Pellucidar

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 112

calms that the catastrophe occurred. Our sail hung
limp and our momentum decreased when of a sudden a particularly vicious
squall caught us. Before I could cut the sheets the mast had snapped
at the thwart in which it was stepped.

The worst had happened; Juag and I seized paddles and kept the canoe
with the wind; but that squall was the parting shot of the gale, which
died out immediately after, leaving us free to make for the shore,
which we lost no time in attempting. But Hooja had drawn closer in
toward shore than we, so it looked as if he might head us off before we
could land. However, we did our best to distance him, Dian taking a
paddle with us.

We were in a fair way to succeed when there appeared, pouring from
among the trees beyond the beach, a horde of yelling, painted savages,
brandishing all sorts of devilish-looking primitive weapons. So
menacing was their attitude that we realized at once the folly of
attempting to land among them.

Hooja was drawing closer to us. There was no wind. We could not hope
to outpaddle him. And with our sail gone, no wind would help us,
though, as if in derision at our plight, a steady breeze was now
blowing. But we had no intention of sitting idle while our fate
overtook us, so we bent to our paddles and, keeping parallel with the
coast, did our best to pull away from our pursuers.

It was a grueling experience. We were weakened by lack of food. We
were suffering the pangs of thirst. Capture and death were close at
hand. Yet I think that we gave a good account of ourselves in our
final effort to escape. Our boat was so much smaller and lighter than
any of Hooja's that the three of us forced it ahead almost as rapidly
as his larger craft could go under their twenty paddles.

As we raced along the coast for one of those seemingly interminable
periods that may draw hours into eternities where the labor is
soul-searing and there is no way to measure time, I saw what I took for
the opening to a bay or the mouth of a great river a short distance
ahead of us. I wished that we might make for it; but with the menace
of Hooja close behind and the screaming natives who raced along the
shore parallel to us, I dared not attempt it.

We were not far from

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