Land of Terror

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Edgar Rice Burroughs

HOW LONG that voyage lasted, God only knows. A dozen times we were attacked by huge nameless monsters, and three times we ran into storms that threatened to terminate our voyage and our lives simultaneously; but somehow we pulled through, until at last we were faced with the knowledge that our food and water would soon be gone.

Lu-Bra proved to be a. very wonderful girl. She was courageous and uncomplaining. I felt sorry for her.

“You would have been better off on Ruva, Lu-Bra,” I said. “It is commencing to look very much as though I had led you to death instead of to freedom.”

“Whatever happens, I am content, David,” she said. “I would rather be dead than a slave.”

“Your being with me is a strange coincidence, Lu-Bra, which I have never before mentioned. It was another girl from Suvi who was going to lead me toward Sari. We were both prisoners of the Jukans, and then of the man-eating giants of Azar. Whether she died there or escaped them, I do not know.”

“What was her name?” asked Lu-Bra.

“Kleeto,” I said.

“I knew her,” said Lu-Bra. “We were children together, before I was stolen.”

On and on we sailed, Lu-Bra, my living compass, pointing the way. We had rationed the food to a point where we had barely enough to sustain life, and only two or three sips of water a day. We were both weak and emaciated. We had had poor luck with our fishing, possibly because neither one of us was from a maritime nation. On land, I could have brought in plenty of game; but out here on the water, although it teemed with food, I seemed scarcely ever to make a direct hit. Why that should have been, I do not know, for I have become an excellent shot with bow-and-arrow.

After the last morsel of food was consumed we made a catch with one of my bone fishhooks. It was a little fish about a foot long; bur we cut it in two and devoured it raw. Shortly after this, our water supply was exhausted. I prayed for another storm with rain; but the sky remained clear, and the merciless noonday sun beat down upon us; and across that wide expanse of unfriendly ocean there was no sign of land.

Lu-Bra was lying under her shelter in the bottom of the canoe. She spoke to me in a weak voice. “David,” she asked, “are you afraid to die?”

“I do not want to die,” I replied; “but I am not afraid to. Possibly it is another wonderful adventure, in which we shall go to a new country and meet new people and many of our old friends who have gone before us, and after awhile we shall all be gathered there.”

“I hope so, David,” she said, “for I am dying now. I hate to desert you, David, for companionship is all either of us have left now. When I am gone, you will be alone; and it is not good to die alone.”

I turned away my head to hide the tears that came to my eyes, and as I did so I saw something that brought an exclamation of astonishment and incredulity to my lips. It was a sail!

What was a sail doing upon that ocean where there could be no sails? And then a possibility of the truth dawned upon me.

“Lu-Bra!” I cried. “You shall not die. We are saved, Lu-Bra.”

“What do you, mean, David?” she asked. “Land?”

“No,” I said, “a sail; and if this is the Lural Az, as you have told me it must be, it can only be a friendly sail.”

I changed our course and headed for the strange ship, which I soon saw was bearing down upon us. They must have seen our sail, too. As we came nearer I recognized the vessel as one of the type that Perry had designed and built after his first disastrous attempt to build a battleship. I could have wept for joy.

I lowered our sail and waited. The little vessel hove to beside us and tossed me a line, and as I looked up into the faces peering down from above, I recognized Ja the Mezop who had commanded one of the first vessels of our fleet.

“David!” he cried. “You? It has been hundreds of sleeps since we gave you up for dead.”

Lu-Bra was too weak to clamber aboard Ja’s vessel. She could only raise herself to a sitting position, and I was too weak to help her; but willing hands soon lifted us both aboard; and as I reached the deck a woman ran toward me and threw her arms about me. It was Dian the Beautiful.

After they had given us a little food and water and we were somewhat revived and strengthened, Dian told me her story.

She had helped Do-gad escape from Ko-va, on Do-gad’s explicit promise that he would respect her and help her to return to Sari; but he had broken his word to her, and she had killed him. Of this metal are the beautiful daughters of Amoz.

Then she bad paddled on toward the mainland, guided unerringly by her homing instinct. She had evidently been out of the track of the great storm which I had feared must have spelled her doom; but she had passed safely through the three storms that Lu-Bra and I had encountered.

We are back in Sari now, contented and happy. Lu-Bra was returned to Suvi; and the warriors who escorted her brought back word that made me still happier, and also gave me some slight idea as to the length of time that I was a prisoner on Ruva, for the word that they brought me was that Zor and Kleeto had reached Suvi safely, and that they had mated and already had a little son.


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