The Monster Men

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 60

One long minute dragged after another, yet no suffocating
deluge poured in upon the girl, and presently she realized that the
ship had, at least temporarily, weathered the awful buffeting of the
savage elements. Now she felt but a gentle roll, though the wild
turmoil of the storm still came to her ears through the heavy planking
of the Ithaca's hull.

For a long hour she lay wondering what fate had overtaken the vessel
and whither she had been driven, and then, with a gentle grinding
sound, the ship stopped, swung around, and finally came to rest with a
slight list to starboard. The wind howled about her, the torrential
rain beat loudly upon her, but except for a slight rocking the ship lay
quiet.

Hours passed with no other sounds than those of the rapidly waning
tempest. The girl heard no signs of life upon the ship. Her curiosity
became more and more keenly aroused. She had that indefinable,
intuitive feeling that she was utterly alone upon the vessel, and at
length, unable to endure the inaction and uncertainty longer, made her
way to the companion ladder where for half an hour she futilely
attempted to remove the hatch.

As she worked she failed to hear the scraping of naked bodies
clambering over the ship's side, or the padding of unshod feet upon the
deck above her. She was about to give up her work at the hatch when
the heavy wooden cover suddenly commenced to move above her as though
actuated by some supernatural power. Fascinated, the girl stood gazing
in wide-eyed astonishment as one end of the hatch rose higher and
higher until a little patch of blue sky revealed the fact that morning
had come. Then the cover slid suddenly back and Virginia Maxon found
herself looking into a savage and terrible face.

The dark skin was creased in fierce wrinkles about the eyes and mouth.
Gleaming tiger cat's teeth curved upward from holes pierced to receive
them in the upper half of each ear. The slit ear lobes supported heavy
rings whose weight had stretched the skin until the long loop rested
upon the brown shoulders. The filed and blackened teeth behind the
loose lips added the last touch of hideousness to this terrible
countenance.

Nor was this all. A score of equally ferocious faces peered down from
behind the foremost. With a little scream Virginia Maxon sprang back
to the lower deck and ran toward her stateroom. Behind her she heard
the commotion of many men descending the companionway.


As

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