The Monster Men

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 8

side of the prahu.

Sing realized that the boat might contain friendly natives, but he had
cruised these waters too many years to take chances. Better kill a
hundred friends, he thought, than be captured by a single pirate.

At the shot the prahu slowed up, and a volley of musketry from her crew
satisfied Sing that he had made no mistake in classifying her. Her
fire fell short as did the ball from the small cannon mounted in her
bow.

Virginia was watching the prahu from one of the cabin ports. She saw
the momentary hesitation and confusion which followed Sing's first
shot, and then to her dismay she saw the rowers bend to their oars
again and the prahu move swiftly in the direction of the Ithaca.

It was apparent that the pirates had perceived the almost defenseless
condition of the schooner. In a few minutes they would be swarming the
deck, for poor old Sing would be entirely helpless to repel them. If
Dr. von Horn were only there, thought the distracted girl. With the
machine gun alone he might keep them off.

At the thought of the machine gun a sudden resolve gripped her. Why
not man it herself? Von Horn had explained its mechanism to her in
detail, and on one occasion had allowed her to operate it on the voyage
from Singapore. With the thought came action. Running to the magazine
she snatched up a feed-belt, and in another moment was on deck beside
the astonished Sing.

The pirates were skimming rapidly across the smooth waters of the
harbor, answering Sing's harmless shots with yells of derision and
wild, savage war cries. There were, perhaps, fifty Dyaks and
Malays--fierce, barbaric men; mostly naked to the waist, or with
war-coats of brilliant colors. The savage headdress of the Dyaks, the
long, narrow, decorated shields, the flashing blades of parang and kris
sent a shudder through the girl, so close they seemed beneath the
schooner's side.

"What do? What do?" cried Sing in consternation. "Go b'low. Klick!"
But before he had finished his exhortation Virginia was racing toward
the bow where the machine gun was mounted. Tearing the cover from it
she swung the muzzle toward the pirate prahu, which by now was nearly
within range above the vessel's side--a moment more and she would be
too close to use the weapon upon the pirates.

Virginia was quick to perceive the necessity for haste, while the
pirates at the same instant realized the menace of the new danger

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