The Monster Men

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 79

his chief disappear beneath the swift waters of the river,
but the word of command that would have sent the boat hurriedly back to
pick up the swimmer was not given. Instead a lusty cry for greater
speed ahead urged the sinuous muscles gliding beneath the sleek brown
hides; and when Muda Saffir rose to the surface with a cry for help
upon his lips Ninaka shouted back to him in derision, consigning his
carcass to the belly of the nearest crocodile.

In futile rage Muda Saffir called down the most terrible curses of
Allah and his Prophet upon the head of Ninaka and his progeny to the
fifth generation, and upon the shades of his forefathers, and upon the
grim skulls which hung from the rafters of his long-house. Then he
turned and swam rapidly toward the shore.

Ninaka, now in possession of both the chest and the girl, was rich
indeed, but with Muda Saffir dead he scarce knew to whom he could
dispose of the white girl for a price that would make it worth while to
be burdened with the danger and responsibility of retaining her. He
had had some experience of white men in the past and knew that dire
were the punishments meted to those who wronged the white man's women.
All through the remainder of the long night Ninaka pondered the
question deeply. At last he turned to Virginia.

"Why does the big white man who leads the ourang outangs follow us?" he
asked. "Is it the chest he desires, or you?"

"It is certainly not the chest," replied the girl. "He wishes to take
me back to my father, that is all. If you will return me to him you
may keep the chest, if that is what you wish."

Ninaka looked at her quizzically for a moment. Evidently then she was
of some value. Possibly should he retain her he could wring a handsome
ransom from the white man. He would wait and see, it were always an
easy matter to rid himself of her should circumstances require. The
river was there, deep, dark and silent, and he could place the
responsibility for her loss upon Muda Saffir.

Shortly after day break Ninaka beached his prahu before the long-house
of a peaceful river tribe. The chest he hid in the underbrush close by
his boat, and with the girl ascended the notched log that led to the
verandah of the structure, which, stretching away for three hundred
yards upon its tall piles, resembled a

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