The Voyage Continued
The next day the sea continued rough but the fog had disappeared. Hanno, still weak, dragged himself up again on deck and looked out toward where he thought land ought to be, but it was nowhere in sight. Evidently the day before they had ventured into deeper water, either through intent or accident. The "Look-out Man" passed him hurriedly without the usual greeting. The boy struggled after him, but the man, only pointing upward to the sky, hurried on.
Hanno turned to gaze where he had pointed. At first he perceived nothing; then he noticed that the fine streaks of clouds on the horizon were being rapidly replaced by thick masses. The sea, too, seemed rising, as if in preparation for a conflict. Dizzy and weak, he struggled to his feet, and, as he did so, a huge billow swept over the deck, wetting him up to his knees. A strong wind began to blow and drive the Kada, as the boat was called, before it, while the lightning seemed to set the very sky on fire.
To the young Carthaginian, reared on the mild waters of the Mediterranean, it seemed like an attack of the gods themselves. He forgot to fear what would happen when the storm actually broke. Sick as he was, there was something that fascinated him in its gathering and made him conscious only that orders were being shouted above the noise of the rapidly rising waves, the howling wind, and the now persistent bursts of thunder. Suddenly some one spoke next to him. "Well, the odds have turned in our favor; the Cabiri have brought us through. We are going to make it all right." Hanno felt grateful to the "Look-out Man" for addressing him, and began to ask eagerly, "How—" The man interrupted him by pointing to a dark mass toward which the boat was slowly but surely being rowed and which soon proved to be a gently sloping sandy shore.
And they did somehow make it, Carthaginian grit and courage counting in their favor. The boat was guided straight on the sand. Then every one, even Hanno's dignified uncle, leaped out, and evidently prepared for just such emergencies, all waded through the low water and helped drag the boat high up beyond the reach of the waves, its flat bottom making this possible.
Hanno tried to do his share in helping, but he was still too weak to be of much assistance. As he stood panting at a little distance, he watched the calm, silent, unexcited mien of those directing the crew, with wonder that no trace of fear was to be detected in their faces.
It was two days before the boat, by strength of arms and levers, was again launched. It now proved possible to hoist the sails and in consequence the rate of travel was more rapid, as Hanno saw in a sort of log book into which his uncle gave him a glimpse. The boat no longer hugged the shore so closely, but made its way boldly from headland to headland.
Scarcely were they well started on this more rapid travel, than the "Look-out Man" called the attention of the captain and Himlicat to something dark on the horizon. The captain's more powerful glasses were at once turned toward the object.
"It is a boat," he finally said. Then, after a moment, he added more excitedly, "I shouldn't wonder if it was the Roman boat that I noticed just outside the Pillars of Hercules. In that case it must have been following us ever since, and must have found safety during the storm not very far from where we have been."
"The spy!" exclaimed Hanno's uncle, turning a glance backward, so terrible in its wrath that Hanno trembled. "They want to steal our trade from us, do they? The Romans would like to call this sea 'Nostrum Marum,' would they, as they do the Mediterranean? And they hope to learn its secrets from us, eh? Well, we will see!" He glanced around, and then turning to the captain he harshly gave an order.
Immediately the boat turned and again directed its course toward the shore, which was exceedingly rocky. Here they anchored. "What are we going to do?" Hanno ventured to ask.
"Do?" repeated his uncle grimly. "Why, remain here forever, or return to die,—anything, except help a Roman spy!" What could this decision mean? Full of perplexity Hanno sought the "Look-out Man."
"Remain here?" that person repeated after the boy's inquiry. "We may, but I do not expect to, and I guess your uncle doesn't either. Did you notice the length of our cable? That's going to play a big part in freeing us, for, mark you, there's no such thing on that vessel yonder!"
"But I don't see—" began Hanno. He stopped, for his friend had taken out his glasses. "It is a Roman," the "Look-out Man" exclaimed almost triumphantly, handing the glasses, with a peculiar gleam in his eyes, to the boy. "And it is anchoring in a worse place than we are in at present."
After that the atmosphere on board seemed to grow actually cheerful. It was the time of the full moon, and, consequently, of high spring tide. The Romans, accustomed to the tideless Mediterranean, had evidently come unprepared for anything of the kind. As the tide rose, the Carthaginians joked and laughed while they kept their eyes fastened on the other boat, which was seen tossed about by the waves. Hanno felt himself trembling violently as he saw the danger which threatened themselves despite the advantage that lay in their long cable, as well as the stranger. "Won't both boats be wrecked?" he asked his uncle in a voice that he could scarcely raise above a whisper.
"As for our boat, perhaps," Himlicat answered sternly. "But as for the other boat, certainly!" and he turned away.
Hanno sat down and covered his eyes. Suddenly a joyous shout from many voices made him raise his head.
There was great excitement on board. Something had happened. Forgetting his prohibition, Hanno rushed to the captain's poop, where he found his uncle who, forgetting to reprove him, silently handed him his glasses. The Roman boat had been dashed against the rocks!
The excitement did not last long. The anchor was raised and the Kada, with apparently no thought of possible survivors of the wreck, went rejoicing on her way. Two days later they were able to make a landing at one of the smaller Tin Islands.
Hanno had felt ill at ease ever since the destruction of the Roman boat, but he entirely forgot it, and the perils through which they had already passed, when his uncle placed his hand kindly on his shoulder, saying, "Come, cheer up. Do you not realize that you are a bringer of civilization to people different from any you have ever seen, a people that but for such as we would remain quite isolated from the rest of the world?"
As he spoke, the crew, which consisted partly of thick-lipped, curly-haired natives of Libya and other parts of Africa, were already arranging the articles of exchange, which had been brought on the boat, in neat piles not far from the shore. One of these consisted of coarse earthenware; another of copper vessels. Lastly, they brought out a considerable amount of salt, which the natives of these islands had difficulty in procuring, and valued greatly. This done, Himlicat ordered that a great quantity of brush should be gathered near the shore and set on fire as a signal of their presence. Then they returned to the boat.
Not long after, the natives, dressed in the skins of wild animals, came trooping up in ever increasing numbers, making wild signs of pleasure. After examining the display, some of them disappeared, but presently returned with donkeys laden with ingots of tin—the commodity for which the Carthaginians had come. This they arranged opposite to the other commodities, and, signaling to the boat, retired to a distance.
Hanno accompanied his uncle and the officers of the boat to an inspection of what had been left, carrying, at Himlicat's suggestion, his writing tools with him. These were contained in a little elongated case which was generally carried in the folds of the robes. With one of the slender kalems that came with it dipped into ink, Hanno followed his uncle's example of estimating the value of the tin as compared with what they had themselves brought. To the bearded, long-haired barbarians, no doubt watching from a distance, this must have seemed like a magic rite.
"A good lot!" Himlicat exclaimed, when he had looked the tin over. "A very good lot. They must be rich in tin this year. Then why shouldn't we get more? We have brought them what they value more highly—and at great peril to ourselves."
Accordingly they again retired. The savages understood what this meant. After conferring together they sent two of their number away, who returned shortly, bringing a quantity of hides. This still not being satisfactory a few more skins and a small amount of lead was brought. Himlicat, who had been carefully studying the action of the savages through glasses, now decided that must serve. He therefore gave orders that the tin and other things were to be removed to the vessel, and then descending once more he deposited a flat bowl directly in front of his own goods. This was filled with cheap glittering ornaments of many different kinds.
"I had almost asked too much from them," he exclaimed to Hanno. "I could see that some were getting provoked. And I don't want to make enemies. These gewgaws cost me little, and will make them forget how much they have paid me, and likewise insure me a pleasant reception when I come again."
Hanno nodded admiringly, wondering if he should ever possess such great business talent. He watched eagerly to see what the natives would do after they had left, and when he saw them dancing and leaping, he felt sure that it was for joy at the great generosity of the merchant prince who had come to them.
The "Look-out Man" seemed to feel almost as much pleasure as Himlicat in the profits that they had made. He explained minutely to Hanno how important this tin was in the hardening of copper into bronze, and about how many bronze arms, implements, and utensils could be made with the addition of the tin that they were bringing back to Carthage. "We have almost a monopoly of this tin," he concluded. "It is one of the sources of wealth of our nation, and that is why Carthaginian merchants have to go to extremes sometimes to guard the secret of how we get it."
Hanno again thought of the foreign vessel that had followed them, while strange doubts as to their having acted rightly passed over him. He was about to ask his friend some of the questions that had troubled him at the time of the wreckage when his uncle came up with an announcement that put them completely out of his head for the rest of the trip.
"We are going to try for the amber fields," said Himlicat.
The trip to the Tin Islands had been full of perils, but they were insignificant compared to those now encountered as they made their way into the Baltic Sea. After many hardships they reached the district east of Helder, where they found a certain amount of amber that the tide had washed ashore. They received bad treatment here, however, for while busily engaged in gathering the amber a flight of arrows descended into their midst. Fortunately they were near their boat, and managed to escape, but not until two of the crew had been hit by the poisoned arrows, from which they soon after died. They were in peril for another cause. Although their boat had been overhauled at the Tin Islands, it was again getting so foul with the long voyage that finally it was decided best to give up for the present any further search for the source of the amber trade, and begin the journey back to Carthage.
On account of the boat's condition travel was very slow. It was also uneventful, except for a brief period when the Kada found itself entangled in enormous masses of floating seaweed. The captain had by this time taken a fancy to Hanno. He occasionally allowed him to share his post, and taught him how he guided the vessel almost entirely through his knowledge of the stars.
How good the sight of Gadeira seemed when they sailed into its harbor after an absence of several months! Hanno was again cautioned that there were certain secrets he must not reveal. "When in doubt," his uncle said, "talk of our attack on the amber coast, or of the strange appearance and actions of the natives of the Tin Islands." They were surrounded by a crowd of people from the moment they entered, all anxious to hear the story of their adventures. There were many offers of hospitality, but before any were accepted, Hanno accompanied his uncle and the other Carthaginians who had made the daring voyage, to the temples of the gods, in order to offer sacrifices and thanks for their safe return.
Everything in Gadeira now seemed exceptionally interesting to Hanno, but particularly perhaps the merchant ships that had lately come in from other trips, for the Carthaginians had established trade with every part of the known world. The rich merchants were as friendly among themselves as they were inimical to all foreigners. One whom they met had just come from an island called Cerne, off the west African coast. There he had had dealings with Ethiopians whom he described as wearing embroidered robes and drinking from ivory cups. His return cargo consisted mainly of lion, panther, and elephant skins, together with some ivory.
Their stay in Gadeira was only long enough for necessary repairs to the boat, and they were off for the land which Hanno had thought more than once he was never again to see.