The Stone Chest by G. A. Henty
Chapter XI.--Among A Strange Foe.
It was true.
Far off to the northwest they could see the shore of a land that was covered with ice and snow.
The snow was of a reddish color, and the ice a deep blue.
But this was not all, nor by far the strangest part of the picture.
On the top of a hill, amid the snow, there stood a large cedar tree.
Its heavy branches swayed in the breeze mournfully; for though standing as if planted, the tree was dead.
For several minutes those on the Dart viewed the scene.
Then Bob broke the spell.
"Do you know what I think?" he said.
"I think that dead cedar was stuck up on the hill for a guide."
"Perhaps you are right," returned Captain Sumner. "One thing is certain--we have reached Cedar Island, as Gross called it. Probably the ground has a Russian name a yard long."
"Let us waste no time in getting ashore," cried Bob. "My father may be waiting for us!"
At this the captain said nothing, not wishing to hurt the boy's feelings. But the Dart continued on her course, and soon they dropped anchor in deep water but a few rods from the edge of the land.
Bob was the first to enter the small boat. He was followed by the captain and Jack and two sailors.
The shore of the land reached, they gazed around curiously.
"Looks deserted," said Bob, in a disappointed tone of voice. "But come on up to the cedar. We may be able to discover something from the top of the hill." The ascent was quickly made by Bob, but scarcely was the top gained than a shout was heard from below.
Bob was right. The sight that met his eyes startled him as he had never been startled before.
Rushing forward, they perceived the yacht surrounded by a half-score of canoes.
Two others were drawn up on the beach, and half a dozen or more copper-colored savages were standing round the dingy.
"We must save our boat at any cost!" cried Captain Sumner.
As they dashed down the hill the savages turned, armed with clubs, to face them.
One was bending a bow, but a shot from Bob's gun broke his arm.
Jack also fired, and the aborigines, all save one, took to flight, jumping into one of the canoes.
This brave chief, for such he looked, wielding a heavy club with both hands, rushed at our hero.
Bob threw up his gun to parry the blow.
The weapon was struck from his hand, but the blow fell harmless.
Before the tall savage could regain his balance Bob bounded on him, clasping him round the body.
But if our hero was strong, the native was stronger.
Dropping his club, he seized his adversary's throat, and, forcing back his head, made him relinquish his hold.
Then, seizing him round the waist, he flung him at the captain, whom he upset, at the same instant springing into the sea and swimming after his companions.
The whole affair did not last a minute.
Jack, who had reloaded, fired upon the overcrowded canoe.
Two paddles fell into the water and drifted away.
No sooner did they clamber on board than they were saluted with a score of spears, which stuck in the masts and deck, one passing through the fleshy part of a sailor's arm.
"Here, man, go below and bathe it in brandy," cried the captain. "Drink some, too. The rest of you get under shelter of the bulwarks.
"I have heard that these fellows poison their spears and arrowheads," he continued to our hero.
"Will they come back, do you think?" questioned Bob.
"Perhaps--we must remain on guard."
The next few hours were very anxious ones on board of the Dart.