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could scarcely hope with but two hands to reach the throats of three
enemies, or ward off the blows and clutches of six powerful hands, or
the gnashing of three sets of savage fangs.

When the truth dawned upon him that he was being killed the instinct of
self-preservation was born in him. The ferocity with which he had
fought before paled into insignificance beside the mad fury with which
he now attacked the three terrible creatures upon him. Shaking himself
like a great lion he freed his arms for a moment from the clinging
embrace of his foemen, and seizing the neck of the nearest in his
mighty clutch wrenched the head completely around.

There was one awful shriek from the tortured brute - the vertebrae
parted with a snap, and Bulan's antagonists were reduced to two.
Lunging and struggling the three combatants stumbled farther and
farther into the jungle beyond the clearing. With mighty blows the man
buffeted the beasts to right and left, but ever they returned in
bestial rage to renew the encounter. Bulan was weakening rapidly under
the terrific strain to which he had been subjected, and from loss of
the blood which flowed from his wounds; yet he was slowly mastering the
foaming brutes, who themselves were torn and bleeding and exhausted.
Weaker and weaker became the struggles of them all, when a sudden
misstep sent Bulan stumbling headforemost against the stem of a tree,
where, stunned, he sank unconscious, at the mercy of the relentless

They had already sprung upon the prostrate form of their victim to
finish what the accident had commenced, when the loud report of Sing's
revolver smote upon their startled ears as the Chinaman's bullet buried
itself in the heart of Number Ten. Never had the ourang outangs heard
the sound of a firearm, and the noise, seemingly in such close
proximity, filled them with such terror that on the instant they forgot
all else than this new and startling fear, and with headlong haste
leaped away into the jungle, leaving Bulan lying where he had fallen.

So it was that though Sing passed within a few paces of the unconscious
man he neither saw nor heard aught of him or his antagonists.

When Bulan returned to consciousness the day was drawing to a close.
He was stiff and sore and weak. His head ached horribly. He thought
that he must indeed be dying, for how could one who suffered so revive?
But at last he managed to stagger to his feet, and finally to reach the
stream along which he had been travelling earlier in the day. Here he
quenched his thirst and bathed his wounds, and as darkness came he lay
down to sleep upon a bed of matted grasses.

The next morning found him refreshed and in considerably less pain, for
the powers of recuperation which belonged to his perfect health and
mighty physique had already worked an almost miraculous transformation
in him. While he was hunting in the jungle for his breakfast he came
suddenly upon Number Three and Number Twelve similarly employed.

At sight of him the two creatures started to run away, but he called to
them reassuringly and they returned. On closer inspection Bulan saw
that both were covered with terrible wounds, and after questioning them
learned that they had fared almost as badly at the hands of the ourang
outangs as had he.

"Even the beasts loathe us," exclaimed Number Twelve. "What are we to

"Leave the beasts alone, as I told you," replied Bulan.

"Human beings hate us also," persisted Number Twelve.

"Then let us live by ourselves," suggested Number Three.

"We hate each other," retorted the pessimistic Number Twelve. "There
is no place for us in the world, and no companionship. We are but
soulless things."

"Stop!" cried Bulan. "I am not a soulless thing. I am a man, and
within me is as fine and pure a soul as any man may own," and to his
mind's eye came the vision of a fair face surmounted by a mass of
loosely waving, golden hair; but the brainless ones could not
understand and only shook their heads as they resumed their feeding and
forgot the subject.

When the three had satisfied the cravings of their appetites two of
them were for lying down to sleep until it should be time to feed
again, but Bulan, once more master, would not permit it, and forced
them to accompany him in his seemingly futile search for the girl who
had disappeared so mysteriously after he had rescued her from the
ourang outangs.

Both Number Twelve and Number Three had assured him that the beasts had
not recaptured her, for they had seen the entire band flee madly
through the jungle after hearing the report of the single shot which
had so terrorized Bulan's antagonists. Bulan did not know what to make
of this occurrence which he had not himself heard, the shot having come
after he had lost consciousness at the foot of the tree; but from the
description of the noise given him by Number Twelve he felt sure that
it must have been the report of a gun, and hoped that it betokened the
presence of Virginia Maxon's friends, and that she was now safe in
their keeping.

Nevertheless he did not relinquish his determination to continue his
search for her, since it was quite possible that the gun had been fired
by a native, many of whom possessed firearms. His first concern was
for the girl's welfare, which spoke eloquently for the chivalry of his
character, and though he wished to see her for the pleasure that it
would give him, the hope of serving her was ever the first
consideration in his mind.

He was now confident that he was following the wrong direction, and
with the intention in view of discovering the tracks of the party which
had rescued or captured Virginia after he had been forced to relinquish
her, he set out in a totally new direction away from the river. His
small woodcraft and little experience in travelling resulted in his
becoming completely confused, so that instead of returning to the spot
where he had last seen the girl, as he wished to do, he bore far to the
northeast of the place, and missed entirely the path which von Horn and
his Dyaks had taken from the long-house into the jungle and back.

All that day he urged his reluctant companions on through the fearful
heat of the tropics until, almost exhausted, they halted at dusk upon
the bank of a river, where they filled their stomachs with cooling
draughts, and after eating lay down to sleep. It was quite dark when
Bulan was aroused by the sound of something approaching from up the
river, and as he lay listening he presently heard the subdued voices of
men conversing in whispers. He recognized the language as that of the
Dyaks, though he could interpret nothing which they said.

Presently he saw a dozen warriors emerge into a little patch of
moonlight. They bore a huge chest among them which they deposited
within a few paces of where Bulan lay. Then they commenced to dig in
the soft earth with their spears and parangs until they had excavated a
shallow pit. Into this they lowered the chest, covering it over with
earth and sprinkling dead grass, twigs and leaves above it, that it
might present to a searcher no sign that the ground had recently been
disturbed. The balance of the loose earth which would not go back into
the pit was thrown into the river.

When all had been made to appear as it was before, one of the warriors
made several cuts and scratches upon the stem of a tree which grew
above the spot where the chest was buried; then they hastened on in
silence past Bulan and down the river.

As von Horn stood by the river's bank after his conversation with
Virginia, he saw a small sampan approaching from up stream. In it he
made out two natives, and the stealthiness of their approach caused him
to withdraw into the shadow of a large prahu which was beached close to
where he had been standing.

When the men had come close to the landing one of them gave a low
signal, and presently a native came down from the long-house.

"Who is it comes by night?" he asked. "And what want you?"

"News has just reached us that Muda Saffir is alive," replied one of
the men in the boat, "and that he sleeps this night in your long-house.
Is it true?"

"Yes," answered the man on shore. "What do you wish of the Rajah Muda

"We are men of his company and we have news for him," returned the
speaker in the sampan. "Tell him that we must speak to him at once."

The native on shore returned to the long-house without replying. Von
Horn wondered what the important news for Muda Saffir might be, and so
he remained as he had been, concealed behind the prahu.

Presently the old Malay came down to the water's edge - very warily
though - and asked the men whom they might be. When they had given
their names he seemed relieved.

"Ninaka," they said, "has murdered Barunda who was taking the rajah's
treasure up to the rajah's stronghold - the treasure which Ninaka had
stolen after trying to murder the rajah and which Barunda had
recaptured. Now Ninaka, after murdering Barunda, set off through the
jungle toward the river which leads to Gunung Tebor, and Barunda's
uncle followed him with what few men he had with him; but he sent us
down river to try and find you, master, and beg of you to come with
many men and overtake Ninaka and punish him."

Muda Saffir thought for a moment.

"Hasten back to the uncle of Barunda and tell him that as soon as I can
gather the warriors I shall come and punish Ninaka. I have another
treasure here which I must not lose, but I can arrange that it will
still be here when I return for it, and then Barunda's uncle can come
back with me to assist me if assistance is needed. Also, be sure to
tell Barunda's uncle never to lose sight of the treasure," and Muda
Saffir turned and hastened back to the long-house.

As the men in the sampan headed the boat's bow up stream again, von
Horn ran along the jungle trail beside the river and abreast of the
paddlers. When he thought that they were out of hearing of the
long-house he hailed the two. In startled surprise the men ceased

"Who are you and what do you want?" asked one.

"I am the man to whom the chest belongs," replied von Horn. "If you
will take me to Barunda's uncle before Muda Saffir reaches him you
shall each have the finest rifles that the white man makes, with
ammunition enough to last you a year. All I ask is that you guide me
within sight of the party that pursues Ninaka; then you may leave me
and tell no one what you have done, nor will I tell any. What say you?"

The two natives consulted together in low tones. At last they drew
nearer the shore.

"Will you give us each a bracelet of brass as well as the rifles?"
asked the spokesman.

Von Horn hesitated. He knew the native nature well. To have
acquiesced too readily would have been to have invited still further
demands from them.

"Only the rifles and ammunition," he said at last, "unless you succeed
in keeping the knowledge of my presence from both Barunda's uncle and
Muda Saffir. If you do that you shall have the bracelets also."

The prow of the sampan touched the bank.

"Come!" said one of the warriors.

Von Horn stepped aboard. He was armed only with a brace of Colts, and
he was going into the heart of the wild country of the head hunters, to
pit his wits against those of the wily Muda Saffir. His guides were
two savage head hunting warriors of a pirate crew from whom he hoped to
steal what they considered a fabulously rich treasure. Whatever sins
might be laid to the door of the doctor, there could be no question but
that he was a very brave man!

Von Horn's rash adventure had been suggested by the hope that he might,
by bribing some of the natives with Barunda's uncle, make way with the
treasure before Muda Saffir arrived to claim it, or, failing that,
learn its exact whereabouts that he might return for it with an
adequate force later. That he was taking his life in his hands he well
knew, but so great was the man's cupidity that he reckoned no risk too
great for the acquirement of a fortune.

The two Dyaks, paddling in silence up the dark river, proceeded for
nearly three hours before they drew in to the bank and dragged the
sampan up into the bushes. Then they set out upon a narrow trail into
the jungle. It so happened that after travelling for several miles
they inadvertently took another path than that followed by the party
under Barunda's uncle, so that they passed the latter without being
aware of it, going nearly half a mile to the right of where the
trailers camped a short distance from the bivouac of Ninaka.

In the dead of night Ninaka and his party had crawled away under the
very noses of the avengers, taking the chest with them, and by chance
von Horn and the two Dyaks cut back into the main trail along the river
almost at the very point that Ninaka halted to bury the treasure.

And so it was that Bulan was not the only one who watched the hiding of
the chest.

When Ninaka had disappeared down the river trail Bulan lay speculating
upon the strange actions he had witnessed. He wondered why the men
should dig a hole in the midst of the jungle to hide away the box which
he had so often seen in Professor Maxon's workshop. It occurred to him
that it might be well to remember just where the thing was buried, so
that he could lead the professor to it should he ever see the old man
again. As he lay thus, half dozing, his attention was attracted by a
stealthy rustling in the bushes nearby, and as he watched he was
dumbfounded to see von Horn creep out into the moonlight. A moment
later the man was followed by two Dyaks. The three stood conversing in
low tones, pointing repeatedly at the spot where the chest lay hidden.
Bulan could understand but little of their conversation, but it was
evident that von Horn was urging some proposition to which the warriors

Suddenly, without an instant's warning, von Horn drew his gun, wheeled,
and fired point-blank, first at one of his companions, then at the
other. Both men fell in their tracks, and scarcely had the pungent
odor of the powder smoke reached Bulan's nostrils ere the white man had
plunged into the jungle and disappeared.

Failing in his attempt to undermine the loyalty of the two Dyaks von
Horn had chosen the only other way to keep the knowledge of the
whereabouts of the chest from Barunda's uncle and Muda Saffir, and now
his principal interest in life was to escape the vengeance of the head
hunters and return to the long-house before his absence should be

There he could form a party of natives and set out to regain the chest
after Muda Saffir and Barunda's uncle had given up the quest. That
suspicion should fall on him seemed scarcely credible since the only
men who knew that he had left the long-house that night lay dead upon
the very spot where the treasure reposed.



When Muda Saffir turned from the two Dyaks who had brought him news of
the treasure he hastened to the long-house and arousing the chief of
the tribe who domiciled there explained that necessity required that
the rajah have at once two war prahus fully manned. Now the power of
the crafty old Malay extended from one end of this great river on which
the long-house lay to the other, and though not all the tribes admitted
allegiance to him, yet there were few who would not furnish him with
men and boats when he required them; for his piratical cruises carried
him often up and down the stream, and with his savage horde it was
possible for him to wreak summary and terrible vengeance upon those who
opposed him.

When he had explained his wishes to the chief, the latter, though at
heart hating and fearing Muda Saffir, dared not refuse; but to a second
proposition he offered strong opposition until the rajah threatened to
wipe out his entire tribe should he not accede to his demands.

The thing which the chief demurred to had occurred to Muda Saffir even
as he walked back from the river after conversing with the two Dyak
messengers. The thought of regaining the treasure, the while he
administered punishment to the traitorous Ninaka, filled his soul with
savage happiness. Now if he could but once more possess himself of the
girl! And why not? There was only the sick old man, a Chinaman and
von Horn to prevent it, and the chances were that they all were asleep.

So he explained to the chief the plan that had so suddenly sprung to
his wicked mind.

"Three men with parangs may easily quiet the old man, his assistant and
the Chinaman," he said, "and then we can take the girl along with us."

The chief refused at first, point-blank, to be a party to any such
proceedings. He knew what had happened to the Sakkaran Dyaks after
they had murdered a party of Englishmen, and he did not purpose laying
himself and his tribe open to the vengeance of the white men who came
in many boats and with countless guns and cannon to take a terrible
toll for every drop of white blood spilled.

So it was that Muda Saffir was forced to compromise, and be satisfied
with the chief's assistance in abducting the girl, for it was not so
difficult a matter to convince the head hunter that she really had
belonged to the rajah, and that she had been stolen from him by the old
man and the doctor.

Virginia slept in a room with three Dyak women. It was to this
apartment that the chief finally consented to dispatch two of his
warriors. The men crept noiselessly within the pitch dark interior
until they came to the sleeping form of one of the Dyak women.
Cautiously they awoke her.

"Where is the white girl?" asked one of the men in a low whisper.
"Muda Saffir has sent us for her. Tell her that her father is very
sick and wants her, but do not mention Muda Saffir's name lest she
might not come."

The whispering awakened Virginia and she lay wondering what the cause
of the midnight conference might be, for she recognized that one of the
speakers was a man, and there had been no man in the apartment when she
had gone to sleep earlier in the night.

Presently she heard some one approach her, and a moment later a woman's
voice addressed her; but she could not understand enough of the native
tongue to make out precisely the message the speaker wished to convey.
The words "father," "sick," and "come," however she finally understood
after several repetitions, for she had picked up a smattering of the
Dyak language during her enforced association with the natives.

The moment that the possibilities suggested by these few words dawned
upon her, she sprang to her feet and followed the woman toward the door
of the apartment. Immediately without the two warriors stood upon the
verandah awaiting their victim, and as Virginia passed through the
doorway she was seized roughly from either side, a heavy hand was
clapped over her mouth, and before she could make even an effort to
rebel she had been dragged to the end of the verandah, down the notched
log to the ground and a moment later found herself in a war prahu which
was immediately pushed into the stream.

Since Virginia had come to the long-house after her rescue from the
ourang outangs, supposedly by von Horn, Rajah Muda Saffir had kept very
much out of sight, for he knew that should the girl see him she would
recognize him as the man who had stolen her from the Ithaca. So it
came as a mighty shock to the girl when she heard the hated tones of
the man whom she had knocked overboard from the prahu two nights
before, and realized that the bestial Malay sat close beside her, and
that she was again in his power. She looked now for no mercy, nor
could she hope to again escape him so easily as she had before, and so
she sat with bowed head in the bottom of the swiftly moving craft,
buried in anguished thoughts, hopeless and miserable.

Along the stretch of black river that the prahu and her consort covered
that night Virginia Maxon saw no living thing other than a single
figure in a small sampan which hugged the shadows of the shore as the
two larger boats met and passed it, nor answered their hail.

Where von Horn and his two Dyak guides had landed, Muda Saffir's force
disembarked and plunged into the jungle. Rapidly they hastened along
the well known trail toward the point designated by the two messengers,
to come upon the spot almost simultaneously with the party under
Barunda's uncle, who, startled by the two shots several hours
previously, had been cautiously searching through the jungle for an
explanation of them.

They had gone warily for fear that they might stumble upon Ninaka's
party before Muda Saffir arrived with reinforcements, and but just now
had they discovered the prostrate forms of their two companions. One
was dead, but the other was still conscious and had just sufficient
vitality left after the coming of his fellows to whisper that they had
been treacherously shot by the younger white man who had been at the
long-house where they had found Muda Saffir - then the fellow expired
without having an opportunity to divulge the secret hiding place of the
treasure, over the top of which his body lay.

Now Bulan had been an interested witness of all that transpired. At
first he had been inclined to come out of his hiding place and follow
von Horn, but so much had already occurred beneath the branches of the
great tree where the chest lay hidden that he decided to wait until
morning at least, for he was sure that he had by no means seen the last
of the drama which surrounded the heavy box. This belief was
strengthened by the haste displayed by both Ninaka and von Horn to
escape the neighborhood as quickly as possible, as though they feared
that they might be apprehended should they delay even for a moment.

Number Three and Number Twelve still slept, not having been aroused
even by the shots fired by von Horn. Bulan himself had dozed after the
departure of the doctor, but the advent of Barunda's uncle with his
followers had awakened him, and now he lay wide eyed and alert as the
second party, under Muda Saffir, came into view when they left the
jungle trail and entered the clearing.

His interest in either party was but passive until he saw the khaki
blouse, short skirt and trim leggins of the captive walking between two
of the Dyaks of Muda Saffir's company. At the same instant he
recognized the evil features of the rajah as those of the man who had
directed the abduction of Virginia Maxon from the wrecked Ithaca.

Like a great cat Bulan drew himself cautiously to all fours - every
nerve and muscle taut with the excitement of the moment. Before him he
saw a hundred and fifty ferocious Borneo head hunters, armed with
parangs, spears and sumpitans. At his back slept two almost brainless
creatures - his sole support against the awful odds he must face before
he could hope to succor the divinity whose image was enshrined in his
brave and simple heart.

The muscles stood out upon his giant forearm as he gripped the stock of
his bull whip. He believed that he was going to his death, for mighty
as were his thews he knew that in the face of the horde they would
avail him little, yet he saw no other way than to sit supinely by while
the girl went to her doom, and that he could not do. He nudged Number
Twelve. "Silence!" he whispered, and "Come! The girl is here. We
must save her. Kill the men," and the same to the hairy and terrible
Number Three.

Both the creatures awoke and rose to their hands and knees without
noise that could be heard above the chattering of the natives, who had
crowded forward to view the dead bodies of von Horn's victims.
Silently Bulan came to his feet, the two monsters at his back rising
and pressing close behind him. Along the denser shadows the three
crept to a position in the rear of the natives. The girl's guards had
stepped forward with the others to join in the discussion that followed
the dying statement of the murdered warrior, leaving her upon the outer
fringe of the crowd.

For an instant a sudden hope of escape sprang to Virginia Maxon's
mind - there was none between her and the jungle through which they had
just passed. Though unknown dangers lurked in the black and uncanny
depths of the dismal forest, would not death in any form be far
preferable to the hideous fate which awaited her in the person of the
bestial Malay pirate?

She had turned to take the first step toward freedom when three figures
emerged from the wall of darkness behind her. She saw the war-caps,
shields, and war-coats, and her heart sank. Here were others of the
rajah's party - stragglers who had come just in time to thwart her

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Online LibraryEdgar Rice BurroughsThe Monster Men → online text (page 11 of 14)