Chapter XXVIII. King Susko

"My gracious, this is getting at close range!" burst out Dick, when he could catch his breath again. "Uncle Randolph, they meant to kill us!"

"Indeed they did, Dick. And this is no safe place for stopping. We must retreat."

"But Cujo --?"

"He must be cautioned." Randolph Rover raised his voice. "Cujo! Cujo! They have discovered us! Take care that they do not spear you."

No reply came back to this call, which was several times repeated. Then came a crash, as a big stone was hurled down, to split into a score of pieces on the rock which sheltered them.

"They mean to dislodge us," said Dick. "If they would only show themselves -"

He stopped, for he had seen one of the Bumwos peering over a mass of short brush directly over the cave entrance. Taking hasty aim with his pistol be fired.

A yell of pain followed, proving that the African had been hit. But the Bumwo was not seriously wounded, and soon he sent another stone at them, this time hitting Randolph Rover on the leg.

"Oh!" gasped Dick's uncle, and drew up that member with a wry face.

"Did he hurt you much, Uncle Randolph?"

"He hurt me enough. You villain, take that!" And now the man fired, but the bullet flew wide of its mark, for Randolph Rover had practiced but little with firearms.

They now thought it time to retreat, and, watching their chance, they ran from the rocks to the trees beyond. While they were exposed another spear was sent after them, cutting its way through Mr. Rover's hat brim and causing that gentleman to turn as pale as a sheet.

"A few inches closer and it would have been my head!" he ejaculated. "This is growing too warm for comfort. Perhaps we had better rejoin the others, Dick."

"Cujo! Cujo! Where are you?" cried the boy once more. But as before no answer came back.

The shots had alarmed the others of the expedition, and all were hurrying along the rocky ledge when Randolph Rover and Dick met them.

"We must turn back!" exclaimed Randolph Rover. "If you go ahead we may be caught in an ambush. The Bumwos have discovered our presence and mean to kill us if they can!"

Suddenly a loud, deep voice broke upon them, coming from the rocks over the cave entrance.

"White men must leave this mountain!" cried the voice. "This country belongs to the Bumwos. White man has no right here! Go! Go before it is too late!"

"Who is that who speaks?" demanded Randolph Rover.

"I am King Susko, chief of the Bumwos."

"Will you come and have a talk with us?"

"No want to talk. Want the white man to leave," answered the African chief, talking in fairly good English.

"We do not wish to quarrel with you, King Susko; but you will find it best for you if you will grant us an interview," went on Randolph Rover.

"The white man must go away from this mountain. I will not talk with him," replied the African angrily.

"Do you know why we are here?"

"To rob the Bumwos of their gold."

"No; we are looking for a lost man, one who came to this country years ago and one who was your prisoner --"

"The white man is no longer here -- he went home long time ago."

"We do not believe you!" cried Tom. "You have him a prisoner, and unless you deliver him up you shall suffer dearly for it."

This threat evidently angered the African chief greatly, for suddenly a spear was launched at the boy, which pierced Tom's shoulder.

As Tom went down, a shout went up from the rocks, and suddenly a dozen or more Bumwos appeared, shaking their spears and acting as if they meant to rush down on the party below without further warning.