Chapter XII.--Bob's Discovery.
 

Night came, and the hostile natives showed no sign of returning.

A strict watch was kept until morning, but nothing out of the ordinary happened.

In the meantime Captain Sumner and Bob examined the map with great care and also read and reread the papers Ruel Gross had left behind him.

"Let us go on another tour of exploration," said the captain, on the following day. "If those natives come back Bok can fire a gun to warn us."

The boy readily agreed and they set off without delay.

Once under the dead cedar tree they looked around them curiously.

A short distance further inland they saw a hollow, which had evidently at one time been a camp.

Tin cans were strewn around, along with a number of fish and animal bones.

"I wonder if father and Ruel Gross once encamped here?" thought Bob.

Hardly had the idea occurred to him than Captain Sumner set up a shout.

He was pointing to a post set up in the ice. To the top of the post was attached a rude sign, which read:

"To the Svlachkys' Camp--One Mile."

"Hurrah! here's a discovery!" cried Bob. "Shall we go on?"

"Yes; but let us advance with extreme caution. These Svlachkys may be very bad people."

"Undoubtedly there are, or they wouldn't keep my father a prisoner," rejoined Bob.

"That signpost must be the work of Ruel Gross," went on the captain. "The savages haven't dared to touch it, thinking there was something supernatural attached to it--something to injure them."

On went the captain and Bob, down one hill of ice and up another. It was extremely cold, but neither minded that.

At last they reached a portion of the island that was very uneven. Great chasms yawned to the right and left of them. It was with difficulty that they pushed forward.

But they were bound to go on, and go they did, until at the mouth of what looked like a cave of ice the captain called a halt.

"Listen!" he whispered. "I hear voices."

Bob listened. Captain Sumner was right. From the cavern came the sounds of several human tongues.

"They are not speaking Russian," said the captain. "Perhaps we have stumbled upon more savages."

Hardly had he spoken when three human beings came into view.

They were bundled up in furs, in strong contrast to the other natives, who had scarcely any body-covering.

The new-comers were jabbering among themselves at a great rate. Presently they came to a halt before a large slab of ice.

They tugged and pounded on this until the slab fell to one side, revealing a strange-looking opening.

"What are they up to now?" whispered Bob.

"I don't know--wait."

They waited. Presently the three men disappeared within the opening. Soon a smoke came out, and they saw that firebrands had been lit to light up the scene.

"That may be the place where the stone chest is kept," said Bob.

"More likely it is a burial place," replied Captain Sumner. "I've seen such spots before. Maybe they're preparing for a funeral."

"Can't we get a little closer to them?"

"It would not be safe. Hark!"

From a distance they heard the mournful toot of a large horn.

"That's a funeral horn, I'm sure," said the captain. "If they are coming this way we had better--Hullo! look!"

The captain pointed to an opening to their left.

A band of men were advancing.

They were guarding a prisoner--a white man, who walked in their midst.

Bob gave the white man one swift look, and then shrieked out at the top of his voice:

"It's my father!"