Chapter XXXI. Home Again -- Conclusion
 

Nightfall found the entire expedition, including the women and children, on the mountain side below the caves. As the party went down the mountain a strict watch was kept for the Bumwo warriors, and just as the sun was setting, they were discovered in camp on the trail to the northwest.

"We will send out a flag of truce," said Randolph Rover. "Cujo can talk to them."

This was done, and presently a tall Bumwo under chief came out in a plain to hold a mujobo, or "law talk."

In a few words Cujo explained the situation, stating that they now held in bondage eighteen women and children, including King Susko's favorite wife Afgona. If the whites were allowed to pass through the country unharmed until they, reached the village of Kwa, where the Kassai River joins the Congo, they would release all of the women and children at that point and they could go back to rejoin their husbands and fathers. If, on the other hand, the expedition was attacked the whites would put all of those in bondage to instant death.

It is not likely that this horrible threat would have been put into execution. As Dick said when relating the particulars of the affair afterward. "We couldn't have done such a terrible thing, for it would not have been human." But the threat had the desired effect, and in the morning King Susko, who was now on a sick bed, sent word that they should go through unmolested.

And go through they did, through jungles and over plains, across rivers and lakes and treacherous swamps, watching continually for their enemies, and bringing down many a savage beast that showed itself. On the return they fell in with Mortimer Blaze, and he, being a crack shot, added much to the strength of their command.

At last Kwa was reached, and here they found themselves under the protection of several European military organizations. The native women and children were released, much to their joy, and my readers can rest assured that these Africans lost no time in getting back to that portion of the Dark Continent which they called home.

From Kwa to Boma the journey was comparatively easy. At Stanley Pool they rested for a week, and all in the party felt the better for it.

"Some day I will go back and open up the mines I have discovered," said Anderson Rover. "But not now. I want to see my own dear native land first."

At Boma news awaited them. Josiah Crabtree had turned up and been joined by Dan Baxter, and both had left for parts unknown.

"I hope we never see them again," said Dick, and his brothers said the same.

An American ship was in port, bound for Baltimore, and all of our party, including the Yale students, succeeded in obtaining passage on her for home. The trip was a most delightful one, and no days could have been happier than those which the Rover boys spent grouped around their lather listening to all he had to tell of the numerous adventures which had befallen him since he had left home. A long letter was written to Captain Townsend, telling of the finding of Anderson Rover, and the master of the Rosabel was, later on, sent a gift of one hundred dollars for his goodness to the Rovers.

Of course Anderson Rover was greatly interested in what his sons had been doing and was glad to learn that they were progressing so finely at Putnam Hall.

"We will let Arnold Baxter drop," he said.

"He is our enemy, I know; but just now we will let the law take its course for the rascality he practiced in Albany."

"All right, father," answered Dick. "We can afford to let him drop, seeing how well things have terminated for ourselves."

"And how happy we are going to be," chimed in Sam.

"And how rich -- when father settles up that mining claim in the West," put in Tom.

Here I must bring to a finish the story of the Rover boys' adventures in the jungles of Africa. They had started out to find their father, and they had found him, and for the time being all went well.

The home-coming of the Rovers was the occasion of a regular celebration at Valley Brook farm. The neighbors came in from far and wide and with them several people from the city who in former years had known Anderson Rover well.

It was a time never to be forgotten, and the celebration was kept up for several days. Captain Putnam was there, and with him came Frank, Fred, Larry, and several others. The captain apologized handsomely to Aleck for the way he had treated the colored man.

"I wish I had been with you," said Fred. "You Rover boys are wonders for getting around. Where will you go next?"

"I think we'll go West next," answered Dick. "Father wants to look up his mining interests, you know. We are going to ask him to take us along." They did go west, and what adventures they had will be related in a new volume, entitled "The Rover Boys Out West; or, The Search for a Lost Mine."

"But we are coming back to Putnam Hall first," added Tom. "Dear old Putnam Hall! I thought of it even in the heart of Africa!"

"And so did I," put in Sam. "I'll tell you, fellows, it's good enough to roam around, but, after all, there is no place like home."

And with this truthful remark from the youngest Rover, let us close this volume, kind reader, hoping that all of us may meet again in the next book of the series, to be entitled, "The Rover Boys Out West; or, The Search for a Lost Mine." In this story all of our friends will once more play important parts, and we will learn what the Baxters, father and son, did toward wresting the Rover Boys' valuable mining property from them. But for the time being all went well, and so good-by.

The End