These stars were, however, purely imaginary; for at that time the dawn had extinguished the lesser lights. Ere long, the bright beams of the rising sun suffused the eastern sky with a golden glow. On passing the place where Alice had been left, a couple of the party were sent by Keona to fetch her. They took the unnecessary precaution of binding the poor child, and speedily rejoined their comrades with her in their arms.
The amazement of her friends on seeing Alice was only equaled by her surprise on beholding them. But they were not permitted to communicate with each other. Presently the whole party emerged from the wild mountain gorges, through which they had been passing for some time, and proceeded in single file along a narrow path that skirted the precipices of the coast. The cliffs here were nearly a hundred feet high. They descended sheer down into deep water; in some places even overhung the sea.
Here John Bumpus, having recovered from the stunning effects of the blow dealt him by Keona, renewed his struggles, and rendered the passage of the place not only difficult but dangerous—to himself as well as to his enemies. Just as they reached a somewhat open space on the top of the cliffs, Jo succeeded, by almost superhuman exertion in bursting his bonds. Keona, foaming with rage, gave an angry order to his followers, who rushed upon Bumpus in a body as he was endeavoring to clear himself of the cords. Although John struck out manfully, the savages were too quick for him. They raised him suddenly aloft in their arms, and hurled him headlong over the cliff!
The horror of his friends on witnessing this may easily be imagined; but every other feeling was swallowed up in terror when the savages, apparently rendered bloodthirsty by what they had done, ran towards Alice, and, raising her from the ground, hastened to the edge of the cliff, evidently with the intention of throwing her over also.
Before they, had accomplished their fiendish purpose, however, a sound like thunder burst upon their ears and arrested their steps. This was immediately followed by another crash, and then came a series of single reports in rapid succession, which were multiplied by the echoes of the heights until the whole region seemed to tremble with the reverberation.
At first the natives seemed awe-stricken. Then, on becoming aware that the sounds which originated all this tumult came from the direction of their own village, they dropped Alice on the ground, fled precipitately down the rugged path that led from the heights to the valley, and disappeared, leaving the three captives, bound and helpless, on the cliffs.
DANGEROUS NAVIGATION AND DOUBTFUL PILOTAGE—MONTAGUE IS HOT, GASCOYNE SARCASTIC.
We now turn to the Talisman, which, it will be remembered, we left making her way slowly through the reefs toward the northern end of the island, under the pilotage of Gascoyne.