This went on and on; there seemed to be no end to it. The cockpit was half full of water; but La-ak had built well-the canoe could neither capsize nor sink and it was so light that it rode the crest of even the most mountainous waves; nothing short of a bolt of lightning could destroy it. This, however, O-aa did not know; she thought that each wave would be the last, as far as she was concerned; but as wave after wave lifted her upon its crest and then dropped her into a new abyss that was exactly like the last one, she took courage; until presently she was enjoying the experience. O-aa had never been on a roller coaster; but she was getting the same sort of thrill out of this experience; and it lasted much longer, and she didn’t have to buy any tickets.
The Sari, being a lighter ship than either of the other two, was blown along before the hurricane much faster; also, as it carried a much smaller sail, its mast did not go by the board as quickly as had that of the Amoz. The third ship had lost its mast even before that of the Amoz had gone; so when the wind abated a little, the Sari, while also by this time a demasted derelict, was far ahead of her sister ships.
Having but a single, open deck, she had lost most of her complement; but she was still staunch of frame and timber—for Perry and David had built her well, much better than the first ship Perry had designed, and for which she was named, which had turned bottomside up at its launching.
The continuing gale, which persisted after the worst of the hurricane had past, was blowing the Sari merrily along to what fate or what destination no man knew. The survivors were only glad that they were alive; like most men of the Stone Age, they had no questions to ask of the future, the present being their only immediate concern; though, belying that very assertion, they did catch what rain water they could to augment the supply already aboard.
The deck of the Sari was still a more or less precarious resting place, when one of the Mezops sighted something floating dead ahead. He called his companions’ attention to it, and several of them worked their way around the rail to have a look at what he had discovered.
Now, anything floating on this lonely sea was worthy of remark; it was not like the waters off the coast of California, where half the deck loads of Oregon lumbermen bob around to menace navigation and give the Coast Guard the jitters.
“It’s a canoe,” said Ko, the big Mezop who had discovered it.
“Is there anyone in it?” asked Raj, the captain of the Sari and a chief among the Mezops.
“Wait until it comes up again,” said Ko.
“It must be a wonderful canoe, to have lived through such a storm,” said Raj.
“It had a most peculiar look,” said Ko. “Here it comes again! I think I see someone in it.”
“It is a strange canoe,” said Raj. “There are things sticking out from its sides.”
“I once saw one like it,” said another Mezop; “perhaps many thousand sleeps ago. It was blown to our island with a man who said that he came from an island called Canda, far out on the Lural Az. The canoe had bamboo floats on either side of it. It could not capsize. It had watertight compartments; so it could not sink. We killed the man. I think this canoe is from Canda.”
Presently the Sari, which presented a larger surface to the wind than the canoe, overhauled it. O-aa was watching it. Having heard about the great ships of the Sarians from Hodon and David, she guessed that this must be one of them; and she was not afraid. Here was rescue, if she could get aboard. She waved to the men looking over the rail at her.
“It is a girl,” said Raj. “Get a rope; we will try to get her aboard.”
“She is from Canda,” said the sailor who had seen the man from Canda, “she wears the same feather loin cloth that the man from Canda wore. We had better let her drown.”
“No,” said Raj; “she is a girl.” just what were the implications of this statement, you may guess as well as I. Raj was a man of the Stone Age; so, in many respects he was probably far more decent than men of the civilized outer world; but he was still a man.
One of the outriggers of the canoe bumped against the side of the Sari just as Ko threw a rope to O-aa. The girl seized it as the ship heeled over to starboard and rose on another wave while the canoe dropped into the trough, but O-aa held on. She was jerked from the canoe and banged against the side of the ship; but she clambered up the rope like a monkey—cave girls are that way, probably from climbing inadequate and rickety ladders and poles all their lives.
As she clambered over the side, Raj took her by the arm. “She is not only a girl,” he said, “but she is beautiful; I shall keep her for myself.”
O-aa slapped him in the face, and jerked away. “I am the daughter of a king,” she said. “My mate, my father, and my nine brothers will find you out and kill you if you harm me.”