By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 93

rough and round-about, so that we
consumed one or two more marches in covering the distance than if we
had followed the river. This it was which proved our undoing.

Those who sought us must have sent a party up the river immediately
after we escaped; for when we came at last onto the river-trail not far
from our destination, there can be no doubt but that we were seen by
Hoojans who were just ahead of us on the stream. The result was that
as we were passing through a clump of bush a score of warriors leaped
out upon us, and before we could scarce strike a blow in defense, had
disarmed and bound us.

For a time thereafter I seemed to be entirely bereft of hope. I could
see no ray of promise in the future--only immediate death for Juag and
me, which didn't concern me much in the face of what lay in store for

Poor child! What an awful life she had led! From the moment that I had
first seen her chained in the slave caravan of the Mahars until now, a
prisoner of a no less cruel creature, I could recall but a few brief
intervals of peace and quiet in her tempestuous existence. Before I
had known her, Jubal the Ugly One had pursued her across a savage world
to make her his mate. She had eluded him, and finally I had slain him;
but terror and privations, and exposure to fierce beasts had haunted
her footsteps during all her lonely flight from him. And when I had
returned to the outer world the old trials had recommenced with Hooja
in Jubal's role. I could almost have wished for death to vouchsafe her
that peace which fate seemed to deny her in this life.

I spoke to her on the subject, suggesting that we expire together.

"Do not fear, David," she replied. "I shall end my life before ever
Hooja can harm me; but first I shall see that Hooja dies."

She drew from her breast a little leathern thong, to the end of which
was fastened a tiny pouch.

"What have you there?" I asked.

"Do you recall that time you stepped upon the thing you call viper in
your world?" she asked.

I nodded.

"The accident gave you the idea for the poisoned arrows with which we
fitted the warriors of the empire," she continued. "And, too, it gave
me an idea. For a long time I have carried a viper's fang in my bosom.

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