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Upon arrival at the beach the two adventurers were met by a contingent of frightful-looking savages bearing long spears. As the procession formed around the two guests of honour and plunged into the bush, bound for the king's wari, two island maidens marched behind the two sea-dogs, waving huge palm-leaf fans, the better to make passage a cool and comfortable one.
"By the gods of war, Gib, my dear boy," said the delighted Captain Scraggs, "but this is class, eh, Gib?"
"Every time," responded the commodore. "If that chuckle-headed McGuffey only had the sense to come along he might be enjoyin' himself, too. You must be dignified, Scraggsy, old salamander. Remember that you're bigger an' better'n any king, because you're an American citizen. Be dignified, by all means. These people are sensitive and peculiar, and that's why we haven't taken any weapons with us. If they thought we doubted their hospitality they'd have the court bouncer heave us out of town before you could say Jack Robinson."
"I'd love to see them giving the bounce to McGuffey," said Captain Scraggs musingly. Mr. Gibney had a swift mental picture of such a proceeding and chuckled happily. Had he been permitted a glance at McGuffey at that moment he might have observed that worthy sweltering in the heat of the forward hold of the Maggie II, for he was busy getting his guns on deck. From which it will readily be deduced that B. McGuffey, Esquire, was following the advice of his paternal ancestor and getting an anchor out to windward.
One might go on at great length and describe the triumphal entry of Commodore Gibney and Captain Scraggs into the capitol of Kandavu; of how the king, an undersized, shrivelled old savage, stuck his bushy head out the window of his bungalow when he saw the procession coming; of how a minute later he advanced into the space in the centre of his wari, where in the olden days the populace was wont to gather for its cannibal orgies; how he greeted his distinguished visitors with the most prodigious rubbing of noses seen in those parts for many a day; of the feast that followed; of the fowls and pigs that garnished the festive board, not omitting the keg of Three Star thoughtfully provided by Mr. Gibney.
Tabu-Tabu acted as interpreter and everything went swimmingly until Tabu-Tabu, his hospitality doubtless strengthened by frequent libations of the Elixir of Life, begged Mr. Gibney to invite the remainder of his crew ashore for the feast. Mr. Gibney, himself rather illuminated by this time, thought it might not be a bad idea.
"It's a rotten shame, Scraggsy," he said, "to think of that fool McGuffey not bein' here to enjoy himself. I'm goin' to send a note out to him by one of Tabu-Tabu's boys, askin' him once more to come ashore, or to let the first mate and one or two of the seamen come if Mac still refuses to be civil."
"Good idea, Gib," said Captain Scraggs, his mouth full of roast chicken and yams. So Mr. Gibney tore a leaf out of his pocket memorandum book, scrawled a note to McGuffey, and handed it to Tabu-Tabu, who at once dispatched a messenger with it to the Maggie II.
Within half an hour the messenger returned. He was wildly excited and poured a torrent of native gibberish into the attentive ears of Tabu-Tabu and the king. He pointed several times to the point of his jaw, rubbed the small of his back, and once he touched his nose; whereupon Mr. Gibney was aware that the said organ had a slight list to port, and he so informed Captain Scraggs. Neither of the gentlemen had the slightest trouble in arriving at the correct solution of the mystery. The royal messenger had been incontinently kicked overboard by B. McGuffey, Esquire.
Tabu-Tabu's wild eyes glittered and grew wilder and wilder as the messenger reported the indignity thus heaped upon him. The king scowled at Captain Scraggs, and Mr. Gibney was suddenly aware that goose-flesh was breaking out on the backs of his sturdy legs. He had a haunting sensation that not only had he crawled into a hole, but he had pulled the entire aperture in after him. For the first time he began to fear that he had been too precipitate, and with the thought it occurred to the gallant commodore that he would be much safer back on the decks of the Maggie II. Always crafty and imaginative, however, Mr. Gibney came quickly to the front with an excuse for getting back to the ship. He stepped quickly toward the little group around the outraged royal ambassador and inquired the cause of the disturbance. Quivering with rage, Tabu-Tabu informed him of what had occurred.
Mr. Gibney's rage, of course, knew no bounds. Nevertheless, he did not have to simulate his rage, for he was truly furious. When he could control his emotions, he requested Tabu-Tabu to inform the king that he, Gibney, accompanied by Captain Scraggs, would forthwith repair to the schooner and then and there flay the offending McGuffey within an inch of his life. Suiting the action to the word, Mr. Gibney called to Captain Scraggs to follow him, and started for the beach.
As Captain Scraggs arose, a trifle unsteadily, from his seat, a black hand reached around him from the rear and closed over his mouth. Now, Captain Scraggs was well versed in the rough-and-tumble tactics of the San Francisco waterfront; hence, when he felt a long pair of arms crossing over his neck from the rear, he merely stooped and whirled his opponent over his head. In that instant his mouth was free, and clear above the shouting and the tumult rose his frenzied shriek for help. Mr. Gibney whirled with the speed and agility of a panther just in time to dodge a blow from a war club. His fist collided with the jaw of Tabu-Tabu, and down went that savage as if pole-axed.
Pandemonium broke loose at once. Captain Scraggs, after his single shriek for help, broke from the circle of savages and fled like a frightened rabbit for the beach. One of the natives hurled a rock at him. The missile took Scraggs in the back of the head, and he instantly curled up in a heap.
"Scraggsy's dead," thought the horrified Gibney, and sprang at the king. In that moment it came to Mr. Gibney to sell out dearly, and if he could dispose of the king, he felt that Scraggs's death would be avenged. In an instant the commodore's great arms had closed around the king, and with the helpless monarch in his grizzly bear grip Mr. Gibney backed up against the nearest bungalow. A fringe of spears threatened him in front, but for the moment he was safe behind, and the king's body protected him. Whenever one of the savages made a jab at Mr. Gibney, Mr. Gibney gave the king a boa-constrictor squeeze, and the monarch howled.
"I'll squeeze him to death," panted Mr. Gibney to Tabu-Tabu when that individual had managed to pick himself up. "Let me go, or I'll kill your king."
The answer was an earthenware pot which crashed down on Mr. Gibney's head from a window in the bungalow behind him. He sagged forward and fell on his face with the gasping king in his arms.
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