“The shell is in the outhouse,” said Corrie, eagerly, to the giant who held him.
“Wot shell?” inquired Bumpus.
“The shell that they blow like a horn to call the people to work with.”
“Ah! you’re sane again,” said the sailor releasing him; “go, find it, lad, and blow till yer cheeks crack.”
Corrie was gone long before Jo had concluded even that short remark. In another second the harsh but loud sound of the shell rang over the hillside. The settlers, black and white, immediately ceased their pursuit of the savages, and from every side they came trooping in by dozens. Without waiting to inquire the cause of what was being done, each man, as he arrived, fell to work on the blazing edifice, and, urged on by Henry’s voice and example, toiled and moiled in the midst of fire and smoke until the pastor’s house was literally pulled to pieces.
Fortunately for little Alice, she had been carried out of the house long before by Keona, who, being subtle as well as revengeful, knew well how to strike at the tenderest part of the white man’s heart.
While her friends were thus frantically endeavoring to deliver her from the burning house in which they supposed her to be, Alice was being hurried through the woods by a steep mountain path in the direction of the native village. Happily for the feelings of her father, the fact was made known, soon after the house had been pulled down, by the arrival of a small party of native settlers bearing one of the child’s shoes. They had found it, they said, sticking in the mud, about a mile off, and had tracked the little footsteps a long way into the mountains by the side of the prints made by the naked feet of a savage. At length they had lost the tracks amid the hard lava rocks, and had given up the chase.
“We must follow them up instantly,” said Mr. Mason, who had by this time recovered: “no time is to be lost.”
“Aye, time is precious; who will go?” cried Henry, who, begrimed with fire and smoke, and panting vehemently from recent exertion, had just at that moment come towards the group.
“Take me! oh take me, Henry!” cried Corrie, in a beseeching tone, as he sprang promptly to his friend’s side.
At any other time, Henry would have smiled at the enthusiastic offer of such a small arm to fight the savages; but fierce anger was in his breast at that moment. He turned from the poor boy and looked round with a frown, as he observed that, although the natives crowded round him at once, neither Gascoyne, nor Thorwald, nor Captain Montague showed any symptom of an intention to accompany him.
“Nay, be not angry, lad,” said Gascoyne, observing the frown; “your blood is young and hot, as it should be; but it behooves us to have a council of war before we set out on this expedition, which, believe me, will be no trifling one, if I know anything of savage ways and doings.”
“Mr. Gascoyne is right,” said Montague, turning to the missionary, who stood regarding the party with anxious looks, quite unable to offer advice on such an occasion, and clasping the little shoe firmly in both hands; “it seems to me that those who know the customs of savage warfare should give their advice first. You may depend on all the aid that it is in my power to give.”