the band.

As daylight appeared their eyes were bandaged. " No white man has looked upon this country we are now passing through," said the chief.

All day they journeyed and all the next. The third day they seemed to enter a different region : hills took the place of the flat plain. This they discovered by the uneven motions of the literas.

The third night they camped upon a mountain ridge. It was dark when they stopped. The chief removed their bandages ; nor in the morning were they replaced. Their journey now was along the descent of the hills. The vegetation had completely changed. The trees were giants wreathed with masses of vines. The flowering plants were strange and gorgeous ; the birds sang wild melodies unknown before to Mark's ears. Hours later they reached a point where the hills abruptly ended, and they could here and there look out from the wilderness of trees upon open landscape.

" Behold ! " said Christobal suddenly, signalling a halt. A valley lay before them about six miles across, everywhere enclosed by hills. Green and cultivated groves of trees dotted it at intervals, and in its centre rose a great stone city with high white walls shining like burnished silver in the morning sun.

Christobal evidently expected surprise and admiration. But Mark stretched out his hands : his heart leaped into his throat, his eyes shone with a strange, strong light.

" The SILVER CITY ! " he cried, turning to Tom.

" The home of our fathers," slowly pronounced Christobal. "The Silver City la Crindad de la Plata! It is your destination."

" Are we to enter there ? " asked Mark earnestly.

" You are to enter," answered Christobal, " never to depart."

" Don't you fret," said Tom, when Mark had translated this thrilling sentence.

Mark did not fret. Could he doubt the end of a chain of events that had led straight to the reality of his dreams and plans ? He was startled, awed, silenced, but not afraid.

An hour later they had crossed the valley and drawn near the city. The walls were forty feet in height, sloping inward and crowned by a parapet that curved over in the Egyptian style. They seemed at least two miles square, and were entirely surrounded by a moat or canal a hundred feet wide, crossed by a drawbridge. The fields about were in a high state of cultivation, but not a living thing was seen moving over theirexpanse. In silence they crossed the drawbridge, and halted at the massive gate. It was composed of two huge blocks of marble, curiously grooved to fit together, and revolving on pivots of stone.

The chief struck with his spiked war club, then called aloud. The gates revolved, opening a passage twenty feet high and ten across. None appeared to greet them.

Over the marble pavement, up between rows of colossal statuary they marched toward a noble building. It was white like silver, the capitals and entablatures of its portico wrought in frosted silver ; bands of gold encircled its fluted columns. Its broad doorway stood open. In one of its vast rooms the Indians deposited the captives' possessions, swung for them two hammocks, and bade them a silent adieu, one by one filing past them, seizing their hands and pressing them to their foreheads. Christobal came last ; in his eyes were tears.

A group of ten remained, huddling silently just without their body-guard, choosing to share this imprisonment.

The boys looked at each other in pale 'ilence. This, then, was the Silver City I (End)