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首页 » 英文短篇小说 » Captured by Apes » CHAPTER XIX. BESIEGED.
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The behavior of the chimpanzee, as well as his own good common sense, which he had had time to recover since the adventure in the marsh, told Philip that it would be useless longer to fly from his enemies. He was in a building constructed with especial reference to safety from outside foes, and by barricading himself in the series of rooms which led from the kitchen to the parlor he might be able to stand a siege of many days.

It is true he had no reason to expect aid, since it seemed most likely Captain Seaworth’s party had been massacred; but yet time to wait for the coming of human companions was the one thing desired, and to such end he made every preparation.

On this, as well as on the other side of the building, each window had heavy wooden shutters which could be closed from the inside, and the doors were sufficiently stout to resist any attack which might be made by the apes. As a matter of course, a determined body of men with the proper tools could soon effect an entrance; but it was hardly probable the animals would be able to break in after the place was once properly fortified.

Philip understood that there was no time to be[153] lost, for at any moment Goliah and his forces might return. Therefore his first act was to shut and barricade the three doors leading to the veranda. Then the heavy shutters of the windows were closed and bolted, half a dozen candles were lighted, and the fortification was as nearly complete as he could make it.

He now experienced a sense of security such as had not visited him since the moment when he was thrown upon these inhospitable shores. There was on hand sufficient food to last a long time, and he felt safe from any immediate danger.

The one thing needful at this moment was slumber, and with a mind free from apprehensions he made up such a bed in the dining-room as even a less weary youth would not have disdained, closing his eyes in peaceful sleep almost instantly after lying down.

He awakened in a calmer frame of mind than he had known since the time when the good bark Swallow first encountered the gale, and was fully alive to all the possibilities of his situation. He had no difficulty in coming to the conclusion that so long as he was destined to remain on the island he would be exposed to a vengeance worse than death at the hands of those whom he had once treated as articles of merchandise. At present he believed himself to be perfectly secure; but as a matter of course, if he should dare to venture forth it would be to become the object of renewed attacks, which very likely would end only in his death.


It was with such thoughts that his mind was occupied as he took from the kitchen cupboard a fresh supply of candles to replace those long since consumed, and then examined his miniature fortress to see if there was any vulnerable point of attack which he had overlooked.

There was a second story, and through this it might be possible the apes could effect an entrance, therefore he lost no time in examining the upper portion of his refuge.

The rooms above were of the same size as those on the ground-floor; but directly over the corner was a small bell-tower open on all four sides, and entered by a trap-door. This last was secured by two iron bolts which shut into mortices in the main timbers of the building, and, as he believed, were sufficiently strong to resist any ordinary attack.

It was in this corner apartment over the parlor that Captain Seaworth had established his private office, and, strange to say, it had thus far escaped the observation of the apes. Everything was in the most complete order. The books, papers and boxes which filled the shelves on either side were as the commander of the ill-fated colony had left them. On the writing-desk lay an unfinished letter to the stockholders of the corporation, probably abandoned when the writer was called upon to resist this army of apes.

It was not necessary for Philip to close the heavy window-shutters, for they were already bolted, and in each was a sort of Venetian blind about four[155] inches square, which permitted a view of the surrounding country while the spectator remained hidden.

Before examining further Philip looked from these loop-holes, and to his dismay saw that he was already besieged.

At every point of vantage on the outside his enemies were posted. On the elevations of land in the immediate vicinity, the branches of the trees, and even the tops of the surrounding buildings, were groups of apes, who watched this portion of the house as if understanding that in it was hidden the human animal from whom they expected such rare entertainment or revenge.

There could be no question but that they were on the qui vive, and at the slightest movement of their captive would begin an attack. It was the silent siege of an enemy who did not consider it necessary to conceal himself behind his lines of defense.

Philip viewed the scene much as does a general when surveying a battle-field. For the apes to climb up the sides of the house, whereon were no projecting points, he knew was an impossibility, as it also was for them to effect an entrance through the barricaded doors and windows. To reach the tower from the adjoining buildings would not be difficult for such agile climbers; but once there their opportunities for attack would be no better than on the street below.

That Goliah was preparing for battle seemed hardly probable, since it is not generally believed[156] that animals know anything concerning warfare; but yet he was certainly bringing up his troops in the most soldier-like fashion. From the loop-holes Philip could see company after company marching to this point or that in regular order; and no less than twenty of the larger baboons, each wearing a saber by his side, were making regular rounds of the clearing, as if inspecting the troops.

To give it more the appearance of a regular siege, only certain of these long-tailed warriors were on watch, the others remaining close at hand in readiness to open the battle at the first warning cry. These idle ones were amusing themselves in a variety of ways. Some were wrestling, others playing leap-frog, and not a few apparently interested in story-telling—at least so it seemed to Philip in this latter case, for parties of from fifteen to twenty were gathered around some venerable monkey who appeared to be talking very earnestly.

Now and then Goliah would harangue the troops in the same manner as he had addressed those composing the court-martial, and that he was making direct reference to the house and its occupant could be told from the fact that he frequently pointed to those on guard as well as to the building, finally going through a series of threatening gestures, as if explaining what he proposed to do when the time for action should come.

But for Philip’s knowledge of how nearly apes can copy the movements of men he would have laughed at the baboons’ antics; but yet he could not[157] bring himself to believe his fortifications were in danger of being carried, or that the enemy would make any real assault.

It seemed only reasonable to suppose the brutes would not continue very long a siege which he could well sustain, according to the contents of his larder, for many weeks; therefore, being tranquil in mind, he could afford to examine leisurely his place of refuge.

A search resulted in his finding quite as much food for the mind as for the body, which was a great boon, considering the length of time he might be confined in this limited space. The apartment directly over the kitchen had been fitted up as a library and lounging-room, probably for the benefit of Captain Seaworth’s officers, and here was a collection of books of travel.

In such an out-of-the-way corner of the world these silent companions would be of the utmost value even in the case of those who enjoyed freedom of action, but to Philip in his present condition they were rare treasures.

His investigations in this quarter were ended for the time being, and descending to the kitchen, he made such a breakfast of canned provisions as was in the highest degree satisfactory, washing it down with moderate draughts of light wine. Then he betook himself once more to Captain Seaworth’s private office in the hope of finding something which would give him a clew to the reasons why the island had thus been left to Goliah and his followers.


A single written line indicating a combined attack of the apes would explain why a large body of men had been overcome by the animals; yet, armed as the colonists undoubtedly were, able to shelter themselves behind the walls of the buildings, it did not seem as if any number of the monkey-tribe could vanquish such a force as he knew had made their headquarters on this island.

Yet it appeared as if such must have been the case, and Philip searched among the papers in the hope of solving the riddle.

There were statements of moneys paid to the laborers, a detailed account of the erection of all the buildings, together with mention of the time occupied in unloading the vessel, dates as to when the crops had been planted, memoranda to show what portion of the jungle was intended should be cleared, and in fact all the minuti? of the business connected with establishing the colony, but no word relative to such enemies as Philip had encountered.

Not until he was about to abandon the search did he find that for which he sought. A large book lying carelessly at one side of the room had hitherto escaped his observation because it seemed to be of little importance, and he opened it without any idea that it might be the document for which he had been hunting so eagerly.

The first page was sufficient to arrest his attention, for on it was written, in bold letters, and in round, clear characters:
Log of the ship Reynard, and Journal of my stay at Luzon.

Here was what Philip had been most anxious to find, and without thought of the grinning faces which were keeping close watch over the building he seated himself in an arm-chair, believing the mystery was about to be solved.


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