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A Middy of the Slave Squadron by Harry Collingwood

But when Gouroo whispered to my father


"From the moment when I first became aware of my father's illness I was not entirely free from suspicion; and when at length I saw that your efforts to cure him were only partially successful, and that his symptoms persistently recurred, I was convinced that there was foul play somewhere, though why, I could not at first imagine. But when Gouroo whispered to my father, hinting at your incapacity, and suggesting that Mafuta should be sent for, my suspicions began to take definite shape, and, although I was not able to verify those suspicions, I finally made up my mind that the whole occurrence was the outcome of a plot between Gouroo and Mafuta--your only enemies--to ruin you. And these suspicions were confirmed when, after you had been carried away and imprisoned, my father began to mend, even before the arrival of Mafuta upon the scene, while it seemed extraordinary to me that the witch-doctor should know so well the character of my father's ailment, that he was able to bring with him precisely the right remedies for administration.

"Now, as I told you just now, Dick, I was quite unable to verify my suspicions, but in my own mind I have not the slightest doubt that Mafuta gave Gouroo poison of some kind to administer to my father and make him ill, knowing that you would be summoned to cure him, and knowing, too, that your failure to cure would result in your condemnation to a death by torture. I tried to intercede for you, not once but many times; but my father had suffered horribly, and had been terribly frightened. He believed that, but for Gouroo's suggestion, you would have allowed him to die; and he refused to show you any mercy. Your fate seemed sealed--unless I could contrive a scheme to save you; but I could think of nothing; and the anticipation of your death made me feel so utterly wretched, that at last I entreated my father that, if he would not spare you, he would at least not compel me to witness your sufferings. He was still dreadfully angry with me for interceding in your behalf, but I persisted; and at length he told me that if I did not wish to witness the Customs I might remain at home, and of course I did so, although I knew that you were not to suffer until to-morrow. I spent all my time trying to devise some plan for effecting your deliverance, but could think of none; nevertheless, as soon as everybody was in the square and the Customs had begun, I went down to the river, got my canoe ready, and paddled it down to the place where we found it to-night. And it was while I was returning, and searching for a way to pass inside the palisade without entering by the gate, that I first saw the storm working up, and I knew that if it delayed its coming long enough I might be able to save you. As it happened, circumstances could scarcely have arranged themselves more favourably; and the result is that I have now the happiness to have you here with me in safety. Now, Dick, we must push on as fast as we can, travelling all through the night, and concealing ourselves and resting during the day; for if we are to escape it must be by stratagem, and not by strength, or speed."

"Yes," said I; "I can quite understand that if they should take it into their heads to pursue us--as you seem to think they will--we should have small chance of running away from one of your big canoes, manned by forty or fifty paddlers. But where do you propose to take me, Ama?"

"Where do you wish to go, Dick?" demanded my companion, answering one question with another.

"Why," replied I, "of course I am anxious to get down to the coast again, and aboard a ship. But I am puzzled to know what is to become of you when we part."

"_Must_ we part, Dick?" murmured Ama softly. "Cannot I always remain with you?"


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