DRIFTING DOWN THE STREAM
Too Long; Didn't Read"Off we go!" It was the voice of Hercules addressing Dick Sands, who, frightfully debilitated by recent sufferings, was leaning against Cousin Benedict for support. Dingo was lying at his feet.
Mrs. Weldon gradually recovered her consciousness. Looking around her in amazement she caught sight of Dick.
"Dick, is it you?" she muttered feebly.
The lad with some difficulty arose, and took her hand in his, while Jack overwhelmed him with kisses.
"And who would have thought it was you, Hercules, that carried us away?" said the child; "I did not know you a bit; you were so dreadfully ugly."
"I was a sort of a devil, you know, Master Jack," Hercules answered; "and the devil is not particularly handsome;" and he began rubbing his chest vigorously to get rid of the white pattern with which he had adorned it.
Mrs. Weldon held out her hand to him with a grateful smile.
"Yes, Mrs. Weldon, he has saved you, and although he does not own it, he has saved me too," said Dick.
"Saved!" repeated Hercules, "you must not talk about safety, for you are not saved yet."
And pointing to Benedict, he continued,-
"That's where your thanks are due; unless he had come and informed me all about you and where you were, I should have known nothing, and should have been powerless to aid you."
It was now five days since he had fallen in with the entomologist as he was chasing the manticora, and unceremoniously had carried him off.
As the canoe drifted rapidly along the stream, Hercules briefly related his adventures since his escape from the encampment on the Coanza. He described how he had followed the kitanda which was conveying Mrs. Weldon; how in the course of his march he had found Dingo badly wounded; how he and the dog together had reached the neighbourhood of KazonndÃ©, and how he had contrived to send a note to Dick, intending to inform him of Mrs. Weldon's destination. Then he went on to say that since his unexpected rencontre with Cousin Benedict he had watched very closely for a chance to get into the guardeddÃ©pÃ´t, but until now had entirely failed. A celebrated mganga had been passing on his way through the forest, and he had resolved upon impersonating him as a means of gaining the admittance he wanted. His strength made the undertaking sufficiently easy; and having stripped the magician of his paraphernalia, and bound him securely to a tree, he painted his own body with a pattern like that which he observed on his victim's chest, and having attired himself with the magical garments was quite equipped to impose upon the credulous natives. The result of his stratagem they had all that day witnessed.
He had hardly finished his account of himself when Mrs. Weldon, smiling at his success, turned to Dick.