The Eternal Lover

Part I

Chapter XIII

Into the Jungle

Edgar Rice Burroughs

THE SEARCHING party from the Greystoke ranch had come upon Ibn Aswad so unexpectedly that not a shot had been exchanged between the two parties. The Arabs pressed from behind by the savage Wamboli warriors had literally run into the arms of the whites and the Waziri.

When Greystoke demanded that the white girl be turned over to him at once Ibn Aswad smote his breast and swore that there had been no white girl with them, but one of the slaves told a different story to a Waziri, and when the whites found that Victoria had been stolen from Ibn Aswad by one of the sheik’s lieutenants only a few hours before they hastened to scour the jungle in search of her.

To facilitate their movements and insure covering as wide a territory as possible each of the whites took a few Waziri and spreading out in a far flung skirmish line beat the jungle in the direction toward which the slave had told them Abul Mukarram had ridden.

To comb the jungle finely each white spread his Waziri upon either side of him and thus they advanced, seldom in sight of one another; but always within hailing distance. And so it happened that chance brought William Curtiss, unseen, to the edge of the jungle beside the park-like forest beneath the giant trees of which he saw a tableau that brought him to a sudden halt.

There was the girl he loved and sought, apparently unharmed; and two donkeys; and the dead body of an Arab; and the great wolfhound, looking toward his hiding place and growling menacingly; and before the girl the savage white man stood. Curtiss was about to spring forward when he saw the man place the butt of his spear upon the ground and the point against his heart. The act and the expression upon the man’s face proclaimed his intention, and so Curtiss drew back again waiting for the perpetration of the deed that he knew was coming. A smile of anticipation played about the American’s lips.

Victoria Custer, too, guessed the thing that Nu contemplated. It was, in accordance with her own reasoning, the only logical thing for the man to do; but love is not logical, and when love saw and realized the imminence of its bereavement it cast logic to the winds, and with a little scream of terror the girl threw herself upon Nu of the Niocene, striking the spear from its goal.

“No! No!” she cried. “You must not do it. I cannot let you go. I love you, Nu; oh, how I love you,” and as the strong arms enfolded her once more she gave a happy sigh of content and let her head drop again upon the breast of him who had come back out of the ages to claim her.

The man put an arm about her waist, and together the two turned toward the west in the direction that Abul Mukarram had been fleeing; nor did either see the white faced, scowling man who leaped from the jungle behind them, and with leveled rifle took deliberate aim at the back of the black haired giant.

Nor did they see the swift spring of the wolfhound, nor the thing that followed there beneath the brooding silence of the savage jungle.

Ten minutes later Barney Custer broke through the tangled wall of verdure upon a sight that took his breath away—there stood the two patient donkeys, switching their tails and flapping their long ears; beside them lay the corpse of Abul Mukarram, and upon the edge of the jungle, at his feet, was stretched the dead body of William Curtiss, his breast and throat torn by savage fangs. Across the clearing a great, gaunt wolfhound halted in its retreat at the sound of Barney’s approach. It bared its bloody fangs in an ominous growl of warning, and then turned and disappeared into the jungle.

Barney advanced and examined the soft ground about the donkeys and the body of the Arab. He saw the imprints of a man’s naked feet, and the smaller impress of a woman’s riding boot. He looked toward the jungle where Terkoz had disappeared.

What had his sister gone to within the somber, savage depths beyond? What would he bring her back to were he to follow after? He doubted that she would come without her dream-man. Where would she be happier with him—in the pitiless jungle which was the only world he knew, or in the still more pitiless haunts of civilized men?

The Eternal Lover - Contents    |     Part II - Chapter I - Again a World Upheaval

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