" Then if the Sukia's messengers should track us
168 THE TREASURE-FINDERS.
here I suppose that would be proof enough that the
talkative old fellow is correct in his surmises," Eoy
"We would be killed immediately the news of
their coming was brought by those who have been
sent into the thicket to keep watch," Tongla replied
in a matter-of-fact tone.
" That's a cheerful prospect for us," Dean added,
with a laugh which was little more than an hysterical
cry. " If the men from the ruin catch us we'll be
put to death, and in case they so much as make a
try for it this crowd will act as executioners."
" They will not come here until after we have es-
caped," Tongla said, positively. " If it was known
where we were the followers of Kabul would be
obliged to wait for a larger force, and it will require
some days to gather a hundred men, even though
the Sukia herself goes to summon them."
Then, observing that his companions were rapidly
sinking into a despondent mood, the Indian boy
spoke once more of what must be done during the
time which would elapse before the festival, and
finally succeeded in causing them to forget their fears.
The council was brought to an end at an early
hour, as compared with the night previous, and from
the manner in which they were regarded by the
young fellows Tongla felt certain the suspicious old
Indian had not convinced his fellow-officers that the
visitors A\ 7 ere dangerous characters.
" It is well," Tongla said as they went to the " pen "
assigned them. "We will not be disturbed, and in
two more days the attempt shall be made."
THE TREASURE-FINDERS. 169
EYEN if Koy and Dean had not been apprised
of the fact by Tongla, they would have known
that some important event was about to take place
from the bustle of preparation everywhere apparent
The breakfast was served sooner than usual, the
time for the bath was curtailed, and each occupant
of the building appeared to feel a heavy weight of
At a comparatively early hour six men came into
the village from the forest literally staggering under
the weight of vvarees, a dozen or more of which were
piled on each litter ; and as there were three of these
apologies for hand-barrows, the amount of meat can
readily be computed.
" They must have gone into the thicket last night,"
Tongla said as Roy asked if the new-comers were
strangers. " I am certain I saw two of them yester-
day, and if the others had come on a visit we should
see the head men greet them formally."
.The hunters were evidently about to clean and
cook their game, for while some built fires the re-
mainder of the party began carving a number of
the animals, for the purpose, as Tongla explained, of
curing the meat by means of smoke.
170 THE TREASURE-FINDERS.
All the women were industriously making bread,
grinding maize or crushing cassava, while the girls
pressed plantains into a paste known as bisbire, a
very palatable article of food, as the boys after-
ward learned, and one which will remain sweet a
long while when formed into rolls and wrapped in
The old men were engaged in what Dean and Roy
believed to be an incantation of some kind. One of
the number had brought in a quantity of vines, and
when these had been bruised with stones they were
placed in large earthen pots over a fire, the Indians
gravely walking around them meanwhile.
" What is going on there ?" Koy asked, curiously ;
and Tongla replied, as if the matter was of but little
"They are only making bequipe, with which to
catch fish. Some of the young men have gone
down the stream to set a net-work across, and this
afternoon fish for the festival will be taken."
"Can we see it?" Dean asked, eagerly.
" I will learn when those with whom I swam yes-
With the exception of the three visitors all in the
village worked industriously until the hour for the
siesta, and even this time of repose was shortened
materially, for the bequipe was ready.
It was yet quite early in the afternoon when
every occupant of the building went toward the
stream, and, having gained permission to accom-
pany them, the boys followed,
Fifteen or twenty young men were detailed to go
THE TREASURE-FINDERS. 171
up the river, and after half an hour they reappeared,
wading in a line stretched entirely across from bank
to bank, beating the water vigorously with long
poles. As this party arrived opposite the village
the contents of the pots were emptied directly in ad-
vance of them.
The beaters continued on their way until fish of
all sizes and shapes carne to the top of the water, as
if dying, and the entire mass was swept along until
it seemed as if they were packed solidly between
the banks at the rude dam of brush-wood.
Now men, women and children waded in, and be-
gan to throw the larger fish on shore, not ceasing
the labor until the best had been secured.
These were carried back to the building by the
women, the brush-wood dam was removed, and the
intoxicated fish were allowed to drift down stream.
" There isn't much sport in that kind of fishing,"
Dean said, regretfully. "They have killed five
times as many as were carried away."
" None of them are dead," Tongla replied, laugh-
ingly. " In a little while half an hour, perhaps
they will be all right. It's only a big drunk, the
same as you can see here to-morrow."
" I shouldn't think they would be good to eat."
* There is no more difference in the taste than if
they had been taken with a spear, as you shall learn
in the morning. We will go back with the men or
they may think we wish to run away."
During the remainder of the day cooking was
carried on by wholesale, and yet quite as much
was laid aside to be put into the ovens of earth
172 THE TREASURE-FINDERS.
next morning. Tortillas were stacked up like
monuments ; rolls of bisbire formed a veritable hill
in front of the building, and everywhere were pots
of ulung placed where they would be most conveni-
ent for the feasters.
" Are you certain, Tongla, that there are to be no
visitors here ?" Dean asked, as he viewed the scene
"No one will come, unless the followers of Kabul
have tracked us through the forest."
"But it doesn't seem possible that these people
can eat all this stuff. There is enough here for a
regiment of soldiers."
" The Wool was make beasts of themselves at the
drinking of the ulung," Tongla replied, gravely.
There was no council held on this night. Every-
one retired early, as if to prepare for the next day's
festivities; and the guests, or captives, whichever
they should be known as, would have remained
seated on the platform, enjoying the cool night-air,
but for an old woman who ordered them into their
hammocks without ceremony.
Tongla made a laughing reply to her harsh words,
which had the effect of mollifying her anger decid-
edly, for she actually patted him on the shoulder as
he passed her.
" What's the trouble now ?" Koy asked, when they
were inside the rude apartment.
" She says that we ought to sleep a long while in
order to be ready for the festival, and I told her no
one could hope to equal a Woolwa in the matter of
eating, which was a great compliment."
THE TREASURE-FINDERS. 173
It seemed to the boys as if they had but just fallen
asleep when the beating of drums caused them to
spring from their hammocks in alarm ; but the in-
stant he was on his feet Tongla appeared ashamed
for having allowed himself to be frightened.
" It is the beginning of the festival," he said, with
" But it isn't daylight," Dean said in surprise ; and
looking at his watch, Roy replied :
" Only half -past one. At such a rate they should
have begun the spree last night."
" This is the boys' part. After daylight they will
be forced to stay outside the building with the
women until the dances are finished."
The beating of drums continued with undimin-
ished vigor until nearly sunrise, and then were min-
gled with the discordant noises the notes as of a
flute, produced by a hollow reed with four vents
Now the older members of the tribe appeared, and
as if by magic the alleged musicians ceased the din.
A roll of bis hire was given to each person by way
of breakfast, and then the women proceeded to
sweep the stone floor with brooms made by tying
bunches of bushes together.
After this had been done, and when the golden
rays of the sun were just appearing above the hori-
zon, the old men, each with the inevitable torch in
his hand, formed a circle in the center of the build-
ing, where, to the monotonous droning of the reed
flutes, they whirled around and around in the most
grotesque manner until forced to cease from sheer
174 TBE TREASURE-FINDERS.
When the last had seated himself on the floor near
the family "pens," or had been thrown there be-
cause of his too violent exertions, the younger men,
armed with lances, ranged themselves in two lines,
each facing the other. They advanced and retreat-
ed, brandished their weapons while the drums and
flutes were pounded and blown until the din was
terrific, and after a mimic battle had been fought
all the late combatants joined in the wildest kind of
a wild dance.
This closed the early morning exercises, and with
the least possible delay preparations were made for
the more serious portion of the festival. On the
ground about twenty paces from the building, near
the bank of the stream, plantain-leaves had been
laid down to form a table, and on them was spread
the meat cooked during the previous day.
It was not to be eaten immediately, however. The
excavations which had been made were refilled with
wood, and while this was burning, the warees and
fish were wrapped in leaves, preparatory to being
Since the women were attending to this portion of
the work the male members of the tribe lounged
around in the immediate vicinity as if enjoying the
sight of so much which was eatable, and the white
boys, with Tongla, sat on the edge of the platform,
to repeat once more the plans already formed for
u As things are going now we sha'n't have much
chance of getting into the 'pen' without being
seen," Dean said, disconsolately.
THE TREASURE-FINDERS. 1?5
" We do not want to make a start before evening,
and then you will understand how easily it can be
done. The most important matter is to learn
whether the boat-keeper has come."
" I saw him a few moments ago, just before the
last dance ended, and he had all his family marching
behind in solemn state."
" Then they will not return to trouble us. We
must join in with the boys and seem to be enjoying
" What about those who were sent out to watch
for the Indians from the ruins ?" Roy asked.
"They are yet in the forest, and must remain
" Some may be down stream, where we shall run
right into their arms."
"There is no chance of that. Danger cannot
come from the river. We have only to fear some
of the men have been instructed to remain sober in
order to watch us."
" In which case we should stand a poor chance of
"There is no need to seek for trouble. Let us
walk around, and avoid talking together any more
than is necessary."
As he spoke Tongla went toward the boys whose
acquaintance he had made, and the white lads fol-
lowed him, feeling decidedly nervous because of the
bold stroke for freedom which was to be begun so
There was very little to do or see just at this time.
Everyone waited impatiently for the moment when
176 THE TREAStlRE-FINDBllB.
the feast should be spread, and each was so intent
upon the wonderful gastronomic feats he intended to
perform that conversation could not be indulged
When, however, four warees roasted nearly whole
and fully a hundred fishes were placed with the
other delicacies, the scene changed suddenly.
The old man who had welcomed the white boys
to the village approached the nearest pot of ulung,
dipped from it a cocoa-nut shell full of the liquid,
and as he raised it to his lips a general rush was
made for the other pots or the table. In the twink-
ling of an eye every person except the prisoner-
guests was eating or drinking as if his or her life
depended upon swallowing a certain amount in a
given time, and the festival had really begun.
It was some m )ments before Tongla and his
friends were able to get the smallest portion of food ;
but they succeeded after the first mad scramble was
over, and when their hunger had been appeased, all
three went to the building to watch the perform-
ances from the elevation afforded by the stone floor.
The entire population were gorging themselves in
the most ravenous manner, and after the novelty
wore away the scene became disgusting.
" How long will they keep this thing up ?" Koy
" Until it is impossible to eat or drink any more."
" Then this is the whole of the festival ?"
" The whole until the ulung makes them so drunk
that the fighting begins, and at that time we must
take good care to be out of the way, or the old fel-
THE TREASURE-FINDERS. 177
low who mistrusts us may take it into his head to
settle the matter with a blow of his spear. No one
is punished for what may be done during the drink-
ing of the ulung."
"That's a cheerful prospect for us," Dean said,
grimly ; and then the boys watched those around
them in silence for some time, until Koy asked,
"What are you looking for, Tongla?"
"A drunken man or boy."
" You needn't wait long, for here comes one of the
fellows who was swimming with you, and it is about
all he can do to stand."
Tongla glanced in the direction indicated, and
then ran at full speed toward the young man, who
was nearly helpless from the fumes of the ulung.
To their amazement Eoy and Dean saw their
friend urge the fellow to have more, and even pre-
tend to drink with him, after which the two entered
the building, Tongla half -carrying, half -dragging his
companion to their " pen."
"What is he putting him in there for?" Dean
asked, impatiently. " It can only hinder us if we
see a chance to slip away."
Before Roy could reply the Indian boy stood be-
fore them, looking triumphant and happy.
" Now we can go back to our old room. If the
rightful occupants come it will be only necessary to
say a man is in ours, therefore we returned because
acquainted with them. It is time to dig up the
golden gods. If we Avait too long there may be a
drunkard on every hammock."
178 THE TREASURE-FINDERS.
The boys understood now why Tongla had in-
duced the Indian to drink when he was already
nearly stupefied, and literally trembling with sup-
pressed excitement, they followed him to the place
where the treasure was secreted.
THE FESTIVAL was now at its height, and but
little attention was paid to the white boys, so
far as they themselves could judge ; but on mention-
ing this to Tongla as they walked toward the " pen "
where the idols had been hidden, he said, pointing to
the merry-makers :
"Do you not see that, even though drunk, the
men have seated themselves in such a manner that
to leave here we shall be obliged to walk over
Koy and Dean had not noticed particularly the
manner in which the Indians had arranged the ta-
bles of leaves. When Tongla spoke they saw that
the feasters were seated in a half-circle, starting
from the western corner of the building and end-
ing at the eastern extremity, thus preventing any
one in the house from gaining the stream without
forcing his way directly through this chain of
" It looks like a mighty slim chance for running
away," Koy said, after gazing at the scene a moment.
"We are completely hemmed in, and they must be
absolutely insensible before escape is possible. Since
it isn't probable the women and children will get in
that condition, we're likely to stay here a long while.
However, it will be something gained if we get the
" The festival is but just begun," Tongla replied,
with an expressive gesture, " and before it is ended
there may be many changes."
By this time they were at the apartment where
the golden gods had been secreted, and there was
not a moment to be wasted, for the occupants of the
room might put in an appearance before the work
Tongla began by lowering one of the hammocks
in such a manner that the rear of the place would
be screened from casual observation, and then said
to Dean :
"Get in here while Eoy and I raise the stones.
Keep careful watch, and give the alarm if any one
comes this way."
The boy obeyed, and his companions, each with
his machete, attacked the heavy blocks.
From this point Dean had a better view of the
feasters than while on the floor. The men were
seated as has been said, and the women worked in-
dustriously, carrying ulung from one to the other,
that there might be no delay in getting drunk,
which was evidently the serious work of the day.
Each man drained his gourd instantly it was handed
him, and while refilling the vessels the women did
not neglect to take their full share. The musicians
worked industriously, bent on getting noise rather
than melody from their instruments ; and in a short
time the confusion was increased by the feasters,
who- added their sharp cries to the general din.
THE TREASURE-FINDERS. 181
Before Eoy and Tongla had finished their work,
every one staggered to his or feet and began a
tipsy sort of dance around the table, in which even
the children joined. Now and then some of the
party would indulge in what was probably called a
song, and as the fumes of the ulung overcame them,
others took up the alleged refrain, to prevent
the volume of sound from diminishing. If the fol-
lowers of Kabul had been in the vicinity, the inhab-
itants of the village might have been vanquished
with but little difficulty.
Dean had given, in a low tone, all the particulars
of what was taking place ; and while the frenzied
dance was at its height Koy and Tongla emerged
from the gloom, the perspiration streaming from
their faces, but looking triumphant, as they dis-
played the images of gold.
The Indian boy raised the hammock to its former
position, and then led the way with all speed to
where the drunken Woolwa lay snoring in Hoy's
It was now but the work of a few moments to se-
crete the idols, and the little party had another op-
portunity of surveying the disgusting scene. The
greater portion of the men lay on the ground help-
less, and the women and musicians had taken their
places, but without any pretense of dancing. They
were gathered in little groups around the earthen
pots, each drinking as rapidly as possible ; and even
as the boys watched, the last one fell insensible.
Of all the tribe, only a few small children were
in possession of their faculties.
182 THE TREASURE-FINDERS.
" Now's our time," Dean whispered ; " but it's
going to be tough traveling at noonday."
" We shall not leave here until after the sun has
set," Tongla replied.
" But by that time all hands will have recovered,
and there'll be no chance of getting away."
"After lying here in the sun a few hours the
effects of the ulung will pass off, and then begins
another drunk, for no Woolwa lets the night come
on this festival while he can stand. It is the second
time of intoxication when we can leave without
taking very much risk. By going now our flight
would be discovered in two or three hours. If, on
recovering their senses, they find us here, there will
be an end to any suspicions, and we can feel cer-
tain of having a ten-hour start."
" But suppose some of the party don't drink any
more after once regaining their senses?"
" There is no chance of that. The next stage will
be worse than this."
It seemed to Dean that it would be safer to go
while they were certain of the opportunity ; but
Tongla was really the leader, and he made no fur-
The Indian boy had yet considerable to do before
he was ready for the flight. He insisted that Eoy
and Dean should sit at the entrance of their " pen,"
in order to prevent any more of the drunkards from
finding their way into it, and then he went boldly
out where the field was strewn with Woolwas.
Enormous quantities of food were yet remaining,
and from the collection he took a dozen rolls of bis-
THE TREASURE-FINDERS. 183
hire, which was all he could carry at one load.
Bringing this back to the apartment, he returned
for a smoked leg of waree and two fishes. The
third excursion yielded an armful of tortillas, and
the food supply had been collected. It was neces-
sary these things should be stowed in such a man-
ner that they could be conveniently carried, and
Tongla packed them, with the idols, into the two
" It's time I did my share of carrying the bur-
dens," Dean said, as he saw that but two bundles
had been made up. " I no longer have any fever,
and am as strong as when we started."
" You will have a full share. The hammocks,
cartridges and both guns make as big a load as
either of these. We shall abandon everything else
except the chocolate-pot, which, with some choco-
late, I am to take."
The boys were not now at liberty to leave their
apartment lest some of the less intoxicated might
overhaul the baggage or take refuge there, and all
sat at the entrance during the time of the siesta,
looking out upon the brutes who, with faces up-
turned to the glowing sun, were snoring vigor-
It was quite late in the afternoon before the first
of the revelers bestirred himself and began industri-
ously kicking or shaking his stupefied companions,
until all were seated once more around the plantain-
Such of the women as were able to attend to their
masters' wants passed around the gourds, and in a
184 THE TREASURER-FINDERS.
short time the orgy was in full blast once more.
The young fellow whom Tongla had enticed into
the boys' " pen " now aroused himself sufficiently to
reach the feasters, and during the next two hours
the scenes previously described were re-enacted.
Everything was in readiness for the attempt at es-
cape. It was only necessary to wait until an oppor-
tunity should occur, and the boys sat in painful sus^
pense watching narrowly every member of that
brutish party. If only one should refrain from
drinking too much the plan would be a failure, there-
fore their anxiety can readily be imagined.
It was nearly sunset when the last ulung-dr inker
capitulated to the insidious foe, and, as before, none
save the small children were capable of locomotion.
The greater number were plunged into a profound
slumber ; but here and there some fellow sat upright
against one of the huge jars, staring straight before
him, and Dean pointed them out to Tongla.
" They don't show any signs of lying down, and
before long some of the others may awaken."
u Ve have nothing to fear from them," the In-
dian boy replied. " Their eyes are open, but not to
see. It is time to go ; gather up your load and fol-
In the shortest possible space of time the fugitives
were ready, and Tongla led the way with an as-
sumption of carelessness from that end of the build-
ing nearest the stream.
Once a cry caused them to look around in alarm ;
but they continued on after seeing that it had been
uttered by those in a drunken stupor, and Tongla
THE TREASURE-FINDERS. 185
walked at a slow pace until they were sheltered by
" Now follow fast," he whispered. " Those who
were watching for the followers of Kabul may come
in from the forest to share in the feast, and to be
caught now would mean speedy death."
There was no necessity of reminding the boys that
they were yet in danger. Neither could feel that
the escape was an accomplished fact until many
miles separated them from the Wool was, and both
kept pace with Tongla as he ran along the edge of
Every member of the party was panting and al-
most breathless when the fleet was reached; but
there was no time for rest, and the Indian boy se-
lected one of the small pitpans as the craft to be
All the canoes were drawn high up on the shore ;
but desperation lent the fugitives fictitious strength,
and in a twinkling the little vessel was in the water.
It had been hollowed from a solid piece of cedar, the
bottom slightly flattened, and the sides only of suf-
ficient thickness to prevent any likelihood of their,