Adventures in Southern Seas eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 245 pages of information about Adventures in Southern Seas.

I now noticed that one of these chickens had strayed from the others, and I saw Janstins, who had evidently not observed the mother-bird, aiming his matchlock at it as though about to fire.  I shouted to him to desist, but too late to save the mad fellow from his folly.  There was a flash, and a loud report, and the giant chicken lay on its back, its legs kicking in the air.

“To the boats!” I cried, and the scared sailors, when they saw the mother-bird, needed no second warning.  There was a rush for the boats by all but Janstins, who seemed as one amazed, and incapable of action at the sight of the monster.  I could not leave him to the fate which threatened him, so, running to his assistance, I dragged him down behind some fern trees, where we hid out of sight of the mother-bird, who seemed bewildered by the unaccustomed sound of firearms, and perplexed at the death of her chick, for which she could not account.  But we both knew that her inaction was momentary, and that when she discovered us we must expect the full force of her rage, which could only result in the loss of our lives.  Whispering to Janstins, I bade him remember that in courage and caution alone lay our hope of escape, and he presently recovered his presence of mind sufficiently to follow me when we ran, bent double, under cover of the luxuriant foliage, to the beach, where we arrived only just in time to scramble into the second boat that was being shoved off by the terrified sailors, before the mother-bird, now joined by her mate of even larger proportion, came in pursuit of us, and so carried away were these monsters by rage at our escape that they advanced into the sea, stretching their necks at us while uttering a loud, drumming noise which we could hear repeated when we were on board the ship, and even after we were out at sea.

Next morning, at daybreak, we again made the coast, and toward evening we found ourselves opposite a sandy beach upon which a number of natives appeared to be engaged in some tribal ceremony.  Fires were lighted along the sea shore, and, upon drawing nearer, we were able to distinguish groups of men, apparently captives, with their hands bound behind them, standing together while their captors performed an extravagant dance round them.  Armed warriors then rushed upon each other in mimic warfare, and the sound of their bare feet, as they stamped in unison upon the hard sand, came to us with measured cadence across the sea.  When the dance was ended, the captives were made to lie flat, one behind the other, till they formed a black patch upon the beach.  Then appeared a number of men pushing from above high-water mark a war canoe, the prow of which, elaborately carved, and upstanding to the height of thirty feet, was decorated with shells and bunches of feathers.  On came the canoe, slowly at first, and then with increasing speed, until it reached the row of victims, over whom it crunched, taking the water reddened with their blood amid an uproar of shrieks and groans most dreadful to listen to.

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Adventures in Southern Seas from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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