The Monster Men

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 83

it came up the
river. The idea grew upon her as the day advanced until she spent the
time in watching furtively for some means of escape should they but
touch the shore momentarily; and though they halted twice her captors
were too watchful to permit her the slightest opportunity for putting
her plan into action.

Barunda and Ninaka urged their men on, with brief rests, all day, nor
did they halt even after night had closed down upon the river. On, on
the swift prahu sped up the winding channel which had now dwindled to a
narrow stream, at intervals rushing strongly between rocky walls with a
current that tested the strength of the strong, brown paddlers.

Long-houses had become more and more infrequent until for some time now
no sign of human habitation had been visible. The jungle undergrowth
was scantier and the spaces between the boles of the forest trees more
open. Virginia Maxon was almost frantic with despair as the utter
helplessness of her position grew upon her. Each stroke of those
slender paddles was driving her farther and farther from friends, or
the possibility of rescue. Night had fallen, dark and impenetrable,
and with it had come the haunting fears that creep in when the sun has
deserted his guardian post.

Barunda and Ninaka were whispering together in low gutturals, and to
the girl's distorted and fear excited imagination it seemed possible
that she alone must be the subject of their plotting. The prahu was
gliding through a stretch of comparatively quiet and placid water where
the stream spread out into a little basin just above a narrow gorge
through which they had just forced their way by dint of the most
laborious exertions on the part of the crew.

Virginia watched the two men near her furtively. They were deeply
engrossed in their conversation. Neither was looking in her direction.
The backs of the paddlers were all toward her. Stealthily she rose to
a stooping position at the boat's side. For a moment she paused, and
then, almost noiselessly, dove overboard and disappeared beneath the
black waters.

It was the slight rocking of the prahu that caused Barunda to look
suddenly about to discover the reason for the disturbance. For a
moment neither of the men apprehended the girl's absence. Ninaka was
the first to do so, and it was he who called loudly to the paddlers to
bring the boat to a stop. Then they dropped down the river with the
current, and paddled about above the

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