THE HUGE DROW UALULED OFF INTO DEEP WATICH.
THE GUNROOM HEROES;
Abtbentures oittf Brabs float anb
ARTHUR LEE KNIGHT,
AUTHOR OF THE CRUISE OF THE THESEUS. ETC. ETO
FREDERICK WARNE AND CO.
AND NEW YORK.
MORRISON AND GIBB, PRINTERS, EDINBURGH.
THIS story is affectionately dedicated to my dear little
friend, CHARLIE BRIDGES.
Though there are many sea-stories published at the
present day, and the works of Marryat, Kingston, and
Michael Scott form a little library of themselves, yet it
seems to me that there are none describing the life of the
modern British midshipman, which must surely be of
immense interest to the youngsters of our great maritime
Empire. It is therefore in the earnest hope that I may,
to some small extent, interest and amuse our high-spirited
English boys by depicting scenes of gunroom life, that I
have undertaken to write nautical stories for them, and
they may rely upon my descriptions, as I have myself
served as a midshipman in the Royal Navy.
As Washington Irving has expressed it in his feeling
and sympathetic manner-' If I can, by any lucky chance
in these days of evil, rub out one wrinkle from the brow
of care, or beguile the heavy heart of one moment of
sorrow; if I can now and then penetrate through the
gathering film of misanthropy, prompt a benevolent view
of human nature, and make my reader more in good
humour with his fellow-beings and himself, surely, surely,
I shall not then have written entirely in vain.'
I. CHASING A SLAVER, 13
,. A DESPERATE FIGHT, 27
III. AN EXITING CHASE, 7ON NT
IV. A VILLAGE IN FLAMES, 48
V. LOST, A MIDSHIPMAN, 56
VI. A JAUNT TO THE PYRAMIDS, 67
VII. DANCING DERVISHES, 77
VIII. JERUSALEM, 89
IX. A SUDDEN RECALL, 101
X. CAPTURED BY BEDOUINS, 107
XI. A GALLANT RESCUE, 118
THE GUNROOM HEROES.
CHASING A SLAVER,
IT was on a fine breezy day
in September, some few years
ago, that H.M.S. Redoubtable
then lying at anchor in
Aden harbour-proceeded to
weigh, and make all prepara-
tion for proceeding to sea,
having received orders from
the admiral on the East
Taffrail-to take a cruise up
the Red Sea; and, as the ship was suffering from a
mysterious leak, the cause of which had baffled the skill
of Mr. Bracebit, the ship's carpenter, and all his crew, it
THE GUNROOM HEROES.
had been decided that she should eventually repair to Suez
and go into dock, that a more extensive and elaborate
search might be made for the origin of the evil.
Aden is not a favourite place with travellers, owing to
the depressing and overpowering heat which prevails
there during the greater part of the year, and also on
account of the naturally forbidding, arid, and desolate
appearance of the country which surrounds it. The town
itself is said to be built in the crater of an extinct volcano ;
so, should the slumbering internal fires suddenly take it
into their heads that they require a little more freedom,
and burst forth again into activity, the glaring white town
and its teeming inhabitants would assuredly be annihi-
lated and buried in one common destruction. The
subterranean forces, however, have remained quiescent for
so many centuries, that an idea of such a disaster has, I
suppose, never disturbed the minds of the somewhat
The Redoubtable was a smart flush-decked corvette of
some fifteen hundred tons, her armament consisting of
twenty 64-pounder guns, ten on each broadside, besides
a few boat-guns of the Armstrong pattern. The ship was
commanded by Captain Haulaway, a distinguished officer,
who had arduously and nobly served his country in every
quarter of the globe. A strict disciplinarian, he was
nevertheless of a genial and kindly disposition, and
generally beloved by all who served under him.
The first lieutenant, by name Graham, was a universal
favourite with the midshipmen, being full of fun and
frolic, and always ready to interest himself in their
sports and amusements. The Redoubtable carried four
other lieutenants; a Scotch and an Irish surgeon named
CHASING A SLAVER,
respectively Meiklejohn and O'Gorman; four sub-lieu-
tenants and eight middies; and it is with the adventures
of two of the latter that our story has particularly to
Charlie Cochrane and Harold Charlesworth were watch-
mates and top-mates-that is, they were both in the same
watch, under Mr. Bridgeman, the second lieutenant; and
both were stationed in the main-top to superintend the
operations of the topmen during the time evolutions were
being performed aloft. Under these circumstances it is
not surprising that the two boys struck up a great friend-
ship, apparently so firm and lasting, that Mr. Bridgeman
facetiously dubbed them Orestes and Pylades. The
youngsters were both junior midshipmen, and there was
very little difference in age between them, both at this
time being sixteen. They did not in the least resemble
each other, either in feature or figure. Charlie Cochrane
was rather short for his age, with a slight figure, dark hair
and eyes,-the latter bright and intellectual-looking,-and
delicately chiselled features; whilst Harold Charlesworth
was tall, robust, and strong, with fair hair and laughing
blue eyes. Both boys were passionately fond of athletics,
though Charlie Cochrane could not compete with his
chum in this respect, though he was equally spirited and
daring, as many had discovered who had foolishly
imagined that a boy gifted with an almost effeminate
beauty must needs be a milksop, and destined to knuckle
under to every one taller and heavier than himself.
Captain Haulaway was too good a seaman to steam if
he could sail, and as the breeze was fair, no sooner was
the anchor a-trip than the order was shouted from the
bridge by Mr. Graham, 'Hands make sail.' The middies
THE GUNROOM HEROES.
of the tops rushed aloft, and were quickly followed by the
active topmen, who swarmed over the futtock-rigging like
so many wild cats,, and a few seconds later were laying
out on the yards busily engaged in casting off gaskets and
preparing to let fall the canvas. Meanwhile the headsails
have been hoisted by the forecastlemen and fore-part of
marines, and the Redoubtable has been cast to starboard-
that is to say, her bow, by the action of the wind on the
jib and staysail, is paying rapidly off to starboard, and
whereas it was before pointing straight up the harbour
will soon have performed a semicircle, and the tapering
flying-boom will indicate the way seawards. At the same
time, obedient to the order, 'Let fall, sheet home,' the
great topsails are loosed to 'the keel-compelling gale,' the
men on deck run away with the sheets, whilst those aloft
overhaul the clew-lines and bunt-lines; the spanker is set,
and under this small spread of canvas the corvette slowly
gathers way, and glides in a stately manner towards the
harbour's mouth. Then like magic the courses and upper
sails are set, and the Redoubtable, under this snowy cloud
of canvas, impetuously dashes the spray from her shapely
bow, and, at the rate of eight knots an hour, soon leaves
the rugged volcanic peaks and serrated ridges of the
Arabian peninsula far astern.
Charlie Cochrane and Harold Charlesworth were in the
main-top whilst the topmen were aloft making sail, and
when the men had descended to the deck to assist in
hoisting the ponderous yards, they had an opportunity
afforded them of indulging in a little conversation, and
the forthcoming cruise not unnaturally formed the topic-
being the subject at that time uppermost in their minds.
I say, Charlie,' began young Charlesworth, don't you
CASING A SLAVER.
hope we'll get a lot of leave when we get to Suez I It
would be awfully jolly to go for a run to Cairo, and see
the Pyramids and all the rest of it. Let's go if we can.'
'It would be stunning if we could, old man,' returned
his chum, in a rather desponding tone; but the bother of
it is that I shan't have any tin to spare for that sort of
thing for months! Don't you remember that when we
were at Bombay during the monsoon, I got awfully seedy,
and had to go to Matheran 1 That cost me a lot.'
'Remember it! I should think I did!' answered
Charlesworth. 'Why, don't you remember, I went up
with you, and stayed one night at the Chowk Hotell
What a joke we had with the Parsee landlord! I expect
he hasn't forgotten that booby-trap yet!'
'What I enjoyed, though, was riding those-dear little
"tats "* up from the railway station. That was a spree,
-losing our way in the dark, and wandering about in the
jungle, and then the old Parsee, Sorabjee, turning up with
all those servants and lanterns, and telling us, with a horror-
struck face, that the place was infested with tigers !'
I only wish we'd seen one,' said Charlesworth, his
Why, what would you have done' laughed his friend.
'Do you think the brute would have crawled out from the
jungle, lain meekly down in the path, and asked you to
be good enough to carefully sever its jugular artery with
your penknife ?'
'I'm sure I don't know what I'd have done,' said
Charlesworth, rather put out at his friend's banter; but
I bet you we'd have bowled him over somehow. Hadn't
you that pistol of yours with you ?'
THE GUNROOM HER'O.
That wouldn't have been an atom of good against a
tiger,' asseverated Cochrane, with a fresh burst of laughter;
'you might as well try to shoot a hippopotamus with a
bow and arrow !'
Oh, by the bye,' remarked Charlesworth, who thought
it was time to change the subject, 'I wonder if we shall
see any slavers up the Red Sea. When we were "dining
with the skipper last night, he was talking about it to
Graham, and said he thought there might be a chance
Wouldn't it be jolly if we could get a lot of prize-
money ?' answered Cochrane; then perhaps I should bd
able to manage to go on leave.'
Look here, old chap,' said Charlesworth confidentially
'don't you bother about the chink. Only the other da'
I had a letter from that old uncle of mine living at
Brighton, and he said that he particularly wished that 1
should go to Jerusalem if I could get leave whilst the
ship was in dock, and said that he would send me a draft
to cover the expenses. Now, Uncle George is one of the
jolliest bricks out, and he always sends me a lumping
good tip when he does send one, and I'm certain there'll
be plenty for both of us. If we can't manage Cairo as
well as Jerusalem, of course we'll go to the Holy Land,
and then we can'-
'Main-top there!' hailed Captain Haulaway, in sten-
torian tones; 'why don't you come down from aloft 1
We've just piped down.'
The middies had been so absorbed in their conversation
that they had not noticed what had been going forward
on deck, and they now hastily dropped down through
the lubbers' hole, and prepared to descend on deck.
4N UNAPPILOIAT ) INTEUVbL.
THE GUNROOM HEROES.
They had not run more than a quarter of the way down
the main rigging, however, before Captain Haulaway's
stern voice arrested their descent,-
'Mr. Cochrane and Mr. Charlesworth, up into the
main-top again, and come down over the futtocks. No
lubbers' hole allowed.'
It was the work of a moment for the two active boys
to swing themselves up into the top again, and they then
clambered down over the cat-harpings in orthodox style.
'I say, how particular the old skipper has got,'
remarked Cochrane sotto voce to his chum, as they arrived
breathless on deck; 'we've often gone d6wn before
through the lubbers' hole.
Never mind,' whispered his friend; so long as we don't
get our leave stopped, I don't care how many times I
have to go over the futtocks, or over the topmasthead, for
the matter of that.'
Two bells!' exclaimed Cochrane, as the marine sentry
struck the hour (five o'clock); let's go down to tea;' and
so saying the middies dived down the after hatchway, and
made their way to the gunroom.
The following morning the Redoubtable passed through
the Straits of Babelmandeb, or Gate of Tears (so called
from the great number of disastrous wrecks that formerly
took place at this dangerous spot), which are very narrow,
and require skilful navigation; and then, with a fair
southerly breeze, stood up the Red Sea, which, in spite of
its name, is usually of a beautiful ultramarine tint.
Two days after this, when Cochrane and Charlesworth
were keeping the afternoon watch, the signalman reported
a sail on the port bow.
Mr. Bridgeman, who had been pacing the bridge, as
CHASING A SLAVER.
officer of the watch, levelled his telescope in the direction
the seaman had indicated, and looked long and fixedly at
a white speck which was faintly discernible in the field
of the glass.
'She's a dhow, that's certain, eh '' he said, turning to
the signalman, who was zealously squinting away through
a very powerful telescope.
Yes, sir, she's a dhow right enough; and, as far as I
can make out, she's standing across our bows on the
Mr. Charlesworth,' sang out the lieutenant, 'go to the
captain's cabin, and tell him we've sighted a dhow on the
port bow, distant about eight miles.'
'Ay, ay, sir.'
'Forecastle, there !' hailed Mr. Bridgeman.
'Sir,' answered the sub-lieutenant, whose duty it was
to keep watch forward.
'Hail the masthead, please, and find out why the look-
out man failed to report that vessel on the port bow.'
Masthead, there !' roared the sub; do you see a sail
away on the port bow?'
Masthead, there !' in a still louder key.
Still no answer.
The man who was on the look-out could be plainly
seen sitting upon the topmast crosstrees, but by his
attitude he appeared to be asleep, with an arm passed
around one of the topgallant backstays.
A royal yardman was at once despatched aloft to rouse
the sleeper up, and order him to come on deck. The man
was awoke with considerable difficulty, and seemed to
stagger somewhat wildly to his feet, as if to comply with
THE GUNROOM HEROES.
the order to come on deck; then, suddenly lurching
heavily forward, he fell headlong from the crosstrees
through the air-a height of about a hundred feet.
Every one expected to see the unfortunate fellow
dashed to pieces on the deck, but instead of this the body
struck with a dull thud on the foreyard, and then fell
over and slid swiftly over the bellying foresail, from
whence it dropped, with a scarcely perceptible splash, into
the water, and was rapidly whirled astern into the wake
of the ship, then sailing at the rate of ten knots an hour,
with studding-sails set both sides.
Man overboard!' was the universal shout of all who
witnessed the accident.
'Call away the lifeboat's crew,' thundered Mr. Bridge-
man. Hands, shorten sail.'
With the well trained alacrity and self possession
inherent in the British seaman, the bluejackets rushed
to their stations. There was no confusion. Orders
wore given with rapidity and precision, and were obeyed
silently and effectually. As for Captain Haulaway,
he no sooner heard the blood curdling cry of Man
overboard!' than he rushed from his cabin to the bridge,
took one glance at the man's body being helplessly whirled
away in the swell astern, threw off his cap and coat, kicked
off his shoes, and, with a magnificent plunge, sprang
boldly in after the drowning man.
Meanwhile life-buoys had been thrown overboard, and
the lifeboat's crew were hastily taking their places in the
port quarter-boat, preparatory to being lowered from the
davits-Harold Charlesworth going in command of the
The hands having been turned up in order to take the
CTASING A SLAVER.
studding-sails off the ship, Mr. Graham assumed charge
of the deck, whilst Mr. Bridgeman went forward to assist
on the forecastle, where the heaviest work had to be
performed. The cutter, being fitted with patent falls and
hooks, was lowered hurriedly into the water long before
the ship's way had been deadened, and her crew pulled
away lustily in the direction where the captain's form had
last been seen, for it had now been lost to view, neither
could any trace be seen of the unlucky look-out man.
The Redoubtable's helm had been put down to bring
her up into the wind, the studding-sails had been taken
off her, the fore-tack hauled forward, and the head-yards
braced up, whilst the after-yards were kept square. By
this means the after-sails were taken aback as the ship
came luffing up into the wind, and she became effectually
hove-to, with her main-topsail laid to the mast.
All attention was now turned to the lifeboat, which
was at least two miles distant, this being caused by the
time it had taken to shorten sail and stop the ship's way.
It was soon seen that the boat was pulling back for the
Redoubtable, and after half an hour's anxious suspense
she dashed alongside, and Captain Haulaway, wet and
dripping, clambered up the side, followed by some of the
crew, who bore the saturated corpse of the look-out man,
which had been held up by the captain with the aid of a
life-buoy until the boat had arrived upon the spot to pick
them up. It was then feared that the unfortunate blue-
jacket was dead, but nevertheless the surgeons set to
work at once to try and restore animation, in the vain
hope that a spark of life remained in the apparently
lifeless body. All efforts proved unavailing, however,
ind the corpse was reverently placed between two guns
THE GUNROOM HEROES.
on the forecastle, surrounded by a canvas screen, and
covered with a union-jack. Both Di. Meiklejohn and
Dr. O'Gorman gave it as their opinion that the man had
been struck down by sunstroke aloft, which would account
for the state he was found in, and the remarkable way he
had fallen overboard. The heat had been very great on this
particular afternoon. The quarter-deck was always pro-
tected in fine weather by double awnings, and the waist
and forecastle by single ones, but the men on the look-out
aloft had no protection but their white cap-covers, which
were scarcely sufficient to keep off the sometimes almost
intolerable rays which pour down from the sun in the
Captain Haulaway was none the worse for his rather
lengthened immersion, and as soon as he had changed
his clothes appeared upon the bridge to give orders as to
chasing the dhow that had been sighted.
That wily craft had evidently discovered the proximity
of a man-of-war, for during the excitement caused on
board the Redoubtable by the late accident she had calmly
tacked, and was now discovered to be standing in again
towards the coast, evidently anxious to escape attention.
The corvette's head was immediately boxed off and
headed in pursuit, the yards being trimmed for the wind
on the port beam. The engineers had been ordered to get
steam up some time previously, and so in a short time the
Redoubtable was snoring through the water at a pace that
promised soon to bring her within range of the suspicious
sail; but a stern chase is always a long one, and the tall
lateen sails of the Arab dhows are not by any means to
be despised for their motive power.
The chart was anxiously consulted by the corvette's
CHASING A BLAVER.
officers, as the coast-line began to loom more and more
distinctly against the deep blue of the tropical sky, and
experienced leadsmen were ordered into the chains to
keep an eye on the soundings-a very necessary precau-
tion in all parts of the Red Sea.
SMeanwhile the corvette tore along at twelve knots an
hour, anxious to overhaul the chase before she could get
into shallow water, which expedient was evidently the
one that presented itself to the Arab captain's mind as
the most ready way of escape, for he knew full well that
a ship of the Redoubtable's size would fight shy of hugging
a dangerous coast too closely. The astute native did not,
however, allow for the natural energy and determination
of the British sailor, which, no matter in what climate, or
by what apparently insurmountable obstacles opposed,
can never be repressed, and triumphantly leads him on to
success and victory.
THE GUNROOM HEROES.
Slowly but surely the corvette lessened the distance
between pursuer and pursued, and, in hopes of terrifying
the dhow into heaving-to, Captain Haulaway opened fire
upon her from one of the forecastle guns, but the shot
fell short, and the Arabs continued their flight without
giving any signs of submission. All the officers now
agreed that she must be a slaver, or she would not be
so anxious to escape.
Again a flash gleamed from the Redoubtable's forecastle
port, and again a shot flew through the air, and this time
with more effect, for it struck the dhow on the stern,
injuring her rudder, and sending the splinters flying in all
directions. The old-fashioned-looking craft immediately
became unmanageable, and after drifting about for a short
time, and having her yard knocked away by another shot
from the corvette, she bumped heavily on a sandbank,
and stuck hard and fast.
Warned by this disaster, and by the gradual shoaling
of the water chronicled by the leadsmen in the chains,
Captain Haulaway promptly turned the hands up, wore
ship, and stood away for some distance from the treacher-
ous coast, when he hove-to, manned both quarter-boats
with armed crews, and sent them to attack the stranded
slaver. Mr. Graham, who commanded the party, went
in the first cutter, of which Charlie Cochrane was mid-
shipman, and another lieutenant and Harold Charlesworth
went in the second cutter.
Hoisting their dipping lug-sails, the boats bore away at
a slashing pace for the dhow, the crew of which were
using frantic endeavours to haul her off the sandbank.
A DESPERATE FIGHT.
THE dhow was at least three miles
S-- distant from the cutters when they
started with the object of boarding
: her, but, as there was a fine top-
gallant breeze blowing which made
the boats heel over under its
I influence and ship a good drop
--' '" of water, the distance was soon
covered; and in less than half-an-
hour the second cutter, which had
drawn slightly ahead of her con-
sort, was within easy rifle range of
the huge dhow -now by the
almost superhuman efforts of her
desperate crew hauled off into
The Arabs were busily engaged
in repairing the damages done to
their yard and cordage by the
Redoubtable's shot when the latter's boats approached.
The dhow appeared to be crowded with men, and they
were gesticulating and jabbering in a frantic state of
ITHE GUNROOM HEROES.
As the second cutter dashed up within hailing distance,
Mr. Moore-the lieutenant in command-rose with the
intention of shouting some inquiry to the Arab captain,
but at the same instant fiery jets of flame issued from the
dhow's side, and Mr. Moore, with a groan, fell back in the
stern-sheets of the boat with a bullet through his lungs.
The blood poured in a torrent from his mouth, and in a
minute the unfortunate officer had breathed his last. Two
of the crew had also been hit, but not severely.
This unexpected volley on the part of the Arab crew
proved at once that they were engaged in the slave traffic,
and moreover were determined to fight the British seamen
rather than yield up their ill-gotten cargo.
'A hand by the halliards and sheets,' sang out Harold
Charlesworth, cocking his revolver with a resolute look
'stand by to lower away roundly. Be ready to board, my
lads, directly we run alongside. Steer for the starboard
quarter of the dhow'--turning to the coxswain-' and
look out for their trying to sink the boat whilst we're
The cutter's crew were much incensed at the way Mr.
Moore had been shot down, and were burning to avenge
his death. With a grim look on their weatherbeaten
countenances, they loosened their cutlasses ready for use,
and nervously grasped their revolvers in readiness for the
The cutter was skilfully guided alongside the huge
unwieldy dhow, and with a fierce shout the bluejackets,
headed by young Charlesworth, attempted to scramble on
They found this a more difficult task than they had
A DESPERATE FIGHT.
The Arabs, with vindictive cries of rage and hatred, had
lined the bulwarks three or four deep at the point where
the cutter had hooked on, and, flourishing their swords and
spears, presented a somewhat formidable appearance. The
other cutter not having yet come up, the odds were
seriously against the little party of bluejackets, and in
spite of their strenuous exertions they were foiled again
and again in their endeavours to gain a footing on board
the slaver. Two men had received serious spear wounds,
and Harold Charlesworth had been ignominously hurled
down into his boat again by a burly Arab, who seemed
by his dress and gaily ornamented arms to be the captain
of the slaver's crew. Undaunted, however, by this
mishap, the middy seized the lieutenant's sword,-a much
more serviceable weapon than his own dirk,-and, calling
upon his men for renewed exertions, again essayed to
clamber on board the dhow, the crew of which were
highly elated at the temporary advantage they had gained.
The Arab captain, seeing the other cutter rapidly approach-
ing in support of its consort, determined on making a
desperate attempt to annihilate young Charlesworth and
his brave crew. Rapidly giving some orders in Arabic to
his followers, he sprang down into the cutter, sword in
hand, backed up by the majority of his men, who out-
numbered the bluejackets at least three to one; and a
desperate hand-to-hand struggle took place.
The instant the Arab captain sprang into the cutter,
her coxswain cut him down with such a terrific sweep of
his cutlass that the chief's head was laid bare to the very
skull; and covered with blood he fell in a huddled mass
into the bottom of the boat. For a moment the remain-
ing Arabs were taken aback at the loss of their leader,
THE GUNROOM HEROES.
and the sailors took advantage of this circumstance tn
charge them home with a loud cheer, and endeavour to
drive them out of their boat. Two of the Arabs were
immediately shot down and their bodies unceremoniously
pitched overboard, for the cutter was inconveniently full
of men, and threatened every minute to be capsized.
Harold Charlcsworth had been attacked by one of the
leading Arabs, a big, fierce, fanatical-looking man, armed
A DESPERATE FIGHT.
with an unwieldy-looking curved sword, with which he
dealt tremendous blows on whoever came within reach of
his arm. Young Charlesworth, however, was a cunning
fencer, and the most apt pupil the gunnery-lieutenant of
the Redoubtable possessed, so he was nothing loth to
engage the Arab giant, and stood his ground manfully,
successfully parrying every stroke of the scimitar, and
returning them with a prompt and energetic point which
made his opponent exert all his natural agility to avoid.
At length the unscientific Arab gave the coveted oppor-
tunity, and quick as lightning the middy took advantage
of it, and drove the keen point of the well-tempered blade
right through his opponent's heart, and without uttering a
sound the man fell dead.
Before Charlesworth could withdraw his sword from
the Arab's dead body, a hideous chorus of shrieks and
cries rent the air, and before any steps could be taken to
prevent them, the remainder of the dhow's crew, followed
by a rabble of half-armed slaves, began to pour down into
the cutter, apparently filled with ungovernable fury
against the hapless English sailors, for they took part with
their captors-stimulated no doubt by some lying reports
given by the latter-in a furious attack upon them.
Utterly overwhelmed by this horde of fanatical assailants,
and feeling their boat sinking from under their feet, most
of the bluejackets-after a futile attempt to defend them-
selves against such fearful odds-sprang overboard in a
last desperate attempt to save their lives by swimming to
the first cutter, which was now within a hundred yards of
the scene of disaster.
Charlesworth fought pluckily-as most English boys
will-to the last, but, whilst he was endeavouring to beat
THE GUNROOM HEROES.
back the crowd of assailants that pressed upon him and
had driven him aft into the stern-sheets, one of the
number slipped behind him, and with a heavy blow from
the butt end of his pistol knocked him senseless into the
waves, when he instantly disappeared from view beneath
the surface. /
The dismay and indignation felt by the men under Mr.
Graham's command in the first cutter, when they saw the
way their shipmates in the other boat had been treated,
may be imagined better than described. What made
their position especially tantalizing was that they were
powerless to do anything in the way of assisting their
comrades, as they could not fire upon the Arabs without
running the risk of hitting some of their own party; so,
inwardly chafing at the untoward delay, the men could
only sit still and watch the unequal combat, with their
itching fingers convulsively grasping the hilts of their
Charlie Cochrane especially was in a perfect fever of
anxiety as he saw his chum contending with the swarthy
mass of natives opposed to him; and, like a chivalrous
boy, longed to be at his friend's side, fighting shoulder to
shoulder with him against the common enemy. He could
not restrain a cry of horror when he saw his unlucky
messmate knocked so ruthlessly overboard by the cowardly
blow from behind.
SLower away the foresail,' sang out Mr. Graham in
decisive tones. Stand by to pick up any of the second
cutters you see in the water, my lads. Keep an especial
look-out for Mr. Charlesworth, for I saw the ruffians
knock him overboard.'
Down came the sail with a run, the mast was promptly
A DESPERATE FIGHT.
unshipped, and the cutter glided on with her own impetus
in the direction of the slaver, up the sides of which the
Arabs and their slaves were hastily clambering, for the
cutter had sunk from beneath their feet and gone to the
One of the first objects hauled into the first cutter was
the corpse of the unfortunate Mr. Moore, which was
found floating face upwards-a calm, serene expression
upon the upturned features. ..Then the coxswain, who was
a powerful swimmer, was rescued, and gradually the rest
of the crew were picked up, with the exception of one
man, who had disappeared, and was known to be ignorant
of the art of swimming, and it was much feared that he
had been drowned.
But I say, where's Harold?' asked Charlie Cochrane,
looking anxiously around for his friend; I don't see any
sign of him anywhere.'
'I hope nothing has happened to the youngster,' said
Mr. Graham, scanning the surface of the water minutely
as he spoke; I'd forfeit my hopes of promotion to have
him safe in the boat.'
To the universal joy young Charlesworth was now dis-
covered some distance astern of the dhow, swimming
slowly in the direction of the cutter. Being insensible
when he fell into the sea, he had drifted away with the
tide for a short time till consciousness returned to him,
when he struck out bravely for the rescuers' boat.
'Out oars, men,' said Mr. Graham; 'give way together.'
The boat was impelled onwards with lusty strokes,
most of the oars being double-banked by the rescued men
of the second cutter. All were eager to have a hand in
saving the young middy's life, and haste was imperative,
THE GUNROOM HBEOES.
for the Arabs, having caught sight of the boy's struggling
form, had in a cowardly manner opened fire upon him,
and as the cutter approached the scene of action a portion
of the fire was concentrated upon her. The bullets
whizzed overhead, and pattered into the water close by,
but fortunately nobody was hit, and in another moment
a dozen willing hands-amongst which Charlie Cochrane's
were foremost--grasped the almost exhausted Charles-
worth and hauled him, dripping and pale, into the boat,
when he sank, in a half-fainting condition, into the stern-
Mr. Graham drew a flask out of his pocket. 'Here,
Mr. Cochrane,' he observed, 'you attend to your mess-
mate whilst I give orders as to boarding the dhow. Wet
his lips with a little of that brandy, and he will soon
come round, I hope.'
The cutter now swept on towards the Arab vessel with
long, vigorous strokes, exposed all the way to a fusillade
from the antiquated muskets handled by the slaver's men,
who again lined the bulwarks to repel their fresh assail-
ants. They were, however, a good deal disheartened by
the loss of their two leading men, and the slaves refused
to fight any longer for them-a rumour having gone about
amongst them that the white men had come to set them
With a ringing cheer the bluejackets laid in their oars,
and, with cocked revolvers and ready cutlasses, stood by
to follow their leader on board.
Give them a volley, lads,' said Mr. Graham, levelling
his revolver at the dark mass of Arabs; 'then follow up
with your cutlasses. Redoubtables for ever!'
Redoubtables for ever !' yelled the seamen.
A DESPERATE PIGHT. 35
Crack! crack! went the revolvers in a simultaneous
discharge, followed by shrieks from the wounded .Arabs
who had been disabled by the deadly shower of bullets.
Mr. Graham and the two middies waved their swords,
and under cover of the smoke, and backed up by their
men, made a determined rush over the dhow's side, which
the Arabs vainly attempted to repel. A footing was
immediately gained on board, and a general mn&le took
place hand-to-hand-the fierce shouts of the sailors, the
fanatical shrieks of the half-maddened Arabs, and the cries
of the frightened slaves, now huddled in the capacious
hold of the great undecked vessel, making a fearful
medley of sound which rose in a deafening chorus into
Harold Charlesworth had recovered sufficiently to take
part in the renewed attack, though Mr. Graham had
strongly advised him to remain in the boat. The
youngster had overrated his strength, however, and was
knocked down by some of the enraged Arabs, who in a
moment would have speared him to death, but that
Charlie Cochrane-who had kept close to his chum-
charged up with a small party of bluejackets, drove the
assailants back, and rescued his friend from a very perilous
The tussle was sharp whilst it lasted, but was not long
protracted. Once brought face to face with their deter-
mined and disciplined opponents, the slaver's crew soon
gave way, and in a few minutes the dhow, with 150
slaves on board, was in Mr. Graham's possession.
See that the slaver's crew are all immediately dis-
armed, lash their arms behind their backs, and put a
guard over them,' ordered that officer as he wiped his
TIHE G9NROOBM HERO0M.
reeking blade and returned it to its sheath; 'we must
tow the dhow off at once to the Redoubtable.'
The middies hastened to see the first lieutenant's orders
executed, and whilst the slavers were being secured, and a
hawser got ready for towing their vessel, a loud hail of
'Dhow ahoy!' came pealing over the waters.
Hullo! here's the pinnace and jolly-boat,' exclaimed
Charlie Cochrane; they are rather too late to be of much
use, aren't they '
His friend did not answer. He was gazing towards a
jutting point that ran out into the sea about two miles
from the spot where they now were.
'I tell you what, Charlie,' he remarked at length; 'it's
my belief there is something suspicious going on over
there, and if so we shall be thankful enough of the assist-
ance of some more of our fellows. Do you see those
Cochrane started as his eye fell upon several dark
specks, looking suspiciously like boats, that had just swept
round the headland.
We must tell the first lieutenant,' he hastily remarked,
'as he evidently has not seen them yet. We shall be able
to tell in a moment through a glass if they are boats or
AN EXCITING CHASE.
THE boys at once ran aft to where Mr. Graham was
standing and reported what they had seen. The lieu-
tenant seized a telescope and levelled it in the direction
the midshipmen indicated.
'By Jove, you youngsters are right,' he exclaimed
eagerly; 'what it is to have young eyes! There are
several boats pulling off, apparently full of armed men,
and we must stand by to give them a warm reception if
they should venture to attack us. No doubt they are in
league with these rascally slavers.'
At this moment the Redoubtable's pinnace and jolly-boat
dashed alongside, and Captain Haulaway himself-who
had taken command of the former-sprang on board, and
warmly shook Mr. Graham by the hand.
We're too late to assist you,' he said; 'but you've done
THE GUNROOM HEROES.
your work nobly, and not without loss, I am afraid. Dr
Meiklejohn has come with me to attend to the wounded.'
This was a very fortunate occurrence, for there were
several badly wounded men much in need of surgical
help, and the doctor and his assistants at once set to work
to alleviate their sufferings, the disabled Arabs also receiv-
ing all the attention that could be spared.
Captain Haulaway was much disconcerted at hearing of
the death of Mr. Moore, and the loss of his second cutter,
but, as no blame could be attributed to any one who had sur-
vived the expedition,-all indeed having fearlessly exposed
their lives in the service of their country,--he was obliged to
make the best of his dearly-bought victory. The unfor-
tunate Mr. Moore had perhaps made a mistake in not
waiting for the support of the other cutter before attempt-
ing to board the dhow, but, knowing how pusillanimous
the slavers' crews often are, and anxious to bear the brunt
of the conflict and be the first to cross swords with the
enemy, he had somewhat rashly endangered the lives of
his boat's crew. However that might be, this brave man
had paid dearly for an error of judgment, and the service
had lost an energetic and fearless officer, who thought it
an honour to die in the execution of his duty.
The first lieutenant lost no time in pointing out to the
captain the little flotilla of suspicious boats that every
moment were becoming more clearly defined as they
swept energetically onwards in the direction of the
Ha!' said the skipper, as he carefully observed them
through the glass; 'those fellows mean mischief, you
may rely upon it, Graham, but we'll give them such a
peppering when they come within range as will rather
AN EXCITING CHASE.
astonish them. Fortunately the nine-pounder bow-gun is
in the pinnace, and the crew have brought their rifles.'
'What do you say, sir, to taking the offensive, and
starting in the boats to attack these cheeky Arabs I I've
no doubt they will all skedaddle when we open fire with
the Armstrong, and then we can pursue and capture
Captain Haulaway looked thoughtful. 'I am always
for energetic action, as you know, Graham, but we must
lay our plans carefully, or we may be led into some trap.
What do you youngsters say ?' turning to the middies.
I should like to attack them, sir, and give them a good
thrashing,' said Harold Charlesworth, touching his cap.
And so should I, sir,' added our other gunroom hero
'Regular young gamecocks, by Jove!' said the captain,
laughing. 'You look rather pale and wet, Mr. Charles.
worth. I suppose you got a ducking when the cutter went
Yes, sir, I had a bit of a swim,' answered the middy
modestly; 'but this hot sun will soon dry me, and I'm
quite ready for more adventures.'
So it seems,' observed the captain, looking admiringly
at his midshipmen's handsome, eager young faces. Well,
how many Arab boats do you say there are, Graham '
There are six or seven, sir; but they keep so close
together, it's difficult to make them out.'
'Then we'll attack them, and without delay,' said the
captain decidedly. 'They must be plucky fellows to
venture on attacking a man-of-war's boats in this cool sort
of fashion. Mr. Cochrane, you'll find the gunner in the
pinnace; tell him to overhaul the bow-gun and have it all
THE GUNROOM HEROES.
ready for going into action; he can rig up the rocket-tube
in the jolly-boat as well.'
'Ay, ay, sir !' and the middy darted off on his mission,
delighted at the idea of another brush with the enemy.
Every one worked with a will on hearing of the captain's
intention, and in a few minutes the three boats were ready
to shove off and engage the Arab flotilla, should it turn out
that they were really advancing with a hostile intention.
The pinnace had brought a company of marines, armed
with Snider rifles, and these were now distributed to each
boat to act as sharpshooters.
We must leave a guard in the dhow,' said Captain
Haulaway to the first lieutenant, as he prepared to step
into the pinnace. 'Dr. Meiklejohn will look after the
wounded and await our return; and you had better tell off
half a dozen men to remain with him; Mr. Charlesworth
had better take command of them, as his boat has been
lost, and the jolly-boat has its own midshipman.'
Harold Charlesworth's face fell visibly when he heard
the termination of the captain's speech, and he cast such
an appealing glance at the first lieutenant, that that good-
natured officer took compassion on him.
If you will kindly allow me the services of these two
youngsters, sir,' he put in, I think I may find them very
useful; and Lobb, the captain of the mizentop, who has
got a wound in his left arm, will not mind staying behind
to look after the dhow's party.'
'Very well, very well! Arrange it as you like, Graham,'
sang out the captain, as he sprang into the pinnace.
'Shove off, forward. Load your rifles, marines. Give
way together, lads. Is the nine-pounder loaded, Mr.
AN EXCITING CHASE.
'All ready, sir,' responded the gunner, who was a large,
bony Scotchman. 'We'll soon let those fellows ken the
time day when they come within range o' my ain little
pet here,' patting the breech of the gun as he spoke.
'Now, jump into the cutter, boys,' exclaimed Mr.
Graham eagerly; 'we mustn't let the pinnace get ahead
of us. Out with your oars, my hearties, and give way
with a will.'
The crew needed no repetition of the order; they flung
off their frocks, which only impeded the action of their
arms; the oars splashed into the clear blue water as one;
and, urged on by vigorous, long strokes, the cutter flew
along t a pace that bid fair to quickly distance the more
heavy pinnace-the jolly-boat, with her rocket-tube ready
for use following close in her wake.
It was a stark calm. The water lay in one vast, mirror-
like expanse, unruffled by even the lightest catspaw; and
so clear and still was it, that the middies could plainly see
the fish swimming about at a considerable depth below
the surface. The heat was intense, and the men, as they
strained at their oars, which laboured heavily in the
rowlocks, soon began to stream with perspiration at every
pore. Not for a moment, however, did they relax their
exertions, and swiftly did the rival flotillas approach over
the placid waters, their crews eager to try conclusions
with each other.
As the cutter shot ahead of the pinnace, Captain Haul-
aw y hailed the first lieutenant, and desired him to take
up a position on his starboard beam, whilst the jolly-boat's
midshipman was ordered to occupy a similar post on the
port side. Thus the boats swept on towards their approach-
ing enemy, in line abreast, the pinnace taking up a central
THE GUNROOM HEROES.
position, with her Armstrong gun pointing menacingly over
the bows, the gunner and a few hands grouped around the
little piece, ready for action.
'We're weel within range now, sir,' observed Mr.
Gunlock, turning to the captain; 'dinna ye think we
might plump a shot in amang the slaving carles ? I'd
never muckle liking for the ruffians that trade over the
saut sea in their ain flesh and blude; and after this
morning's wark I like them waur than ever.'
Fire a shot across their bows, Mr. Gunlock,' answered
Captain Haulaway; perhaps that will make them lay on
their oars; and rig a large ensign up in the bows, that
they may make no mistake as to who we are.'
Bang went the nine pounder, and a shot pitched
cleverly some twenty yards ahead of the leading Arab
boat. Her crew seemed not a whit discomposed, how-
ever, at this warlike hint, but continued their progress,
apparently with unabated speed.
'Load again,' sang out the captain sternly; 'half-
measures won't do for these gentry. Sent a shot right in
the middle of them, Mr. Gunlock.'
The gunner chuckled to himself as he vigorously screwed
up the breech-piece, then, taking a careful squint along
the sights, he fired. A cloud of smoke hung over the
bows of the boat for a moment, obscuring the men's vision.
When this had drifted away, it was seen that the Arabs
were in full retreat, and on counting the boats it was at
once seen that one was missing, and Mr. Graham hailed
the captain to say that one of them had been sunk by the
last discharge, but that the crew had apparently been
rescued in the most prompt manner by their companions,
who had afterwards immediately faced about and pulled
AN EXCITING CHASE.
back furiously from whence they came. A loud and
universal cheer came from the English crews when they
learnt how their lucky shot had dispersed their opponents.
'We'll follow them up, Mr. Graham,' shouted the
captain, 'and capture the whole gang, if possible. I
shouldn't wonder if they have a dep6t of slaves on shore
'Just what I think, sir; no doubt we shall nobble them
in their very den, but we must be careful not to be led
into an ambuscade.'
The nine-pounder kept up an incessant running fire upon
the retreating boats ; and the jolly-boat's rocket-tube was
also brought into requisition, and sent its fiery messengers
of death hissing through the air like a continuous stream
of meteors. Slowly but surely, however, and to the
intense disappointment and annoyance of Captain Haul-
away and his party, the Arab flotilla slowly drew ahead
out of range, and in a quarter of an hour had doubled the
projecting cape, from whose shelter they had advanced in
the first place, and were then lost to view.
'Well, that's what I call a jolly good sell!' remarked
Charlie Cochrane to his chum. Depend upon it, we shan't
see those fellows again; they'll hide away on shore some-
where, like a lot of rabbits in their burrows.'
I'm not so sure of that, my boy,' said the first lieutenant,
who had overheard the remark; some of these Arabs are
as slippery as serpents, but plenty of them are made of
good fighting stuff.'
'And do you think these Arabs will really stick up to
us, sir 1' asked Harold Charlesworth anxiously.
'Of course I can't say for certain,' responded his superior;
'at first I thought they were undoubtedly inclined to be'
THE GUNROOM HEROES.
pugnacious, for, if they had been afraid of us, they would
not have ventured out in the way they did-deliberately
inviting an attack.'
The Redoubtable's men, being put upon their mettle, and
enraged at the way their adversaries had eluded them,
now bent their backs with a will, and the boats hissed
through the waters at a pace that in a few moments
brought them abreast of the headland, which, though not
lofty, was composed of great massive boulders of rock,
behind which the arid hills sloped away gently towards
the more imposing, but equally barren mountains which
loomed up in a grey chain of heights some miles inland.
The country looked painfully desolate and destitute of
vegetation or inhabitants.
The instant the boats reached this spot-which looked
eminently uninviting and deserted-little clouds of smoke
suddenly curled up from behind the rocks, the sharp
crack of musketry was heard, and several bullets pattered
into the water in close proximity to the flotilla, and one
whizzed close to Captain Haulaway's ear. At the same
time fiendish yells were heard, and one Arab-who
looked like a dervish-sprang upon a prominent rock, and
vindictively waved his musket in the air in token of
It was a rash and foolish act, for a corporal of marines
who was in the jolly-boat levelled his rifle with the speed
of light, and shot the man right through the heart.
Without a groan he fell back amongst his companions,
who set up a fresh chorus of shouts; and, after the interval
of a few seconds, which was required for reloading their
somewhat antiquated muskets, discharged a second volley
at the boats, and this time unfortunately with some effect,
AN EXCITING CHASE.
for three men were wounded, and Vernon-the middy of
the jolly-boat--had his left shoulder grazed by a bullet.
Though at first taken somewhat by surprise at this
unexpected attack, the sailors soon got into action with
their almost invisible enemies. The Armstrong gun
thundered out discharges of shell, the loud reports echo-
ing and re-echoing with strange effect amongst the rocks
and hills. The rockets sped time after time upon their
fiery course, causing no little dismay amongst the super-
stitious natives, who had never before encountered these
effective projectiles, whilst the marines kept up a constant
fusillade with their Sniders; but very little execution
was done, owing to the excellent cover the astute Arabs
had taken advantage of. In fact, the fire from the boats,
which would have been destructive enough under ordinary
conditions, was rendered almost innocuous, whilst the
enemy was able to keep up a steady return from behind
the shelter of the massive rocks.
I say, this sort of thing won't do at all, Graham,' sang
out the captain at last. 'Do you slip round the point
under cover of the smoke and see if you can discover a
landing-place. If so, land your party as secretly as
possible, and see if you can manage to fall upon these
fellows on flank or rear. Find out also what has become
of their boats, and meanwhile Mr. Vernon and I will go
on peppering the villains unmercifully.'
Our gunroom heroes were delighted at hearing this
order of the captain's, for they had been chafing with
impatience at their enforced inaction, and longed to come
to close quarters with the skulking enemy. It was no
joke, they thought, to be made a regular target of by hidden
marksmen, whilst their own bullets were flattened uselessly
THE GUNROOM HEROES.
against the sheltering rocks; and they welcomed the
chance of meeting the enemy hand-to-hand with enthu-
The cutter's crew hastily tore off a portion of their
flannels to muffle the oars with, and then, moving round
stealthily under cover of the curtain of vapour which
hung listlessly over the scene of the engagement, they
quickly doubled the headland, and, keeping close under
the land, where the water seemed pretty deep, and they
would be more secure from observation, pulled resolutely
on-Mr. Graham and the middies keeping a sharp look-
out for a landing-place, and also for the Arabs' boats.
After thus following the coast for half a mile, the sullen
boom of the nine-pounder getting fainter and fainter as they
increased their distance, the mouth of a hitherto unseen
creek opened out, and, as the tide seemed to be at the
flood, Mr. Graham deemed it safe to explore it, for he
had no doubt that such a course would lead to some
discovery. The cutter's tiller was therefore put over,
and she glided swiftly up the somewhat turbid waters of
the inlet, whilst the middies strained their eyes to catch
sight of any indications of the surrounding country being
inhabited. Their curiosity was soon gratified, for, on
rounding a projecting spit of sand, they found themselves
in full view of a somewhat squalid-looking native village
built on the left bank of the creek, which here took a
considerable sweep to the eastward. Several groups of
date palms interspersed amongst the houses served to
mitigate to some extent the general aspect of dilapidation
and decay pervading the little settlement, and there was
some slight attempt at cultivation in the immediate
neighbourhood. Some figures were seen leading camels
AN EXCITING CHASE.
down by a rugged path from the hills, and some goats
were browsing on the scant herbage growing between the
village and the waterside. Close to these a few Arab
women and one or two men were standing when the
cutter revealed herself in such an unexpected manner,
and the instant they caught sight of her fled hastily
homewards, giving vent to loud shouts of alarm.
'Ha! there are the boats we were in search of,'
observed the first lieutenant, pointing with his sword to
the beach, where half a dozen boats had been hurriedly
drawn up; 'we're on the right track now, but those
shrieking creatures will rouse the whole village against
As he spoke, a group of men rushed out from the
shelter of the village, and, kneeling on the sand to ensure
a steadier aim, opened a desultory fire upon the first
cutter, which was now being steered straight for the
landing-place. The middies immediately snatched up
two spare rifles that were lying in the stern-sheets, and
returned the fire of the enemy, as did the half-dozen
marines that were in the boat.
Suddenly Charlie Cochrane uttered a cry, and, dropping
his rifle, fell back into the stern sheets, a sickly pallor
creeping over his handsome face.
A VILLAGE IN FLAMES.
C H.1 LIE, old man,
wiei t t he matter '
-- exclaimrtd Harold
iously, as with Mr.
4A h Graham's help he
raised his messmate
on to one of the
thwarts; 'have one
of those brutes shot
No need to answer,
for the first lieu-
tenant saw at once
that the boy's left
sleeve was saturated
with blood, and a
thin stream was also
trickling down over
his wrist and hand.
It was the work of
a moment to strip off
the jacket, and, on
A VILLAGE IN FLAMES.
the arm being laid bare, it was soon seen that the mischief
had been caused by a bullet which had only grazed the fore-
arm, but had unfortunately cut open a subclavian artery,
which naturally caused considerable hemorrhage. Quick as
thought, Mr. Graham whipped a tourniquet and some lint
out of his pocket, and with skilful fingers soon succeeded
in stopping the bleeding, and one of the crew having pro
cured some water from a breaker, and given it to the little
sufferer to drink, he soon felt better, and was able to sit up.
One of the bow oars had also been hit by an Arab
bullet, but not so badly as to disable him, and with a
loud cheer, the crew, with a few vigorous strokes, ran
the cutter up on the beach, when they at once dis-
embarked, and prepared to storm the village. Charlie
was obliged to be left in the boat under charge of the
coxswain and two men, and, having given them strict
injunctions to be on the alert in case of surprise, Mr
Graham put himself at the head of his little party, and,
accompanied by Harold Charlesworth, doubled off in
the direction of the village. The instant, however, that
the inhabitants saw the determined way the seamen,
flashing cutlass in hand, were advancing to the attack,
they were seized with a panic and fled precipitately,
throwing away their arms and everything that would
serve to impede their flight. In a few moments they were
seen upon the adjacent hills, bounding away over cliffs and
boulders like so many frightened deer, and at a pace that
set at defiance any prospect of a successful pursuit.
'Fire the village !' sang out the lieutenant, as soon as
he and his men had reached the deserted street; 'we'll
destroy their houses and boats as a lesson to them for the
THE GUNROOM HEROES.
Some firesticks were found in an adjoining house, and
soon the whole village was well alight, the flames leap-
ing high into the still air, and a heavy pall of smoke
hanging almost motionless over the scene of the conflagra-
tion. A stampede of camels, goats, sheep, and poultry
immediately took place, they being terrified by the crack-
ling flames and clouds of suffocating smoke. Collecting
his seamen and marines again, Mr. Graham was on the
point of starting off to see what assistance he could
render to Captain Haulaway and his party, when he was
startled by hearing a blood-curdling chorus of shrieks
and screams which seemed to arise from the very centre
of the burning village. Consternation and horror for
a moment kept the Englishmen rooted to the spot, for
they had not the remotest idea that any human beings
remained in any of the houses, or they would not have
set fire to them.
'I'm afraid those dastardly Arabs have left a lot of
slaves shut up somewhere in the village,' said the first
lieutenant hurriedly; 'we must try and release them at
once or the poor wretches will be burnt alive.'
Horrified at the very idea of such an awful con-
tingency, the party hurried back,- and, though nearly
blinded by the clouds of smoke which were now burst-
ing from almost every building, they resolutely forced
their way down the street in the direction from whence
the agonizing cries of despair seemed to come. Half
suffocated by the burning fumes, and staggering and
stumbling along like a number of drunken men, the
seamen and their officers reached a kind of rude square
which was a little more free from smoke. In the centre
of this open space stood a large, rudely-built, oblong-
A VILLAGE IN FLAMES.
shaped building, and it was from the interior of this
that the hideous chorus of distressing cries appeared to
come. It was evident that Mr. Graham had conjectured
rightly, and that this was the depOt of incarcerated slaves
whom the Arabs had forgotten to release in their panic;
or more probably they had trusted that the building and its
unfortunate denizens might escape the Englishmen's notice
during the hurried occupation they were likely to make.
Most of the buildings in the proximity of the square
were already ablaze, and were burning fiercely, for a
breeze had sprung up and was fanning the flames into
violent activity. Some of the blazing debris had been
carried to the roof of the building where two hundred
slaves were huddled together in abject terror, and as it
was only thatched with palm leaves, quickly began to
burn furiously. Though roughly put together, this house
was strongly and ingeniously built, and the Arabs had
so effectually barricaded the poor wretches in, that, after
making several desperate and ineffectual attempts to
escape,-when they discovered by the crackling of flames
and the smoke-permeated atmosphere that the village
was on fire,-they had almost resigned themselves to the
awful fate of being suffocated or burnt alive, but mean-
while raised those ear-piercing cries of frantic despair
which had attracted Mr. Graham's attention, and for-
tunately brought him and his gallant men upon the
spot just before it was too late.
Some of the sailors endeavoured to tear down the
stalwart barricades which enclosed the hapless wretches,
whilst others leaped upon the roof and set to work tear-
ing off the rude thatch, as well to try and arrest the
progress of the fire, as to endeavour to provide a mode
THE GUNROOM HEROES.
of egress should their shipmates be unable to force open
the door. The flames, however, had now got such a
hold of the inflammable material above, that these latter,
almost choked and blinded by the clouds of smoke which
enveloped them, one by one were obliged to drop off the
roof and give up the attempt to force an opening in that
direction. Their shipmates had as yet been foiled also
in their strenuous exertions to force their way in beneath.
Every moment the flames waxed fiercer and fiercer, and
the cries of the imprisoned slaves became more shrill and
heartrending It seemed as if they were doomed to a
frightful death in spite of the gallant efforts of theii
'Here you are, my lads!' suddenly shouted Mr.
Graham, who had been working like a horse, and had a
number of holes burnt in his clothes; come over here a
Harold and the seamen ran through the smoke to where
they heard the lieutenant's voice, and found him standing
by a group of young cocoa-nut palms.
'Any of you got a tomahawk there he asked hastily.
'Here you are, sir!' said a stalwart son of Neptune,
begrimed with smoke, and flourishing the instrument
'Down with one of these trees then,' sang out the
lieutenant excitedly, and we'll make a battering-ram of
it A couple of strokes will do it.'
The axe flashed through the air, and in a few seconds
a fine young tree lay at their feet.
Now tackle on to it, lads!' shouted Harold, delighted
at the prospect of rescuing the unfortunate slaves; sluee
it round and bring it to bear upon the door.'
A VILLAGE IN FLAMES.
No need for orders I The men had already seized the
trunk, and it was the work of a moment for these deter-
mined fellows to carry it into position for charging the
obstructions which had prevented their entering the burn-
Officers and men,
S grasping their novel
__ '~. battering ram,
,f^ ,da-hed forward as
'fa.-t as its weight
-' /' ., would allow them,
rdl. putting all
-th-ir strength to
t the task, dashed
t e barricades and
f door in as if they
w: r- made of card-
Sbiar, just as a por-
ti.nr of the blazing
S ro:,f fell in upon
1 ",':"' thb half-maddened
"'- anrJid terrified slaves.
Yr With such
# *impetus and
4- ". ^ hearty good-
.- : will was the
and with such ease were the obstinate barricades swept
away, that the men found it impossible to check them-
selves in their onward career, and they all tumbled pell-
mell into the interior of the building amongst the slaves,
who, half-dead with terror and the choking fumes they had
THE GUNROOM HEROES.
been forced to inhale, endeavoured to make their escape
the instant the door gave way, but, being checked by the
onset of seamen and marines, the foremost ones were borne
to the ground, and there in a confused mass lay sprawling
and kicking amongst their rescuers in a fashion that would
have been truly ludicrous if it had not been for the
extreme danger threatening the whole party if they did
not quickly evacuate the half-gutted building.
Mr. Graham and Harold were the first to spring to
their feet, and their men soon disengaged themselves
from the heaving mass of black humanity, and set to
work to assist them in making their escape. Several had
fainted from fright and the effects of the smoke, and as
soon as the majority had made their exit these poor
creatures were carefully carried out by the sailors and
borne off clear of the blazing village. The next moment
the remainder of the roof fell in with a crash, and the
rest of the building was quickly reduced to ashes.
So engrossed had Mr. Graham and Harold been in
their work of rescue, that they had not perceived that
Charlie Cochrane and his small bodyguard had come
upon the scene, anxious to see if they could be of any
assistance at such a critical moment. From their post
on the beach they had heard the cries and shrieks of
the slaves, and had conjectured that something unusual
was going forward. The lieutenant, however, peremp-
torily ordered him back again, though the middy begged
hard to be allowed to join the party, who were now at
once to start off in support of Captain Haulaway.
'You are not at all in a fit state, my boy, for such
exertions,' said Mr. Graham kindly. 'I shall leave
the slaves in your charge till we return, and you
A VtLLAOIt IN PLAM VS.
must endeavour to see that none of them make their
Charlie reluctantly set off tb carry out his orders,
whilst the first lieutenant put his force in motion, and
set off at the double in the direction from whence the
distant sounds of the combat were now borne upon the
evening breeze. Z
A rugged and tortuous track seemed to lead in the
direction of the headland, and by this the party hurried
along, fearful lest some of the refugees from the village
should have given the Arabs warning of their probable
approach. After a toilsome clamber of ten minutes over
the broken ground, the loud shouts and cries of the com-
batants became distinctly audible; and, hearing amongst
them the sound of English voices as if in distress, Mr.
Graham and Harold dashed forward at the head of their
men, and, suddenly turning the angle of a huge rock
which had seemed to bar the way, came in full view of a
desperate conflict, which to their astonishment they found
was being waged between the pinnace's crew, who were
dripping with sea-water, and a large number of fully
armed Arabs, who, as yet, seemed to have got the better
of the fight. Mr. Gunlock was lying stretched upon the
ground, apparently dead, and close by two wounded blue-
jackets were striving to regain their legs and join once
more in the fray. With their backs against a cliff,
Captain Haulaway and the remainder of the men were
desperately defending themselves against the overpower.
ing numbers they had thus rashly attacked.
_-: '- _-- "--:. ..
LOST, A MIDSHIPMAN.
' FIST cutters to the rescue!' thundered the first lieutenant,
taking the situation in at a glance; 'down with the
rascally slavers '
'Redoubtables to the fore!' roared his men in response,
as they drew their willing blades and waved them over
The Arabs drew back in alarm at hearing these
portentous shouts immediately in their rear, and Captain
Haulaway and his men took advantage of this diversion
in their favour to vigorously charge them home; whilst
the first cutters, taking the rascals in the rear, laid about
them with their cutlasses in a thoroughly workmanlike
style. The Arabs, however, were not inclined to give in
without a struggle, especially as they had been within an
ace of having everything their own way; and so, when
they had recovered from the alarm inspired by the
sudden appearance of an energetic enemy in their rear,
they resumed their weapons, and, encouraged by two
fanatical sheiks who were apparently their leaders,
rushed once more into the fray, uttering savage yells
LOST, A MIDSHIPMAN.
The combatants were now more evenly matched, and
the capture or dispersion of the slaving crew seemed only
a matter of time, for, though brave and comparatively well
armed, they could not long stand against thoroughly dis-
ciplined Europeans, well accustomed to the use of weapons
and gifted with muscular arms to wield them with. Mr.
Graham shot down one of the sheiks early in the mWlde,
in return for which one of the latter's followers rushed
forward with the intention of spearing the lieutenant, who
had not noticed the movement, when Harold Charlesworth
interposed his sword and warded off the blow, and at the
same moment one of the cutters shot the man through thl
head and he fell headlong to the ground.
Meanwhile Captain Haulaway, aided by the coxswain
of his gig, who always attended him, had succeeded in
taking the other sheik prisoner, and the fight was then
virtually over, for the Arabs were thoroughly cowed by
the loss of their leaders and the determined way they had
been grappled with by the Redoubtables. Some turned
and fled from the scene of their discomfiture, but the
majority were taken prisoners, and with moody and sullen
looks were bound and secured by their captors.
That was a tough fight and no mistake!' exclaimed the
captain as he wiped his heated brow. There's no mistake
about it, these fellows can be spirited enough sometimes.
How was it you turned up so late, Graham 7 Lost your
way, eh '
The lieutenant briefly explained about the slaves he
had discovered in the village.
'That's a stroke of luck,' said the captain approvingly;
'we'll have made a good haul of prize-money to-day.
Now, we had better march to the village at once, and
THE GUNROOM HEROES.
make arrangements for dealing with these gentry, for it's
It was fortunately found that the gunner had been
only knocked down insensible by a blow from the butt
end of a musket, and, though rather dazed, he was able to
walk without assistance. The other two men had, how-
ever, to be carried.
We thought you must have missed your way, Graham,'
explained the captain as they walked along; and, as we
really couldn't stand the cheek of these fellows any
longer, I resolved to swim on shore and attack them, and
called for volunteers to accompany me. Of course we
could only take side-arms with us, and hoped to take the
Arabs by surprise, and to a certain extent we did so. I
left Mr. Vernon with the marines and six seamen to take
charge of the boats, which we ran in as near as we could
under cover of the smoke, so we hadn't to swim very far.
There were a great many more Arabs on shore than 1
bargained for, and if it hadn't been for your turning up
in the nick of time, I believe we should all be in Davy
Jones' locker at this moment.'
The sun was now beginning to get low in the heavens,
and the sky was assuming the lurid glow which so often
precedes the twilight in these regions; so it was necessary
that the utmost expedition should be used in re-embark-
ing and returning to the ship. The party therefore
hurried down through the still smouldering village and
quickly gained the shore, where the first lieutenant
expected to find Charlie Cochrane and his men. Strangely
enough, however, they had vanished, and left no clue as
to their whereabouts. The cutter had also disappeared.
What was to be done 7
LOST, A MIDSHIPMAN.
'This is a bad look-out,' said the captain anxiously.
' Are you sure this is the spot you left them at, Graham ?'
'Yes, sir; there can be no doubt about that. I'm
terribly afraid they must have been taken prisoners by
some of these village Arabs during our absence. I ought
to have left Mr. Cochrane with a stronger guard.'
'If you'll give me a party of men, sir,' put in Harold,
appealing to the captain, 'I'll scour the country before it
gets dark, and see if I can't find some traces of my mess-
'There is a dhow coming down the creek,' put in one
of the men, 'and it looks as if she was being towed, for
her sail is furled.'
Every one looked in the direction the sailor had indi-
cated, and there, sure enough, was a large dhow dropping
leisurely down-stream, being towed apparently by some
men in a boat.
A slaving craft trying to escape to sea, I'll be bound,'
exclaimed Captain Haulaway; 'and, worse luck, we've no
boat to overhaul her in '
'There are plenty of native boats on the beach, sir,'
said Mr. Graham; I intended to have burnt them.'
Launch them then,' said the captain; that's a famous
idea.' And away rushed the whole party helter-skelter,
eager for a fresh adventure in spite of all they had gone
through; Mr. Gunlock and a guard remaining with the
prisoners and wounded.
Two of the Arab boats were quickly launched, and
headed so as to intercept the dhow.
'Send a bullet just over the heads of those fellows in
the boat,' said the captain, addressing a marine who waq
sitting near him in the stern-sheets.
THE GUNROOM HEROES.
The boat was still a considerable distance off and could
not be clearly made out. The marine levelled his rifle
A figure instantly sprang up in the stern of the boat
and frantically waved something white on the end of a
Mr. Graham was looking fixedly in that direction
through his field-glasses. 'For God's sake, sir, cease
firing!' he sang out to the captain; that's our own cutter
with Mr. Cochrane and his men !'
Great was the astonishment of the party on hearing
this announcement, and Harold especially was immensely
relieved to hear that his chum was safe, though the
adventurous young fellow had run a good chance of being
shot by his own shipmates.
It seemed that, soon after Mr. Graham and his men had
set off on their expedition, the coxswain had discovered
the mast of a dhow appearing over a distant point at the
upper end of the creek, and had pointed out his discovery
to the middy. Charlie conjectured that this vessel might
be the very 'one in which the slaves had been brought
down the coast, and he determined at all hazards to effect
her capture. The three men who were with him entered
warmly into the project, and it was considered probable
that they could return before the first lieutenant and his
party arrived upon the scene again. The slaves-who
were quiet enough-were placed for the time being in a
large empty building near the sea-shore, and which no
doubt had been used for the same purpose before, for the
doors were strongly built and could be secured outside by
bars; the cutter was then launched, and the small crew
propelled her slowly up-stream, whilst Charlie assumed
LOST, A MIDSHIPMAN. 61
the tiller-not being able to take an oar on account of
the wound in his arm. It took much longer than they
expected to reach the dhow, owing to the weight of the
boat. The vessel was found at anchor, and she had three
men on board, who, however, offered no resistance, and
they were made to take their places in the cutter and
help to tow the dhow down the creek, Charlie holding a
cocked revolver all the time in his hand, and threatening
to blow their brains out if they attempted to escape. It
turned out that the dhow had really brought some of the
slaves from Suakim only a few days before, so she was a
Captain Haulaway and his men helped to take the
ponderous dhow in tow, and she was brought up close to
the village and laden with slaves, when she was once more
got under weigh and taken round to where the pinnace
and jolly-boat were awaiting the captain's return. The
prisoners and wounded were taken round in the Arabs'
boats, and, the latter having been transferred to the
pinnace, the captain ordered the former into their own
boats; and, having discovered that one of them understood
a little English, he informed him that they would now be
released, but that if ever they were caught slaving again
they would be severely punished. Looking exceedingly
crestfallen, they then pulled back in the direction of their
creek, whilst the English seamen set to work to pick up
the other dhow, in which Dr. Meiklejohn had been left;
and, this having been done, both vessels were taken in
tow, and, just as the short tropical twilight was merging
into night, the party pulled alongside the Redoubtable,
which had been brought in as near as possible to the
coast by Mr. Bridgeman, who had been left in command.
ft1 GUNROOM HEROES.
The Redoubtable steamed all the way to Aden against a
strong head wind, but, having powerful engines, the dis-
tance was soon accomplished. The slaves were landed and
handed over to the authorities, who would see that they
were despatched back to their homes as opportunity
offered; Captain Haulaway sent despatches to Sir Timothy
Taffrail, then enjoying the seclusion of his official residence
at Trincomalee; and again the corvette's nose was turned
in the direction of the Red Sea.
This time no incident worth mentioning occurred on
the voyage, and in less than a week the Redoubtable let
go her anchor in the Suez Roads, and saluted the
Egyptian flag with the number of blank charges that
international etiquette prescribes.
A few hours afterwards the master-at-arms, with an
armful of letters and packages of various descriptions,
made his appearance at the gunroom door, and, with the
laconic remark, 'Gunroom letters, gentlemen,' deposited
them in a heap on the table and vanished.
'I told you so, Charlie,' observed Harold Charlesworth,
running up to his friend shortly afterwards with an open
letter in his hand; Uncle George insists on my going to
Jerusalem if I can get leave, and also to Cairo. He says
I can take a friend with me, and sends a draft for 50.
So now you'll go, Charlie, won't you ?'
'I should like to go immensely, Harold, if the skipper
will give us leave. It's awfully good of you to ask me,
and your uncle is a regular brick!'
That's all right, then,' said Charlesworth, delighted at
his chum's acquiescence; I'll speak to Graham about it
by-and-by, and ask his advice.'
A day or two afterwards the Redoubtable was floated
LOST, A MIDSHIPMAN. 6d
into dry dock, and the artificers and ship's carpenters
were set busily to work overhauling her bottom;
whilst the boatswain, assisted by working parties of blue-
jackets, employed himself energetically in seeing to the
spars and sails, reeving new running gear, and .setting up
It so happened that the first lieutenant was himself
contemplating a run on leave, and he offered to take
charge of our young heroes, and obtain leave from the
captain for them, which offer the middies gladly accepted,
and it was quickly arranged that they should pay a flying
visit of a week to Cairo, and then go on at once to the
Holy Land. Mr. Bridgeman and Dr. O'Gorman would
join the party at Port Said for this latter part of the
expedition- both having often visited the Egyptian
Early one cold, bright morning, Mr. Graham and the
two middies left the ship for the Suez railway station, and,
as this was some distance from the dock, three splendid
donkeys were engaged, which cantered off at a most exhila-
rating pace for the town, followed closely behind by the
shouting and agile little Arab boys to whom they belonged.
Much merriment was caused by this novel mode of riding,
especially as Mr. Graham's legs-which were very long-
almost touched the ground. One soon gets used to
donkey-riding in Egypt, however, and it is a common
sight to see grave, stately-looking natives riding about the
towns in this ludicrous fashion.
The baggage had been sent on in advance by a cart,
and in half an hour the trio were being whirled away over
the sandy Egyptian deserts in a train bound to Cairo.
The heat soon became excessive, and there was little to
THE GUNROOM HEROES.
diversify the view from the windows, till just before
reaching the capital the boys caught their first glimpse of
the mighty Pyramids lifting their ponderous forms into
the clear air. They were at too great a distance to look
anything but shadowy and indistinct; but no one ever
forgets the first view of these mysterious and sublime
monuments, reared at a period when mighty monarchs
ruled the destinies of a then all-powerful country,
from whence civilisation radiated to all quarters of the
A modern writer, whose works teem with poetic imagery,
has written thus of the land of the Pharaohs: Next
arose Egypt, that lotus-land of magic and mystery, whose
architects built as if for eternity; but its glory and power
likewise speedily culminated and disappeared. Typhon
conquered Isis; the lyre of Memnon was hushed and
broken; the Sphinx became the solution of her own
enigma; and the whole land, with its colossal ruins and
effete civilisation, has lain for ages in the sun, an embalmed
corpse, an unburied skeleton, blanched by time, and yet
beautiful in its dismemberment and decay.'
Let's go out at once, sir, and see something,' exclaimed
Charlie Cochrane eagerly, as soon as rooms had been
engaged at Shepherd's hotel, and a hearty luncheon had
The lieutenant smiled at the boy's impatience, but he
was nothing loth to commence exploring without delay,
especially as their stay was limited; and so, having en-
gaged a guide, who boasted of the proud name of Mahomet,
the trio sallied out to have a look at the bazaars on their
way to the citadel and the handsome Mosque of Mehemet
Ali, which stand on an elevation overlooking the city, and
LOST, A MIDSHIPMAN.
from the terraces of which a magnificent panorama can be
obtained, stretching to all points of the compass.
At the time of the middies' visit to Cairo, the city still
retained much of that Oriental aspect which it has now
nearly lost, and which formerly made it one of the most
interesting places in the East. The middies, therefore,
were delighted with their walk through the narrow
teeming bazaars, where all was new and strange to them.
conjuring up in their minds the half-forgotten stories of
the Arabian Nights. They peered into the little box-like
shops, where sat the grave, bearded proprietors, looking
as if nothing could disturb their equanimity, smoking
their long pipes and conversing with their friends, as
if commerce was a matter that troubled their minds
to a very small extent; and they jostled through a dense
crowd of natives from many different climes, wearing
the distinguishing dress of their respective countries.
The confusing medley of voices was almost distracting,
and above the hubbub arose occasionally the shout of some
officious native servant as he forced a way for his master,
-some Egyptian notable,- who, mounted on his well
groomed and gaily-caparisoned donkey, was endeavouring
to find a way through the jabbering crowd.
After traversing the city in this fashion, Mahomet
guided our friends to the hill on which stand the famous
citadel and Grand Mosque, the latter built of Egyptian
alabaster, which glistened in the rays of the sun. At the
entrance to the mosque some attendants requested the
lieutenant and his protdggs to take off their boots before
entering the sacred building.* The middies were much
SMussulmen always remove their shoes as a token of reverence,
never their turbans.
66 THE GUNROOM HEROES.
amused to find that sandals were provided for them; and,
having donned these quaint articles of dress, they followed
Mahomet into a large square paved with marble, and with
a fountain in the centre, at which the Mohammedan
devotees perform their ablutions previous to entering the.
actual mosque; then, passing in by a large door on the
left, our friends found themselves within the sublime
and not with-
out reason -
proud of his
which indeed he
compares to the
world famed St.
Sophia at Constantinople. This
is a comparison, however, laughed
to scorn by the haughty Turk,
who considers his vast temple as some-
thing quite unapproachable.
Be this as it may, there is a great
deal of beauty in the Cairo Grand
Mosque. Seen from the city, its appear-
ance is very imposing, and with its lofty minarets and
numerous domes is a conspicuous object from almost every
point of view. One of the first things that struck the
middies on entering was the immense number of hanging
lamps, of which there are over five hundred suspended
TflE GURNooM EMILoIs.
from the roof. Then their eyes fell with interest and
wonder on the large number of devotees, who, kneeling
upon rugs, numbers of which were distributed about the
spacious marble floor, were engaged in silent prayer-
their faces being turned in the direction of the sacred
city of Mecca, where their great prophet was born, and
which is marked by a kind of alcove at one end of the
On the right of the door by which the party had
entered, the guide pointed out the tomb of Mehemet
Ali, built of alabaster, but rather gaudily decorated
with designs in red and blue, and enclosed with gilt
After thoroughly inspecting the interesting mosque, the
party, guided by Mahomet, passed out on to the terrace in
front of the citadel to look at the view. Cairo, with its
numerous domes and minarets, lay at their feet, with the
noble river Nile winding its sinuous course past palace,
mosque, and monuments, bearing on its bosom number-
less picturesque craft, their lofty lateen sails rising
quaint and high above the banks, and looking ghost-
like as they were silently borne on by aid of wind and
current towards the sea. In a southerly direction the
middies could see the mighty Pyramids and their
inseparable companion the Sphinx, with the wide,
barren-looking desert stretching away in all directions,
as far as the eye could reach.
In the evening, as our travellers were returning to their
hotel, they were fortunate enough to hear the muezzin
cry from the tower of one of the numerous mosques,-
' There is one God, and Mohammed is his prophet I Come
A JAUNT TO THE PYRAMIDS.
"As rose the muezzin's voice in air
In midnight call to wonted prayer;
It rose, that chanted mournful strain,
Like some lone spirit's o'er the plain;
'Twas musical, but sadly sweet,
Such as when wind and harp-strings meet,"' *
quoted Mr. Graham as the shrill but plaintive sounds
died away upon the evening breeze.
'Now I vote we go in to dinner, and to-morrow morning
we'll make a start for the Pyramids, for we've only a short
time at our disposal. Mahomet, you villain! have three
of the best donkeys in Cairo ready for us to-morrow at
Bery well, sar;' and with a grin the guide vanished in
the direction of his own home.
Breakfast had hardly been disposed of the next morn-
ing, when the smiling Mahomet appeared, and, with many
obsequious salaams, announced that the donkeys were at
the door, which news nearly caused the middies to choke
themselves as they vehemently swallowed what was left
of their scalding tea, and then impetuously rushed out
to view their diminutive steeds, who had much praise
lavished upon them for their beautiful glossy skins and
generally smart appearance--the donkey-boys being
immensely amused at the middies' enthusiasm, and
delighted to air their pigeon-English, which was not
very intelligible, though spouted with amazing volubility
and no shadow of diffidence.
After crossing the Nile in a large ferry-boat, our party
found themselves on a pleasant road lined with acacia
'Siege of Corinth.'
THE GUNROOM HEROES.
trees, which lent a grateful shade, of which the donkeys
seemed fully sensible, for they cantered along at a capital
pace. After riding some two miles or so, however, the
unwelcome discovery was made that the road was inun-
dated by the Nile, rendering it impossible for the donkeys
to proceed farther. Mahomet, being ready of resource,
soon discovered that there was a boatman living near, and,
after some necessary bargaining had been gone through,
this individual agreed to row our friends to the Pyramids
in his boat, the donkeys being picketed under the shade
of some trees to await the return of the expedition.
The Nile at this point more resembled an inland lake
than a river, but it did not take long to pull to the
Pyramids, within a hundred yards of whose base the
A JAUNT TO THE PYRAMIDS.
miniature waves were breaking on the sands which
sloped up towards the great monuments. Immediately
they set foot on shore, our friends were surrounded by
guides and vendors of curiosities, whose voluble tongues
made an almost deafening Babel of sound; but at length,
with Mahomet's aid, they shook themselves free from
the anything but odoriferous crowd, and some guides
having been selected to assist the trio in the ascent of the
great Pyramid of Cheops, the rest of the noisy concourse
gradually dispersed, whilst our friends at once commenced
to climb the enormous monument by its succession of
gigantic steps-two Arab guides being told off to each
person, and, these, grasping each a hand, very much
facilitating the difficult ascent.
So many accounts have been written of late years of
the scaling of the Pyramids, that I shall say as little as
possible about it here, only reminding my young readers
of the interesting fact that the summit of Cheops is 500
feet above the desert on which it stands, or considerably
higher than the cross that crowns the dome of St. Paul's.
The middies were rather out of breath when, after their
unusual exertions (the steps on an average being three feet
high), they arrived at the open space at the top, where is
room for a considerable number of people to sit down-
the apex of the pyramid having been gradually knocked
away at various times. Looking at their watches, the
boys found they had been just eight minutes in gaining
the summit, having rested once when half way up to
regain their breath.
The view on a clear day is naturally superb. In a
northerly direction lies Cairo, with its many domes and
minarets flashing in the bright rays of a seldom clouded
THE GUNROOM HEROES.
sun; whilst beneath, the majestic Nile rolls its sluggish
waters on towards the blue Mediterranean-at the time
we are speaking of overflowing its banks and inundating
the flat country around. Away in the hazy south, looking
across vast sandy tracts where the mysterious mirage can
often be seen, the outlines of more pyramids could
faintly be traced, whilst immediately beneath were the
two remaining ones of the Ghizeh group (to which
Cheops belongs), and the colossal, majestic looking
'Sar, you gib me one rupee, I run down dis pyramid
and up to de top ob de oder one in seben minute, dat
quick enof,' quoth one of the Arab guides, addressing Mr.
Another one immediately pushed forward, and, snapping
his fingers contemptuously at the first spokesman, shouted
in passionate tones,-
'Him one rascal tief, sar I he no can do possible in seben
minute, and what for he sail ask one rupee. I can do de
same trick in eight minute for half-rupee; what you say,
'Oh, let's see him do it, sir!' exclaimed the middies
eagerly; 'it would be a great spree.'
'Well, look here, Johnny,' said Mr. Graham, taking
his watch and an eight-anna piece out of his pocket, and
showing the latter to the last speaker; 'if you are at the
top of that other pyramid in eight minutes you shall have
this coin; start away !'
The fellow was off like an arrow from the bow, and
commenced bounding down the enormous steps of Cheops
like a chamois springing from rock to rock among the
Alpine heights. -
A JAUNT TO THE PYRAMIDS.
If that fellow doesn't break his neck,' exclaimed Mr.
Graham, as he watched the man's lithe form disappearing
from sight, 'it will be a caution to snakes !'
These Arabs, however, are too thoroughly accustomed
to this little feat of agility-which they have practised so
often that it has become mere child's play to them-to
run much risk of endangering their lives; and before long
the eagerly watched-for form of the native was seen
running swiftly across the sandy waste that intervened
between the two pyramids; then, without pausing for
breath, it was seen quickly scaling the rival monument,
and in just half a minute under the stipulated time the
Arab stood triumphantly on the summit, waving his rag of
Our friends now commenced the descent, which they
found fully as arduous as the ascent had been, for a slip
on such high steps would be attended with considerable
danger, or even fatal consequences. Some way down the
party came upon the entrance to the interior of the
pyramid; and the guides, having lit some torches, entered
the passage, which was very dark and low, and after
scrambling on for some distance, almost on their hands
and knees, our friends found themselves in a small square
room built of stone, down the walls of which the damp
was trickling in places. There were several very ancient-
looking stone tombs here, but the atmosphere was so
oppressive that Mr. Graham proposed a hasty retreat,
which was immediately acted upon; and in a few minutes
the trio were resting themselves on a hillock of sand at
the base of Cheops, surrounded by their pertinacious
guides, -who were lustily shouting, 'Backsheesh back-
sheesh!' To get rid of the importunity of these neces-
THE GUNROOM HEROES.
sary but highly unpleasant followers, Mr. Graham gave
Mahomet some coins and bade him get rid of them
without delay. The athletic pyramid-climber also came
up to claim his reward, and at length our friends were
left in peace to enjoy their luncheon, which had been
brought with them in a basket.
'This is jolly fun!' observed Harold Charlesworth,
as with keen appetites he and his companions began
attacking the viands; 'I never dreamedI should
ever be lunching under the shadow of the Pyramid of
'I daresay not,' answered Mr. Graham, uncorking a
bottle of Moselle; 'we shall have stranger experiences
by-and-by, though, when we go on to Jerusalem. What
do you say to lunching with the monks of the "Church
of the Nativity at Bethlehem, or watching a sunset from
the top of the Mount of Olives 1'
'Yes, that'll be doubly interesting,' said Charlie
Cochrane, a thoughtful look passing over his handsome
face. 'Do you think we shall have time to see everything,
'Well, I vote,' said Mr. Graham, that we cut our trip
to Cairo as short as possible, in order to have more time
at Jerusalem, and then I daresay we shall manage to see
everything of importance.'
Both boys willingly agreed to this proposition of the
lieutenant's, and the latter said he would write that night
to Mr. Bridgeman and Dr. O'Gorman, naming a day for
the whole party to meet at Ismailia, whence they would
proceed to Port Said in order to catch a steamer bound to
When they had rested for some time, the lieutenant
A JAUNT TO THE PYRAMIDS. 75
took the middies to see the Sphinx. The boys were
almost more interested in this strange representation of a
monster than they had been with the Pyramids.
'It's a pity the figure is so much buried in the sand,'
said Mr. Graham; 'it's supposed to be that of a lion,
--r; ---- ~-----;- L--; ---- ; ----;~-
whilst the head is that of a woman; some say, of a man.
The Greek Sphinx was rather different, though there is
no doubt that the legend was brought from Egypt. It is
always described as having the head and bust of a woman,
the bndy of a dog, the tail of a serpent, the wings of a
bird, the paws of a lion, and a human voice, but I've
never seen one of them.'
76 THE GUNROOM HEROES.
After gazing for some time in wonderment at the
gigantic-looking figure, which is hewn out of one solid
block of stone, our friends retraced their steps to where
they had left the boat, and were soon skimming away
over the placid kind of inland lake towards the spot
where their trusty donkeys had been left, and the day
ended with a delightful ride back to Cairo in the cool of
.-i^^ -_J^_^^_ --_-- .. |
rir^-,_- ^ =*:-- ; .-, *
i fri :.ri rLiil go ri ,,i',e th
dancing dervishes perform their
devotions; and, as Mr. Graham had formerly witnessed
the sight at Constantinople, and thought it would amuse
the middies, he eagerly embraced the proposal, and the
party set out in good time, so as to get a favourable
place for viewing the absurd ceremony-the lieutenant
impressing upon his young companions that they must
endeavour, at all hazards, to preserve their gravity, or
they would run the risk of being ignominiously expelled
from the building.
THE GUNROOM HEROES.
There was no difficulty in gaining admittance, and
Mahomet ushered the lieutenant and middies into a fair-
sized room with a domed roof, and a gallery at one end,
in which some musicians appeared to be stationed. In
the centre of the room a circular space was railed off for
the convenience of the dervishes, nine of whom were
kneeling on the floor in attitude of prayer when our
friends entered. Removed from these, and on a separate
piece of carpet, knelt the head dervish, who was an old,
grey-headed man of venerable and asceti- appearance.
All the dervishes were dressed in a very peculiar and
picturesque garb, -tall brown hats of some soft material
resembling camel's hair, and long, rather ill-fitting gowns
of various colours, brown, orange, black, and green. These
fitted tightly in the waist, and gradually expanded in the
skirt, which latter trailed upon the floor.
Whilst the dervishes knelt thus, apparently absorbed
in their devotions, a man arose in the gallery and com-
menced reading some passages from the Koran in a very
fast, mechanical sort of way. When he had finished, the
dervishes all bowed their heads to the ground with a look
of great humiliation, and then, rising with one accord, they
formed themselves in order at one end of the circular
space, whilst the head dervish took up his position at the
The foremost dervish of the assembled group now slowly
moved across to the old man, bowed, kissed his hand,
bowed a second time, and then moved around the room
with a stately pace and rejoined his companions. This
ceremony was gone through by all the dervishes three
times, but the last time there was a slight change, for,
after bowing to the head dervish, each of the others also
turned and bowed to the minor dervish next in order
following, who returned the compliment in the same
manner. All then resumed their original places, and
knelt down and prayed.
After a short interval spent thus, the devotees all rose
to their feet, and, without any further prelude, commenced
their strange religious dance-whirling round and round
like so many spinning-tops, their dresses flying round with
them in a highly ludicrous manner. The middies could
scarcely keep their countenances, but, remembering Mr.
Graham's injunction, they with a great effort composed
their features into as good a semblance of gravity as was
possible under the circumstances.
The head dervish did not take a part in the dancing
ceremony, but remained, with an austere look upon his
fine face, in the position he had all along occupied. One
other dervish, who seemed older than the majority of his
companions, moved out into the centre of the circular
space when the dance commenced, and intently watched
the devotees, to see that they performed their task in a
proper manner. Music was not wanting to grace the
ceremony, for the men in the gallery were exerting them-
selves to the utmost all the time on fifes and drums, which
made a hideous and almost deafening medley of sound.
One of the devotees particularly attracted the middies'
attention, for he was quite a little boy, and, though
dressed the same as the others, evidently a neophyte. He
was a plucky little fellow, however, and, though looking
rather wearied with the prolonged exertion, kept up man-
fully all the time.
During the whole of this ludicrous performance, which
was continued for about a quarter of an hour, the dervishes
i1i. ,'l.hiu ,
THE GUNROOM HEROES.
preserved their stolid,
and not a muscle of their
faces moved. They re-
sembled so many auto-
matons wound up and
set going by machinery,
and kept up their steady,
S never-faltering whirl with
wonderful precision and
Sin complete silence, there
ceaseless beat of their
feet, the whirling of the
dresses, and the shrill
S notes of the fifes--to
which the drums gave
out their deep accom-
paniment which kept
up the same monotonous
Now, at a signal from
the head dervish, the
dance suddenly ceased;
the devotees fell upon
their knees, whilst the
old man in a deep voice
read a long prayer. This
finished, the dervishes all
jl9 rose to their feet, and
s with a stately and digni-
fled step followed their
chief from the room in Indian file. Charlie Cochrane
made some remark to the little neophyte as he passed
the spot where the middies were standing; and, though
of course the little fellow did not understand a word that
was said, he nodded and smiled as if much pleased at
'Well, I am glad to see they can smile if they like,'
said young Cochrane to his chum. 'I really thought they
were under a vow of perpetual gravity.'
The remainder of their short stay at Cairo was spent by
the lieutenant and middies in a hurried inspection of the
interesting spots in and near the city. One morning they
rode on their donkeys to Heliopolis, celebrated for its fine
granite obelisk, a very ancient monument, much resembling
Cleopatra's Needle, which is now erected on the Thames
Embankment.. This ride was memorable to the middies
as being the occasion of spills from their donkeys. On
the way to Heliopolis, Charlesworth proposed a race, and,
Cochrane at .once acceding, the two boys set off up the
sandy road as fast as their donkeys could go-Mr. Graham
having ridden on with Mahomet to act as umpire.
THE GUNROOM HEROES.
Cochrane's steed had gallantly drawn ahead, and its rider
felt confident of being the winner, when the uncertain
beast stopped short in the middle of the road,* and, as
the middy was totally unprepared for such an odd
manoeuvre, he flew over its head with considerable
impetus and lay sprawling in the sand. The donkey,
delighted to be rid of his burden, quietly turned round
and trotted off at a smart pace towards Cairo.
Harold, seeing that his chum was not much the worse
for his tumble, turned round and galloped after the
retiring donkey as fast as he could; but, just as he was on
the point of catching it up, his own girths gave way, and
he and his saddle rolled on the ground together in a most
absurd fashion, whilst the donkey trotted on to join his
comrade'with the greatest nonchalance.
Mahomet soon after rode up, and, after a hurried con-
sultation with Harold, was on the point of starting off in
pursuit of the runaways, when, fortunately, some natives
came in sight round a corner of the road, leading back the
Mr. Graham and Charlie Cochrane now came up on
foot, the former leading his donkey; and, after rewarding
the natives for their trouble, and repairing the girths as
best they could, our friends again set off for Heliopolis-
the middies agreeing to let the race be a drawn one.
At length came the day for quitting Cairo; and, though
the middies would have much liked to have spent a longer
time in such an interesting city, the idea of visiting
Jerusalem so soon banished all regrets from their minds,
and caused them to look forward with great excitement to
the morning on which they should set out for Palestine.
Rather a favourite 'dodge' with the Egyptian donkey.
By noon on the eventful day they arrived at Ismailia by
train, and found Mr. Bridgeman and Dr. O'Gorman await-
ing their arrival at the principal hotel. 'You're just in
time,' said the latter as he shook hands with Mr. Graham;
there's a steamer just starting up the Canal for Port Said,
and faith, we may as well go in her as remain to be baked
brown in this oven of a place.'
In five minutes the party were snugly ensconced in a
miniature steamer, which, after many preparatory shrieks
from an abnormally powerful whistle, cast off her hawsers
and steamed away rapidly across the 'Bitter Lakes,' on
which the mushroom town of Ismailia is situated, and
then entered the Canal,-which opens into the aforesaid
lakes at either end,-where she had to proceed more
slowly, on account of meeting steamers and craft of
various descriptions, which thronged the narrow silent
'That's the Excelsior, now, I tell ye,' said the doctor,
pointing to an enormous steamer gliding rapidly and
almost noiselessly past them; she's the P. and 0. mail
boat, and has got half a million on board in specie; if the
Bedouins could lay their hands on her, they'd get some
loot worth having!'
'How do you know her, O'Gorman ?' asked Mr. Bridge-
'Wouldn't I know my own mother?' returned the
medico. 'Didn't I go out in that same craft all the way
to Singapore when I was appointed to the Surprise, eight
years ago Faith, I remember the cruise well, for there
were two fellows committed suicide, another drank him-
self to death, one of the ladies died of sea-sickness, and
the captain's pig jumped overboard because he heard the
04 TME GUNROOM HEROES.
butcher say he was going to cut his throat in the morning;
and shure, my retriever dog sprang after him like a shot,
and held him up by one ear till the lifeboat came and
picked them up. Just in time they were, for a minute
afterwards the place was alive with sharks, who have a
penchant for pork, I can tell you. The skipper of the
Excelsior was a bit of a wag, sent for his steward, and
told him on no account to put the hams and bacon into
pickle, as he thought they had been long enough in the
brine already !'
The little steamer soon sped over the fifty miles of
water that intervene between Ismailia and Port Said. The
middies thought the journey a very monotonous one, as
there was scarcely anything visible but the endless banks
of sand and stretches of desert-the latter relieved here
and there by large shallow inland lakes, thronged with
thousands of waterfowl and herons. When Port Said
came into view, with its forest of masts and lofty lighthouse,
it was therefore hailed with delight; and on arriving in
the harbour the travellers were much relieved to find
that there was a French steamer starting that very night
for Jaffa, so passages were at once booked and preparations
made for embarking.
It was a fine, calm, starlight night, and the vessel
made good way through the placid waters, leaving a fiery
phosphoric track behind her, that seemed to lead dimly
away to the very horizon's verge. Above, in the dark
canopy of heaven, the brilliant orbs of other systems
shone with the lustrous beauty common to an eastern
clime, and spangled the calm, mirror-like waters with
their bright reflections. It was a night to be alone with
nature, offering the silent tribute of a humble worshipper
to her and to her God, whilst musing silently on the
mysteries and wonders of the universe.
'Now then, you lazy fellows, turn out!' were the
words that roused our young heroes from their sleep the
next morning at daylight. Turning round in their bunks,
-the boys had a cabin to themselves,-they found the
speaker was Mr. Graham. 'Come on, turn out!' he
reiterated. 'Jaffa is in sight; slip some clothes on and
come on deck to see one of the most ancient cities in the
The middies sprang out immediately, astonished to hear
THE GUNROOM HEROES.
they were already at the end of their short voyage, and
hurried on deck. There was the old city of Jaffa sure
enough, with its white houses showing out distinctly in
the morning light, and embosomed in orange groves.
Presently the sun rose, and lit the scene up with its
bright rays, and at the same time splash went the steamer's
anchor, as she came-to, half a mile from the shore. Half-
a dozen large boats immediately shot out through the surf,
which was breaking on the steep beach, and an exciting
race took place between the rival crews as to which should
first gain the steamer's gangway.
Handing their baggage over to the coxswain of the
winning boat, a fine swarthy Arab, our party took their
places and were rapidly rowed ashore; but the surf was
so heavy that they were obliged to be carried to terra
firma on the backs of the natives, who were loud and
persistent in their calls for backsheesh.'
The beauties of Jaffa disappear as if by magic when
the traveller finds himself in its narrow, dirty streets,
'jostled by still dirtier orange merchants and other natives
-but this remark applies to most Eastern towns. One
beauty the ancient Joppa cannot be robbed of, and that
is its glorious orange groves, which surround the town in
every direction, the trees laden with their golden fragrant
As our friends were making the best of their way to
the Jerusalem Hotel, where the captain of the steamer had
recommended them to go for breakfast, they were accosted
by a man in the garb of, and with the appearance of a
Greek, who announced himself in good English as a
dragoman, by name Nicolas Morinos, at the same time
producing a bundle of references from various parties he
had escorted through the Holy Land; and, as these seemed
very satisfactory, he was engaged to act as dragoman,
receiving a fixed sum per day, out of which he was to
provide horses for the party and all travelling expenses.
After a hasty breakfast, Nicolas appeared with six rather
sorry-looking horses, who bore very uncomfortable Turkish
saddles made of wood, which were but scantily hidden by
some tawdry trappings. As our travellers wished to
execute the journey to Jerusalem-forty miles-in one
day, so as to save time, they eyed their steeds and saddlery
with some misgiving, and appealed to the dragoman as to
whether he could not procure stronger-looking nags and
leather saddles. That individual asserted that there were
only two in Jaffa, and those had been hired by some of
the Emperor of Austria's suite, who had started for
Jerusalem two days previously. There was no help for it
therefore, and mounting their steeds,-which turned out
to be wiry, willing little beasts,-the cavalcade set off
through the suburbs, and soon gained the open country-
the baggage having been sent ahead on a mule.
After a couple of hours' ride, the picturesque village of
Ramleh was sighted, whilst far away behind it stretched
the vast plain of Sharon, bounded by the clearly outlined
mountains west of Jerusalem. Ramleh looked like a
veritable oasis in the desert, with its numerous groves of
olive, orange, and palm, out of which peeped the pictur-
esque towers and convent buildings. As the sun had now
become very hot, the travellers halted for a short time at
the village, and refreshed themselves with some lemonade
at the principal convent, the Superior of which was very
hospitable, and pressed the whole party to stay a night
under his roof.
THE GUNROOM HEROES.
'Nicolas, my man, is there anything here worth seeing
at all quoth the surgeon, who was fully determined to
'If you are fond of seeing ancient buildings, sir, there is
a most interesting ruined church, just out of the village,
which once belonged to the Knights Templars.'
'Bedad! I'll go and see it. Will you come, youngsters?'
to the middies.
The boys were delighted, and started off under the
surgeon's wing-the two lieutenants preferring to stay
and chat with the Superior.
Just as the trio emerged into the street, guided by
Nicolas, the surgeon espied a large handsome ram tethered
to a ring in a wall, and, being fond of animals, went up to
pet it; but the instant the medico got within a few paces
of the brute, the latter levelled his enormous head, and,
before Dr. O'Gorman could get out.of the way, gave him
such a terrific butt as took away all the unlucky surgeon's
wind, and hurled him ignominiously into the gutter,
whence the middies-almost bursting with suppressed
laughter-hauled him out and put him upon his legs.
Bad manners to ye, ye ugly baste!' growled the enraged
surgeon, when he had recovered his wind; 'it's myself
'll teach ye to treat your superiors with respect;' and, so
saying, he began to belabour the ram with his hunting-
crop, which so enraged the animal that he broke his chain,
and, after making a vain effort to again level his Hibernian
adversary,-who nimbly skipped out of the way,-tore off
down the street as hard as he could go, and soon disappeared
:0 41--.- _, -
THE doctor's adven-
ture with his woolly
friend rather cur-
tailed the time that
should have been
devoted to exploring
the church of the
However, a hasty
examination of it was
made, and it was
found to be of great
extent, covering an
area of several acres;
with the remains of
fine cloisters, many
columns and arches
-all being in a fine
state of preservation.
THE GUNROOM HEROES.
campanile close by, to the top of which the doctor and his
companions climbed, a magnificent view of Ramleh and
the surrounding country was obtained. As the trio were
admiring this prospect, Mr. Graham and Mr. Bridgeman
emerged from a grove of olives just beneath, looked about
them, and then shouted, O'Gorman !' at the top of their
voices-Mr. Graham adding, 'Bother that daft medicine-
man he's off goodness knows where, and we ought to
have been in the saddle half an hour ago.'
Bother that grumpy first lieutenant!' retorted the
medico from the top of his tower, and mimicking Mr.
Graham's accent; 'he's not one of nature's devotees
himself, and won't let any one else be one;' and, so saying,
he took an orange out of his pocket and let fly at his
astonished messmate's head.
'Stand from under, sir! stand from under!' yelled
the amused middies.
I say, cease your skylarking, O'Gorman,' said the
first lieutenant, dodging to avoid the fruity projectile,
which burst harmlessly upon the ground. We shall be
benighted if we 'on't start at once, so come down from
aloft, and don't break your neck if you can help it, in
case we should want your professional attendance, such as
it is !'
In ten minutes the cavalcade was trotting briskly
though the environs of Ramleh, and then emerged upon
the great sandy road which seemed to stretch for miles
over the vast Plain of Sharon. It had now become
extremely hot, but as Nicolas corroborated Mr. Graham's
assertion that they had no time to lose if they wished to
reach the Holy City that night, the horses were put to
their best speed, and galloped freely and easily over the
soft sandy road, which, as Nicolas observed, had been
specially put into good order in honour of the Emperor of
Austria's visit. After passing the little village of Obeb,
-.- -== = _- : .'-:-- : :.__ :: / -:- -
the pace was slackened a little, and here the patient mule
was passed, jogging steadily on with his heavy load of
baggage. Pushing on again, the other little villages on
the Plain of Sharon were passed, and the road began to
THE GUNROOM HEROES.
wind up amongst the towering hills. The middies began
to think the journey would never end, but at length, as
the short twilight began to throw her dusky mantle over
the scene, the gloomy tower of Hippicus and the massive
Jaffa Gate loomed into sight. Here was Jerusalem at last!
The sentinels seemed to be asleep, but they were soon
aroused; the gates swung heavily back, and our friends
found themselves in the narrow, badly-paved, ill-lighted
streets; but still, in the Holy City / That is a sensation
which can never pass from the memory of those who have
had the good fortune to experience it.
All the rooms at the hotel being full, our friends were
advised to go to the Franciscan Convent, and they rode
off at once to this building. Mr. Graham, dismounting,
knocked loudly at the door, which after a little delay was
opened by a good-humoured-looking French monk, who
bade the tired equestrians a hearty welcome. The Superior,
he said, would see them in the morning; and meanwhile
some attendants were hastily aroused, and ordered to take
charge of the horses,-Nicolas Morinos having gone off to
lodgings of his own,-whilst the monk produced some
supper in the refectory; and, after a frugal repast, washed
down with cold water, our pilgrims were conducted each
to a clean but sparsely furnished little room with a hard
bed and whitewashed walls, and left to enjoy a well-
After breakfast the next morning, it was decided by
the officers that they should at once commence their
exploration of Jerusalem; and Nicolas was ordered to
immediately lead the way to the Church of the Holy
e Built by Herod, and named after one of his friends.
In a few minutes the party turned into the small open
square fronting the main entrance to this interesting
church, and which is much frequented by vendors of
crucifixes, rosaries, and other curiosities. The exterior
of the building being devoid of any special beauty or
architectural interest, the officers passed in under the old
carved entrance,: and found themselves in the semi-gloom
of the interior. The first thing which attracted their
attention was a marble slab in the pavement, enclosed by
railings, and overhung with rich lamps. This was the
Stone of Unction, on which it is said our Lord's body was
laid on being taken down from the cross. The lamps
were forty-five in number, fifteen belonging to the Greek
Church and an equal number to the Latin and Armenian
-the building being used by all three Churches, who
have chapels under its roof.
Moving on, our pilgrims entered the principal part of
the church, called the Rotunda, in the centre of which is
the Chapel of the Holy Sepulchre itself, built of yellow
and white stone, and ornamented with marble pilasters
and gilt work. The entrance is at the east end, and on
passing under the low doorway, our friends found them-
selves in a tiny ante-chamber, in the centre of which,
placed on a small pedestal, is a block of rough stone, said
to be that which was rolled away from the mouth of the
sepulchre. At the farther end of the ante-chamber was
another low doorway leading to the sepulchre itself; and
the middies felt a thrill of awe as they quietly entered
and found themselves standing close to the sacred tomb,
worshipped for so many centuries as that of our Lord.
The sarcophagus itself is of marble, and much worn away
by the mouths of the countless pilgrims who have thronged
THE GUNROOM HEROES.
to the spot for ages to kiss it. From the roof are sus-
pended forty-three beautiful lamps in gold and silver,
kept constantly burning, and which throw a rich and
chastened glow over the scene. A priest keeps guard
over these day and night. At the back of the tomb is a
fine bas-relief of the resurrection. Our friends remained
in the tiny chapel as long as they could without incon-
veniencing others, in order to watch the constant stream
of pilgrims who were passing in to worship for a few
moments at the sacred spot. These pilgrims-who had
come from many distant countries, and were often haggard
and footsore-in general evinced the greatest awe and
veneration, prostrated themselves before the sarcophagus,
wept tears of joyj and convulsively kissed the cold marble.
Leaving the Chapel of the Sepulchre, the party turned
to the western end of the Rotunda, and, entering a small
grotto, were shown the tombs of Joseph of Arimathea and
Nicodemus; and then, crossing to the northern end,
and entering the vestibule of a chapel, the guide pointed
out a marble slab in the floor which marks the spot
claimed by tradition as that where our Lord appeared to
Mary M1agdalene after His resurrection. A little farther
on was the so-called Pillar of the Flagellation,' or that
to which Christ was bound when sentenced to be scourged
by His cruel judges. This pillar is walled up, but there
is a small hole left in the masonry through which devout
pilgrims are allowed to pass a wand. With this they
touch the venerated pillar, and then kiss the end of the
Glancing at the Greek chapel, which is beautifully
decorated, our friends passed into a small room, where
are carefully preserved the gigantic sword and spurs of
the great Godfrey de Bouillon,* which the middies
examined with great interest. Close by, the guide
pointed out a flight of steps hewn out of the rock, and
apparently descending underground. The vault under-
neath is called the Chapel of St. Helena, and there is a
marble seat here, said to have been occupied by the
Empress Helena, who personally superintended the search
for the cross, which was found near this spot.
Having seen everything of note in this extraordinary
building, our friends-who were beginning to feel very
peckish-made their way to the Mediterranean Hotel, and
The famous Crusader and hero of Tasso's Jerusalem Delivered.
On the taking of the city in the First Crusade, he was importuned to
proclaim himself king of Jerusalem, but refused, saying he was
unworthy to wear a crown of gold where his Saviour had worn one of
thorns. He assumed the unambitious title of 'Defender and Guardian
of the Holy Sepulchre.'
THE GUNROOM HEROES.
had some luncheon, after which a short visit was made to
As the officers were once more sallying out with the
intention of visiting the Mosque of Omar, one of the
monks accosted Dr. O'Gorman with, 'Beg pardon,
monsieur, but dere is Mr. Prickly Bob, who am ask to see
de English shentleman.'
'Prickly Bob! who the deuce is he exclaimed the
astonished surgeon. Graham, you can talk French like a
native; for goodness sake find out who this mysterious
fellow is. Faith, it sounds like a man who makes fancy
pincushions or keeps tame porcupines!'
After some palavering, it was discovered that the indi-
vidual bearing this unique appellation was a professional
tattooer, who made a very good living by imprinting the
arms of the city of Jerusalem and other devices upon the
arms of any travellers willing to submit to the torturing
ordeal of his needles and Indian ink.
Oh, do let's have it done, sir it would be an awful
spree!' exclaimed the mids in a volley, and looking
appealingly at Mr. Graham.
'Why, you silly boys, you'd be heartily sorry some day
that you had ever had it done,' responded the lieutenant.
' Mr. Prickly Bob shan't bore any holes into me, that he
may rely upon.'
Mr. Bridgeman bared his right arm, and showed it
covered with strange devices. 'This was all done in
Japan,' said he, and by the best tattooers in the world;
this fellow couldn't hold a candle to them, I expect. See,
here is a lobster worked in in vermilion and Indian ink,
and there is a snake splendidly done, and winding round
and round my arm.
'It must have been awfully painful, sir, wasn't it '
asked the middies, gazing with great curiosity at the
really wonderful and life-like creatures that appeared to
be crawling and coiling themselves about the lieutenant's
Ha it stung me up pretty well, I can tell you,' said
Mr. Bridgeman, turning down his sleeve. One thing is
certain: if I ever get lost, my family will have something
to go by, for I made them take stock of these devices
when I was last at home.'
I once got tattooed,' put in Dr. O'Gorman, and it was
in an uncommonly unpleasant way. I was shooting in
Ceylon with some army fellows, and going through a dense
jungle I shot at a big baste of a monkey that sat in a tree
making faces at me; by that same token it was for all
the world the image of old Dr. Phyall of Haslar Hospital!
Well, I missed the ugly villain, whose skin I wanted to
make into a muff for my missus, and with a horrible
screech away he went amongst the trees like a mad
thing. Instead of hitting him, I had almost destroyed a
wild bees' nest, and. before I could look round or say
"Jack Robinson," the whole colony of enraged insects
made straight at me in a compact body, buzzing their
anger and revenge. I was too much taken aback at first
to do more than stand and stare at them, but when the
beggars were close upon me I turned and ran like a
rigger, I can tell you It was the most awful race I ever
had, for, as the holy saints would have it, it was one of
the hottest days I'd ever felt, and the path through the
jungle was of the roughest description ; great roots crossed
it in every direction, and immense creepers formed a
regular network of man-traps, in which I tripped every
THE GUNROOM HEROES.
moment. I lost my hat, too, but couldn't stop to pick it
up, and if it hadn't been for the shade of the forest J
should have got a sunstroke, for, as you know, I'm as bald
as I well can be At last I got such a heavy fall over
the roots of an India-rubber tree, that before I could
scramble to my legs again those confoundedly pertinacious
insects were upon me, and it was upon my miserable
shining pate they settled,-which was bare as an Irish-
man's field after the potato crop,-and began stinging
away in a fashion that would have driven me mad in a few
minutes. I dashed wildly off again through the forest,
shrieking with pain and terror, and trying to fling the bees
off with both hands, but this only enraged them the more;
and I was fast becoming a raving lunatic, when I spied a
lovely tank* in the distance, with its clear water glisten-
ing in the light. This sight nerved me to fresh exertions.
In a few moments I had reached the shores of the tank,
and with a wild cry of relief dashed into its still, pellucid
waters, and buried my burning head under the surface.
As you may suppose, the bees didn't relish this sub-aquatic
strategy of mine, and made off as fast as they could,
whilst I wallowed about in the tank with as much delight
as a jocose hippopotamus !
What was my astonishment, after a few minutes'
interval, to see what I had taken for a log of a tree on the
bank suddenly assume life, and in the guise of a ferocious-
looking crocodile splash down into the water and make
for me as if he hadn't had anything to eat for a fortnight.
Faith, this was falling from the frying-pan into the fire
with a vengeance !
'I was a good way out in the tank, and with a shudder
A tank In Ceylon is an artificial lake.
struck out at once for the nearest bank. At last I felt
the mud under my feet, and began scrambling out rather
leisurely, but glancing behind me I saw the great
crocodile within a few feet of me, open-jawed, and with
the most villainous expression in his eyes that ever I
beheld I With a superhuman effort I grasped at a bush
growing on the bank, and was drawing myself up out of
danger's way when the ugly baste made a grab at one of
THE GUNROOM HEROES
my legs, that just missed me by a hair's-breadth, and his
jaws clashed together in a manner that made my blood
run cold; and before I could recover myself the old sinner
made a second rush at my poor shanks, and-I daresay
you won't believe it-collared my right foot, which I was
just hauling up out of the way, and gave it a shake that
made me shudder all over; but then, at this frightfully
critical moment, when I expected every instant to be made
a cripple for life or to be hauled bodily back into the tank,
as good luck would have it, off came my elastic-sided boot
with one of the crocodile's convulsive tugs! I had
escaped almost by a miracle, and the ill-mannered baste
got a mighty tough boot by way of a tiffin. It was
touch and go, I can tell you; but my poor bald pate was
nicely tattooed by them same bees, let me tell you, and I
was on the sick-list for the best part of a month or more.'
'Humph! Do you ever go in for archery, O'Gorman '
asked the first lieutenant dryly, but winking at the same
time at Mr. Bridgeman.
'I do not, old man; why '
'You're such a splendid hand at drawing the long bow,'
responded his messmate, laughing in spite of himself,
' that I thought you must be an adept at the craft.'
The medico began to protest angrily at this uncharitable
view of his yarn, but his vehement exclamations were
interrupted by the entrance of 'Prickly Bob' himself.
A SUDDEN RECALL.
PRICKLY BOB was a very dark-skinned Arab with a
grave and dignified manner. He salaamed profoundly to
the officers, and then, untying a dirty roll of paper he
carried in one hand, revealed some roughly-traced designs
which he announced to be those most in request in his
particular branch of art, and he concluded by observing,
with some pride, that even H.R.H. the Prince of Wales
when visiting Jerusalem had been good enough to give
him a sitting' for the purpose of having the arms of the
city indelibly imprinted upon one of his arms. After this
admission, it was useless to argue with the middies as to
the propriety of undergoing the operation. They carried
the day in a vehement fashion, and Mr. Graham reluctantly
consented that Prickly Bob should that very evening visit
the convent with his instruments of torture, and, if the
THE GUNROOM HEROES.
youngsters were then still willing to be operated upon, be
allowed full liberty to use the needles and Indian ink.
'Now, let's be off to the Mosque of Omar,' exclaimed
Mr. Bridgeman; we've been wasting a lot of time.
Where's that rascal Nicolas ?' The guide was holding a
mysterious conversation with Prickly Bob, but, on hear-
ing his name mentioned, glided up, and prepared to
conduct our friends to the famous mosque. This building
was at one time jealously guarded by the Turks, and no
'Christian dogs' were even allowed to enter the spacious
grounds. Any one who managed to gain access to the
building unseen was certain to be stoned. These restric-
tions had been abolished at the time of our friends'
arrival in the city, and it was only necessary to obtain a
permit from the Governor of Jerusalem. Armed with this,
our pilgrims presented themselves at the main entrance
and were at once admitted. The mosque occupies the site
of Solomon's Temple, and stands on Mount Moriah.
The buildings are all included in what is termed Haram'
-an immense space, thirty-five acres in extent, surrounded
by high walls, from one of which a splendid view can be
obtained of the Mount of Olives, the Garden of Geth-
,emane, and the Valley of Kedron.
Taking their boots off at the entrance and donning
sandals, the officers crossed the great paved area separating
ihem from the mosque,-which has a handsome dome, and
is cased on the outside with bright encaustic tiles,-and at
once entered the building. The first thing that struck
them was the great gloom and stillness that prevailed.
On counting them they found there were fifty-six windows
in the lower part of the mosque, but being all filled with
rich stained glass the subdued light was easily explained.