A pause and a confused murmuring, and now again the wild song rose and again Jeekie answered.
“What the deuce are you doing? Where are we?” asked Alan faintly.
Jeekie turned and beamed upon him; although his teeth were chattering and his face was hollow, still he beamed.
“You awake, Major?” he said. “Thought good old sun do trick. Feel your heart now and find it beat. Pulse, too, strong, though temp’rature not normal. Well, good news this morning. Little Bonsa come out top as usual. Asiki priests on bank there. Can’t see them, but know their song and answer. Same old game as thirty years ago. Asiki never change, which good business when you been away long while.”
“Hang the Asiki,” said Alan feebly, “I think all these poor beggars are dead, and he pointed to the rowers.
“Look like it, Major, but what that matter now since you and I alive? Plenty more where they come from. Not dead though, think only sleep, no like cold, like dormouse. But never mind cannibal pig. They serve our turn, if they live, live; if they die, die and God have mercy on souls, if cannibal have soul. Ah! here we are,” and from beneath six inches of water he dragged up the tin box containing Little Bonsa, from which he extracted the fetish, wet but uninjured.
“Put her on now, Major. Put her on at once and come sit in prow of canoe. Must reach Asiki-land in proper style. Priests think it your reverend uncle come back again, just as he leave. Make very good impression.”
“I can’t,” said Alan feebly. “I am played out, Jeekie.”
“Oh! buck up, Major, buck up!” he replied imploringly. “One kick more and you win race, mustn’t spoil ship for ha’porth of tar. You just wear fetish, whistle once on land, and then go to sleep for whole week if you like. I do rest, say it all magic, and so forth—that you been dead and just come out of grave, or anything you like. No matter if you turn up as announced on bill and God bless hurricane that blow us here when we expect die. Come, Major, quick, quick! mist melt and soon they see you.” Then without waiting for an answer Jeekie clapped the wet mask on his master’s head, tied the thongs and led Alan to the prow of the canoe, where he set him down on a little cross bench, stood behind supporting him and again began to sing in a great triumphant voice.