THE MONSTER MEN
Edgar Rice Burroughs
THE HEAVY CHEST
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
A NEW FACE
THE BULL WHIP
THE SOUL OF NUMBER 13
INTO SAVAGE BORNEO
"I AM COMING!"
MAN OR MONSTER?
As he dropped the last grisly fragment of the dismembered and mutilated
body into the small vat of nitric acid that was to devour every trace
of the horrid evidence which might easily send him to the gallows, the
man sank weakly into a chair and throwing his body forward upon his
great, teak desk buried his face in his arms, breaking into dry,
Beads of perspiration followed the seams of his high, wrinkled
forehead, replacing the tears which might have lessened the pressure
upon his overwrought nerves. His slender frame shook, as with ague,
and at times was racked by a convulsive shudder. A sudden step upon
the stairway leading to his workshop brought him trembling and wide
eyed to his feet, staring fearfully at the locked and bolted door.
Although he knew perfectly well whose the advancing footfalls were, he
was all but overcome by the madness of apprehension as they came softly
nearer and nearer to the barred door. At last they halted before it,
to be followed by a gentle knock.
"Daddy!" came the sweet tones of a girl's voice.
The man made an effort to take a firm grasp upon himself that no
tell-tale evidence of his emotion might be betrayed in his speech.
"Daddy!" called the girl again, a trace of anxiety in her voice this
time. "What IS the matter with you, and what ARE you doing? You've
been shut up in that hateful old room for three days now without a
morsel to eat, and in all likelihood without a wink of sleep. You'll
kill yourself with your stuffy old experiments."
The man's face softened.
"Don't worry about me, sweetheart," he replied in a well controlled
voice. "I'll soon be through now—soon be through—and then we'll go
away for a long vacation—for a long vacation."
"I'll give you until noon, Daddy," said the girl in a voice which
carried a more strongly defined tone of authority than her father's
soft drawl, "and then I shall come into that room, if I have to use an
axe, and bring you out—do you understand?"
Professor Maxon smiled wanly. He knew that his daughter was equal to
"All right, sweetheart, I'll be through by noon for sure—by noon for
sure. Run along and play now, like a good little girl."
Virginia Maxon shrugged her shapely shoulders and shook her head
hopelessly at the forbidding panels of the door.
"My dolls are all dressed for the day," she cried, "and I'm tired of
making mud pies—I want you to come out and play with me." But
Professor Maxon did not reply—he had returned to view his grim
operations, and the hideousness of them had closed his ears to the
sweet tones of the girl's voice.
As she turned to retrace her steps to the floor below Miss Maxon still
shook her head.
"Poor old Daddy," she mused, "were I a thousand years old, wrinkled and
toothless, he would still look upon me as his baby girl."
If you chance to be an alumnus of Cornell you may recall Professor
Arthur Maxon, a quiet, slender, white-haired gentleman, who for several
years was an assistant professor in one of the departments of natural
science. Wealthy by inheritance, he had chosen the field of education
for his life work solely from a desire to be of some material benefit
to mankind since the meager salary which accompanied his professorship
was not of sufficient import to influence him in the slightest degree.
Always keenly interested in biology, his almost unlimited means had
permitted him to undertake, in secret, a series of daring experiments
which had carried him so far in advance of the biologists of his day
that he had, while others were still groping blindly for the secret of
life, actually reproduced by chemical means the great phenomenon.
Fully alive to the gravity and responsibilities of his marvellous
discovery he had kept the results of his experimentation, and even the
experiments themselves, a profound secret not only from his colleagues,
but from his only daughter, who heretofore had shared his every hope
It was the very success of his last and most pretentious effort that
had placed him in the horrifying predicament in which he now found
himself—with the corpse of what was apparently a human being in his
workshop and no available explanation that could possibly be acceptable
to a matter-of-fact and unscientific police.
Had he told them the truth they would have laughed at him. Had he
said: "This is not a human being that you see, but the remains of a
chemically produced counterfeit created in my own laboratory," they
would have smiled, and either hanged him or put him away with the other
This phase of the many possibilities which he had realized might be
contingent upon even the partial success of his work alone had escaped
his consideration, so that the first wave of triumphant exultation with
which he had viewed the finished result of this last experiment had
been succeeded by overwhelming consternation as he saw the thing which
he had created gasp once or twice with the feeble spark of life with
which he had endowed it, and expire—leaving upon his hands the corpse
of what was, to all intent and purpose, a human being, albeit a most
grotesque and misshapen thing.
Until nearly noon Professor Maxon was occupied in removing the
remaining stains and evidences of his gruesome work, but when he at
last turned the key in the door of his workshop it was to leave behind
no single trace of the successful result of his years of labor.
The following afternoon found him and Virginia crossing the station
platform to board the express for New York. So quietly had their plans
been made that not a friend was at the train to bid them farewell—the
scientist felt that he could not bear the strain of attempting
explanations at this time.
But there were those there who recognized them, and one especially who
noted the lithe, trim figure and beautiful face of Virginia Maxon
though he did not know even the name of their possessor. It was a tall
well built young man who nudged one of his younger companions as the
girl crossed the platform to enter her Pullman.
"I say, Dexter," he exclaimed, "who is that beauty?"
The one addressed turned in the direction indicated by his friend.
"By jove!" he exclaimed. "Why it's Virginia Maxon and the professor,
her father. Now where do you suppose they're going?"
"I don't know—now," replied the first speaker, Townsend J. Harper,
Jr., in a half whisper, "but I'll bet you a new car that I find out."
A week later, with failing health and shattered nerves, Professor Maxon
sailed with his daughter for a long ocean voyage, which he hoped would
aid him in rapid recuperation, and permit him to forget the nightmare
memory of those three horrible days and nights in his workshop.
He believed that he had reached an unalterable decision never again to
meddle with the mighty, awe inspiring secrets of creation; but with
returning health and balance he found himself viewing his recent
triumph with feelings of renewed hope and anticipation.
The morbid fears superinduced by the shock following the sudden demise
of the first creature of his experiments had given place to a growing
desire to further prosecute his labors until enduring success had
crowned his efforts with an achievement which he might exhibit with
pride to the scientific world.
His recent disastrous success had convinced him that neither Ithaca nor
any other abode of civilization was a safe place to continue his
experiments, but it was not until their cruising had brought them among
the multitudinous islands of the East Indies that the plan occurred to
him that he finally adopted—a plan the outcome of which could he then
have foreseen would have sent him scurrying to the safety of his own
country with the daughter who was to bear the full brunt of the horrors
They were steaming up the China Sea when the idea first suggested
itself, and as he sat idly during the long, hot days the thought grew
upon him, expanding into a thousand wonderful possibilities, until it
became crystalized into what was a little short of an obsession.
The result was that at Manila, much to Virginia's surprise, he
announced the abandonment of the balance of their purposed voyage,
taking immediate return passage to Singapore. His daughter did not
question him as to the cause of this change in plans, for since those
three days that her father had kept himself locked in his workroom at
home the girl had noticed a subtle change in her parent—a marked
disinclination to share with her his every confidence as had been his
custom since the death of her mother.
While it grieved her immeasurably she was both too proud and too hurt
to sue for a reestablishment of the old relations. On all other topics
than his scientific work their interests were as mutual as formerly,
but by what seemed a manner of tacit agreement this subject was taboo.
And so it was that they came to Singapore without the girl having the
slightest conception of her father's plans.
Here they spent nearly a month, during which time Professor Maxon was
daily engaged in interviewing officials, English residents and a motley
horde of Malays and Chinamen.
Virginia met socially several of the men with whom her father was
engaged but it was only at the last moment that one of them let drop a
hint of the purpose of the month's activity. When Virginia was present
the conversation seemed always deftly guided from the subject of her
father's immediate future, and she was not long in discerning that it
was in no sense through accident that this was true. Thereafter her
wounded pride made easy the task of those who seemed combined to keep
her in ignorance.
It was a Dr. von Horn, who had been oftenest with her father, who gave
her the first intimation of what was forthcoming. Afterward, in
recollecting the conversation, it seemed to Virginia that the young man
had been directed to break the news to her, that her father might be
spared the ordeal. It was evident then that he expected opposition,
but the girl was too loyal to let von Horn know if she felt other than
in harmony with the proposal, and too proud to evince by surprise the
fact that she was not wholly conversant with its every detail.
"You are glad to be leaving Singapore so soon?" he had asked, although
he knew that she had not been advised that an early departure was
"I am rather looking forward to it," replied Virginia.
"And to a protracted residence on one of the Pamarung Islands?"
continued von Horn.
"Why not?" was her rather non-committal reply, though she had not the
remotest idea of their location.
Von Horn admired her nerve though he rather wished that she would ask
some questions—it was difficult making progress in this way. How
could he explain the plans when she evinced not the slightest sign that
she was not already entirely conversant with them?
"We doubt if the work will be completed under two or three years,"
answered the doctor. "That will be a long time in which to be isolated
upon a savage little speck of land off the larger but no less savage
Borneo. Do you think that your bravery is equal to the demands that
will be made upon it?"
Virginia laughed, nor was there the slightest tremor in its note.
"I am equal to whatever fate my father is equal to," she said, "nor do
I think that a life upon one of these beautiful little islands would be
much of a hardship—certainly not if it will help to promote the
success of his scientific experiments."
She used the last words on a chance that she might have hit upon the
true reason for the contemplated isolation from civilization. They had
served their purpose too in deceiving von Horn who was now half
convinced that Professor Maxon must have divulged more of their plans
to his daughter than he had led the medical man to believe. Perceiving
her advantage from the expression on the young man's face, Virginia
followed it up in an endeavor to elicit the details.
The result of her effort was the knowledge that on the second day they
were to sail for the Pamarung Islands upon a small schooner which her
father had purchased, with a crew of Malays and lascars, and von Horn,
who had served in the American navy, in command. The precise point of
destination was still undecided—the plan being to search out a
suitable location upon one of the many little islets which dot the
western shore of the Macassar Strait.
Of the many men Virginia had met during the month at Singapore von Horn
had been by far the most interesting and companionable. Such time as
he could find from the many duties which had devolved upon him in the
matter of obtaining and outfitting the schooner, and signing her two
mates and crew of fifteen, had been spent with his employer's daughter.
The girl was rather glad that he was to be a member of their little
company, for she had found him a much travelled man and an interesting
talker with none of the, to her, disgusting artificialities of the
professional ladies' man. He talked to her as he might have talked to
a man, of the things that interest intelligent people regardless of sex.
There was never any suggestion of familiarity in his manner; nor in his
choice of topics did he ever ignore the fact that she was a young girl.
She had felt entirely at ease in his society from the first evening
that she had met him, and their acquaintance had grown to a very
sensible friendship by the time of the departure of the Ithaca—the
rechristened schooner which was to carry them away to an unguessed fate.
The voyage from Singapore to the Islands was without incident.
Virginia took a keen delight in watching the Malays and lascars at
their work, telling von Horn that she had to draw upon her imagination
but little to picture herself a captive upon a pirate ship—the half
naked men, the gaudy headdress, the earrings, and the fierce
countenances of many of the crew furnishing only too realistically the
necessary savage setting.
A week spent among the Pamarung Islands disclosed no suitable site for
the professor's camp, nor was it until they had cruised up the coast
several miles north of the equator and Cape Santang that they found a
tiny island a few miles off the coast opposite the mouth of a small
river—an island which fulfilled in every detail their requirements.
It was uninhabited, fertile and possessed a clear, sweet brook which
had its source in a cold spring in the higher land at the island's
center. Here it was that the Ithaca came to anchor in a little harbor,
while her crew under von Horn, and the Malay first mate, Bududreen,
accompanied Professor Maxon in search of a suitable location for a
The cook, a harmless old Chinaman, and Virginia were left in sole
possession of the Ithaca.
Two hours after the departure of the men into the jungle Virginia heard
the fall of axes on timber and knew that the site of her future home
had been chosen and the work of clearing begun. She sat musing on the
strange freak which had prompted her father to bury them in this savage
corner of the globe; and as she pondered there came a wistful
expression to her eyes, and an unwonted sadness drooped the corners of
Of a sudden she realized how wide had become the gulf between them now.
So imperceptibly had it grown since those three horrid days in Ithaca
just prior to their departure for what was to have been but a few
months' cruise that she had not until now comprehended that the old
relations of open, good-fellowship had gone, possibly forever.
Had she needed proof of the truth of her sad discovery it had been
enough to point to the single fact that her father had brought her here
to this little island without making the slightest attempt to explain
the nature of his expedition. She had gleaned enough from von Horn to
understand that some important scientific experiments were to be
undertaken; but what their nature she could not imagine, for she had
not the slightest conception of the success that had crowned her
father's last experiment at Ithaca, although she had for years known of
his keen interest in the subject.
The girl became aware also of other subtle changes in her father. He
had long since ceased to be the jovial, carefree companion who had
shared with her her every girlish joy and sorrow and in whom she had
confided both the trivial and momentous secrets of her childhood. He
had become not exactly morose, but rather moody and absorbed, so that
she had of late never found an opportunity for the cozy chats that had
formerly meant so much to them both. There had been too, recently, a
strange lack of consideration for herself that had wounded her more
than she had imagined. Today there had been a glaring example of it in
his having left her alone upon the boat without a single European
companion—something that he would never have thought of doing a few
As she sat speculating on the strange change which had come over her
father her eyes had wandered aimlessly along the harbor's entrance; the
low reef that protected it from the sea, and the point of land to the
south, that projected far out into the strait like a gigantic index
finger pointing toward the mainland, the foliage covered heights of
which were just visible above the western horizon.
Presently her attention was arrested by a tossing speck far out upon
the rolling bosom of the strait. For some time the girl watched the
object until at length it resolved itself into a boat moving head on
toward the island. Later she saw that it was long and low, propelled
by a single sail and many oars, and that it carried quite a company.
Thinking it but a native trading boat, so many of which ply the
southern seas, Virginia viewed its approach with but idle curiosity.
When it had come to within half a mile of the anchorage of the Ithaca,
and was about to enter the mouth of the harbor Sing Lee's eyes chanced
to fall upon it. On the instant the old Chinaman was electrified into
sudden and astounding action.
"Klick! Klick!" he cried, running toward Virginia. "Go b'low, klick."
"Why should I go below, Sing?" queried the girl, amazed by the demeanor
of the cook.
"Klick! Klick!" he urged grasping her by the arm—half leading, half
dragging her toward the companion-way. "Plilates! Mlalay
"Pirates!" gasped Virginia. "Oh Sing, what can we do?"
"You go b'low. Mebbyso Sing flighten 'em. Shoot cannon. Bling help.
Maxon come klick. Bling men. Chase'm 'way," explained the Chinaman.
"But plilates see 'em pletty white girl," he shrugged his shoulders and
shook his head dubiously, "then old Sing no can flighten 'em 'way."
The girl shuddered, and crouching close behind Sing hurried below. A
moment later she heard the boom of the old brass six pounder which for
many years had graced the Ithaca's stern. In the bow Professor Maxon
had mounted a modern machine gun, but this was quite beyond Sing's
simple gunnery. The Chinaman had not taken the time to sight the
ancient weapon carefully, but a gleeful smile lit his wrinkled, yellow
face as he saw the splash of the ball where it struck the water almost
at the side of the prahu.
Sing realized that the boat might contain friendly natives, but he had
cruised these waters too many years to take chances. Better kill a
hundred friends, he thought, than be captured by a single pirate.
At the shot the prahu slowed up, and a volley of musketry from her crew
satisfied Sing that he had made no mistake in classifying her. Her
fire fell short as did the ball from the small cannon mounted in her
Virginia was watching the prahu from one of the cabin ports. She saw
the momentary hesitation and confusion which followed Sing's first
shot, and then to her dismay she saw the rowers bend to their oars
again and the prahu move swiftly in the direction of the Ithaca.
It was apparent that the pirates had perceived the almost defenseless
condition of the schooner. In a few minutes they would be swarming the
deck, for poor old Sing would be entirely helpless to repel them. If
Dr. von Horn were only there, thought the distracted girl. With the
machine gun alone he might keep them off.
At the thought of the machine gun a sudden resolve gripped her. Why
not man it herself? Von Horn had explained its mechanism to her in
detail, and on one occasion had allowed her to operate it on the voyage
from Singapore. With the thought came action. Running to the magazine
she snatched up a feed-belt, and in another moment was on deck beside
the astonished Sing.
The pirates were skimming rapidly across the smooth waters of the
harbor, answering Sing's harmless shots with yells of derision and
wild, savage war cries. There were, perhaps, fifty Dyaks and
Malays—fierce, barbaric men; mostly naked to the waist, or with
war-coats of brilliant colors. The savage headdress of the Dyaks, the
long, narrow, decorated shields, the flashing blades of parang and kris
sent a shudder through the girl, so close they seemed beneath the
"What do? What do?" cried Sing in consternation. "Go b'low. Klick!"
But before he had finished his exhortation Virginia was racing toward
the bow where the machine gun was mounted. Tearing the cover from it
she swung the muzzle toward the pirate prahu, which by now was nearly
within range above the vessel's side—a moment more and she would be
too close to use the weapon upon the pirates.
Virginia was quick to perceive the necessity for haste, while the
pirates at the same instant realized the menace of the new danger which
confronted them. A score of muskets belched forth their missiles at
the fearless girl behind the scant shield of the machine gun. Leaden
pellets rained heavily upon her protection, or whizzed threateningly
about her head—and then she got the gun into action.
At the rate of fifty a minute, a stream of projectiles tore into the
bow of the prahu when suddenly a richly garbed Malay in the stern rose
to his feet waving a white cloth upon the point of his kris. It was
the Rajah Muda Saffir—he had seen the girl's face and at the sight of
it the blood lust in his breast had been supplanted by another.
At sight of the emblem of peace Virginia ceased firing. She saw the
tall Malay issue a few commands, the oarsmen bent to their work, the
prahu came about, making off toward the harbor's entrance. At the same
moment there was a shot from the shore followed by loud yelling, and
the girl turned to see her father and von Horn pulling rapidly toward
THE HEAVY CHEST
Virginia and Sing were compelled to narrate the adventure of the
afternoon a dozen times. The Chinaman was at a loss to understand what
had deterred the pirates at the very threshold of victory. Von Horn
thought that they had seen the reinforcements embarking from the shore,
but Sing explained that that was impossible since the Ithaca had been
directly between them and the point at which the returning crew had
entered the boats.
Virginia was positive that her fusillade had frightened them into a
hasty retreat, but again Sing discouraged any such idea when he pointed
to the fact that another instant would have carried the prahu close to
the Ithaca's side and out of the machine gun's radius of action.
The old Chinaman was positive that the pirates had some ulterior motive
for simulating defeat, and his long years of experience upon pirate
infested waters gave weight to his opinion. The weak spot in his
argument was his inability to suggest a reasonable motive. And so it
was that for a long time they were left to futile conjecture as to the
action that had saved them from a bloody encounter with these
bloodthirsty sea wolves.
For a week the men were busy constructing the new camp, but never again
was Virginia left without a sufficient guard for her protection. Von
Horn was always needed at the work, for to him had fallen the entire
direction of matters of importance that were at all of a practical
nature. Professor Maxon wished to watch the building of the houses and
the stockade, that he might offer such suggestions as he thought
necessary, and again the girl noticed her father's comparative
indifference to her welfare.
She had been shocked at his apathy at the time of the pirate attack,
and chagrined that it should have been necessary for von Horn to have
insisted upon a proper guard being left with her thereafter.
The nearer the approach of the time when he might enter again upon
those experiments which had now been neglected for the better part of a
year the more self absorbed and moody became the professor. At times
he was scarcely civil to those about him, and never now did he have a
pleasant word or a caress for the daughter who had been his whole life
but a few short months before.
It often seemed to Virginia when she caught her father's eyes upon her
that there was a gleam of dislike in them, as though he would have been
glad to have been rid of her that she might not in any way embarrass or
interfere with his work.
The camp was at last completed, and on a Saturday afternoon all the
heavier articles from the ship had been transported to it. On the
following Monday the balance of the goods was to be sent on shore and
the party were to transfer their residence to their new quarters.
Late Sunday afternoon a small native boat was seen rounding the point
at the harbor's southern extremity, and after a few minutes it drew
alongside the Ithaca. There were but three men in it—two Dyaks and a
Malay. The latter was a tall, well built man of middle age, of a
sullen and degraded countenance. His garmenture was that of the
ordinary Malay boatman, but there was that in his mien and his attitude
toward his companions which belied his lowly habiliments.
In answer to von Horn's hail the man asked if he might come aboard and
trade; but once on the deck it developed that he had brought
nothing wherewith to trade. He seemed not the slightest disconcerted
by this discovery, stating that he would bring such articles as they
wished when he had learned what their requirements were.
The ubiquitous Sing was on hand during the interview, but from his
expressionless face none might guess what was passing through the
tortuous channels of his Oriental mind. The Malay had been aboard
nearly half an hour talking with von Horn when the mate, Bududreen,
came on deck, and it was Sing alone who noted the quickly concealed
flash of recognition which passed between the two Malays.
The Chinaman also saw the gleam that shot into the visitor's eye as
Virginia emerged from the cabin, but by no word or voluntary outward
sign did the man indicate that he had even noticed her. Shortly
afterward he left, promising to return with provisions the following
day. But it was to be months before they again saw him.
That evening as Sing was serving Virginia's supper he asked her if she
had recognized their visitor of the afternoon.
"Why no, Sing," she replied, "I never saw him before."
"Sh!" admonished the celestial. "No talkee so strong, wallee have ear
all same labbit."
"What do you mean, Sing?" asked the girl in a low voice. "How
perfectly weird and mysterious you are. Why you make the cold chills
run up my spine," she ended, laughing. But Sing did not return her
smile as was his custom.
"You no lememba tallee Lajah stand up wavee lite clothee in plilate
boat, ah?" he urged.
"Oh, Sing," she cried, "I do indeed! But unless you had reminded me I
should never have thought to connect him with our visitor of
today—they do look very much alike, don't they?"
"Lookeelike! Ugh, they all samee one man. Sing know. You lookee out,
Linee," which was the closest that Sing had ever been able to come to
"Why should I look out? He doesn't want me," said the girl, laughingly.
"Don't you bee too damee sure 'bout lat, Linee," was Sing's inelegant
but convincing reply, as he turned toward his galley.
The following morning the party, with the exception of three Malays who
were left to guard the Ithaca, set out for the new camp. The journey
was up the bed of the small stream which emptied into the harbor, so
that although fifteen men had passed back and forth through the jungle
from the beach to the camp every day for two weeks, there was no sign
that human foot had ever crossed the narrow strip of sand that lay
between the dense foliage and the harbor.
The gravel bottom of the rivulet made fairly good walking, and as
Virginia was borne in a litter between two powerful lascars it was not
even necessary that she wet her feet in the ascent of the stream to the
camp. The distance was short, the center of the camp being but a mile
from the harbor, and less than half a mile from the opposite shore of
the island which was but two miles at its greatest breadth, and two and
a quarter at its greatest length.
At the camp Virginia found that a neat clearing had been made upon a
little tableland, a palisade built about it, and divided into three
parts; the most northerly of which contained a small house for herself
and her father, another for von Horn, and a common cooking and eating
house over which Sing was to preside.
The enclosure at the far end of the palisade was for the Malay and
lascar crew and there also were quarters for Bududreen and the Malay
second mate. The center enclosure contained Professor Maxon's
workshop. This compartment of the enclosure Virginia was not invited
to inspect, but as members of the crew carried in the two great chests
which the professor had left upon the Ithaca until the last moment,
Virginia caught a glimpse of the two buildings that had been erected
within this central space—a small, square house which was quite
evidently her father's laboratory, and a long, low thatched shed
divided into several compartments, each containing a rude bunk. She
wondered for whom they could be intended. Quarters for all the party
had already been arranged for elsewhere, nor, thought she, would her
father wish to house any in such close proximity to his workshop, where
he would desire absolute quiet and freedom from interruption. The
discovery perplexed her not a little, but so changed were her relations
with her father that she would not question him upon this or any other
As the two chests were being carried into the central campong, Sing,
who was standing near Virginia, called her attention to the fact that
Bududreen was one of those who staggered beneath the weight of the
"Bludleen, him mate. Why workee alsame lascar boy? Eh?" But Virginia
could give no reason.
"I am afraid you don't like Bududreen, Sing," she said. "Has he ever
harmed you in any way?"
"Him? No, him no hurt Sing. Sing poor," with which more or less
enigmatical rejoinder the Chinaman returned to his work. But he
muttered much to himself the balance of the day, for Sing knew that a
chest that strained four men in the carrying could contain but one
thing, and he knew that Bududreen was as wise in such matters as he.
For a couple of months the life of the little hidden camp went on
peacefully and without exciting incident. The Malay and lascar crew
divided their time between watch duty on board the Ithaca, policing the
camp, and cultivating a little patch of clearing just south of their
There was a small bay on the island's east coast, only a quarter of a
mile from camp, in which oysters were found, and one of the Ithaca's
boats was brought around to this side of the island for fishing.
Bududreen often accompanied these expeditions, and on several occasions
the lynx-eyed Sing had seen him returning to camp long after the others
had retired for the night.
Professor Maxon scarcely ever left the central enclosure. For days and
nights at a time Virginia never saw him, his meals being passed in to
him by Sing through a small trap door that had been cut in the
partition wall of the "court of mystery" as von Horn had christened the
section of the camp devoted to the professor's experimentations.
Von Horn himself was often with his employer, as he enjoyed the latter's
complete confidence, and owing to his early medical training was well
fitted to act as a competent assistant; but he was often barred from
the workshop, and at such times was much with Virginia.
The two took long walks through the untouched jungle, exploring their
little island, and never failing to find some new and wonderful proof
of Nature's creative power among its flora and fauna.
"What a marvellous thing is creation," exclaimed Virginia as she and
von Horn paused one day to admire a tropical bird of unusually
brilliant plumage. "How insignificant is man's greatest achievement
beside the least of Nature's works."
"And yet," replied von Horn, "man shall find Nature's secret some day.
What a glorious accomplishment for him who first succeeds. Can you
imagine a more glorious consummation of a man's life work—your
father's, for example?"
The girl looked at von Horn closely.
"Dr. von Horn," she said, "pride has restrained me from asking what was
evidently intended that I should not know. For years my father has
been interested in an endeavor to solve the mystery of life—that he
would ever attempt to utilize the secret should he have been so
fortunate as to discover it had never occurred to me. I mean that he
should try to usurp the functions of the Creator I could never have
believed, but my knowledge of him, coupled with what you have said, and
the extreme lengths to which he has gone to maintain absolute secrecy
for his present experiments can only lead to one inference; and that,
that his present work, if successful, would have results that would not
be countenanced by civilized society or government. Am I right?"
Von Horn had attempted to sound the girl that he might, if possible,
discover her attitude toward the work in which her father and he were
engaged. He had succeeded beyond his hopes, for he had not intended
that she should guess so much of the truth as she had. Should her
interest in the work have proved favorable it had been his intention to
acquaint her fully with the marvellous success which already had
attended their experiments, and to explain their hopes and plans for
the future, for he had seen how her father's attitude had hurt her and
hoped to profit himself by reposing in her the trust and confidence
that her father denied her.
And so it was that her direct question left him floundering in a sea of
embarrassment, for to tell her the truth now would gain him no favor in
her eyes, while it certainly would lay him open to the suspicion and
distrust of her father should he learn of it.
"I cannot answer your question, Miss Maxon," he said, finally, "for
your father's strictest injunction has been that I divulge to no one
the slightest happening within the court of mystery. Remember that I
am in your father's employ, and that no matter what my personal
convictions may be regarding the work he has been doing I may only act
with loyalty to his lightest command while I remain upon his payroll.
That you are here," he added, "is my excuse for continuing my
connection with certain things of which my conscience does not approve."
The girl glanced at him quickly. She did not fully understand the
motive for his final avowal, and a sudden intuition kept her from
questioning him. She had learned to look upon von Horn as a very
pleasant companion and a good friend—she was not quite certain that
she would care for any change in their relations, but his remark had
sowed the seed of a new thought in her mind as he had intended that it
When von Horn returned to the court of mystery, he narrated to
Professor Maxon the gist of his conversation with Virginia, wishing to
forestall anything which the girl might say to her father that would
give him an impression that von Horn had been talking more than he
should. Professor Maxon listened to the narration in silence. When
von Horn had finished, he cautioned him against divulging to Virginia
anything that took place within the inner campong.
"She is only a child," he said, "and would not understand the
importance of the work we are doing. All that she would be able to see
is the immediate moral effect of these experiments upon the subjects
themselves—she would not look into the future and appreciate the
immense advantage to mankind that must accrue from a successful
termination of our research. The future of the world will be assured
when once we have demonstrated the possibility of the chemical
production of a perfect race."
"Number One, for example," suggested von Horn.
Professor Maxon glanced at him sharply.
"Levity, Doctor, is entirely out of place in the contemplation of the
magnificent work I have already accomplished," said the professor
tartly. "I admit that Number One leaves much to be desired—much to be
desired; but Number Two shows a marked advance along certain lines, and
I am sure that tomorrow will divulge in experiment Number Three such
strides as will forever silence any propensity toward scoffing which
you may now entertain."
"Forgive me, Professor," von Horn hastened to urge. "I did not intend
to deride the wonderful discoveries which you have made, but it is only
natural that we should both realize that Number One is not beautiful.
To one another we may say what we would not think of suggesting to
Professor Maxon was mollified by this apology, and turned to resume his
watch beside a large, coffin-shaped vat. For a while von Horn was
silent. There was that upon his mind which he had wished to discuss
with his employer since months ago, but the moment had never arrived
which seemed at all propitious, nor did it appear likely ever to
arrive. So the doctor decided to broach the subject now, as being
psychologically as favorable a time as any.
"Your daughter is far from happy, Professor," he said, "nor do I feel
that, surrounded as we are by semi-savage men, she is entirely safe."
Professor Maxon looked up from his vigil by the vat, eyeing von Horn
"Well?" he asked.
"It seemed to me that had I a closer relationship I might better assist
in adding to her happiness and safety—in short, Professor, I should
like your permission to ask Virginia to marry me."
There had been no indication in von Horn's attitude toward the girl
that he loved her. That she was beautiful and intelligent could not be
denied, and so it was small wonder that she might appeal strongly to
any man, but von Horn was quite evidently not of the marrying type.
For years he had roved the world in search of adventure and excitement.
Just why he had left America and his high place in the navy he never
had divulged; nor why it was that for seven years he had not set his
foot upon ground which lay beneath the authority of Uncle Sam.
Sing Lee who stood just without the trap door through which he was
about to pass Professor Maxon's evening meal to him could not be blamed
for overhearing the conversation, though it may have been culpable in
him in making no effort to divulge his presence, and possibly equally
unpraiseworthy, as well as lacking in romance, to attribute the
doctor's avowal to his knowledge of the heavy chest.
As Professor Maxon eyed the man before replying to his abrupt request,
von Horn noted a strange and sudden light in the older man's eyes—a
something which he never before had seen there and which caused an
uncomfortable sensation to creep over him—a manner of bristling that
was akin either to fear or horror, von Horn could not tell which.
Then the professor arose from his seat and came very close to the
younger man, until his face was only a few inches from von Horn's.
"Doctor," he whispered in a strange, tense voice, "you are mad. You do
not know what you ask. Virginia is not for such as you. Tell me that
she does not know of your feelings toward her. Tell me that she does
not reciprocate your love. Tell me the truth, man." Professor Maxon
seized von Horn roughly by both shoulders, his glittering eyes glaring
terribly into the other's.
"I have never spoken to her of love, Professor," replied von Horn
quietly, "nor do I know what her sentiments toward me may be. Nor do I
understand, sir, what objections you may have to me—I am of a very old
and noble family." His tone was haughty but respectful.
Professor Maxon released his hold upon his assistant, breathing a sigh
"I am glad," he said, "that it has gone no further, for it must not be.
I have other, nobler aspirations for my daughter. She must wed a
perfect man—none such now exists. It remains for me to bring forth
the ideal mate for her—nor is the time far distant. A few more weeks
and we shall see such a being as I have long dreamed." Again the queer
light flickered for a moment in the once kindly and jovial eyes of the
Von Horn was horrified. He was a man of little sentiment. He could in
cold blood have married this girl for the wealth he knew that she would
inherit; but the thought that she was to be united with such a
THING—"Lord! It is horrible," and his mind pictured the fearful
atrocity which was known as Number One.
Without a word he turned and left the campong. A moment later Sing's
knock aroused Professor Maxon from the reverie into which he had
fallen, and he stepped to the trap door to receive his evening meal.
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
One day, about two weeks later, von Horn and the professor were
occupied closely with their work in the court of mystery. Developments
were coming in riotous confusion. A recent startling discovery bade
fare to simplify and expedite the work far beyond the fondest dreams of
Von Horn's interest in the marvellous results that had been obtained
was little short of the professor's—but he foresaw a very different
outcome of it all, and by day never moved without a gun at either hip,
and by night both of them were beside him.
Sing Lee, the noonday meal having been disposed of, set forth with rod,
string and bait to snare gulls upon the beach. He moved quietly
through the jungle, his sharp eyes and ears always alert for anything
that might savor of the unusual, and so it was that he saw the two men
upon the beach, while they did not see him at all.
They were Bududreen and the same tall Malay whom Sing had seen twice
before—once in splendid raiment and commanding the pirate prahu, and
again as a simple boatman come to the Ithaca to trade, but without the
goods to carry out his professed intentions.
The two squatted on the beach at the edge of the jungle a short
distance above the point at which Sing had been about to emerge when he
discovered them, so that it was but the work of a moment or two for the
Chinaman to creep stealthily through the dense underbrush to a point
directly above them and not three yards from where they conversed in
low tones—yet sufficiently loud that Sing missed not a word.
"I tell you, Bududreen, that it will be quite safe," the tall Malay was
saying. "You yourself tell me that none knows of the whereabouts of
these white men, and if they do not return your word will be accepted
as to their fate. Your reward will be great if you bring the girl to
me, and if you doubt the loyalty of any of your own people a kris will
silence them as effectually as it will silence the white men."
"It is not fear of the white men, oh, Rajah Muda Saffir, that deters
me," said Bududreen, "but how shall I know that after I have come to
your country with the girl I shall not myself be set upon and silenced
with a golden kris—there be many that will be jealous of the great
service I have done for the mighty rajah."
Muda Saffir knew perfectly well that Bududreen had but diplomatically
expressed a fear as to his own royal trustworthiness, but it did not
anger him, since the charge was not a direct one; but what he did not
know was of the heavy chest and Bududreen's desire to win the price of
the girl and yet be able to save for himself a chance at the far
greater fortune which he knew lay beneath that heavy oaken lid.
Both men had arisen now and were walking across the beach toward a
small, native canoe in which Muda Saffir had come to the meeting place.
They were out of earshot before either spoke again, so that what
further passed between them Sing could not even guess, but he had heard
enough to confirm the suspicions he had entertained for a long while.
He did not fish for gulls that day. Bududreen and Muda Saffir stood
talking upon the beach, and the Chinaman did not dare venture forth for
fear they might suspect that he had overheard them. If old Sing Lee
knew his Malays, he was also wise enough to give them credit for
knowing their Chinamen, so he waited quietly in hiding until Muda
Saffir had left, and Bududreen returned to camp.
Professor Maxon and von Horn were standing over one of the six vats
that were arranged in two rows down the center of the laboratory. The
professor had been more communicative and agreeable today than for some
time past, and their conversation had assumed more of the familiarity
that had marked it during the first month of their acquaintance at
"And what of these first who are so imperfect?" asked von Horn. "You
cannot take them into civilization, nor would it be right to leave them
here upon this island. What will you do with them?"
Professor Maxon pondered the question for a moment.
"I have given the matter but little thought," he said at length. "They
are but the accidents of my great work. It is unfortunate that they
are as they are, but without them I could have never reached the
perfection that I am sure we are to find here," and he tapped lovingly
upon the heavy glass cover of the vat before which he stood. "And this
is but the beginning. There can be no more mistakes now, though I
doubt if we can ever improve upon that which is so rapidly developing
here." Again he passed his long, slender hand caressingly over the
coffin-like vat at the head of which was a placard bearing the words,
"But the others, Professor!" insisted von Horn. "We must decide.
Already they have become a problem of no small dimensions. Yesterday
Number Five desired some plantains that I had given to Number Seven. I
tried to reason with him, but, as you know, he is mentally defective,
and for answer he rushed at Number Seven to tear the coveted morsel
from him. The result was a battle royal that might have put to shame
two Bengal tigers. Twelve is tractable and intelligent. With his
assistance and my bull whip I succeeded in separating them before
either was killed. Your greatest error was in striving at first for
such physical perfection. You have overdone it, with the result that
the court of mystery is peopled by a dozen brutes of awful muscularity,
and scarcely enough brain among the dozen to equip three properly."
"They are as they are," replied the professor. "I shall do for them
what I can—when I am gone they must look to themselves. I can see no
way out of it."
"What you have given you may take away," said von Horn, in a low tone.
Professor Maxon shuddered. Those three horrid days in the workshop at
Ithaca flooded his memory with all the gruesome details he had tried
for so many months to forget. The haunting ghosts of the mental
anguish that had left him an altered man—so altered that there were
times when he had feared for his sanity!
"No, no!" he almost shouted. "It would be murder. They are—"
"They are THINGS," interrupted von Horn. "They are not human—they are
not even beast. They are terrible, soulless creatures. You have no
right to permit them to live longer than to substantiate your theory.
None but us knows of their existence—no other need know of their
passing. It must be done. They are a constant and growing menace to
us all, but most of all to your daughter."
A cunning look came into the professor's eyes.
"I understand," he said. "The precedent once established, all must
perish by its edict—even those which may not be grotesque or
bestial—even this perfect one," and he touched again the vat, "and
thus you would rid yourself of rival suitors. But no!" he went on in a
high, trembling voice. "I shall not be led to thus compromise myself,
and be thwarted in my cherished plan. Be this one what he may he shall
wed my daughter!"
The man had raised himself upon his toes as he reached his climax—his
clenched hand was high above his head—his voice fairly thundered out
the final sentence, and with the last word he brought his fist down
upon the vat before him. In his eyes blazed the light of unchained
Von Horn was a brave man, but he shuddered at the maniacal ferocity of
the older man, and shrank back. The futility of argument was apparent,
and he turned and left the workshop.
Sing Lee was late that night. In fact he did not return from his
fruitless quest for gulls until well after dark, nor would he vouchsafe
any explanation of the consequent lateness of supper. Nor could he be
found shortly after the evening meal when Virginia sought him.
Not until the camp was wrapped in the quiet of slumber did Sing Lee
return—stealthy and mysterious—to creep under cover of a moonless
night to the door of the workshop. How he gained entrance only Sing
Lee knows, but a moment later there was a muffled crash of broken glass
within the laboratory, and the Chinaman had slipped out, relocked the
door, and scurried to his nearby shack. But there was no occasion for
his haste—no other ear than his had heard the sound within the
It was almost nine the following morning before Professor Maxon and von
Horn entered the laboratory. Scarcely had the older man passed the
doorway than he drew up his hands in horrified consternation. Vat
Number Thirteen lay dashed to the floor—the glass cover was broken to
a million pieces—a sticky, brownish substance covered the matting.
Professor Maxon hid his face in his hands.
"God!" he cried. "It is all ruined. Three more days would have—"
"Look!" cried von Horn. "It is not too soon."
Professor Maxon mustered courage to raise his eyes from his hands, and
there he beheld, seated in a far corner of the room a handsome giant,
physically perfect. The creature looked about him in a dazed,
uncomprehending manner. A great question was writ large upon his
intelligent countenance. Professor Maxon stepped forward and took him
by the hand.
"Come," he said, and led him toward a smaller room off the main
workshop. The giant followed docilely, his eyes roving about the
room—the pitiful questioning still upon his handsome features. Von
Horn turned toward the campong.
Virginia, deserted by all, even the faithful Sing, who, cheated of his
sport on the preceding day, had again gone to the beach to snare gulls,
became restless of the enforced idleness and solitude. For a time she
wandered about the little compound which had been reserved for the
whites, but tiring of this she decided to extend her stroll beyond the
palisade, a thing which she had never before done unless accompanied by
von Horn—a thing both he and her father had cautioned her against.
"What danger can there be?" she thought. "We know that the island is
uninhabited by others than ourselves, and that there are no dangerous
beasts. And, anyway, there is no one now who seems to care what
becomes of me, unless—unless—I wonder if he does care. I wonder if I
care whether or not he cares. Oh, dear, I wish I knew," and as she
soliloquized she wandered past the little clearing and into the jungle
that lay behind the campong.
As von Horn and Professor Maxon talked together in the laboratory
before the upsetting of vat Number Thirteen, a grotesque and horrible
creature had slunk from the low shed at the opposite side of the
campong until it had crouched at the flimsy door of the building in
which the two men conversed. For a while it listened intently, but
when von Horn urged the necessity for dispatching certain "terrible,
soulless creatures" an expression of intermingled fear and hatred
convulsed the hideous features, and like a great grizzly it turned and
lumbered awkwardly across the campong toward the easterly, or back wall
of the enclosure.
Here it leaped futilely a half dozen times for the top of the palisade,
and then trembling and chattering in rage it ran back and forth along
the base of the obstacle, just as a wild beast in captivity paces
angrily before the bars of its cage.
Finally it paused to look once more at the senseless wood that barred
its escape, as though measuring the distance to the top. Then the eyes
roamed about the campong to rest at last upon the slanting roof of the
thatched shed which was its shelter. Presently a slow idea was born in
the poor, malformed brain.
The creature approached the shed. He could just reach the saplings
that formed the frame work of the roof. Like a huge sloth he drew
himself to the roof of the structure. From here he could see beyond
the palisade, and the wild freedom of the jungle called to him. He did
not know what it was but in its leafy wall he perceived many breaks and
openings that offered concealment from the creatures who were plotting
to take his life.
Yet the wall was not fully six feet from him, and the top of it at
least five feet above the top of the shed—those who had designed the
campong had been careful to set this structure sufficiently far from
the palisade to prevent its forming too easy an avenue of escape.
The creature glanced fearfully toward the workshop. He remembered the
cruel bull whip that always followed each new experiment on his part
that did not coincide with the desires of his master, and as he thought
of von Horn a nasty gleam shot his mismated eyes.
He tried to reach across the distance between the roof and the
palisade, and in the attempt lost his balance and nearly precipitated
himself to the ground below. Cautiously he drew back, still looking
about for some means to cross the chasm. One of the saplings of the
roof, protruding beyond the palm leaf thatch, caught his attention.
With a single wrench he tore it from its fastenings. Extending it
toward the palisade he discovered that it just spanned the gap, but he
dared not attempt to cross upon its single slender strand.
Quickly he ripped off a half dozen other poles from the roof, and
laying them side by side, formed a safe and easy path to freedom. A
moment more and he sat astride the top of the wall. Drawing the poles
after him, he dropped them one by one to the ground outside the
campong. Then he lowered himself to liberty.
Gathering the saplings under one huge arm he ran, lumberingly, into the
jungle. He would not leave evidence of the havoc he had wrought; the
fear of the bull whip was still strong upon him. The green foliage
closed about him and the peaceful jungle gave no sign of the horrid
brute that roamed its shadowed mazes.
As von Horn stepped into the campong his quick eye perceived the havoc
that had been wrought with the roof at the east end of the shed.
Quickly he crossed to the low structure. Within its compartments a
number of deformed monsters squatted upon their haunches, or lay prone
upon the native mats that covered the floor.
As the man entered they looked furtively at the bull whip which trailed
from his right hand, and then glanced fearfully at one another as
though questioning which was the malefactor on this occasion.
Von Horn ran his eyes over the hideous assemblage.
"Where is Number One?" he asked, directing his question toward a thing
whose forehead gave greater promise of intelligence than any of his
The one addressed shook his head.
Von Horn turned and made a circuit of the campong. There was no sign
of the missing one and no indication of any other irregularity than the
demolished portion of the roof. With an expression of mild concern
upon his face he entered the workshop.
"Number One has escaped into the jungle, Professor," he said.
Professor Maxon looked up in surprise, but before he had an opportunity
to reply a woman's scream, shrill with horror, smote upon their
Von Horn was the first to reach the campong of the whites. Professor
Maxon was close behind him, and the faces of both were white with
apprehension. The enclosure was deserted. Not even Sing was there.
Without a word the two men sprang through the gateway and raced for the
jungle in the direction from which that single, haunting cry had come.
Virginia Maxon, idling beneath the leafy shade of the tropical foliage,
became presently aware that she had wandered farther from the campong
than she had intended. The day was sultry, and the heat, even in the
dense shade of the jungle, oppressive. Slowly she retraced her steps,
her eyes upon the ground, her mind absorbed in sad consideration of her
father's increasing moodiness and eccentricity.
Possibly it was this very abstraction which deadened her senses to the
near approach of another. At any rate the girl's first intimation that
she was not alone came when she raised her eyes to look full into the
horrid countenance of a fearsome monster which blocked her path toward
The sudden shock brought a single involuntary scream from her lips.
And who can wonder! The thing thrust so unexpectedly before her eyes
was hideous in the extreme. A great mountain of deformed flesh clothed
in dirty, white cotton pajamas! Its face was of the ashen hue of a
fresh corpse, while the white hair and pink eyes denoted the absence of
pigment; a characteristic of albinos.
One eye was fully twice the diameter of the other, and an inch above
the horizontal plane of its tiny mate. The nose was but a gaping
orifice above a deformed and twisted mouth. The thing was chinless,
and its small, foreheadless head surrounded its colossal body like a
cannon ball on a hill top. One arm was at least twelve inches longer
than its mate, which was itself long in proportion to the torso, while
the legs, similarly mismated and terminating in huge, flat feet that
protruded laterally, caused the thing to lurch fearfully from side to
side as it lumbered toward the girl.
A sudden grimace lighted the frightful face as the grotesque eyes fell
upon this new creature. Number One had never before seen a woman, but
the sight of this one awoke in the unplumbed depths of his soulless
breast a great desire to lay his hands upon her. She was very
beautiful. Number One wished to have her for his very own; nor would
it be a difficult matter, so fragile was she, to gather her up in those
great, brute arms and carry her deep into the jungle far out of hearing
of the bull-whip man and the cold, frowning one who was continually
measuring and weighing Number One and his companions, the while he
scrutinized them with those strange, glittering eyes that frightened
one even more than the cruel lash of the bull whip.
Number One lurched forward, his arms outstretched toward the horror
stricken girl. Virginia tried to cry out again—she tried to turn and
run; but the horror of her impending fate and the terror that those
awful features induced left her paralyzed and helpless.
The thing was almost upon her now. The mouth was wide in a hideous
attempt to smile. The great hands would grasp her in another
second—and then there was a sudden crashing of the underbrush behind
her, a yellow, wrinkled face and a flying pig-tail shot past her, and
the brave old Sing Lee grappled with the mighty monster that threatened
The battle was short—short and terrible. The valiant Chinaman sought
the ashen throat of his antagonist, but his wiry, sinewy muscles were
as reeds beneath the force of that inhuman power that opposed them.
Holding the girl at arm's length in one hand, Number One tore the
battling Chinaman from him with the other, and lifting him bodily above
his head, hurled him stunned and bleeding against the bole of a giant
buttress tree. Then lifting Virginia in his arms once more he dived
into the impenetrable mazes of the jungle that lined the more open
pathway between the beach and camp.
A NEW FACE
As Professor Maxon and von Horn rushed from the workshop to their own
campong, they neglected, in their haste, to lock the door between, and
for the first time since the camp was completed it stood unlatched and
The professor had been engaged in taking careful measurements of the
head of his latest experiment, the while he coached the young man in
the first rudiments of spoken language, and now the subject of his
labors found himself suddenly deserted and alone. He had not yet been
without the four walls of the workshop, as the professor had wished to
keep him from association with the grotesque results of his earlier
experiments, and now a natural curiosity tempted him to approach the
door through which his creator and the man with the bull whip had so
He saw before him a great walled enclosure roofed by a lofty azure
dome, and beyond the walls the tops of green trees swaying gently in
the soft breezes. His nostrils tasted the incense of fresh earth and
growing things. For the first time he felt the breath of Nature, free
and unconfined, upon his brow.
He drew his giant frame to its full height and drank in the freedom and
the sweetness of it all, filling his great lungs to their fullest; and
with the first taste he learned to hate the close and stuffy confines
of his prison.
His virgin mind was filled with wonder at the wealth of new impressions
which surged to his brain through every sense. He longed for more, and
the open gateway of the campong was a scarce needed invitation to pass
to the wide world beyond. With the free and easy tread of utter
unconsciousness of self, he passed across the enclosure and stepped out
into the clearing which lay between the palisade and the jungle.
Ah, here was a still more beautiful world! The green leaves nodded to
him, and at their invitation he came and the jungle reached out its
million arms to embrace him. Now before him, behind, on either side
there was naught but glorious green beauty shot with splashes of
gorgeous color that made him gasp in wonderment.
Brilliant birds rose from amidst it all, skimming hither and thither
above his head—he thought that the flowers and the birds were the
same, and when he reached out and plucked a blossom, tenderly, he
wondered that it did not flutter in his hand. On and on he walked, but
slowly, for he must not miss a single sight in the strange and
wonderful place; and then, of a sudden, the quiet beauty of the scene
was harshly broken by the crashing of a monster through the underbrush.
Number Thirteen was standing in a little open place in the jungle when
the discordant note first fell upon his ears, and as he turned his head
in the direction of the sound he was startled at the hideous aspect of
the thing which broke through the foliage before him.
What a horrid creature! But on the same instant his eyes fell upon
another borne in the arms of the terrible one. This one was
different—very different,—soft and beautiful and white. He wondered
what it all meant, for everything was strange and new to him; but when
he saw the eyes of the lovely one upon him, and her arms outstretched
toward him, though he did not understand the words upon her lips, he
knew that she was in distress. Something told him that it was the ugly
thing that carried her that was the author of her suffering.
Virginia Maxon had been half unconscious from fright when she suddenly
saw a white man, clothed in coarse, white, native pajamas, confronting
her and the misshapen beast that was bearing her away to what frightful
fate she could but conjecture.
At the sight of the man her voice returned with returning hope, and she
reached her arms toward him, calling upon him to save her. Although he
did not respond she thought that he understood for he sprang toward
them before her appeal was scarce uttered.
As before, when Sing had threatened to filch his new possession from
him, Number One held the girl with one hand while he met the attack of
this new assailant with the other; but here was very different metal
than had succumbed to him before.
It is true that Number Thirteen knew nothing whatever of personal
combat, but Number One had but little advantage of him in the matter of
experience, while the former was equipped with great natural
intelligence as well as steel muscles no whit less powerful than his
So it was that the awful giant found his single hand helpless to cope
with the strength of his foeman, and in a brief instant felt powerful
fingers clutching at his throat. Still reluctant to surrender his hold
upon his prize, he beat futilely at the face of his enemy, but at last
the agony of choking compelled him to drop the girl and grapple madly
with the man who choked him with one hand and rained mighty and
merciless blows upon his face and head with the other.
His captive sank to the ground, too weak from the effects of nervous
shock to escape, and with horror-filled eyes watched the two who
battled over her. She saw that her would-be rescuer was young and
strong featured—all together a very fine specimen of manhood; and to
her great wonderment it was soon apparent that he was no unequal match
for the great mountain of muscle that he fought.
Both tore and struck and clawed and bit in the frenzy of mad, untutored
strife, rolling about on the soft carpet of the jungle almost
noiselessly except for their heavy breathing and an occasional
beast-like snarl from Number One. For several minutes they fought thus
until the younger man succeeded in getting both hands upon the throat
of his adversary, and then, choking relentlessly, he raised the brute
with him from the ground and rushed him fiercely backward against the
stem of a tree. Again and again he hurled the monstrous thing upon the
unyielding wood, until at last it hung helpless and inert in his
clutches, then he cast it from him, and without another glance at it
turned toward the girl.
Here was a problem indeed. Now that he had won her, what was he to do
with her? He was but an adult child, with the brain and brawn of a
man, and the ignorance and inexperience of the new-born. And so he
acted as a child acts, in imitation of what it has seen others do. The
brute had been carrying the lovely creature, therefore that must be the
thing for him to do, and so he stooped and gathered Virginia Maxon in
his great arms.
She tried to tell him that she could walk after a moment's rest, but it
was soon evident that he did not understand her, as a puzzled
expression came to his face and he did not put her down as she asked.
Instead he stood irresolute for a time, and then moved slowly through
the jungle. By chance his direction was toward the camp, and this fact
so relieved the girl's mind that presently she was far from loath to
remain quietly in his arms.
After a moment she gained courage to look up into his face. She
thought that she never had seen so marvellously clean cut features, or
a more high and noble countenance, and she wondered how it was that
this white man was upon the island and she not have known it. Possibly
he was a new arrival—his presence unguessed even by her father. That
he was neither English nor American was evident from the fact that he
could not understand her native tongue. Who could he be! What was he
doing upon their island!
As she watched his face he suddenly turned his eyes down upon her, and
as she looked hurriedly away she was furious with herself as she felt a
crimson flush mantle her cheek. The man only half sensed, in a vague
sort of way, the meaning of the tell tale color and the quickly averted
eyes; but he became suddenly aware of the pressure of her delicate body
against his, as he had not been before. Now he kept his eyes upon her
face as he walked, and a new emotion filled his breast. He did not
understand it, but it was very pleasant, and he knew that it was
because of the radiant thing that he carried in his arms.
The scream that had startled von Horn and Professor Maxon led them
along the trail toward the east coast of the island, and about halfway
of the distance they stumbled upon the dazed and bloody Sing just as he
was on the point of regaining consciousness.
"For God's sake, Sing, what is the matter?" cried von Horn. "Where is
"Big blute, he catchem Linee. Tly kill Sing. Head hit tlee. No see
any more. Wakee up—all glone," moaned the Chinaman as he tried to
gain his feet.
"Which way did he take her?" urged von Horn.
Sing's quick eyes scanned the surrounding jungle, and in a moment,
staggering to his feet, he cried, "Look see, klick! Foot plint!" and
ran, weak and reeling drunkenly, along the broad trail made by the
giant creature and its prey.
Von Horn and Professor Maxon followed closely in Sing's wake, the
younger man horrified by the terrible possibilities that obtruded
themselves into his imagination despite his every effort to assure
himself that no harm could come to Virginia Maxon before they reached
her. The girl's father had not spoken since they discovered that she
was missing from the campong, but his face was white and drawn; his
eyes wide and glassy as those of one whose mind is on the verge of
madness from a great nervous shock.
The trail of the creature was bewilderingly erratic. A dozen paces
straight through the underbrush, then a sharp turn at right angles for
no apparent reason, only to veer again suddenly in a new direction!
Thus, turning and twisting, the tortuous way led them toward the south
end of the island, until Sing, who was in advance, gave a sharp cry of
"Klick! Look see!" he cried excitedly. "Blig blute dead—vely muchee
Von Horn rushed forward to where the Chinaman was leaning over the body
of Number One. Sure enough, the great brute lay motionless, its horrid
face even more hideous in death than in life, if it were possible. The
face was black, the tongue protruded, the skin was bruised from the
heavy fists of his assailant and the thick skull crushed and splintered
from terrific impact with the tree.
Professor Maxon leaned over von Horn's shoulder. "Ah, poor Number
One," he sighed, "that you should have come to such an untimely end—my
child, my child."
Von Horn looked at him, a tinge of compassion in his rather hard face.
It touched the man that his employer was at last shocked from the
obsession of his work to a realization of the love and duty he owed his
daughter; he thought that the professor's last words referred to
"Though there are twelve more," continued Professor Maxon, "you were my
first born son and I loved you most, dear child."
The younger man was horrified.
"My God, Professor!" he cried. "Are you mad? Can you call this thing
'child' and mourn over it when you do not yet know the fate of your own
Professor Maxon looked up sadly. "You do not understand, Dr. von
Horn," he replied coldly, "and you will oblige me, in the future, by
not again referring to the offspring of my labors as 'things.'"
With an ugly look upon his face von Horn turned his back upon the older
man—what little feeling of loyalty and affection he had ever felt for
him gone forever. Sing was looking about for evidences of the cause of
Number One's death and the probable direction in which Virginia Maxon
"What on earth could have killed this enormous brute, Sing? Have you
any idea?" asked von Horn.
The Chinaman shook his head.
"No savvy," he replied. "Blig flight. Look see," and he pointed to
the torn and trampled turf, the broken bushes, and to one or two small
trees that had been snapped off by the impact of the two mighty bodies
that had struggled back and forth about the little clearing.
"This way," cried Sing presently, and started off once more into the
brush, but this time in a northwesterly direction, toward camp.
In silence the three men followed the new trail, all puzzled beyond
measure to account for the death of Number One at the hands of what
must have been a creature of superhuman strength. What could it have
been! It was impossible that any of the Malays or lascars could have
done the thing, and there were no other creatures, brute or human, upon
the island large enough to have coped even for an instant with the
ferocious brutality of the dead monster, except—von Horn's brain came
to a sudden halt at the thought. Could it be? There seemed no other
explanation. Virginia Maxon had been rescued from one soulless
monstrosity to fall into the hands of another equally irresponsible and
Others then must have escaped from the campong. Von Horn loosened his
guns in their holsters, and took a fresh grip upon his bull whip as he
urged Sing forward upon the trail. He wondered which one it was, but
not once did it occur to him that the latest result of Professor
Maxon's experiments could be the rescuer of Virginia Maxon. In his
mind he could see only the repulsive features of one of the others.
Quite unexpectedly they came upon the two, and with a shout von Horn
leaped forward, his bull whip upraised. Number Thirteen turned in
surprise at the cry, and sensing a new danger for her who lay in his
arms, he set her gently upon the ground behind him and advanced to meet
"Out of the way, you—monstrosity," cried von Horn. "If you have
harmed Miss Maxon I'll put a bullet in your heart!"
Number Thirteen did not understand the words that the other addressed
to him but he interpreted the man's actions as menacing, not to
himself, but to the creature he now considered his particular charge;
and so he met the advancing man, more to keep him from the girl than to
offer him bodily injury for he recognized him as one of the two who had
greeted his first dawning consciousness.
Von Horn, possibly intentionally, misinterpreted the other's motive,
and raising his bull whip struck Number Thirteen a vicious cut across
the face, at the same time levelling his revolver point blank at the
broad breast. But before ever he could pull the trigger an avalanche of
muscle was upon him, and he went down to the rotting vegetation of the
jungle with five sinewy fingers at his throat.
His revolver exploded harmlessly in the air, and then another hand
wrenched it from him and hurled it far into the underbrush. Number
Thirteen knew nothing of the danger of firearms, but the noise had
startled him and his experience with the stinging cut of the bull whip
convinced him that this other was some sort of instrument of torture of
which it would be as well to deprive his antagonist.
Virginia Maxon looked on in horror as she realized that her rescuer was
quickly choking Dr. von Horn to death. With a little cry she sprang to
her feet and ran toward them, just as her father emerged from the
underbrush through which he had been struggling in the trail of the
agile Chinaman and von Horn. Placing her hand upon the great wrist of
the giant she tried to drag his fingers from von Horn's throat,
pleading meanwhile with both voice and eyes for the life of the man she
thought loved her.
Again Number Thirteen translated the intent without understanding the
words, and releasing von Horn permitted him to rise. With a bound he
was upon his feet and at the same instant brought his other gun from
his side and levelled it upon the man who had released him; but as his
finger tightened upon the trigger Virginia Maxon sprang between them
and grasping von Horn's wrist deflected the muzzle of the gun just as
the cartridge exploded. Simultaneously Professor Maxon sprang from his
grasp and hurled him back with the superhuman strength of a maniac.
"Fool!" he cried. "What would you do? Kill—," and then of a sudden
he realized his daughter's presence and the necessity for keeping the
origin of the young giant from her knowledge.
"I am surprised at you, Dr. von Horn," he continued in a more level
voice. "You must indeed have forgotten yourself to thus attack a
stranger upon our island until you know whether he be friend or foe.
Come! Escort my daughter to the camp, while I make the proper
apologies to this gentleman." As he saw that both Virginia and von
Horn hesitated, he repeated his command in a peremptory tone, adding;
"Quick, now; do as I bid you."
The moment had given von Horn an opportunity to regain his
self-control, and realizing as well as did his employer, but from
another motive, the necessity of keeping the truth from the girl, he
took her arm and led her gently from the scene. At Professor Maxon's
direction Sing accompanied them.
Now in Number Thirteen's brief career he had known no other authority
than Professor Maxon's, and so it was that when his master laid a hand
upon his wrist he remained beside him while another walked away with
the lovely creature he had thought his very own.
Until after dark the professor kept the young man hidden in the jungle,
and then, safe from detection, led him back to the laboratory.
On their return to camp after her rescue Virginia talked a great deal
to von Horn about the young giant who had rescued her, until the man
feared that she was more interested in him than seemed good for his own
He had now cast from him the last vestige of his loyalty for his
employer, and thus freed had determined to use every means within his
power to win Professor Maxon's daughter, and with her the heritage of
wealth which he knew would be hers should her father, through some
unforeseen mishap, meet death before he could return to civilization
and alter his will, a contingency which von Horn knew he might have to
consider should he marry the girl against her father's wishes, and thus
thwart the crazed man's mad, but no less dear project.
He realized that first he must let the girl fully understand the grave
peril in which she stood, and turn her hope of protection from her
father to himself. He imagined that the initial step in undermining
Virginia's confidence in her father would be to narrate every detail of
the weird experiments which Professor Maxon had brought to such
successful issues during their residence upon the island.
The girl's own questioning gave him the lead he needed.
"Where could that horrid creature have come from that set upon me in
the jungle and nearly killed poor Sing?" she asked.
For a moment von Horn was silent, in well simulated hesitancy to reply
to her query.
"I cannot tell you, Miss Maxon," he said sadly, "how much I should hate
to be the one to ignore your father's commands, and enlighten you upon
this and other subjects which lie nearer to your personal welfare than
you can possibly guess; but I feel that after the horrors of this day
duty demands that I must lay all before you—you cannot again be
exposed to the horrors from which you were rescued only by a miracle."
"I cannot imagine what you hint at, Dr. von Horn," said Virginia, "but
if to explain to me will necessitate betraying my father's confidence I
prefer that you remain silent."
"You do not understand," broke in the man, "you cannot guess the
horrors that I have seen upon this island, or the worse horrors that
are to come. Could you dream of what lies in store for you, you would
seek death rather than face the future. I have been loyal to your
father, Virginia, but were you not blind, or indifferent, you would
long since have seen that your welfare means more to me than my loyalty
to him—more to me than my life or my honor.
"You asked where the creature came from that attacked you today. I
shall tell you. It is one of a dozen similarly hideous things that
your father has created in his mad desire to solve the problem of life.
He has solved it; but, God, at what a price in misshapen, soulless,
The girl looked up at him, horror stricken.
"Do you mean to say that my father in a mad attempt to usurp the
functions of God created that awful thing?" she asked in a low, faint
voice, "and that there are others like it upon the island?"
"In the campong next to yours there are a dozen others," replied von
Horn, "nor would it be easy to say which is the most hideous and
repulsive. They are grotesque caricatures of humanity—without soul
and almost without brain."
"God!" murmured the girl, burying her face in her hands, "he has gone
mad; he has gone mad."
"I truly believe that he is mad," said von Horn, "nor could you doubt
it for a moment were I to tell you the worst."
"The worst!" exclaimed the girl. "What could be worse than that which
you already have divulged? Oh, how could you have permitted it?"
"There is much worse than I have told you, Virginia. So much worse
that I can scarce force my lips to frame the words, but you must be
told. I would be more criminally liable than your father were I to
keep it from you, for my brain, at least, is not crazed. Virginia, you
have in your mind a picture of the hideous thing that carried you off
into the jungle?"
"Yes," and as the girl replied a convulsive shudder racked her frame.
Von Horn grasped her arm gently as he went on, as though to support and
protect her during the shock that he was about to administer.
"Virginia," he said in a very low voice, "it is your father's intention
to wed you to one of his creatures."
The girl broke from him with an angry cry.
"It is not true!" she exclaimed. "It is not true. Oh, Dr. von Horn
how could you tell me such a cruel and terrible untruth."
"As God is my judge, Virginia," and the man reverently uncovered as he
spoke, "it is the truth. Your father told me it in so many words when
I asked his permission to pay court to you myself—you are to marry
Number Thirteen when his education is complete."
"I shall die first!" she cried.
"Why not accept me instead?" suggested the man.
For a moment Virginia looked straight into his eyes as though to read
his inmost soul.
"Let me have time to consider it, Doctor," she replied. "I do not know
that I care for you in that way at all."
"Think of Number Thirteen," he suggested. "It should not be difficult
"I could not marry you simply to escape a worse fate," replied the
girl. "I am not that cowardly—but let me think it over. There can be
no immediate danger, I am sure."
"One can never tell," replied von Horn, "what strange, new vagaries may
enter a crazed mind to dictate this moment's action or the next."
"Where could we wed?" asked Virginia.
"The Ithaca would bear us to Singapore, and when we returned you would
be under my legal protection and safe."
"I shall think about it from every angle," she answered sadly, "and now
good night, my dear friend," and with a wan smile she entered her
For the next month Professor Maxon was busy educating Number Thirteen.
He found the young man intelligent far beyond his most sanguine hopes,
so that the progress made was little short of uncanny.
Von Horn during this time continued to urge upon Virginia the necessity
for a prompt and favorable decision in the matter of his proposal; but
when it came time to face the issue squarely the girl found it
impossible to accede to his request—she thought that she loved him,
but somehow she dared not say the word that would make her his for life.
Bududreen, the Malay mate was equally harassed by conflicting desires,
though of a different nature, for he had his eye upon the main chance
that was represented to him by the great chest, and also upon the
lesser reward which awaited him upon delivery of the girl to Rajah Muda
Saffir. The fact that he could find no safe means for accomplishing
both these ends simultaneously was all that had protected either from
The presence of the uncanny creatures of the court of mystery had
become known to the Malay and he used this knowledge as an argument to
foment discord and mutiny in the ignorant and superstitious crew under
his command. By boring a hole in the partition wall separating their
campong from the inner one he had disclosed to the horrified view of
his men the fearsome brutes harbored so close to them. The mate, of
course, had no suspicion of the true origin of these monsters, but his
knowledge of the fact that they had not been upon the island when the
Ithaca arrived and that it would have been impossible for them to have
landed and reached the camp without having been seen by himself or some
member of his company, was sufficient evidence to warrant him in
attributing their presence to some supernatural and malignant power.
This explanation the crew embraced willingly, and with it Bududreen's
suggestion that Professor Maxon had power to transform them all into
similar atrocities. The ball once started gained size and momentum as
it progressed. The professor's ofttimes strange expression was
attributed to an evil eye, and every ailment suffered by any member of
the crew was blamed upon their employer's Satanic influence. There was
but one escape from the horrors of such a curse—the death of its
author; and when Bududreen discovered that they had reached this point,
and were even discussing the method of procedure, he added all that was
needed to the dangerously smouldering embers of bloody mutiny by
explaining that should anything happen to the white men he would become
sole owner of their belongings, including the heavy chest, and that the
reward of each member of the crew would be generous.
Von Horn was really the only stumbling block in Bududreen's path. With
the natural cowardice of the Malay he feared this masterful American
who never moved without a brace of guns slung about his hips; and it
was at just this psychological moment that the doctor played into the
hands of his subordinate, much to the latter's inward elation.
Von Horn had finally despaired of winning Virginia by peaceful court,
and had about decided to resort to force when he was precipitately
confirmed in his decision by a conversation with the girl's father.
He and the professor were talking in the workshop of the remarkable
progress of Number Thirteen toward a complete mastery of English and
the ways and manners of society, in which von Horn had been assisting
his employer to train the young giant. The breach between the latter
and von Horn had been patched over by Professor Maxon's explanations to
Number Thirteen as soon as the young man was able to comprehend—in the
meantime it had been necessary to keep von Horn out of the workshop
except when the giant was confined in his own room off the larger one.
Von Horn had been particularly anxious, for the furtherance of certain
plans he had in mind, to effect a reconciliation with Number Thirteen,
to reach a basis of friendship with the young man, and had left no
stone unturned to accomplish this result. To this end he had spent
considerable time with Number Thirteen, coaching him in English and in
the ethics of human association.
"He is progressing splendidly, Doctor," Professor Maxon had said. "It
will be but a matter of a day or so when I can introduce him to
Virginia, but we must be careful that she has no inkling of his origin
until mutual affection has gained a sure foothold between them."
"And if that should not occur?" questioned von Horn.
"I should prefer that they mated voluntarily," replied the professor,
the strange gleam leaping to his eyes at the suggestion of possible
antagonism to his cherished plan, "but if not, then they shall be
compelled by the force of my authority—they both belong to me, body
"You will wait for the final consummation of your desires until you
return with them to civilization, I presume," said von Horn.
"And why?" returned the professor. "I can wed them here myself—it
would be the surer way—yes, that is what I shall do."
It was this determination on the part of Professor Maxon that decided
von Horn to act at once. Further, it lent a reasonable justification
for his purposed act.
Shortly after their talk the older man left the workshop, and von Horn
took the opportunity to inaugurate the second move of his campaign.
Number Thirteen was sitting near a window which let upon the inner
court, busy with the rudiments of written English. Von Horn approached
"You are getting along nicely, Jack," he said kindly, looking over the
other's shoulder and using the name which had been adopted at his
suggestion to lend a more human tone to their relations with the
"Yes," replied the other, looking up with a smile. "Professor Maxon
says that in another day or two I may come and live in his own house,
and again meet his beautiful daughter. It seems almost too good to be
true that I shall actually live under the same roof with her and see
her every day—sit at the same table with her—and walk with her among
the beautiful trees and flowers that witnessed our first meeting. I
wonder if she will remember me. I wonder if she will be as glad to see
me again as I shall be to see her."
"Jack," said von Horn, sadly, "I am afraid there is a terrible and
disappointing awakening for you. It grieves me that it should be so,
but it seems only fair to tell you, what Professor Maxon either does
not know or has forgotten, that his daughter will not look with
pleasure upon you when she learns your origin.
"You are not as other men. You are but the accident of a laboratory
experiment. You have no soul, and the soul is all that raises man
above the beasts. Jack, poor boy, you are not a human being—you are
not even a beast. The world, and Miss Maxon is of the world, will look
upon you as a terrible creature to be shunned—a horrible monstrosity
far lower in the scale of creation than the lowest order of brutes.
"Look," and the man pointed through the window toward the group of
hideous things that wandered aimlessly about the court of mystery.
"You are of the same breed as those, you differ from them only in the
symmetry of your face and features, and the superior development of
your brain. There is no place in the world for them, nor for you.
"I am sorry that it is so. I am sorry that I should have to be the one
to tell you; but it is better that you know it now from a friend than
that you meet the bitter truth when you least expected it, and possibly
from the lips of one like Miss Maxon for whom you might have formed a
As von Horn spoke the expression on the young man's face became more
and more hopeless, and when he had ceased he dropped his head into his
open palms, sitting quiet and motionless as a carven statue. No sob
shook his great frame, there was no outward indication of the terrible
grief that racked him inwardly—only in the pose was utter dejection
The older man could not repress a cold smile—it had had more effect
than he had hoped.
"Don't take it too hard, my boy," he continued. "The world is wide.
It would be easy to find a thousand places where your antecedents would
be neither known nor questioned. You might be very happy elsewhere and
there are a hundred thousand girls as beautiful and sweet as Virginia
Maxon—remember that you have never seen another, so you can scarcely
"Why did he ever bring me into the world?" exclaimed the young man
suddenly. "It was wicked—wicked—terribly cruel and wicked."
"I agree with you," said von Horn quickly, seeing another possibility
that would make his future plans immeasurably easier. "It was wicked,
and it is still more wicked to continue the work and bring still other
unfortunate creatures into the world to be the butt and plaything of
"He intends to do that?" asked the youth.
"Unless he is stopped," replied von Horn.
"He must be stopped," cried the other. "Even if it were necessary to
Von Horn was quite satisfied with the turn events had taken. He
shrugged his shoulders and turned on his heel toward the outer campong.
"If he had wronged me as he has you, and those others," with a gesture
toward the court of mystery, "I should not be long in reaching a
decision." And with that he passed out, leaving the door unlatched.
Von Horn went straight to the south campong and sought out Bududreen.
Motioning the Malay to follow him they walked across the clearing and
entered the jungle out of sight and hearing of the camp. Sing, hanging
clothes in the north end of the clearing saw them depart, and wondered
"Bududreen," said von Horn, when the two had reached a safe distance
from the enclosures, "there is no need of mincing matters—something
must be done at once. I do not know how much you know of the work that
Professor Maxon has been engaged in since we reached this island; but
it has been hellish enough and it must go no further. You have seen
the creatures in the campong next to yours?"
"I have seen," replied Bududreen, with a shudder.
"Professor Maxon intends to wed one of these to his daughter," von Horn
continued. "She loves me and we wish to escape—can I rely on you and
your men to aid us? There is a chest in the workshop which we must
take along too, and I can assure you that you all will be well rewarded
for your work. We intend merely to leave Professor Maxon here with the
creatures he has created."
Bududreen could scarce repress a smile—it was indeed too splendid to
"It will be perilous work, Captain," he answered. "We should all be
hanged were we caught."
"There will be no danger of that, Bududreen, for there will be no one
to divulge our secret."
"There will be the Professor Maxon," urged the Malay. "Some day he
will escape from the island, and then we shall all hang."
"He will never escape," replied von Horn, "his own creatures will see
to that. They are already commencing to realize the horrible crime he
has committed against them, and when once they are fully aroused there
will be no safety for any of us. If you wish to leave the island at
all it will be best for you to accept my proposal and leave while your
head yet remains upon your shoulders. Were we to suggest to the
professor that he leave now he would not only refuse but he would take
steps to make it impossible for any of us to leave, even to sinking the
Ithaca. The man is mad—quite mad—Bududreen, and we cannot longer
jeopardize our own throats merely to humor his crazy and criminal
The Malay was thinking fast, and could von Horn have guessed what
thoughts raced through the tortuous channels of that semi-barbarous
brain he would have wished himself safely housed in the American prison
where he belonged.
"When do you wish to sail?" asked the Malay.
"Tonight," replied von Horn, and together they matured their plans. An
hour later the second mate with six men disappeared into the jungle
toward the harbor. They, with the three on watch, were to get the
vessel in readiness for immediate departure.
After the evening meal von Horn sat on the verandah with Virginia Maxon
until the Professor came from the workshop to retire for the night. As
he passed them he stopped for a word with von Horn, taking him aside
out of the girl's hearing.
"Have you noticed anything peculiar in the actions of Thirteen?" asked
the older man. "He was sullen and morose this evening, and at times
there was a strange, wild light in his eyes as he looked at me. Can it
be possible that, after all, his brain is defective? It would be
terrible. My work would have gone for naught, for I can see no way in
which I can improve upon him."
"I will go and have a talk with him later," said von Horn, "so if you
hear us moving about in the workshop, or even out here in the campong
think nothing of it. I may take him for a long walk. It is possible
that the hard study and close confinement to that little building have
been too severe upon his brain and nerves. A long walk each evening
may bring him around all right."
"Splendid—splendid," replied the professor. "You may be quite right.
Do it by all means, my dear doctor," and there was a touch of the old,
friendly, sane tone which had been so long missing, that almost caused
von Horn to feel a trace of compunction for the hideous act of
disloyalty that he was on the verge of perpetrating.
As Professor Maxon entered the house von Horn returned to Virginia and
suggested that they take a short walk outside the campong before
retiring. The girl readily acquiesced to the plan, and a moment later
found them strolling through the clearing toward the southern end of
the camp. In the dark shadows of the gateway leading to the men's
enclosure a figure crouched. The girl did not see it, but as they came
opposite it von Horn coughed twice, and then the two passed on toward
the edge of the jungle.
The Rajah Muda Saffir, tiring of the excuses and delays which Bududreen
interposed to postpone the fulfillment of his agreement with the
former, whereby he was to deliver into the hands of the rajah a certain
beautiful maiden, decided at last to act upon his own initiative. The
truth of the matter was that he had come to suspect the motives of the
first mate of the Ithaca, and not knowing of the great chest attributed
them to Bududreen's desire to possess the girl for himself.
So it was that as the second mate of the Ithaca with his six men waded
down the bed of the little stream toward the harbor and the ship, a
fleet of ten war prahus manned by over five hundred fierce Dyaks and
commanded by Muda Saffir himself, pulled cautiously into the little
cove upon the opposite side of the island, and landed but a quarter of
a mile from camp.
At the same moment von Horn was leading Virginia Maxon farther and
farther from the north campong where resistance, if there was to be
any, would be most likely to occur. At his superior's cough Bududreen
had signalled silently to the men within the enclosure, and a moment
later six savage lascars crept stealthily to his side.
The moment that von Horn and the girl were entirely concealed by the
darkness, the seven moved cautiously along the shadow of the palisade
toward the north campong. There was murder in the cowardly hearts of
several of them, and stupidity and lust in the hearts of all. There
was no single one who would not betray his best friend for a handful of
silver, nor any but was inwardly hoping and scheming to the end that he
might alone possess both the chest and the girl.
It was such a pack of scoundrels that Bududreen led toward the north
campong to bear away the treasure. In the breast of the leader was the
hope that he had planted enough of superstitious terror in their hearts
to make the sight of the supposed author of their imagined wrongs
sufficient provocation for his murder; for Bududreen was too sly to
give the order for the killing of a white man—the arm of the white
man's law was too long—but he felt that he would rest easier were he
to leave the island with the knowledge that only a dead man remained
behind with the secret of his perfidy.
While these events were transpiring Number Thirteen was pacing
restlessly back and forth the length of the workshop. But a short time
before he had had his author—the author of his misery—within the four
walls of his prison, and yet he had not wreaked the vengeance that was
in his heart. Twice he had been on the point of springing upon the
man, but both times the other's eyes had met his and something which he
was not able to comprehend had stayed him. Now that the other had gone
and he was alone contemplation of the hideous wrong that had been done
loosed again the flood gates of his pent rage.
The thought that he had been made by this man—made in the semblance of
a human being, yet denied by the manner of his creation a place among
the lowest of Nature's creatures—filled him with fury, but it was not
this thought that drove him to the verge of madness. It was the
knowledge, suggested by von Horn, that Virginia Maxon would look upon
him in horror, as a grotesque and loathsome monstrosity.
He had no standard and no experience whereby he might classify his
sentiments toward this wonderful creature. All he knew was that his
life would be complete could he be near her always—see her and speak
with her daily. He had thought of her almost constantly since those
short, delicious moments that he had held her in his arms. Again and
again he experienced in retrospection the exquisite thrill that had run
through every fiber of his being at the sight of her averted eyes and
flushed face. And the more he let his mind dwell upon the wonderful
happiness that was denied him because of his origin, the greater became
his wrath against his creator.
It was now quite dark without. The door leading to Professor Maxon's
campong, left unlatched earlier in the evening by von Horn for sinister
motives of his own, was still unbarred through a fatal coincidence of
forgetfulness on the part of the professor.
Number Thirteen approached this door. He laid his hand upon the knob.
A moment later he was moving noiselessly across the campong toward the
house in which Professor Maxon lay peacefully sleeping; while at the
south gate Bududreen and his six cutthroats crept cautiously within and
slunk in the dense shadows of the palisade toward the workshop where
lay the heavy chest of their desire. At the same instant Muda Saffir
with fifty of his head-hunting Dyaks emerged from the jungle east of
the camp, bent on discovering the whereabouts of the girl the Malay
sought and bearing her away to his savage court far within the jungle
fastness of his Bornean principality.
Number Thirteen reached the verandah of the house and peered through
the window into the living room, where an oil lamp, turned low, dimly
lighted the interior, which he saw was unoccupied. Going to the door
he pushed it open and entered the apartment. All was still within. He
listened intently for some slight sound which might lead him to the
victim he sought, or warn him from the apartment of the girl or that of
von Horn—his business was with Professor Maxon. He did not wish to
disturb the others whom he believed to be sleeping somewhere within the
structure—a low, rambling bungalow of eight rooms.
Cautiously he approached one of the four doors which opened from the
living room. Gently he turned the knob and pushed the door ajar. The
interior of the apartment beyond was in inky darkness, but Number
Thirteen's greatest fear was that he might have stumbled upon the
sleeping room of Virginia Maxon, and that if she were to discover him
there, not only would she be frightened, but her cries would alarm the
other inmates of the dwelling.
The thought of the horror that his presence would arouse within her,
the knowledge that she would look upon him as a terrifying monstrosity,
added new fuel to the fires of hate that raged in his bosom against the
man who had created him. With clenched fists, and tight set jaws the
great, soulless giant moved across the dark chamber with the stealthy
noiselessness of a tiger. Feeling before him with hands and feet he
made the circuit of the room before he reached the bed.
Scarce breathing he leaned over and groped across the covers with his
fingers in search of his prey—the bed was empty. With the discovery
came a sudden nervous reaction that sent him into a cold sweat.
Weakly, he seated himself upon the edge of the bed. Had his fingers
found the throat of Professor Maxon beneath the coverlet they would
never have released their hold until life had forever left the body of
the scientist, but now that the highest tide of the young man's hatred
had come and gone he found himself for the first time assailed by
Suddenly he recalled the fact that the man whose life he sought was the
father of the beautiful creature he adored. Perhaps she loved him and
would be unhappy were he taken away from her. Number Thirteen did not
know, of course, but the idea obtruded itself, and had sufficient
weight to cause him to remain seated upon the edge of the bed
meditating upon the act he contemplated. He had by no means given up
the idea of killing Professor Maxon, but now there were doubts and
obstacles which had not been manifest before.
His standards of right and wrong were but half formed, from the brief
attempts of Professor Maxon and von Horn to inculcate proper moral
perceptions in a mind entirely devoid of hereditary inclinations toward
either good or bad, but he realized one thing most perfectly—that to
be a soulless thing was to be damned in the estimation of Virginia
Maxon, and it now occurred to him that to kill her father would be the
act of a soulless being. It was this thought more than another that
caused him to pause in the pursuit of his revenge, since he knew that
the act he contemplated would brand him the very thing he was, yet
wished not to be.
At length, however, he slowly comprehended that no act of his would
change the hideous fact of his origin; that nothing would make him
acceptable in her eyes, and with a shake of his head he arose and
stepped toward the living room to continue his search for the professor.
In the workshop Bududreen and his men had easily located the chest.
Dragging it into the north campong the Malay was about to congratulate
himself upon the ease with which the theft had been accomplished when
one of his fellows declared his intention of going to the house for the
purpose of dispatching Professor Maxon, lest the influence of his evil
eye should overtake them with some terrible curse when the loss of the
chest should be discovered.
While this met fully with Bududreen's plans he urged the man against
any such act that he might have witnesses to prove that he not only had
no hand in the crime, but had exerted his authority to prevent it; but
when two of the men separated themselves from the party and crept
toward the bungalow no force was interposed to stop them.
The moon had risen now, so that from the dark shadows of the palisade
Muda Saffir and his savages watched the party with Bududreen squatting
about the heavy chest, and saw the two who crept toward the house. To
Muda Saffir's evil mind there was but one explanation. Bududreen had
discovered a rich treasure, and having stolen that had dispatched two
of his men to bring him the girl also.
Rajah Muda Saffir was furious. In subdued whispers he sent a half
dozen of his Dyaks back beneath the shadow of the palisade to the
opposite side of the bungalow where they were to enter the building,
killing all within except the girl, whom they were to carry straight to
the beach and the war prahus.
Then with the balance of his horde he crept alone in the darkness until
opposite Bududreen and the watchers about the chest. Just as the two
who crept toward the bungalow reached it, Muda Saffir gave the word for
the attack upon the Malays and lascars who guarded the treasure. With
savage yells they dashed upon the unsuspecting men. Parangs and spears
glistened in the moonlight. There was a brief and bloody encounter,
for the cowardly Bududreen and his equally cowardly crew had had no
alternative but to fight, so suddenly had the foe fallen upon them.
In a moment the savage Borneo head hunters had added five grisly
trophies to their record. Bududreen and another were racing madly
toward the jungle beyond the campong.
As Number Thirteen arose to continue his search for Professor Maxon his
quick ear caught the shuffling of bare feet upon the verandah. As he
paused to listen there broke suddenly upon the still night the hideous
war cries of the Dyaks, and the screams and shrieks of their frightened
victims in the campong without. Almost simultaneously Professor Maxon
and Sing rushed into the living room to ascertain the cause of the wild
alarm, while at the same instant Bududreen's assassins sprang through
the door with upraised krisses, to be almost immediately followed by
Muda Saffir's six Dyaks brandishing their long spears and wicked
In an instant the little room was filled with howling, fighting men.
The Dyaks, whose orders as well as inclinations incited them to a
general massacre, fell first upon Bududreen's lascars who, cornered in
the small room, fought like demons for their lives, so that when the
Dyaks had overcome them two of their own number lay dead beside the
dead bodies of Bududreen's henchmen.
Sing and Professor Maxon stood in the doorway to the professor's room
gazing upon the scene of carnage in surprise and consternation. The
scientist was unarmed, but Sing held a long, wicked looking Colt in
readiness for any contingency. It was evident the celestial was no
stranger to the use of his deadly weapon, nor to the moments of extreme
and sudden peril which demanded its use, for he seemed no more
perturbed than had he been but hanging out his weekly wash.
As Number Thirteen watched the two men from the dark shadows of the
room in which he stood, he saw that both were calm—the Chinaman with
the calmness of perfect courage, the other through lack of full
understanding of the grave danger which menaced him. In the eyes of
the latter shone a strange gleam—it was the wild light of insanity
that the sudden nervous shock of the attack had brought to a premature
Now the four remaining Dyaks were advancing upon the two men. Sing
levelled his revolver and fired at the foremost, and at the same
instant Professor Maxon, with a shrill, maniacal scream, launched
himself full upon a second. Number Thirteen saw the blood spurt from a
superficial wound in the shoulder of the fellow who received Sing's
bullet, but except for eliciting a howl of rage the missile had no
immediate effect. Then Sing pulled the trigger again and again, but
the cylinder would not revolve and the hammer fell futilely upon the
empty cartridge. As two of the head hunters closed upon him the brave
Chinaman clubbed his weapon and went down beneath them beating madly at
the brown skulls.
The man with whom Professor Maxon had grappled had no opportunity to
use his weapons for the crazed man held him close with one encircling
arm while he tore and struck at him with his free hand. The fourth
Dyak danced around the two with raised parang watching for an opening
that he might deliver a silencing blow upon the white man's skull.
The great odds against the two men—their bravery in the face of death,
their grave danger—and last and greatest, the fact that one was the
father of the beautiful creature he worshipped, wrought a sudden change
in Number Thirteen. In an instant he forgot that he had come here to
kill the white-haired man, and with a bound stood in the center of the
room—an unarmed giant towering above the battling four.
The parang of the Dyak who sought Professor Maxon's life was already
falling as a mighty hand grasped the wrist of the head hunter; but even
then it was too late to more than lessen the weight of the blow, and
the sharp edge of the blade bit deep into the forehead of the white
man. As he sank to his knees his other antagonist freed an arm from
the embrace which had pinioned it to his side, but before he could deal
the professor a blow with the short knife that up to now he had been
unable to use, Number Thirteen had hurled his man across the room and
was upon him who menaced the scientist.
Tearing him loose from his prey, he raised him far above his head and
threw him heavily against the opposite wall, then he turned his
attention toward Sing's assailants. All that had so far saved the
Chinaman from death was the fact that the two savages were each so
anxious to secure his head for the verandah rafters of his own
particular long-house that they interfered with one another in the
consummation of their common desire.
Although battling for his life, Sing had not failed to note the advent
of the strange young giant, nor the part he had played in succoring the
professor, so that it was with a feeling of relief that he saw the
newcomer turn his attention toward those who were rapidly reducing the
citadel of his own existence.
The two Dyaks who sought the trophy which nature had set upon the
Chinaman's shoulders were so busily engaged with their victim that they
knew nothing of the presence of Number Thirteen until a mighty hand
seized each by the neck and they were raised bodily from the floor,
shaken viciously for an instant, and then hurled to the opposite end of
the room upon the bodies of the two who had preceded them.
As Sing came to his feet he found Professor Maxon lying in a pool of
his own blood, a great gash in his forehead. He saw the white giant
standing silently looking down upon the old man. Across the room the
four stunned Dyaks were recovering consciousness. Slowly and fearfully
they regained their feet, and seeing that no attention was being paid
them, cast a parting, terrified look at the mighty creature who had
defeated them with his bare hands, and slunk quickly out into the
darkness of the campong.
When they caught up with Rajah Muda Saffir near the beach, they
narrated a fearful tale of fifty terrible white men with whom they had
battled valiantly, killing many, before they had been compelled to
retreat in the face of terrific odds. They swore that even then they
had only returned because the girl was not in the house—otherwise they
should have brought her to their beloved master as he had directed.
Now Muda Saffir believed nothing that they said, but he was well
pleased with the great treasure which had so unexpectedly fallen into
his hands, and he decided to make quite sure of that by transporting it
to his own land—later he could return for the girl. So the ten war
prahus of the Malay pulled quietly out of the little cove upon the east
side of the island, and bending their way toward the south circled its
southern extremity and bore away for Borneo.
In the bungalow within the north campong Sing and Number Thirteen had
lifted Professor Maxon to his bed, and the Chinaman was engaged in
bathing and bandaging the wound that had left the older man
unconscious. The white giant stood beside him watching his every move.
He was trying to understand why sometimes men killed one another and
again defended and nursed. He was curious as to the cause of his own
sudden change in sentiment toward Professor Maxon. At last he gave the
problem up as beyond his powers of solution, and at Sing's command set
about the task of helping to nurse the man whom he considered the
author of his unhappiness and whom a few short minutes before he had
come to kill.
As the two worked over the stricken man their ears were suddenly
assailed by a wild commotion from the direction of the workshop. There
were sounds of battering upon wood, loud growls and roars, mingled with
weird shrieks and screams and the strange, uncanny gibbering of
Sing looked quickly up at his companion.
"Whallee mallee?" he asked.
The giant did not answer. An expression of pain crossed his features,
and he shuddered—but not from fear.
THE BULL WHIP
As von Horn and Virginia Maxon walked slowly beneath the dense shadows
of the jungle he again renewed his suit. It would please him more to
have the girl accompany him voluntarily than to be compelled to take
her by force, but take her he would one way or another, and that, this
very night, for all the plans were made and already under way.
"I cannot do it, Doctor von Horn," she had said. "No matter how much
danger I may be in here I cannot desert my father on this lonely isle
with only savage lascars and the terrible monsters of his own creation
surrounding him. Why, it would be little short of murder for us to do
such a thing. I cannot see how you, his most trusted lieutenant, can
even give an instant's consideration to the idea.
"And now that you insist that his mind is sorely affected, it is only
an added reason why I must remain with him to protect him so far as I
am able, from himself and his enemies."
Von Horn did not relish the insinuation in the accent which the girl
put upon the last word.
"It is because I love you so, Virginia," he hastened to urge in
extenuation of his suggested disloyalty. "I cannot see you sacrificed
to his horrible mania. You do not realize the imminence of your peril.
Tomorrow Number Thirteen was to have come to live beneath the same roof
with you. You recall Number One whom the stranger killed as the thing
was bearing you away through the jungle? Can you imagine sleeping in
the same house with such a soulless thing? Eating your three meals a
day at the same table with it? And knowing all the time that in a few
short weeks at the most you were destined to be given to the thing as
its mate? Virginia, you must be mad to consider for a moment remaining
within reach of such a terrible peril.
"Come to Singapore with me—it will take but a few days—and then we
can return with some good medical man and a couple of Europeans, and
take your father away from the terrible creatures he has created. You
will be mine then and safe from the awful fate that now lies back there
in the camp awaiting you. We can take your father upon a long trip
where rest and quiet can have an opportunity to restore his enfeebled
mentality. Come, Virginia! Come with me now. We can go directly to
the Ithaca and safety. Say that you will come."
The girl shook her head.
"I do not love you, I am afraid, Doctor von Horn, or I should certainly
be moved by your appeal. If you wish to bring help for my father I
shall never cease to thank you if you will go to Singapore and fetch
it, but it is not necessary that I go. My place is here, near him."
In the darkness the girl did not see the change that came over the
man's face, but his next words revealed his altered attitude with
sufficient exactitude to thoroughly arouse her fears.
"Virginia," he said, "I love you, and I intend to have you. Nothing on
earth can prevent me. When you know me better you will return my love,
but now I must risk offending you that I may save you for myself from
the monstrous connection which your father contemplates for you. If
you will not come away from the island with me voluntarily I consider
it my duty to take you away by force."
"You would never do that, Doctor von Horn!" she exclaimed.
Von Horn had gone too far. He cursed himself inwardly for a fool. Why
the devil didn't that villain, Bududreen, come! He should have been
along to act his part half an hour before.
"No, Virginia," said the man, softly, after a moment's silence, "I
could not do that; though my judgment tells me that I should do it.
You shall remain here if you insist and I will be with you to serve and
protect both you and your father."
The words were fair, but the girl could not forget the ugly tone that
had tinged his preceding statement. She felt that she would be glad
when she found herself safely within the bungalow once more.
"Come," she said, "it is late. Let us return to camp."
Von Horn was about to reply when the war cries of Muda Saffir's Dyaks
as they rushed out upon Bududreen and his companions came to them
distinctly through the tropic night.
"What was that?" cried the girl in an alarmed tone.
"God knows," replied von Horn. "Can it be that our men have mutinied?"
He thought the six with Bududreen were carrying out their part in a
most realistic manner, and a grim smile tinged his hard face.
Virginia Maxon turned resolutely toward the camp.
"I must go back there to my father," she said, "and so must you. Our
place is there—God give that we be not too late," and before von Horn
could stop her she turned and ran through the darkness of the jungle in
the direction of the camp.
Von Horn dashed after her, but so black was the night beneath the
overhanging trees, festooned with their dark myriad creepers, that the
girl was out of sight in an instant, and upon the soft carpet of the
rotting vegetation her light footfalls gave no sound.
The doctor made straight for the camp, but Virginia, unused to jungle
trailing even by day, veered sharply to the left. The sounds which had
guided her at first soon died out, the brush became thicker, and
presently she realized that she had no conception of the direction of
the camp. Coming to a spot where the trees were less dense, and a
little moonlight filtered to the ground, she paused to rest and attempt
to regain her bearings.
As she stood listening for some sound which might indicate the
whereabouts of the camp, she detected the noise of a body approaching
through the underbrush. Whether man or beast she could but conjecture
and so she stood with every nerve taut waiting the thing that
floundered heavily toward her. She hoped it might be von Horn, but the
hideous war cries which had apprised her of enemies at the encampment
made her fear that fate might be directing the footsteps of one of
these upon her.
Nearer and nearer came the sound, and the girl stood poised ready to
fly when the dark face of Bududreen suddenly emerged into the moonlight
beside her. With an hysterical cry of relief the girl greeted him.
"Oh, Bududreen," she exclaimed, "what has happened at camp? Where is
my father? Is he safe? Tell me."
The Malay could scarce believe the good fortune which had befallen him
so quickly following the sore affliction of losing the treasure. His
evil mind worked quickly, so that he grasped the full possibilities
that were his before the girl had finished her questioning.
"The camp was attacked by Dyaks, Miss Maxon," he replied. "Many of our
men were killed, but your father escaped and has gone to the ship. I
have been searching for you and Doctor von Horn. Where is he?"
"He was with me but a moment ago. When we heard the cries at camp I
hastened on to discover what calamity had befallen us—we became
"He will be safe," said Bududreen, "for two of my men are waiting to
guide you and the doctor to the ship in case you returned to camp
before I found you. Come, we will hasten on to the harbor. Your
father will be worried if we are long delayed, and he is anxious to
make sail and escape before the Dyaks discover the location of the
The man's story seemed plausible enough to Virginia, although she could
not repress a little pang of regret that her father had been willing to
go on to the harbor before he knew her fate. However, she explained
that by her belief that his mind was unbalanced through constant
application to his weird obsession.
Without demur, then, she turned and accompanied the rascally Malay
toward the harbor. At the bank of the little stream which led down to
the Ithaca's berth the man lifted her to his shoulder and thus bore her
the balance of the way to the beach. Here two of his men were awaiting
him in one of the ship's boats, and without words they embarked and
pulled for the vessel.
Once on board Virginia started immediately for her father's cabin. As
she crossed the deck she noticed that the ship was ready to sail, and
even as she descended the companionway she heard the rattle of the
anchor chain about the capstan. She wondered if von Horn could be on
board too. It seemed remarkable that all should have reached the
Ithaca so quickly, and equally strange that none of her own people were
on deck to welcome her, or to command the vessel.
To her chagrin she found her father's cabin empty, and a moment's
hurried investigation disclosed the fact that von Horn's was unoccupied
as well. Now her doubts turned quickly to fears, and with a little
gasp of dismay at the grim possibilities which surged through her
imagination she ran quickly to the companionway, but above her she saw
that the hatch was down, and when she reached the top that it was
fastened. Futilely she beat upon the heavy planks with her delicate
hands, calling aloud to Bududreen to release her, but there was no
reply, and with the realization of the hopelessness of her position she
dropped back to the deck, and returned to her stateroom. Here she
locked and barricaded the door as best she could, and throwing herself
upon the berth awaited in dry-eyed terror the next blow that fate held
in store for her.
Shortly after von Horn became separated from Virginia he collided with
the fleeing lascar who had escaped the parangs of Muda Saffir's head
hunters at the same time as had Bududreen. So terror stricken was the
fellow that he had thrown away his weapons in the panic of flight,
which was all that saved von Horn from death at the hands of the fear
crazed man. To him, in the extremity of his fright, every man was an
enemy, and the doctor had a tough scuffle with him before he could
impress upon the fellow that he was a friend.
From him von Horn obtained an incoherent account of the attack,
together with the statement that he was the only person in camp that
escaped, all the others having been cut down by the savage horde that
overwhelmed them. It was with difficulty that von Horn persuaded the
man to return with him to the campong, but finally, he consented to do
so when the doctor with drawn revolver, presented death as the only
Together they cautiously crept back toward the palisade, not knowing at
what moment they might come upon the savage enemy that had wrought such
havoc among their forces, for von Horn believed the lascar's story that
all had perished. His only motive for returning lay in his desire to
prevent Virginia Maxon falling into the hands of the Dyaks, or, failing
that, rescuing her from their clutches.
Whatever faults and vices were Carl von Horn's cowardice was not one of
them, and it was without an instant's hesitation that he had elected to
return to succor the girl he believed to have returned to camp,
although he entertained no scruples regarding the further pursuit of
his dishonorable intentions toward her, should he succeed in saving her
from her other enemies.
As the two approached the campong quiet seemed to have again fallen
about the scene of the recent alarm. Muda Saffir had passed on toward
the cove with the heavy chest, and the scrimmage in the bungalow was
over. But von Horn did not abate his watchfulness as he stole silently
within the precincts of the north campong, and, hugging the denser
shadows of the palisade, crept toward the house.
The dim light in the living room drew him to one of the windows which
overlooked the verandah. A glance within showed him Sing and Number
Thirteen bending over the body of Professor Maxon. He noted the
handsome face and perfect figure of the young giant. He saw the bodies
of the dead lascars and Dyaks. Then he saw Sing and the young man lift
Professor Maxon tenderly in their arms and bear him to his own room.
A sudden wave of jealous rage swept through the man's vicious brain.
He saw that the soulless thing within was endowed with a kindlier and
more noble nature than he himself possessed. He had planted the seed
of hatred and revenge within his untutored heart without avail, for he
read in the dead bodies of Bududreen's men and the two Dyaks the story
of Number Thirteen's defense of the man von Horn had hoped he would
Von Horn was quite sure now that Virginia Maxon was not within the
campong. Either she had become confused and lost in the jungle after
she left him, or had fallen into the hands of the wild horde that had
attacked the camp. Convinced of this, there was no obstacle to thwart
the sudden plan which entered his malign brain. With a single act he
could rid himself of the man whom he had come to look upon as a rival,
whose physical beauty aroused his envy and jealousy; he could remove,
in the person of Professor Maxon, the parental obstacle which might
either prevent his obtaining the girl, or make serious trouble for him
in case he took her by force, and at the same time he could transfer to
the girl's possession the fortune which was now her father's—and he
could accomplish it all without tainting his own hands with the blood
of his victims.
As the full possibilities of his devilish scheme unfolded before his
mind's eye a grim smile curled his straight, thin lips at the thought
of the fate which it entailed for the creator of the hideous monsters
of the court of mystery.
As he turned away from the bungalow his eye fell upon the trembling
lascar who had accompanied him to the edge of the verandah. He must be
rid of the fellow in some way—no eye must see him perpetrate the deed
he had in mind. A solution quickly occurred to him.
"Hasten to the harbor," he said to the man in a low voice, "and tell
those on board the ship that I shall join them presently. Have all in
readiness to sail. I wish to fetch some of my belongings—all within
the bungalow are dead."
No command could have better suited the sailor. Without a word he
turned and fled toward the jungle. Von Horn walked quickly to the
workshop. The door hung open. Through the dark interior he strode
straight to the opposite door which let upon the court of mystery. On
a nail driven into the door frame hung a heavy bull whip. The doctor
took it down as he raised the strong bar which held the door. Then he
stepped through into the moonlit inner campong—the bull whip in his
right hand, a revolver in his left.
A half dozen misshapen monsters roved restlessly about the hard packed
earth of the pen. The noise of the battle in the adjoining enclosure
had aroused them from slumber and awakened in their half formed brains
vague questionings and fears. At sight of von Horn several of them
rushed for him with menacing growls, but a swift crack of the bull whip
brought them to a sudden realization of the identity of the intruder,
so that they slunk away, muttering and whining in rage.
Von Horn passed quickly to the low shed in which the remainder of the
eleven were sleeping. With vicious cuts from the stinging lash he lay
about him upon the sleeping things. Roaring and shrieking in pain and
anger the creatures stumbled to their feet and lumbered awkwardly into
the open. Two of them turned upon their tormentor, but the burning
weapon on their ill protected flesh sent them staggering back out of
reach, and in another moment all were huddled in the center of the
As cattle are driven, von Horn drove the miserable creatures toward the
door of the workshop. At the threshold of the dark interior the
frightened things halted fearfully, and then as von Horn urged them on
from behind with his cruel whip they milled as cattle at the entrance
to a strange corral.
Again and again he urged them for the door, but each time they turned
away, and to escape the whip beat and tore at the wall of the palisade
in a vain effort to batter it from their pathway. Their roars and
shrieks were almost deafening as von Horn, losing what little remained
of his scant self-control, dashed among them laying to right and left
with the stern whip and the butt of his heavy revolver.
Most of the monsters scattered and turned back into the center of the
enclosure, but three of them were forced through the doorway into the
workshop, from the darkness of which they saw the patch of moonlight
through the open door upon the opposite side. Toward this they
scurried as von Horn turned back into the court of mystery for the
Three more herculean efforts he made before he beat the last of the
creatures through the outer doorway of the workshop into the north
Among the age old arts of the celestials none is more strangely
inspiring than that of medicine. Odd herbs and unspeakable things when
properly compounded under a favorable aspect of the heavenly bodies are
potent to achieve miraculous cures, and few are the Chinamen who do not
brew some special concoction of their own devising for the lesser ills
which beset mankind.
Sing was no exception in this respect. In various queerly shaped,
bamboo covered jars he maintained a supply of tonics, balms and
lotions. His first thought when he had made Professor Maxon
comfortable upon the couch was to fetch his pet nostrum, for there
burned strong within his yellow breast the same powerful yearning to
experiment that marks the greatest of the profession to whose mysteries
Though the hideous noises from the inner campong rose threateningly,
the imperturbable Sing left the bungalow and passed across the north
campong to the little lean-to that he had built for himself against the
palisade that separated the north enclosure from the court of mystery.
Here he rummaged about in the dark until he had found the two phials he
sought. The noise of the monsters upon the opposite side of the
palisade had now assumed the dimensions of pandemonium, and through it
all the Chinaman heard the constant crack that was the sharp voice of
the bull whip.
He had completed his search and was about to return to the bungalow
when the first of the monsters emerged into the north campong from the
workshop. At the door of his shack Sing Lee drew back to watch, for he
knew that behind them some one was driving these horribly grotesque
creatures from their prison.
One by one they came lumbering into the moonlight until Sing had
counted eleven, and then, after them, came a white man, bull whip and
revolver in hand. It was von Horn. The equatorial moon shone full
upon him—there could be no mistake. The Chinaman saw him turn and
lock the workshop door; saw him cross the campong to the outer gate;
saw him pass through toward the jungle, closing the gate.
Of a sudden there was a sad, low moaning through the surrounding trees;
dense, black clouds obscured the radiant moon; and then with hideous
thunder and vivid flashes of lightning the tempest broke in all its
fury of lashing wind and hurtling deluge. It was the first great storm
of the breaking up of the monsoon, and under the cover of its darkness
Sing Lee scurried through the monster filled campong to the bungalow.
Within he found the young man bathing Professor Maxon's head as he had
directed him to do.
"All gettee out," he said, jerking his thumb in the direction of the
court of mystery. "Eleven devils. Plenty soon come bung'low. What
Number Thirteen had seen von Horn's extra bull whip hanging upon a peg
in the living room. For answer he stepped into that room and took the
weapon down. Then he returned to the professor's side.
Outside the frightened monsters groped through the blinding rain and
darkness in search of shelter. Each vivid lightning flash, and
bellowing of booming thunder brought responsive cries of rage and
terror from their hideous lips. It was Number Twelve who first spied
the dim light showing through the bungalow's living room window. With
a low guttural to his companions he started toward the building. Up
the low steps to the verandah they crept. Number Twelve peered through
the window. He saw no one within, but there was warmth and dryness.
His little knowledge and lesser reasoning faculties suggested no
thought of a doorway. With a blow he shattered the glass of the
window. Then he forced his body through the narrow aperture. At the
same moment a gust of wind sucking through the broken panes drew open
the door, and as Number Thirteen, warned by the sound of breaking
glass, sprang into the living room he was confronted by the entire
horde of misshapen beings.
His heart went out in pity toward the miserable crew, but he knew that
his life as well as those of the two men in the adjoining room depended
upon the force and skill with which he might handle the grave crisis
which confronted them. He had seen and talked with most of the
creatures when from time to time they had been brought singly into the
workshop that their creator might mitigate the wrong he had done by
training the poor minds with which he had endowed them to reason
A few were hopeless imbeciles, unable to comprehend more than the
rudimentary requirements of filling their bellies when food was placed
before them; yet even these were endowed with superhuman strength; and
when aroused battled the more fiercely for the very reason of their
brainlessness. Others, like Number Twelve, were of a higher order of
intelligence. They spoke English, and, after a fashion, reasoned in a
crude sort of way. These were by far the most dangerous, for as the
power of comparison is the fundamental principle of reasoning, so they
were able to compare their lot with that of the few other men they had
seen, and with the help of von Horn to partially appreciate the
horrible wrong that had been done them.
Von Horn, too, had let them know the identity of their creator, and
thus implanted in their malformed brains the insidious poison of
revenge. Envy and jealousy were there as well, and hatred of all
beings other than themselves. They envied the ease and comparative
beauty of the old professor and his assistant, and hated the latter for
the cruelty of the bull whip and the constant menace of the ever ready
revolver; and so as they were to them the representatives of the great
human world of which they could never be a part, their envy and
jealousy and hatred of these men embraced the entire race which they
It was such that Number Thirteen faced as he emerged from the
"What do you want here?" he said, addressing Number Twelve, who stood a
little in advance of the others.
"We have come for Maxon," growled the creature. "We have been penned
up long enough. We want to be out here. We have come to kill Maxon
and you and all who have made us what we are."
"Why do you wish to kill me?" asked the young man. "I am one of you.
I was made in the same way that you were made."
Number Twelve opened his mismated eyes in astonishment.
"Then you have already killed Maxon?" he asked.
"No. He was wounded by a savage enemy. I have been helping to make
him well again. He has wronged me as much as he has you. If I do not
wish to kill him, why should you? He did not mean to wrong us. He
thought that he was doing right. He is in trouble now and we should
stay and protect him."
"He lies," suddenly shouted another of the horde. "He is not one of
us. Kill him! Kill him! Kill Maxon, too, and then we shall be as
other men, for it is these men who keep us as we are."
The fellow started forward toward Number Thirteen as he spoke, and
moved by the impulse of imitation the others came on with him.
"I have spoken fairly to you," said Number Thirteen in a low voice.
"If you cannot understand fairness here is something you can
Raising the bull whip above his head the young giant leaped among the
advancing brutes and lay about him with mighty strokes that put to
shame the comparatively feeble blows with which von Horn had been wont
to deal out punishment to the poor, damned creatures of the court of
For a moment they stood valiantly before his attack, but after two had
grappled with him and been hurled headlong to the floor they gave up
and rushed incontinently out into the maelstrom of the screaming
In the doorway behind him Sing Lee had been standing waiting the
outcome of the encounter and ready to lend a hand were it required. As
the two men turned back into the professor's room they saw that the
wounded man's eyes were open and upon them. At sight of Number
Thirteen a questioning look came into his eyes.
"What has happened?" he asked feebly of Sing. "Where is my daughter?
Where is Dr. von Horn? What is this creature doing out of his pen?"
The blow of the parang upon the professor's skull had shocked his
overwrought mind back into the path of sanity. It had left him with a
clear remembrance of the past, other than the recent fight in the
living room—that was a blank—and it had given him a clearer
perspective of the plans he had been entertaining for so long relative
to this soulless creature.
The first thought that sprang to his mind as he saw Number Thirteen
before him was of his mad intention to give his daughter to such a
monstrous thing. With the recollection came a sudden loathing and
hatred of this and the other creatures of his unholy experimentations.
Presently he realized that his questions had not been answered.
"Sing!" he shouted. "Answer me. Where are Virginia and Dr. von Horn?"
"All gonee. Me no know. All gonee. Maybeso allee dead."
"My God!" groaned the stricken man; and then his eyes again falling
upon the silent giant in the doorway, "Out of my sight," he shrieked.
"Out of my sight! Never let me see you again—and to think that I
would have given my only daughter to a soulless thing like you. Away!
Before I go mad and slay you."
Slowly the color mounted to the neck and face of the giant—then
suddenly it receded, leaving him as ashen as death. His great hand
gripped the stock of the bull whip. A single blow was all that would
have been needed to silence Professor Maxon forever. There was murder
in the wounded heart. The man took a step forward into the room, and
then something drew his eyes to a spot upon the wall just above
Professor Maxon's shoulder—it was a photograph of Virginia Maxon.
Without a word Number Thirteen turned upon his heel and passed out into
THE SOUL OF NUMBER 13
Scarcely had the Ithaca cleared the reef which lies almost across the
mouth of the little harbor where she had been moored for so many months
than the tempest broke upon her in all its terrific fury. Bududreen
was no mean sailor, but he was short handed, nor is it reasonable to
suppose that even with a full crew he could have weathered the terrific
gale which beat down upon the hapless vessel. Buffeted by great waves,
and stripped of every shred of canvas by the force of the mighty wind
that howled about her, the Ithaca drifted a hopeless wreck soon after
the storm struck her.
Below deck the terrified girl clung desperately to a stanchion as the
stricken ship lunged sickeningly before the hurricane. For half an
hour the awful suspense endured, and then with a terrific crash the
vessel struck, shivering and trembling from stem to stern.
Virginia Maxon sank to her knees in prayer, for this she thought must
surely be the end. On deck Bududreen and his crew had lashed
themselves to the masts, and as the Ithaca struck the reef before the
harbor, back upon which she had been driven, the tall poles with their
living freight snapped at the deck and went overboard carrying every
thing with them amid shrieks and cries of terror that were drowned and
choked by the wild tumult of the night.
Twice the girl felt the ship strike upon the reef, then a great wave
caught and carried her high into the air, dropping her with a
nauseating lunge which seemed to the imprisoned girl to be carrying the
ship to the very bottom of the ocean. With closed eyes she clung in
silent prayer beside her berth waiting for the moment that would bring
the engulfing waters and oblivion—praying that the end might come
speedily and release her from the torture of nervous apprehension that
had terrorized her for what seemed an eternity.
After the last, long dive the Ithaca righted herself laboriously,
wallowing drunkenly, but apparently upon an even keel in less turbulent
waters. One long minute dragged after another, yet no suffocating
deluge poured in upon the girl, and presently she realized that the
ship had, at least temporarily, weathered the awful buffeting of the
savage elements. Now she felt but a gentle roll, though the wild
turmoil of the storm still came to her ears through the heavy planking
of the Ithaca's hull.
For a long hour she lay wondering what fate had overtaken the vessel
and whither she had been driven, and then, with a gentle grinding
sound, the ship stopped, swung around, and finally came to rest with a
slight list to starboard. The wind howled about her, the torrential
rain beat loudly upon her, but except for a slight rocking the ship lay
Hours passed with no other sounds than those of the rapidly waning
tempest. The girl heard no signs of life upon the ship. Her curiosity
became more and more keenly aroused. She had that indefinable,
intuitive feeling that she was utterly alone upon the vessel, and at
length, unable to endure the inaction and uncertainty longer, made her
way to the companion ladder where for half an hour she futilely
attempted to remove the hatch.
As she worked she failed to hear the scraping of naked bodies
clambering over the ship's side, or the padding of unshod feet upon the
deck above her. She was about to give up her work at the hatch when
the heavy wooden cover suddenly commenced to move above her as though
actuated by some supernatural power. Fascinated, the girl stood gazing
in wide-eyed astonishment as one end of the hatch rose higher and
higher until a little patch of blue sky revealed the fact that morning
had come. Then the cover slid suddenly back and Virginia Maxon found
herself looking into a savage and terrible face.
The dark skin was creased in fierce wrinkles about the eyes and mouth.
Gleaming tiger cat's teeth curved upward from holes pierced to receive
them in the upper half of each ear. The slit ear lobes supported heavy
rings whose weight had stretched the skin until the long loop rested
upon the brown shoulders. The filed and blackened teeth behind the
loose lips added the last touch of hideousness to this terrible
Nor was this all. A score of equally ferocious faces peered down from
behind the foremost. With a little scream Virginia Maxon sprang back
to the lower deck and ran toward her stateroom. Behind her she heard
the commotion of many men descending the companionway.
As Number Thirteen came into the campong after quitting the bungalow
his heart was a chaos of conflicting emotions. His little world had
been wiped out. His creator—the man whom he thought his only friend
and benefactor—had suddenly turned against him. The beautiful
creature he worshipped was either lost or dead; Sing had said so. He
was nothing but a miserable THING. There was no place in the world for
him, and even should he again find Virginia Maxon, he had von Horn's
word for it that she would shrink from him and loathe him even more
With no plans and no hopes he walked aimlessly through the blinding
rain, oblivious of it and of the vivid lightning and deafening thunder.
The palisade at length brought him to a sudden stop. Mechanically he
squatted on his haunches with his back against it, and there, in the
midst of the fury of the storm he conquered the tempest that raged in
his own breast. The murder that rose again and again in his untaught
heart he forced back by thoughts of the sweet, pure face of the girl
whose image he had set up in the inner temple of his being, as a
gentle, guiding divinity.
"He made me without a soul," he repeated over and over again to
himself, "but I have found a soul—she shall be my soul. Von Horn
could not explain to me what a soul is. He does not know. None of
them knows. I am wiser than all the rest, for I have learned what a
soul is. Eyes cannot see it—fingers cannot feel it, but he who
possess it knows that it is there for it fills his whole breast with a
great, wonderful love and worship for something infinitely finer than
man's dull senses can gauge—something that guides him into paths far
above the plain of soulless beasts and bestial men.
"Let those who will say that I have no soul, for I am satisfied with
the soul I have found. It would never permit me to inflict on others
the terrible wrong that Professor Maxon has inflicted on me—yet he
never doubts his own possession of a soul. It would not allow me to
revel in the coarse brutalities of von Horn—and I am sure that von
Horn thinks he has a soul. And if the savage men who came tonight to
kill have souls, then I am glad that my soul is after my own
choosing—I would not care for one like theirs."
The sudden equatorial dawn found the man still musing. The storm had
ceased and as the daylight brought the surroundings to view Number
Thirteen became aware that he was not alone in the campong. All about
him lay the eleven terrible men whom he had driven from the bungalow
the previous night. The sight of them brought a realization of new
responsibilities. To leave them here in the campong would mean the
immediate death of Professor Maxon and the Chinaman. To turn them into
the jungle might mean a similar fate for Virginia Maxon were she
wandering about in search of the encampment— Number Thirteen could
not believe that she was dead. It seemed too monstrous to believe that
he should never see her again, and he knew so little of death that it
was impossible for him to realize that that beautiful creature ever
could cease to be filled with the vivacity of life.
The young man had determined to leave the camp himself—partly on
account of the cruel words Professor Maxon had hurled at him the night
before, but principally in order that he might search for the lost
girl. Of course he had not the remotest idea where to look for her,
but as von Horn had explained that they were upon a small island he
felt reasonably sure that he should find her in time.
As he looked at the sleeping monsters near him he determined that the
only solution of his problem was to take them all with him. Number
Twelve lay closest to him, and stepping to his side he nudged him with
the butt of the bull whip he still carried. The creature opened his
"Get up," said Number Thirteen.
Number Twelve rose, looking askance at the bull whip.
"We are not wanted here," said Number Thirteen. "I am going away and
you are all going with me. We shall find a place where we may live in
peace and freedom. Are you not tired of always being penned up?"
"Yes," replied Number Twelve, still looking at the whip.
"You need not fear the whip," said the young man. "I shall not use it
on those who make no trouble. Wake the others and tell them what I
have said. All must come with me—those who refuse shall feel the
Number Twelve did as he was bid. The creatures mumbled among
themselves for a few minutes. Finally Number Thirteen cracked his long
whip to attract their attention.
"Come!" he said.
Nine of them shuffled after him as he turned toward the outer
gate—only Number Ten and Number Three held back. The young man walked
quickly to where they stood eyeing him sullenly. The others halted to
watch—ready to spring upon their new master should the tide of the
impending battle turn against him. The two mutineers backed away
snarling, their hideous features distorted in rage.
"Come!" repeated Number Thirteen.
"We will stay here," growled Number Ten. "We have not yet finished
A loop in the butt of the bull whip was about the young man's wrist.
Dropping the weapon from his hand it still dangled by the loop. At the
same instant he launched himself at the throat of Number Ten, for he
realized that a decisive victory now without the aid of the weapon they
all feared would make the balance of his work easier.
The brute met the charge with lowered head and outstretched hands, and
in another second they were locked in a clinch, tearing at one another
like two great gorillas. For a moment Number Three stood watching the
battle, and then he too sprang in to aid his fellow mutineer. Number
Thirteen was striking heavy blows with his giant hands upon the face
and head of his antagonist, while the long, uneven fangs of the latter
had found his breast and neck a half dozen times. Blood covered them
both. Number Three threw his enormous weight into the conflict with
the frenzy of a mad bull.
Again and again he got a hold upon the young giant's throat only to be
shaken loose by the mighty muscles. The excitement of the conflict was
telling upon the malformed minds of the spectators. Presently one who
was almost brainless, acting upon the impulse of suggestion, leaped in
among the fighters, striking and biting at Number Thirteen. It was all
that was needed—another second found the whole monstrous crew upon the
His mighty strength availed him but little in the unequal
conflict—eleven to one were too great odds even for those powerful
thews. His great advantage lay in his superior intelligence, but even
this seemed futile in the face of the enormous weight of numbers that
opposed him. Time and again he had almost shaken himself free only to
fall once more—dragged down by hairy arms about his legs.
Hither and thither about the campong the battle raged until the
fighting mass rolled against the palisade, and here, at last, with his
back to the structure, Number Thirteen regained his feet, and with the
heavy stock of the bull whip beat off, for a moment, those nearest him.
All were winded, but when those who were left of the eleven original
antagonists drew back to regain their breath, the young giant gave them
no respite, but leaped among them with the long lash they had such good
reason to hate and fear.
The result was as his higher intelligence had foreseen—the creatures
scattered to escape the fury of the lash and a moment later he had them
at his mercy. About the campong lay four who had felt the full force
of his heavy fist, while not one but bore some mark of the battle.
Not a moment did he give them to recuperate after he had scattered them
before he rounded them up once more near the outer gate—but now they
were docile and submissive. In pairs he ordered them to lift their
unconscious comrades to their shoulders and bear them into the jungle,
for Number Thirteen was setting out into the world with his grim tribe
in search of his lady love.
Once well within the jungle they halted to eat of the more familiar
fruit which had always formed the greater bulk of their sustenance.
Thus refreshed, they set out once more after the leader who wandered
aimlessly beneath the shade of the tall jungle trees amidst the
gorgeous tropic blooms and gay, songless birds—and of the twelve only
the leader saw the beauties that surrounded them or felt the strange,
mysterious influence of the untracked world they trod. Chance took
them toward the west until presently they emerged upon the harbor's
edge, where from the matted jungle they overlooked for the first time
the waters of the little bay and the broader expanse of strait beyond,
until their eyes rested at last upon the blurred lines of distant
From other vantage points at the jungle's border two other watchers
looked out upon the scene. One was the lascar whom von Horn had sent
down to the Ithaca the night before but who had reached the harbor
after she sailed. The other was von Horn himself. And both were
looking out upon the dismantled wreck of the Ithaca where it lay in the
sand near the harbor's southern edge.
Neither ventured forth from his place of concealment, for beyond the
Ithaca ten prahus were pulling gracefully into the quiet waters of the
Rajah Muda Saffir, caught by the hurricane the preceding night as he
had been about to beat across to Borneo, had scurried for shelter
within one of the many tiny coves which indent the island's entire
coast. It happened that his haven of refuge was but a short distance
south of the harbor in which he knew the Ithaca to be moored, and in
the morning he decided to pay that vessel a visit in the hope that he
might learn something of advantage about the girl from one of her
The wily Malay had long refrained from pillaging the Ithaca for fear
such an act might militate against the larger villainy he purposed
perpetrating against her white owner, but when he rounded the point and
came in sight of the stranded wreck he put all such thoughts from him
and made straight for the helpless hulk to glean whatever of salvage
might yet remain within her battered hull.
The old rascal had little thought of the priceless treasure hidden
beneath the Ithaca's clean swept deck as he ordered his savage henchmen
up her sides while he lay back upon his sleeping mat beneath the canopy
which protected his vice-regal head from the blistering tropic sun.
Number Thirteen watched the wild head hunters with keenest interest as
they clambered aboard the vessel. With von Horn he saw the evident
amazement which followed the opening of the hatch, though neither
guessed its cause. He saw the haste with which a half dozen of the
warriors leaped down the companionway and heard their savage shouts as
they pursued their quarry within the bowels of the ship.
A few minutes later they emerged dragging a woman with them. Von Horn
and Number Thirteen recognized the girl simultaneously, but the doctor,
though he ground his teeth in futile rage, knew that he was helpless to
avert the tragedy. Number Thirteen neither knew nor cared.
"Come!" he called to his grotesque horde. "Kill the men and save the
girl—the one with the golden hair," he added as the sudden realization
came to him that none of these creatures ever had seen a woman before.
Then he dashed from the shelter of the jungle, across the beach and
into the water, his fearful pack at his heels.
The Ithaca lay now in about five feet of water, and the war prahus of
Muda Saffir rode upon her seaward side, so that those who manned them
did not see the twelve who splashed through the water from land. Never
before had any of the rescuers seen a larger body of water than the
little stream which wound through their campong, but accidents and
experiments in that had taught them the danger of submerging their
heads. They could not swim, but all were large and strong, so that
they were able to push their way rapidly through the water to the very
side of the ship.
Here they found difficulty in reaching the deck, but in a moment Number
Thirteen had solved the problem by requiring one of the taller of his
crew to stand close in by the ship while the others clambered upon his
shoulders and from there to the Ithaca's deck.
Number Thirteen was the first to pull himself over the vessel's side,
and as he did so he saw some half dozen Dyaks preparing to quit her
upon the opposite side. They were the last of the boarding party—the
girl was nowhere in sight. Without waiting for his men the young giant
sprang across the deck. His one thought was to find Virginia Maxon.
At the sound of his approach the Dyak turned, and at the sight of a
pajama clad white man armed only with a long whip they emitted savage
cries of anticipation, counting the handsome trophy upon the white
one's shoulders as already theirs. Number Thirteen would have paid no
attention whatever to them had they not molested him, for he wished
only to reach the girl's side as quickly as possible; but in another
moment he found himself confronted by a half dozen dancing wild men,
brandishing wicked looking parangs, and crying tauntingly.
Up went the great bull whip, and without abating his speed a particle
the man leaped into the midst of the wicked blades that menaced him.
Right and left with the quickness of thought the heavy lash fell upon
heads, shoulders and sword arms. There was no chance to wield a blade
in the face of that terrific onslaught, for the whip fell, not with the
ordinary force of a man-held lash, but with all the stupendous power of
those giant shoulders and arms behind it.
A single blow felled the foremost head hunter, breaking his shoulder
and biting into the flesh and bone as a heavy sword bites. Again and
again the merciless leather fell, while in the boats below Muda Saffir
and his men shouted loud cries of encouragement to their companions on
the ship, and a wide-eyed girl in the stern of Muda Saffir's own prahu
looked on in terror, hope and admiration at the man of her own race
whom she felt was battling against all these odds for her alone.
Virginia Maxon recognized her champion instantly as he who had fought
for her and saved her once before, from the hideous creature of her
father's experiments. With hands tight pressed against her bosom the
girl leaned forward, tense with excitement, watching every move of the
lithe, giant figure, as, silhouetted against the brazen tropic sky, it
towered above the dancing, shrieking head hunters who writhed beneath
the awful lash.
Muda Saffir saw that the battle was going against his men, and it
filled him with anger. Turning to one of his headmen he ordered two
more boatloads of warriors to the Ithaca's deck. As they were rushing
to obey their leader's command there was a respite in the fighting on
the ship, for the three who had not fallen beneath the bull whip had
leaped overboard to escape the fate which had overtaken their comrades.
As the reinforcements started to scale the vessel's side Number
Thirteen's searching eyes found the girl in Muda Saffir's prahu, where
it lay a little off from the Ithaca, and as the first of the enemy
clambered over the rail she saw a smile of encouragement light the
clear cut features of the man above her. Virginia Maxon sent back an
answering smile—a smile that filled the young giant's heart with pride
and happiness—such a smile as brave men have been content to fight and
die for since woman first learned the art of smiling.
Number Thirteen could have beaten back many of the reinforcing party
before they reached the deck, but he did not care to do so. In the
spontaneous ethics of the man there seemed no place for an unfair
advantage over an enemy, and added to this was his newly acquired love
of battle, so he was content to wait until his foes stood on an even
footing with him before he engaged them. But they never came within
reach of his ready lash. Instead, as they came above the ship's side
they paused, wide-eyed and terror stricken, and with cries of fear and
consternation dropped precipitately back into the sea, shouting
warnings to those who were about to scale the hull.
Muda Saffir arose in his prahu cursing and reviling the frightened
Dyaks. He did not know the cause of their alarm, but presently he saw
it behind the giant upon the Ithaca's deck—eleven horrible
monstrosities lumbering forward, snarling and growling, to their
At the sight his own dark countenance went ashen, and with trembling
lips he ordered his oarsmen to pull for the open sea. The girl, too,
saw the frightful creatures that surrounded the man upon the deck. She
thought that they were about to attack him, and gave a little cry of
warning, but in another instant she realized that they were his
companions, for with him they rushed to the side of the ship to stand
for a moment looking down upon the struggling Dyaks in the water below.
Two prahus lay directly beneath them, and into these the head hunters
were scrambling. The balance of the flotilla was now making rapid
headway under oars and sail toward the mouth of the harbor, and as
Number Thirteen saw that the girl was being borne away from him, he
shouted a command to his misshapen crew, and without waiting to see if
they would follow him leaped into the nearer of the two boats beneath.
It was already half filled with Dyaks, some of whom were hastily
manning the oars. Others of the head hunters were scrambling over the
gunwale. In an instant pandemonium reigned in the little vessel.
Savage warriors sprang toward the tall figure towering above them.
Parangs flashed. The bull whip hissed and cracked, and then into the
midst of it all came a horrid avalanche of fearful and grotesque
monsters—the young giant's crew had followed at his command.
The battle in the prahu was short and fierce. For an instant the Dyaks
attempted to hold their own, but in the face of the snarling, rending
horde that engulfed them terror got the better of them all, so that
those who were not overcome dived overboard and swam rapidly toward
The other prahu had not waited to assist its companion, but before it
was entirely filled had gotten under way and was now rapidly
overhauling the balance of the fleet.
Von Horn had been an excited witness to all that had occurred upon the
tranquil bosom of the little harbor. He had been filled with
astonishment at sight of the inhabitants of the court of mystery
fighting under the leadership of Number Thirteen, and now he watched
interestedly the outcome of the adventure.
The sight of the girl being borne away in the prahu of the Malay rajah
to a fate worse than death, had roused in him both keen regret and
savage rage, but it was the life of ease that he was losing that
concerned him most. He had felt so sure of winning Professor Maxon's
fortune through either a forced or voluntary marriage with the girl
that his feelings now were as of one whose rightful heritage has been
foully wrested from him. The thought of the girl's danger and
suffering were of but secondary consideration to him, for the man was
incapable of either deep love or true chivalry.
Quite the contrary were the emotions which urged on the soulless
creature who now found himself in undisputed possession of a Dyak war
prahu. His only thought was of the girl being rapidly borne away
across the glimmering waters of the strait. He knew not to what
dangers she was exposed, or what fate threatened her. All he knew was
that she had been taken by force against her will. He had seen the
look of terror in her eyes, and the dawning hope die out as the boat
that carried her had turned rapidly away from the Ithaca. His one
thought now was to rescue her from her abductors and return her to her
father. Of his own reward or profit he entertained no single
thought—it was enough if he could fight for her. That would be reward
Neither Number Thirteen nor any of his crew had ever before seen a
boat, and outside of the leader there was scarcely enough brains in the
entire party to render it at all likely that they could ever navigate
it, but the young man saw that the other prahus were being propelled by
the long sticks which protruded from their sides, and he also saw the
sails bellying with wind, though he had but a vague conception of their
For a moment he stood watching the actions of the men in the nearest
boat, and then he set himself to the task of placing his own men at the
oars and instructing them in the manner of wielding the unfamiliar
implements. For an hour he worked with the brainless things that
constituted his party. They could not seem to learn what was required
of them. The paddles were continually fouling one another, or being
merely dipped into the water and withdrawn without the faintest
semblance of a stroke made.
The tiresome maneuvering had carried them about in circles back and
forth across the harbor, but by it Number Thirteen had himself learned
something of the proper method of propelling and steering his craft.
At last, more through accident than intent, they came opposite the
mouth of the basin, and then chance did for them what days of arduous
endeavor upon their part might have failed to accomplish.
As they hung wavering in the opening, the broad strait before them, and
their quarry fast diminishing to small specks upon the distant horizon,
a vagrant land breeze suddenly bellied the flapping sail. The prahu
swung quickly about with nose pointed toward the sea, the sail filled,
and the long, narrow craft shot out of the harbor and sped on over the
dancing waters in the wake of her sisters.
On shore behind them the infuriated Dyaks who had escaped to the beach
danced and shrieked; von Horn, from his hiding place, looked on in
surprised wonder, and Bududreen's lascar cursed the fate that had left
a party of forty head hunters upon the same small island with him.
Smaller and smaller grew the retreating prahu as, straight as an arrow,
she sped toward the dim outline of verdure clad Borneo.
INTO SAVAGE BORNEO
Von Horn cursed the chance that had snatched the girl from him, but he
tried to content himself with the thought that the treasure probably
still rested in the cabin of the Ithaca, where Bududreen was to have
deposited it. He wished that the Dyaks would take themselves off so
that he could board the vessel and carry the chest ashore to bury it
against the time that fate should provide a means for transporting it
In the water below him floated the Ithaca's masts, their grisly burdens
still lashed to their wave swept sides. Bududreen lay there, his
contorted features set in a horrible grimace of death which grinned up
at the man he would have cheated, as though conscious of the fact that
the white man would have betrayed him had the opportunity come, the
while he enjoyed in anticipation the other's disappointment in the loss
of both the girl and the treasure.
The tide was rising now, and presently the Ithaca began to float. No
sooner was it apparent that she was free than the Dyaks sprang into the
water and swam to her side. Like monkeys they scrambled aboard,
swarming below deck in search, thought von Horn, of pillage. He prayed
that they would not discover the chest.
Presently a half dozen of them leaped overboard and swam to the mass of
tangled spars and rigging which littered the beach. Selecting what
they wished they returned to the vessel, and a few minutes later von
Horn was chagrined to see them stepping a jury mast—he thought the
treasure lay in the Ithaca's cabin.
Before dark the vessel moved slowly out of the harbor, setting a course
across the strait in the direction that the war prahus had taken. When
it was apparent that there was no danger that the head hunters would
return, the lascar came from his hiding place, and dancing up and down
upon the shore screamed warlike challenges and taunts at the retreating
Von Horn also came forth, much to the sailor's surprise, and in silence
the two stood watching the disappearing ship. At length they turned
and made their way up the stream toward camp—there was no longer aught
to fear there. Von Horn wondered if the creatures he had loosed upon
Professor Maxon had done their work before they left, or if they had
all turned to mush as had Number Thirteen.
Once at the encampment his questions were answered, for he saw a light
in the bungalow, and as he mounted the steps there were Sing and
Professor Maxon just coming from the living room.
"Von Horn!" exclaimed the professor. "You, then, are not dead; but
where is Virginia? Tell me that she is safe."
"She has been carried away," was the startling answer. "Your creatures,
under the thing you wished to marry her to, have taken her to Borneo
with a band of Malay and Dyak pirates. I was alone and could do
nothing to prevent them."
"God!" moaned the old man. "Why did I not kill the thing when it stood
within my power to do so. Only last night he was here beside me, and
now it is too late."
"I warned you," said von Horn, coldly.
"I was mad," retorted the professor. "Could you not see that I was
mad? Oh, why did you not stop me? You were sane enough. You at least
might have forced me to abandon the insane obsession which has
overpowered my reason for all these terrible months. I am sane now,
but it is too late—too late."
"Both you and your daughter could only have interpreted any such action
on my part as instigated by self-interest, for you both knew that I
wanted to make her my wife," replied the other. "My hands were tied.
I am sorry now that I did not act, but you can readily see the position
in which I was placed."
"Can nothing be done to get her back?" cried the father. "There must
be some way to save her. Do it von Horn, and not only is my daughter
yours but my wealth as well—every thing that I possess shall be yours
if you will but save her from those frightful creatures."
"The Ithaca is gone, too," replied the doctor. "There is only a small
boat that I hid in the jungle for some such emergency. It will carry
us to Borneo, but what can we four do against five hundred pirates and
the dozen monsters you have brought into the world? No, Professor
Maxon, I fear there is little hope, though I am willing to give my life
in an attempt to save Virginia. You will not forget your promise
should we succeed?"
"No, doctor," replied the old man. "I swear that you shall have
Virginia as your wife, and all my property shall be made over to you if
she is rescued."
Sing Lee had been a silent listener to this strange conversation. An
odd look came into his slant eyes as he heard von Horn exact a
confirmation from the professor, but what passed in his shrewd mind
only he could say.
It was too late to attempt to make a start that day for Borneo, as
darkness had already fallen. Professor Maxon and von Horn walked over
to the workshop and the inner campong to ascertain what damage had been
On their return Sing was setting the table on the verandah for the
evening meal. The two men were talking, and without making his
presence noticeable the Chinaman hovered about ever within ear shot.
"I cannot make it out, von Horn," Professor Maxon was saying. "Not a
board broken, and the doors both apparently opened intentionally by
someone familiar with locks and bolts. Who could have done it?"
"You forget Number Thirteen," suggested the doctor.
"But the chest!" expostulated the other. "What in the world would he
want of that enormous and heavy chest?"
"He might have thought that it contained treasure," hazarded von Horn,
in an innocent tone of voice.
"Bosh, my dear man," replied Professor Maxon. "He knew nothing of
treasures, or money, or the need or value of either. I tell you the
workshop was opened, and the inner campong as well by some one who knew
the value of money and wanted that chest, but why they should have
released the creatures from the inner enclosure is beyond me."
"And I tell you Professor Maxon that it could have been none other than
Number Thirteen," insisted von Horn. "Did I not myself see him leading
his eleven monsters as easily as a captain commands his company? The
fellow is brighter than we have imagined. He has learned much from us
both, he has reasoned, and he has shrewdly guessed many things that he
could not have known through experience."
"But his object?" asked the professor.
"That is simple," returned von Horn. "You have held out hopes to him
that soon he should come to live under your roof with Virginia. The
creature has been madly infatuated with her ever since the day he took
her from Number One, and you have encouraged his infatuation until
yesterday. Then you regained your sanity and put him in his rightful
place. What is the result? Denied the easy prey he expected he
immediately decided to take it by force, and with that end in view, and
taking advantage of the series of remarkable circumstances which played
into his hands, he liberated his fellows, and with them hastened to the
beach in search of Virginia and in hopes of being able to fly with her
upon the Ithaca. There he met the Malay pirates, and together they
formed an alliance under terms of which Number Thirteen is to have the
girl, and the pirates the chest in return for transporting him and his
crew to Borneo. Why it is all perfectly simple and logical, Professor
Maxon; do you not see it now?"
"You may be right, doctor," answered the old man. "But it is idle to
conjecture. Tomorrow we can be up and doing, so let us get what sleep
we can tonight. We shall need all our energies if we are to save my
poor, dear girl, from the clutches of that horrid, soulless thing."
At the very moment that he spoke the object of his contumely was
entering the dark mouth of a broad river that flowed from out of the
heart of savage Borneo. In the prahu with him his eleven hideous
companions now bent to their paddles with slightly increased
efficiency. Before them the leader saw a fire blazing upon a tiny
island in the center of the stream. Toward this they turned their
silent way. Grimly the war prahu with its frightful freight nosed
closer to the bank.
At last Number Thirteen made out the figures of men about the fire, and
as they came still closer he was sure that they were members of the
very party he had been pursuing across the broad waters for hours. The
prahus were drawn up upon the bank and the warriors were preparing to
Just as the young giants' prahu came within the circle of firelight a
swarthy Malay approached the fire, dragging a white girl roughly by the
arm. No more was needed to convince Number Thirteen of the identity of
the party. With a low command to his fellows he urged them to
redoubled speed. At the same instant a Dyak warrior caught sight of
the approaching boat as it sped into the full glare of the light.
At sight of the occupants the head hunters scattered for their own
prahus. The frightful aspect of the enemy turned their savage hearts
to water, leaving no fight in their ordinarily warlike souls.
So quickly they moved that as the pursuing prahu touched the bank all
the nearer boats had been launched, and the remaining pirates were
scurrying across the little island for those which lay upon the
opposite side. Among these was the Malay who guarded the girl, but he
had not been quick enough to prevent Virginia Maxon recognizing the
stalwart figure standing in the bow of the oncoming craft.
As he dragged her away toward the prahu of Muda Saffir she cried out to
the strange white man who seemed her self-appointed protector.
"Help! Help!" she called. "This way! Across the island!" And then
the brown hand of her jailer closed over her mouth. Like a tigress she
fought to free herself, or to detain her captor until the rescue party
should catch up with them, but the scoundrel was muscled like a bull,
and when the girl held back he lifted her across his shoulder and broke
into a run.
Rajah Muda Saffir had no stomach for a fight himself, but he was loathe
to lose the prize he had but just won, and seeing that his men were
panic-stricken he saw no alternative but to rally them for a brief
stand that would give the little moment required to slip away in his
own prahu with the girl.
Calling aloud for those around him to come to his support he halted
fifty yards from his boat just as Number Thirteen with his fierce,
brainless horde swept up from the opposite side of the island in the
wake of him who bore Virginia Maxon. The old rajah succeeded in
gathering some fifty warriors about him from the crews of the two boats
which lay near his. His own men he hastened to their posts in his
prahu that they might be ready to pull swiftly away the moment that he
and the captive were aboard.
The Dyak warriors presented an awe inspiring spectacle in the fitful
light of the nearby camp fire. The ferocity of their fierce faces was
accentuated by the upturned, bristling tiger cat's teeth which
protruded from every ear; while the long feathers of the Argus pheasant
waving from their war-caps, the brilliant colors of their war-coats
trimmed with the black and white feathers of the hornbill, and the
strange devices upon their gaudy shields but added to the savagery of
their appearance as they danced and howled, menacing and intimidating,
in the path of the charging foe.
A single backward glance was all that Virginia Maxon found it possible
to throw in the direction of the rescue party, and in that she saw a
sight that lived forever in her memory. At the head of his hideous,
misshapen pack sprang the stalwart young giant straight into the heart
of the flashing parangs of the howling savages. To right and left fell
the mighty bull whip cutting down men with all the force and dispatch
of a steel saber. The Dyaks, encouraged by the presence of Muda Saffir
in their rear, held their ground; and the infuriated, brainless things
that followed the wielder of the bull whip threw themselves upon the
head hunters with beating hands and rending fangs.
Number Ten wrested a parang from an adversary, and acting upon his
example the other creatures were not long in arming themselves in a
similar manner. Cutting and jabbing they hewed their way through the
solid ranks of the enemy, until Muda Saffir, seeing that defeat was
inevitable turned and fled toward his prahu.
Four of his creatures lay dead as the last of the Dyaks turned to
escape from the mad white man who faced naked steel with only a rawhide
whip. In panic the head hunters made a wild dash for the two remaining
prahus, for Muda Saffir had succeeded in getting away from the island
Number Thirteen reached the water's edge but a moment after the prow of
the rajah's craft had cleared the shore and was swinging up stream
under the vigorous strokes of its fifty oarsmen. For an instant he
stood poised upon the bank as though to spring after the retreating
prahu, but the knowledge that he could not swim held him back—it was
useless to throw away his life when the need of it was so great if
Virginia Maxon was to be saved.
Turning to the other prahus he saw that one was already launched, but
that the crew of the other was engaged in a desperate battle with the
seven remaining members of his crew for possession of the boat.
Leaping among the combatants he urged his fellows aboard the prahu
which was already half filled with Dyaks. Then he shoved the boat out
into the river, jumping aboard himself as its prow cleared the gravelly
For several minutes that long, hollowed log was a veritable floating
hell of savage, screaming men locked in deadly battle. The sharp
parangs of the head hunters were no match for the superhuman muscles of
the creatures that battered them about; now lifting one high above his
fellows and using the body as a club to beat down those nearby; again
snapping an arm or leg as one might break a pipe stem; or hurling a
living antagonist headlong above the heads of his fellows to the dark
waters of the river. And above them all in the thickest of the fight,
towering even above his own giants, rose the mighty figure of the
terrible white man, whose very presence wrought havoc with the valor of
the brown warriors.
Two more of Number Thirteen's creatures had been cut down in the prahu,
but the loss among the Dyaks had been infinitely greater, and to it was
now added the desertions of the terror stricken savages who seemed to
fear the frightful countenances of their adversaries even as much as
they did their prowess.
There remained but a handful of brown warriors in one end of the boat
when the advantage of utilizing their knowledge of the river and of
navigation occurred to Number Thirteen. Calling to his men he
commanded them to cease killing, making prisoners of those who remained
instead. So accustomed had his pack now become to receiving and acting
upon his orders that they changed their tactics immediately, and one by
one the remaining Dyaks were overpowered, disarmed and held.
With difficulty Number Thirteen communicated with them, for among them
there was but a single warrior who had ever had intercourse with an
Englishman, but at last by means of signs and the few words that were
common to them both he made the native understand that he would spare
the lives of himself and his companions if they would help him in
pursuit of Muda Saffir and the girl.
The Dyaks felt but little loyalty for the rascally Malay they served,
since in common with all their kind they and theirs had suffered for
generations at the hands of the cruel, crafty and unscrupulous race
that had usurped the administration of their land. So it was not
difficult to secure from them the promise of assistance in return for
Number Thirteen noticed that when they addressed him it was always as
Bulan, and upon questioning them he discovered that they had given him
this title of honor partly in view of his wonderful fighting ability
and partly because the sight of his white face emerging from out of the
darkness of the river into the firelight of their blazing camp fire had
carried to their impressionable minds a suggestion of the tropic moon
which they admired and reverenced. Both the name and the idea appealed
to Number Thirteen and from that time he adopted Bulan as his rightful
The loss of time resulting from the fight in the prahu and the ensuing
peace parley permitted Muda Saffir to put considerable distance between
himself and his pursuers. The Malay's boat was now alone, for of the
eight prahus that remained of the original fleet it was the only one
which had taken this branch of the river, the others having scurried
into a smaller southerly arm after the fight upon the island, that they
might the more easily escape their hideous foemen.
Only Barunda, the headman, knew which channel Rajah Muda Saffir
intended following, and Muda wondered why it was that the two boats
that were to have borne Barunda's men did not catch up with his. While
he had left Barunda and his warriors engaged in battle with the
strangers he did not for an instant imagine that they would suffer any
severe loss, and that one of their boats should be captured was beyond
belief. But this was precisely what had happened, and the second boat,
seeing the direction taken by the enemy, had turned down stream the
more surely to escape them.
So it was that while Rajah Muda Saffir moved leisurely up the river
toward his distant stronghold waiting for the other boats of his fleet
to overtake him, Barunda, the headman, guided the white enemy swiftly
after him. Barunda had discovered that it was the girl alone this
white man wanted. Evidently he either knew nothing of the treasure
chest lying in the bottom of Muda Saffir's boat, or, knowing, was
indifferent. In either event Barunda thought that he saw a chance to
possess himself of the rich contents of the heavy box, and so served
his new master with much greater enthusiasm than he had the old.
Beneath the paddles of the natives and the five remaining members of
his pack Bulan sped up the dark river after the single prahu with its
priceless freight. Already six of the creatures of Professor Maxon's
experiments had given up their lives in the service of his daughter,
and the remaining six were pushing forward through the inky blackness
of the jungle night into the untracked heart of savage Borneo to rescue
her from her abductors though they sacrificed their own lives in the
Far ahead of them in the bottom of the great prahu crouched the girl
they sought. Her thoughts were of the man she felt intuitively to
possess the strength, endurance and ability to overcome every obstacle
and reach her at last. Would he come in time? Ah, that was the
question. The mystery of the stranger appealed to her. A thousand
times she had attempted to solve the question of his first appearance
on the island at the very moment that his mighty muscles were needed to
rescue her from the horrible creature of her father's creation. Then
there was his unaccountable disappearance for weeks; there was von
Horn's strange reticence and seeming ignorance as to the circumstances
which brought the young man to the island, or his equally unaccountable
disappearance after having rescued her from Number One. And now, when
she suddenly found herself in need of protection, here was the same
young man turning up in a most miraculous fashion, and at the head of
the terrible creatures of the inner campong.
The riddle was too deep for her—she could not solve it; and then her
thoughts were interrupted by the thin, brown hand of Rajah Muda Saffir
as it encircled her waist and drew her toward him. Upon the evil lips
were hot words of passion. The girl wrenched herself from the man's
embrace, and, with a little scream of terror, sprang to her feet, and
as Muda Saffir arose to grasp her again she struck him full in the face
with one small, clenched fist.
Directly behind the Malay lay the heavy chest of Professor Maxon. As
the man stepped backward to recover his equilibrium both feet struck
the obstacle. For an instant he tottered with wildly waving arms in an
endeavor to regain his lost balance, then, with a curse upon his lips,
he lunged across the box and over the side of the prahu into the dark
waters of the river.
The great chest in the bottom of Rajah Muda Saffir's prahu had awakened
in other hearts as well as his, blind greed and avarice; so that as it
had been the indirect cause of his disaster it now proved the incentive
to another to turn the mishap to his own profit, and to the final
undoing of the Malay.
The panglima Ninaka of the Signana Dyaks who manned Muda Saffir's war
prahu saw his chief disappear beneath the swift waters of the river,
but the word of command that would have sent the boat hurriedly back to
pick up the swimmer was not given. Instead a lusty cry for greater
speed ahead urged the sinuous muscles gliding beneath the sleek brown
hides; and when Muda Saffir rose to the surface with a cry for help
upon his lips Ninaka shouted back to him in derision, consigning his
carcass to the belly of the nearest crocodile.
In futile rage Muda Saffir called down the most terrible curses of
Allah and his Prophet upon the head of Ninaka and his progeny to the
fifth generation, and upon the shades of his forefathers, and upon the
grim skulls which hung from the rafters of his long-house. Then he
turned and swam rapidly toward the shore.
Ninaka, now in possession of both the chest and the girl, was rich
indeed, but with Muda Saffir dead he scarce knew to whom he could
dispose of the white girl for a price that would make it worth while to
be burdened with the danger and responsibility of retaining her. He
had had some experience of white men in the past and knew that dire
were the punishments meted to those who wronged the white man's women.
All through the remainder of the long night Ninaka pondered the
question deeply. At last he turned to Virginia.
"Why does the big white man who leads the ourang outangs follow us?" he
asked. "Is it the chest he desires, or you?"
"It is certainly not the chest," replied the girl. "He wishes to take
me back to my father, that is all. If you will return me to him you
may keep the chest, if that is what you wish."
Ninaka looked at her quizzically for a moment. Evidently then she was
of some value. Possibly should he retain her he could wring a handsome
ransom from the white man. He would wait and see, it were always an
easy matter to rid himself of her should circumstances require. The
river was there, deep, dark and silent, and he could place the
responsibility for her loss upon Muda Saffir.
Shortly after day break Ninaka beached his prahu before the long-house
of a peaceful river tribe. The chest he hid in the underbrush close by
his boat, and with the girl ascended the notched log that led to the
verandah of the structure, which, stretching away for three hundred
yards upon its tall piles, resembled a huge centipede.
The dwellers in the long-house extended every courtesy to Ninaka and
his crew. At the former's request Virginia was hidden away in a dark
sleeping closet in one of the windowless living rooms which opened
along the verandah for the full length of the house. Here a native
girl brought her food and water, sitting, while she ate, in rapt
contemplation of the white skin and golden hair of the strange female.
At about the time that Ninaka pulled his prahu upon the beach before
the long-house, Muda Saffir from the safety of the concealing
underbrush upon the shore saw a familiar war prahu forging rapidly up
the stream. As it approached him he was about to call aloud to those
who manned it, for in the bow he saw a number of his own men; but a
second glance as the boat came opposite him caused him to alter his
intention and drop further into the engulfing verdure, for behind his
men squatted five of the terrible monsters that had wrought such havoc
with his expedition, and in the stern he saw his own Barunda in
friendly converse with the mad white man who had led them.
As the boat disappeared about a bend in the river Rajah Muda Saffir
arose, shaking his fist in the direction it had vanished and, cursing
anew and volubly, damned each separate hair in the heads of the
faithless Barunda and the traitorous Ninaka. Then he resumed his watch
for the friendly prahu, or smaller sampan which he knew time would
eventually bring from up or down the river to his rescue, for who of
the surrounding natives would dare refuse succor to the powerful Rajah
At the long-house which harbored Ninaka and his crew, Barunda and Bulan
stopped with theirs to obtain food and rest. The quick eye of the Dyak
chieftain recognized the prahu of Rajah Muda Saffir where it lay upon
the beach, but he said nothing to his white companion of what it
augured—it might be well to discover how the land lay before he
committed himself too deeply to either faction.
At the top of the notched log he was met by Ninaka, who, with
horror-wide eyes, looked down upon the fearsome monstrosities that
lumbered awkwardly up the rude ladder in the wake of the agile Dyaks
and the young white giant.
"What does it mean?" whispered the panglima to Barunda.
"These are now my friends," replied Barunda. "Where is Muda Saffir?"
Ninaka jerked his thumb toward the river. "Some crocodile has feasted
well," he said significantly. Barunda smiled.
"And the girl?" he continued. "And the treasure?"
Ninaka's eyes narrowed. "They are safe," he answered.
"The white man wants the girl," remarked Barunda. "He does not suspect
that you are one of Muda Saffir's people. If he guessed that you knew
the whereabouts of the girl he would torture the truth from you and
then kill you. He does not care for the treasure. There is enough in
that great chest for two, Ninaka. Let us be friends. Together we can
divide it; otherwise neither of us will get any of it. What do you
The panglima scowled. He did not relish the idea of sharing his prize,
but he was shrewd enough to realize that Barunda possessed the power to
rob him of it all, so at last he acquiesced, though with poor grace.
Bulan had stood near during this conversation, unable, of course, to
understand a single word of the native tongue.
"What does the man say?" he asked Barunda. "Has he seen anything of
the prahu bearing the girl?"
"Yes," replied the Dyak. "He says that two hours ago such a war prahu
passed on its way up river—he saw the white girl plainly. Also he
knows whither they are bound, and how, by crossing through the jungle
on foot, you may intercept them at their next stop."
Bulan, suspecting no treachery, was all anxiety to be off at once.
Barunda suggested that in case of some possible emergency causing the
quarry to return down the river it would be well to have a force remain
at the long-house to intercept them. He volunteered to undertake the
command of this party. Ninaka, he said, would furnish guides to escort
Bulan and his men through the jungle to the point at which they might
expect to find Muda Saffir.
And so, with the girl he sought lying within fifty feet of him, Bulan
started off through the jungle with two of Ninaka's Dyaks as
guides—guides who had been well instructed by their panglima as to
their duties. Twisting and turning through the dense maze of
underbrush and close-growing, lofty trees the little party of eight
plunged farther and farther into the bewildering labyrinth.
For hours the tiresome march was continued, until at last the guides
halted, apparently to consult each other as to the proper direction.
By signs they made known to Bulan that they did not agree upon the
right course to pursue from there on, and that they had decided that it
would be best for each to advance a little way in the direction he
thought the right one while Bulan and his five creatures remained where
"We will go but a little way," said the spokesman, "and then we shall
return and lead you in the proper direction."
Bulan saw no harm in this, and without a shade of suspicion sat down
upon a fallen tree and watched his two guides disappear into the jungle
in opposite directions. Once out of sight of the white man the two
turned back and met a short distance in the rear of the party they had
deserted—in another moment they were headed for the long-house from
which they had started.
It was fully an hour thereafter that doubts began to enter Bulan's
head, and as the day dragged on he came to realize that he and his
weird pack were alone and lost in the heart of a strange and tangled
web of tropical jungle.
No sooner had Bulan and his party disappeared in the jungle than
Barunda and Ninaka made haste to embark with the chest and the girl and
push rapidly on up the river toward the wild and inaccessible regions
of the interior. Virginia Maxon's strong hope of succor had been
gradually waning as no sign of the rescue party appeared as the day
wore on. Somewhere behind her upon the broad river she was sure a
long, narrow native prahu was being urged forward in pursuit, and that
in command of it was the young giant who was now never for a moment
absent from her thoughts.
For hours she strained her eyes over the stern of the craft that was
bearing her deeper and deeper into the wild heart of fierce Borneo. On
either shore they occasionally passed a native long-house, and the girl
could not help but wonder at the quiet and peace which reigned over
these little settlements. It was as though they were passing along a
beaten highway in the center of a civilized community; and yet she knew
that the men who lolled upon the verandahs, puffing indolently upon
their cigarettes or chewing betel nut, were all head hunters, and that
along the verandah rafters above them hung the grisly trophies of their
Yet as she glanced from them to her new captors she could not but feel
that she would prefer captivity in one of the settlements they were
passing—there at least she might find an opportunity to communicate
with her father, or be discovered by the rescue party as 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
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 gorge for half an hour.
The moment that Virginia Maxon felt the waters close above her head she
struck out beneath the surface for the shore upon the opposite side to
that toward which she had dived into the river. She knew that if any
had seen her leave the prahu they would naturally expect to intercept
her on her way toward the nearest shore, and so she took this means of
outwitting them, although it meant nearly double the distance to be
After swimming a short distance beneath the surface the girl rose and
looked about her. Up the river a few yards she caught the
phosphorescent gleam of water upon the prahu's paddles as they brought
her to a sudden stop in obedience to Ninaka's command. Then she saw
the dark mass of the war-craft drifting down toward her.
Again she dove and with strong strokes headed for the shore. The next
time that she rose she was terrified to see the prahu looming close
behind her. The paddlers were propelling the boat slowly in her
direction—it was almost upon her now—there was a shout from a man in
the bow—she had been seen.
Like a flash she dove once more and, turning, struck out rapidly
straight back beneath the oncoming boat. When she came to the surface
again it was to find herself as far from shore as she had been when she
first quitted the prahu, but the craft was now circling far below her,
and she set out once again to retrace her way toward the inky mass of
shore line which loomed apparently near and yet, as she knew, was some
considerable distance from her.
As she swam, her mind, filled with the terrors of the night, conjured
recollection of the stories she had heard of the fierce crocodiles
which infest certain of the rivers of Borneo. Again and again she
could have sworn that she felt some huge, slimy body sweep beneath her
in the mysterious waters of this unknown river.
Behind her she saw the prahu turn back up stream, but now her mind was
suddenly engaged with a new danger, for the girl realized that the
strong current was bearing her down stream more rapidly than she had
imagined. Already she could hear the increasing roar of the river as
it rushed, wild and tumultuous, through the entrance to the narrow
gorge below her. How far it was to shore she could not guess, or how
far to the certain death of the swirling waters toward which she was
being drawn by an irresistible force; but of one thing she was certain,
her strength was rapidly waning, and she must reach the bank quickly.
With redoubled energy she struck out in one last mighty effort to reach
the shore. The tug of the current was strong upon her, like a giant
hand reaching up out of the cruel river to bear her back to death. She
felt her strength ebbing quickly—her strokes now were feeble and
futile. With a prayer to her Maker she threw her hands above her head
in the last effort of the drowning swimmer to clutch at even thin air
for support—the current caught and swirled her downward toward the
gorge, and, at the same instant her fingers touched and closed upon
something which swung low above the water.
With the last flickering spark of vitality that remained in her poor,
exhausted body Virginia Maxon clung to the frail support that a kind
Providence had thrust into her hands. How long she hung there she
never knew, but finally a little strength returned to her, and
presently she realized that it was a pendant creeper hanging low from a
jungle tree upon the bank that had saved her from the river's rapacious
Inch by inch she worked herself upward toward the bank, and at last,
weak and panting, sunk exhausted to the cool carpet of grass that grew
to the water's edge. Almost immediately tired, Nature plunged her into
a deep sleep. It was daylight when she awoke, dreaming that the tall
young giant had rescued her from a band of demons and was lifting her
in his arms to carry her back to her father.
Through half open lids she saw the sunlight filtering through the leafy
canopy above her—she wondered at the realism of her dream; full
consciousness returned and with it the conviction that she was in truth
being held close by strong arms against a bosom that throbbed to the
beating of a real heart.
With a sudden start she opened her eyes wide to look up into the
hideous face of a giant ourang outang.
"I AM COMING!"
The morning following the capture of Virginia Maxon by Muda Saffir,
Professor Maxon, von Horn, Sing Lee and the sole surviving lascar from
the crew of the Ithaca set out across the strait toward the mainland of
Borneo in the small boat which the doctor had secreted in the jungle
near the harbor. The party was well equipped with firearms and
ammunition, and the bottom of the boat was packed full with provisions
and cooking utensils. Von Horn had been careful to see that the boat
was furnished with a mast and sail, and now, under a good breeze the
party was making excellent time toward the mysterious land of their
They had scarcely cleared the harbor when they sighted a ship far out
across the strait. Its erratic movements riveted their attention upon
it, and later, as they drew nearer, they perceived that the strange
craft was a good sized schooner with but a single short mast and tiny
sail. For a minute or two her sail would belly with the wind and the
vessel make headway, then she would come suddenly about, only to repeat
the same tactics a moment later. She sailed first this way and then
that, losing one minute what she had gained the minute before.
Von Horn was the first to recognize her.
"It is the Ithaca," he said, "and her Dyak crew are having a devil of a
time managing her—she acts as though she were rudderless."
Von Horn ran the small boat within hailing distance of the dismasted
hulk whose side was now lined with waving, gesticulating natives. They
were peaceful fishermen, they explained, whose prahus had been wrecked
in the recent typhoon. They had barely escaped with their lives by
clambering aboard this wreck which Allah had been so merciful as to
place directly in their road. Would the Tuan Besar be so good as to
tell them how to make the big prahu steer?
Von Horn promised to help them on condition that they would guide him
and his party to the stronghold of Rajah Muda Saffir in the heart of
Borneo. The Dyaks willingly agreed, and von Horn worked his small boat
in close under the Ithaca's stern. Here he found that the rudder had
been all but unshipped, probably as the vessel was lifted over the reef
during the storm, but a single pintle remaining in its gudgeon. A half
hour's work was sufficient to repair the damage, and then the two boats
continued their journey toward the mouth of the river up which those
they sought had passed the night before.
Inside the river's mouth an anchorage was found for the Ithaca near the
very island upon which the fierce battle between Number Thirteen and
Muda Saffir's forces had occurred. From the deck of the larger vessel
the deserted prahu which had borne Bulan across the strait was visible,
as were the bodies of the slain Dyaks and the misshapen creatures of
the white giant's forces.
In excited tones the head hunters called von Horn's attention to these
evidences of conflict, and the doctor drew his boat up to the island
and leaped ashore, followed by Professor Maxon and Sing. Here they
found the dead bodies of the four monsters who had fallen in an attempt
to rescue their creator's daughter, though little did any there imagine
the real truth.
About the corpses of the four were the bodies of a dozen Dyak warriors
attesting to the ferocity of the encounter and the savage prowess of
the unarmed creatures who had sold their poor lives so dearly.
"Evidently they fell out about the possession of the captive,"
suggested von Horn. "Let us hope that she did not fall into the
clutches of Number Thirteen—any fate would be better than that."
"God give that that has not befallen her," moaned Professor Maxon.
"The pirates might but hold her for ransom, but should that soulless
fiend possess her my prayer is that she found the strength and the
means to take her own life before he had an opportunity to have his way
"Amen," agreed von Horn.
Sing Lee said nothing, but in his heart he hoped that Virginia Maxon
was not in the power of Rajah Muda Saffir. The brief experience he had
had with Number Thirteen during the fight in the bungalow had rather
warmed his wrinkled old heart toward the friendless young giant, and he
was a sufficiently good judge of human nature to be confident that the
girl would be comparatively safe in his keeping.
It was quickly decided to abandon the small boat and embark the entire
party in the deserted war prahu. A half hour later saw the strangely
mixed expedition forging up the river, but not until von Horn had
boarded the Ithaca and discovered to his dismay that the chest was not
on board her.
Far above them on the right bank Muda Saffir still squatted in his
hiding place, for no friendly prahu or sampan had passed his way since
dawn. His keen eyes roving constantly up and down the long stretch of
river that was visible from his position finally sighted a war prahu
coming toward him from down stream. As it drew closer he recognized it
as one which had belonged to his own fleet before his unhappy encounter
with the wild white man and his abhorrent pack, and a moment later his
heart leaped as he saw the familiar faces of several of his men; but
who were the strangers in the stern, and what was a Chinaman doing
perched there upon the bow?
The prahu was nearly opposite him before he recognized Professor Maxon
and von Horn as the white men of the little island. He wondered how
much they knew of his part in the raid upon their encampment.
Bududreen had told him much concerning the doctor, and as Muda Saffir
recalled the fact that von Horn was anxious to possess himself of both
the treasure and the girl he guessed that he would be safe in the man's
hands so long as he could hold out promises of turning one or the other
over to him; and so, as he was tired of squatting upon the
uncomfortable bank and was very hungry, he arose and hailed the passing
His men recognized his voice immediately and as they knew nothing of
the defection of any of their fellows, turned the boat's prow toward
shore without waiting for the command from von Horn. The latter,
fearing treachery, sprang to his feet with raised rifle, but when one
of the paddlers explained that it was the Rajah Muda Saffir who hailed
them and that he was alone von Horn permitted them to draw nearer the
shore, though he continued to stand ready to thwart any attempted
treachery and warned both the professor and Sing to be on guard.
As the prahu's nose touched the bank Muda Saffir stepped aboard and
with many protestations of gratitude explained that he had fallen
overboard from his own prahu the night before and that evidently his
followers thought him drowned, since none of his boats had returned to
search for him. Scarcely had the Malay seated himself before von Horn
began questioning him in the rajah's native tongue, not a word of which
was intelligible to Professor Maxon. Sing, however, was as familiar
with it as was von Horn.
"Where are the girl and the treasure?" he asked.
"What girl, Tuan Besar?" inquired the wily Malay innocently. "And what
treasure? The white man speaks in riddles."
"Come, come," cried von Horn impatiently. "Let us have no foolishness.
You know perfectly well what I mean—it will go far better with you if
we work together as friends. I want the girl—if she is unharmed—and
I will divide the treasure with you if you will help me to obtain them;
otherwise you shall have no part of either. What do you say? Shall we
be friends or enemies?"
"The girl and the treasure were both stolen from me by a rascally
panglima, Ninaka," said Muda Saffir, seeing that it would be as well to
simulate friendship for the white man for the time being at
least—there would always be an opportunity to use a kris upon him in
the remote fastness of the interior to which Muda Saffir would lead
"What became of the white man who led the strange monsters?" asked von
"He killed many of my men, and the last I saw of him he was pushing up
the river after the girl and the treasure," replied the Malay.
"If another should ask you," continued von Horn with a meaningful
glance toward Professor Maxon, "it will be well to say that the girl
was stolen by this white giant and that you suffered defeat in an
attempt to rescue her because of your friendship for us. Do you
Muda Saffir nodded. Here was a man after his own heart, which loved
intrigue and duplicity. Evidently he would be a good ally in wreaking
vengeance upon the white giant who had caused all his
discomfiture—afterward there was always the kris if the other should
At the long-house at which Barunda and Ninaka had halted, Muda Saffir
learned all that had transpired, his informants being the two Dyaks who
had led Bulan and his pack into the jungle. He imparted the
information to von Horn and both men were delighted that thus their
most formidable enemy had been disposed of. It would be but a question
of time before the inexperienced creatures perished in the dense
forest—that they ever could retrace their steps to the river was most
unlikely, and the chances were that one by one they would be dispatched
by head hunters while they slept.
Again the party embarked, reinforced by the two Dyaks who were only too
glad to renew their allegiance to Muda Saffir while he was backed by
the guns of the white men. On and on they paddled up the river,
gleaning from the dwellers in the various long-houses information of
the passing of the two prahus with Barunda, Ninaka, and the white girl.
Professor Maxon was impatient to hear every detail that von Horn
obtained from Muda Saffir and the various Dyaks that were interviewed
at the first long-house and along the stretch of river they covered.
The doctor told him that Number Thirteen still had Virginia and was
fleeing up the river in a swift prahu. He enlarged upon the valor
shown by Muda Saffir and his men in their noble attempt to rescue his
daughter, and through it all Sing Lee sat with half closed eyes,
apparently oblivious to all that passed before him. What were the
workings of that intricate celestial brain none can say.
Far in the interior of the jungle Bulan and his five monsters stumbled
on in an effort to find the river. Had they known it they were moving
parallel with the stream, but a few miles from it. At times it wound
in wide detours close to the path of the lost creatures, and again it
circled far away from them.
As they travelled they subsisted upon the fruits with which they had
become familiar upon the island of their creation. They suffered
greatly for lack of water, but finally stumbled upon a small stream at
which they filled their parched stomachs. Here it occurred to Bulan
that it would be wise to follow the little river, since they could be
no more completely lost than they now were no matter where it should
lead them, and it would at least insure them plenty of fresh water.
As they proceeded down the bank of the stream it grew in size until
presently it became a fair sized river, and Bulan had hopes that it
might indeed prove the stream that they had ascended from the ocean and
that soon he would meet with the prahus and possibly find Virginia
Maxon herself. The strenuous march of the six through the jungle had
torn their light cotton garments into shreds so that they were all
practically naked, while their bodies were scratched and bleeding from
countless wounds inflicted by sharp thorns and tangled brambles through
which they had forced their way.
Bulan still carried his heavy bull whip while his five companions were
armed with the parangs they had taken from the Dyaks they had
overpowered upon the island at the mouth of the river. It was upon
this strange and remarkable company that the sharp eyes of a score of
river Dyaks peered through the foliage. The head hunters had been
engaged in collecting camphor crystals when their quick ears caught the
noisy passage of the six while yet at a considerable distance, and with
ready parangs the savages crept stealthily toward the sound of the
At first they were terror stricken at the hideous visages of five of
the creatures they beheld, but when they saw how few their numbers, and
how poorly armed they were, as well as the awkwardness with which they
carried their parangs, denoting their unfamiliarity with the weapons,
they took heart and prepared to ambush them.
What prizes those terrible heads would be when properly dried and
decorated! The savages fairly trembled in anticipation of the
commotion they would cause in the precincts of their long-house when
they returned with six such magnificent trophies.
Their victims came blundering on through the dense jungle to where the
twenty sleek brown warriors lay in wait for them. Bulan was in the
lead, and close behind him in single file lumbered his awkward crew.
Suddenly there was a chorus of savage cries close beside him and
simultaneously he found himself in the midst of twenty cutting,
Like lightning his bull whip flew into action, and to the astonished
warriors it was as though a score of men were upon them in the person
of this mighty white giant. Following the example of their leader the
five creatures at his back leaped upon the nearest warriors, and though
they wielded their parangs awkwardly the superhuman strength back of
their cuts and thrusts sent the already blood stained blades through
many a brown body.
The Dyaks would gladly have retreated after the first surprise of their
initial attack, but Bulan urged his men on after them, and so they were
forced to fight to preserve their lives at all. At last five of them
managed to escape into the jungle, but fifteen remained quietly upon
the earth where they had fallen—the victims of their own over
confidence. Beside them lay two of Bulan's five, so that now the
little party was reduced to four—and the problem that had faced
Professor Maxon was so much closer to its own solution.
From the bodies of the dead Dyaks Bulan and his three companions,
Number Three, Number Ten, and Number Twelve, took enough loin cloths,
caps, war-coats, shields and weapons to fit them out completely, after
discarding the ragged remnants of their cotton pajamas, and now, even
more terrible in appearance than before, the rapidly vanishing company
of soulless monsters continued their aimless wandering down the river's
The five Dyaks who had escaped carried the news of the terrible
creatures that had fallen upon them in the jungle, and of the awful
prowess of the giant white man who led them. They told of how, armed
only with a huge whip, he had been a match and more than a match for
the best warriors of the tribe, and the news that they started spread
rapidly down the river from one long-house to another until it reached
the broad stream into which the smaller river flowed, and then it
travelled up and down to the headwaters above and the ocean far below
in the remarkable manner that news travels in the wild places of the
So it was that as Bulan advanced he found the long-houses in his path
deserted, and came to the larger river and turned up toward its head
without meeting with resistance or even catching a glimpse of the
brown-skinned people who watched him from their hiding places in the
That night they slept in the long-house near the bank of the greater
stream, while its rightful occupants made the best of it in the jungle
behind. The next morning found the four again on the march ere the sun
had scarcely lighted the dark places of the forest, for Bulan was now
sure that he was on the right trail and that the new river that he had
come to was indeed the same that he had traversed in the Prahu with
It must have been close to noon when the young giant's ears caught the
sound of the movement of some animal in the jungle a short distance to
his right and away from the river. His experience with men had taught
him to be wary, for it was evident that every man's hand was against
him, so he determined to learn at once whether the noise he heard came
from some human enemy lurking along his trail ready to spring upon him
with naked parang at a moment that he was least prepared, or merely
from some jungle brute.
Cautiously he threaded his way through the matted vegetation in the
direction of the sound. Although a parang from the body of a
vanquished Dyak hung at his side he grasped his bull whip ready in his
right hand, preferring it to the less accustomed weapon of the head
hunter. For a dozen yards he advanced without sighting the object of
his search, but presently his efforts were rewarded by a glimpse of a
reddish, hairy body, and a pair of close set, wicked eyes peering at
him from behind a giant tree.
At the same instant a slight movement at one side attracted his
attention to where another similar figure crouched in the underbrush,
and then a third, fourth and fifth became evident about him. Bulan
looked in wonderment upon the strange, man-like creatures who eyed him
threateningly from every hand. They stood fully as high as the brown
Dyak warriors, but their bodies were naked except for the growth of
reddish hair which covered them, shading to black upon the face and
The lips of the nearest were raised in an angry snarl that exposed
wicked looking fighting fangs, but the beasts did not seem inclined to
initiate hostilities, and as they were unarmed and evidently but
engaged upon their own affairs Bulan decided to withdraw without
arousing them further. As he turned to retrace his steps he found his
three companions gazing in wide-eyed astonishment upon the strange new
creatures which confronted them.
Number Ten was grinning broadly, while Number Three advanced cautiously
toward one of the creatures, making a low guttural noise, that could
only be interpreted as peaceful and conciliatory—more like a feline
purr it was than anything else.
"What are you doing?" cried Bulan. "Leave them alone. They have not
offered to harm us."
"They are like us," replied Number Three. "They must be our own
people. I am going with them."
"And I," said Number Ten.
"And I," echoed Number Twelve. "At last we have found our own, let us
all go with them and live with them, far away from the men who would
beat us with great whips, and cut us with their sharp swords."
"They are not human beings," exclaimed Bulan. "We cannot live with
"Neither are we human beings," retorted Number Twelve. "Has not von
Horn told us so many times?"
"If I am not now a human being," replied Bulan, "I intend to be one,
and so I shall act as a human being should act. I shall not go to live
with savage beasts, nor shall you. Come with me as I tell you, or you
shall again taste the bull whip."
"We shall do as we please," growled Number Ten, baring his fangs. "You
are not our master. We have followed you as long as we intend to. We
are tired of forever walking, walking, walking through the bushes that
tear our flesh and hurt us. Go and be a human being if you think you
can, but do not longer interfere with us or we shall kill you," and he
looked first at Number Three and then at Number Twelve for approval of
Number Three nodded his grotesque and hideous head—he was so covered
with long black hair that he more nearly resembled an ourang outang
than a human being. Number Twelve looked doubtful.
"I think Number Ten is right," he said at last. "We are not human. We
have no souls. We are things. And while you, Bulan, are beautiful,
yet you are as much a soulless thing as we—that much von Horn taught
us well. So I believe that it would be better were we to keep forever
from the sight of men. I do not much like the thought of living with
these strange, hairy monsters, but we might find a place here in the
jungle where we could live alone and in peace."
"I do not want to live alone," cried Number Three. "I want a mate, and
I see a beautiful one yonder now. I am going after her," and with that
he again started toward a female ourang outang; but the lady bared her
fangs and retreated before his advance.
"Even the beasts will have none of us," cried Number Ten angrily. "Let
us take them by force then," and he started after Number Three.
"Come back!" shouted Bulan, leaping after the two deserters.
As he raised his voice there came an answering cry from a little
distance ahead—a cry for help, and it was in the agonized tones of a
"I am coming!" shouted Bulan, and without another glance at his
mutinous crew he sprang through the line of menacing ourang outangs.
On the morning that Bulan set out with his three monsters from the
deserted long-house in which they had spent the night, Professor
Maxon's party was speeding up the river, constantly buoyed with hope by
the repeated reports of natives that the white girl had been seen
passing in a war prahu.
In translating this information to Professor Maxon, von Horn habitually
made it appear that the girl was in the hands of Number Thirteen, or
Bulan, as they had now come to call him owing to the natives' constant
use of that name in speaking of the strange, and formidable white giant
who had invaded their land.
At the last long-house below the gorge, the head of which had witnessed
Virginia Maxon's escape from the clutches of Ninaka and Barunda, the
searching party was forced to stop owing to a sudden attack of fever
which had prostrated the professor. Here they found a woman who had a
strange tale to relate of a remarkable sight she had witnessed that
It seemed that she had been straining tapioca in a little stream which
flowed out of the jungle at the rear of the long-house when her
attention was attracted by the crashing of an animal through the bushes
a few yards above her. As she looked she saw a huge MIAS PAPPAN cross
the stream, bearing in his arms the dead, or unconscious form of a
white-skinned girl with golden hair.
Her description of the MIAS PAPPAN was such as to half convince von
Horn that she might have seen Number Three carrying Virginia Maxon,
although he could not reconcile the idea with the story that the two
Dyaks had told him of losing all of Bulan's monsters in the jungle.
Of course it was possible that they might have made their way over land
to this point, but it seemed scarcely credible—and then, how could
they have come into possession of Virginia Maxon, whom every report
except this last agreed was still in the hands of Ninaka and Barunda.
There was always the possibility that the natives had lied to him, and
the more he questioned the Dyak woman the more firmly convinced he
became that this was the fact.
The outcome of it was that von Horn finally decided to make an attempt
to follow the trail of the creature that the woman had seen, and with
this plan in view persuaded Muda Saffir to arrange with the chief of
the long-house at which they then were to furnish him with trackers and
an escort of warriors, promising them some splendid heads should they
be successful in overhauling Bulan and his pack.
Professor Maxon was too ill to accompany the expedition, and von Horn
set out alone with his Dyak allies. For a time after they departed
Sing Lee fretted and fidgeted upon the verandah of the long-house. He
wholly distrusted von Horn, and from motives of his own finally decided
to follow him. The trail of the party was plainly discernible, and the
Chinaman had no difficulty in following them, so that they had gone no
great way before he came within hearing distance of them. Always just
far enough behind to be out of sight, he kept pace with the little
column as it marched through the torrid heat of the morning, until a
little after noon he was startled by the sudden cry of a woman in
distress, and the answering shout of a man.
The voices came from a point in the jungle a little to his right and
behind him, and without waiting for the column to return, or even to
ascertain if they had heard the cries, Sing ran rapidly in the
direction of the alarm. For a time he saw nothing, but was guided by
the snapping of twigs and the rustling of bushes ahead, where the
authors of the commotion were evidently moving swiftly through the
Presently a strange sight burst upon his astonished vision. It was the
hideous Number Three in mad pursuit of a female ourang outang, and an
instant later he saw Number Twelve and Number Ten in battle with two
males, while beyond he heard the voice of a man shouting encouragement
to some one as he dashed through the jungle. It was in this last event
that Sing's interest centered, for he was sure that he recognized the
voice as that of Bulan, while the first cry for help which he had heard
had been in a woman's voice, and Sing knew that its author could be
none other than Virginia Maxon.
Those whom he pursued were moving rapidly through the jungle which was
now becoming more and more open, but the Chinaman was no mean runner,
and it was not long before he drew within sight of the object of his
His first glimpse was of Bulan, running swiftly between two huge bull
ourang outangs that snapped and tore at him as he bounded forward
cutting and slashing at his foes with his heavy whip. Just in front of
the trio was another bull bearing in his arms the unconscious form of
Virginia Maxon who had fainted at the first response to her cry for
help. Sing was armed with a heavy revolver but he dared not attempt to
use it for fear that he might wound either Bulan or the girl, and so he
was forced to remain but a passive spectator of what ensued.
Bulan, notwithstanding the running battle the two bulls were forcing
upon him, was gaining steadily upon the fleeing ourang outang that was
handicapped by the weight of the fair captive he bore in his huge,
hairy arms. As they came into a natural clearing in the jungle the
fleeing bull glanced back to see his pursuer almost upon him, and with
an angry roar turned to meet the charge.
In another instant Bulan and the three bulls were rolling and tumbling
about the ground, a mass of flying fur and blood from which rose fierce
and angry roars and growls, while Virginia Maxon lay quietly upon the
sward where her captor had dropped her.
Sing was about to rush forward and pick her up, when he saw von Horn
and his Dyaks leap into the clearing, to which they had been guided by
the sounds of the chase and the encounter. The doctor halted at the
sight that met his eyes—the prostrate form of the girl and the man
battling with three huge bulls.
Then he gathered up Virginia Maxon, and with a sign to his Dyaks, who
were thoroughly frightened at the mere sight of the white giant of whom
they had heard such terrible stories, turned and hastened back in the
direction from which they had come, leaving the man to what seemed must
be a speedy and horrible death.
Sing Lee was astounded at the perfidy of the act. To Bulan alone was
due the entire credit of having rescued Professor Maxon's daughter, and
yet in the very presence of his self-sacrificing loyalty and devotion
von Horn had deserted him without making the least attempt to aid him.
But the wrinkled old Chinaman was made of different metal, and had
started forward to assist Bulan when a heavy hand suddenly fell upon
his shoulder. Looking around he saw the hideous face of Number Ten
snarling into his. The bloodshot eyes of the monster were flaming with
rage. He had been torn and chewed by the bull with which he had
fought, and though he had finally overcome and killed the beast, a
female which he had pursued had eluded him. In a frenzy of passion and
blood lust aroused by his wounds, disappointment and the taste of warm
blood which still smeared his lips and face, he had been seeking the
female when he suddenly stumbled upon the hapless Sing.
With a roar he grasped the Chinaman as though to break him in two, but
Sing was not at all inclined to give up his life without a struggle,
and Number Ten was quick to learn that no mean muscles moved beneath
that wrinkled, yellow hide.
There could, however, have been but one outcome to the unequal struggle
had Sing not been armed with a revolver, though it was several seconds
before he could bring it into play upon the great thing that shook and
tossed him about as though he had been a rat in the mouth of a terrier.
But suddenly there was the sharp report of a firearm, and another of
Professor Maxon's unhappy experiments sank back into the nothingness
from which he had conjured it.
Then Sing turned his attention to Bulan and his three savage
assailants, but, except for the dead body of a bull ourang outang upon
the spot where he had last seen the four struggling, there was no sign
either of the white man or his antagonists; nor, though he listened
attentively, could he catch the slightest sound within the jungle other
than the rustling of the leaves and the raucous cries of the brilliant
birds that flitted among the gorgeous blooms about him.
For half an hour he searched in every direction, but finally, fearing
that he might become lost in the mazes of the unfamiliar forest he
reluctantly turned his face toward the river and the long-house that
sheltered his party.
Here he found Professor Maxon much improved—the safe return of
Virginia having acted as a tonic upon him. The girl and her father sat
with von Horn upon the verandah of the long-house as Sing clambered up
the notched log that led to it from the ground. At sight of Sing's
wrinkled old face Virginia Maxon sprang to her feet and ran forward to
greet him, for she had been very fond of the shrewd and kindly Chinaman
of whom she had seen so much during the dreary months of her
imprisonment within the campong.
"Oh, Sing," she cried, "where have you been? We were all so worried to
think that no sooner was one of us rescued than another became lost."
"Sing takee walk, Linee, las all," said the grinning Chinaman. "Velly
glad see Linee black 'gain," and that was all that Sing Lee had to say
of the adventures through which he had just passed, and the strange
sights that he had seen.
Again and again the girl and von Horn narrated the stirring scenes of
the day, the latter being compelled to repeat all that had transpired
from the moment that he had heard Virginia's cry, though it was
apparent that he only consented to speak of his part in her rescue
under the most considerable urging. Very pretty modesty, thought Sing
when he had heard the doctor's version of the affair.
"You see," said von Horn, "when I reached the spot Number Three, the
brute that you thought was an ape, had just turned you over to Number
Thirteen, or, as the natives now call him, Bulan. You were then in a
faint, and when I attacked Bulan he dropped you to defend himself. I
had expected a bitter fight from him after the wild tales the natives
have been telling of his ferocity, but it was soon evident that he is
an arrant coward, for I did not even have to fire my revolver—a few
thumps with the butt of it upon his brainless skull sent him howling
into the jungle with his pack at his heels."
"How fortunate it is, my dear doctor," said Professor Maxon, "that you
were bright enough to think of trailing the miscreant into the jungle.
But for that Virginia would still be in his clutches and by this time
he would have been beyond all hope of capture. How can we ever repay
you, dear friend?"
"That you were generous enough to arrange when we first embarked upon
the search for your daughter," replied von Horn.
"Just so, just so," said the professor, but a shade of trouble tinged
the expression of his face, and a moment later he arose, saying that he
felt weak and tired and would go to his sleeping room and lie down for
a while. The fact was that Professor Maxon regretted the promise he
had made von Horn relative to his daughter.
Once before he had made plans for her marriage only to regret them
later; he hoped that he had made no mistake this time, but he realized
that it had scarcely been fair to Virginia to promise her to his
assistant without first obtaining her consent. Yet a promise was a
promise, and, again, was it not true that but for von Horn she would
have been dead or worse than dead in a short time had she not been
rescued from the clutches of the soulless Bulan? Thus did the old man
justify his action, and clinch the determination that he had before
reached to compel Virginia to wed von Horn should she, from some
incomprehensible motive, demur. Yet he hoped that the girl would make
it easy, by accepting voluntarily the man who had saved her life.
Left alone, or as he thought alone, with the girl in the growing
shadows of the evening, von Horn thought the moment propitious for
renewing his suit. He did not consider the natives squatting about
them as of sufficient consequence to consider, since they would not
understand the language in which he addressed Virginia, and in the dusk
he failed to note that Sing squatted with the Dyaks, close behind them.
"Virginia," he commenced, after an interval of silence, "often before
have I broached the subject nearest to my heart, yet never have you
given me much encouragement. Can you not feel for the man who would
gladly give his life for you, sufficient affection to permit you to
make him the happiest man in the world? I do not ask for all your love
at first—that will come later. Just give me the right to cherish and
protect you. Say that you will be my wife, Virginia, and we need have
no more fears that the strange vagaries of your father's mind can ever
again jeopardize your life or your happiness as they have in the past."
"I feel that I owe you my life," replied the girl in a quiet voice,
"and while I am now positive that my father has entirely regained his
sanity, and looks with as great abhorrence upon the terrible fate he
planned for me as I myself, I cannot forget the debt of gratitude which
belongs to you.
"At the same time I do not wish to be the means of making you unhappy,
as surely would be the result were I to marry you without love. Let us
wait until I know myself better. Though you have spoken to me of the
matter before, I realize now that I never have made any effort to
determine whether or not I really can love you. There is time enough
before we reach civilization, if ever we are fortunate enough to do so
at all. Will you not be as generous as you are brave, and give me a
few days before I must make you a final answer?"
With Professor Maxon's solemn promise to insure his ultimate success
von Horn was very gentle and gracious in deferring to the girl's
wishes. The girl for her part could not put from her mind the
disappointment she had felt when she discovered that her rescuer was
von Horn, and not the handsome young giant whom she had been positive
was in close pursuit of her abductors.
When Number Thirteen had been mentioned she had always pictured him as
a hideous monster, similar to the creature that had seized her in the
jungle beside the encampment that first day she had seen the mysterious
stranger, of whom she could obtain no information either from her
father or von Horn. When she had recently insisted that the same man
had been at the head of her father's creatures in an attempt to rescue
her, both von Horn and Professor Maxon scoffed at the idea, until at
last she was convinced that the fright and the firelight had conspired
to conjure in her brain the likeness of one who was linked by memory to
another time of danger and despair.
Virginia could not understand why it was that the face of the stranger
persisted in obtruding itself in her memory. That the man was
unusually good looking was undeniable, but she had known many good
looking men, nor was she especially impressionable to mere superficial
beauty. No words had passed between them on the occasion of their
first meeting, so it could have been nothing that he said which caused
the memory of him to cling so tenaciously in her mind.
What was it then? Was it the memory of the moments that she had lain
in his strong arms—was it the shadow of the sweet, warm glow that had
suffused her as his eyes had caught hers upon his face?
The thing was tantalizing—it was annoying. The girl blushed in
mortification at the very thought that she could cling so resolutely to
the memory of a total stranger, and—still greater humiliation—long in
the secret depths of her soul to see him again.
She was angry with herself, but the more she tried to forget the young
giant who had come into her life for so brief an instant, the more she
speculated upon his identity and the strange fate that had brought him
to their little, savage island only to snatch him away again as
mysteriously as he had come, the less was the approval with which she
looked upon the suit of Doctor von Horn.
Von Horn had left her, and strolled down to the river. Finally
Virginia arose to seek the crude couch which had been spread for her in
one of the sleeping rooms of the long-house. As she passed a group of
natives squatted nearby one of the number arose and approached her, and
as she halted, half in fright, a low voice whispered:
"Lookee out, Linee, dloctor Hornee velly bad man."
"Why, Sing!" exclaimed Virginia. "What in the world do you mean by
saying such a thing as that?"
"Never mind, Linee; you always good to old Sing. Sing no likee see you
sadee. Dloctor Hornee velly bad man, las allee," and without another
word the Chinaman turned and walked away.
After the escape of the girl Barunda and Ninaka had fallen out over
that affair and the division of the treasure, with the result that the
panglima had slipped a knife between the ribs of his companion and
dropped the body overboard.
Barunda's followers, however, had been highly enraged at the act, and
in the ensuing battle which they waged for revenge of their murdered
chief Ninaka and his crew had been forced to take to the shore and hide
in the jungle.
With difficulty they had saved the chest and dragged it after them into
the mazes of the underbrush. Finally, however, they succeeded in
eluding the angry enemy, and took up their march through the interior
for the head of a river which would lead them to the sea by another
route, it being Ninaka's intention to dispose of the contents of the
chest as quickly as possible through the assistance of a rascally Malay
who dwelt at Gunung Tebor, where he carried on a thriving trade with
But presently it became apparent that he had not so easily escaped the
fruits of his villainy as he had supposed, for upon the evening of the
first day the rear of his little column was attacked by some of
Barunda's warriors who had forged ahead of their fellows, with the
result that the head of Ninaka's brother went to increase the prestige
and glory of the house of the enemy.
Ninaka was panic-stricken, since he knew that hampered as he was by the
heavy chest he could neither fight nor run to advantage. And so, upon
a dark night near the head waters of the river he sought, he buried the
treasure at the foot of a mighty buttress tree, and with his parang
made certain cabalistic signs upon the bole whereby he might identify
the spot when it was safe to return and disinter his booty. Then, with
his men, he hastened down the stream until they reached the head of
prahu navigation where they stole a craft and paddled swiftly on toward
When the three bull ourang outangs closed upon Bulan he felt no fear as
to the outcome of the battle, for never in his experience had he coped
with any muscles that his own mighty thews could not overcome. But as
the battle continued he realized that there might be a limit to the
number of antagonists which he could successfully withstand, since he
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
"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
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
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
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.
MAN OR MONSTER?
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
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
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
plans. How large these men were—she never had seen a native of such
giant proportions; and now they had come quite close to her, and as the
foremost stooped to speak to her she shrank back in fear. Then, to her
surprise, she heard in whispered English; "Come quietly, while they are
She thought the voice familiar, but could not place it, though her
heart whispered that it might belong to the young stranger of her
dreams. He reached out and took her hand and together they turned and
walked quickly toward the jungle, followed by the two who had
Scarcely had they covered half the distance before one of the Dyaks
whose duty it had been to guard the girl discovered that she was gone.
With a cry he alarmed his fellows, and in another instant a sharp pair
of eyes caught the movement of the four who had now broken into a run.
With savage shouts the entire force of head hunters sprang in pursuit.
Bulan lifted Virginia in his arms and dashed on ahead of Number Twelve
and Number Three. A shower of poisoned darts blown from half a hundred
sumpitans fell about them, and then Muda Saffir called to his warriors
to cease using their deadly blow-pipes lest they kill the girl.
Into the jungle dashed the four while close behind them came the
howling pack of enraged savages. Now one closed upon Number Three only
to fall back dead with a broken neck as the giant fingers released
their hold upon him. A parang swung close to Number Twelve, but his
own, which he had now learned to wield with fearful effect, clove
through the pursuing warrior's skull splitting him wide to the breast
Thus they fought the while they forced their way deeper and deeper into
the dark mazes of the entangled vegetation. The brunt of the running
battle was borne by the two monsters, for Bulan was carrying Virginia,
and keeping a little ahead of his companions to insure the girl's
Now and then patches of moonlight filtering through occasional openings
in the leafy roofing revealed to Virginia the battle that was being
waged for possession of her, and once, when Number Three turned toward
her after disposing of a new assailant, she was horrified to see the
grotesque and terrible face of the creature. A moment later she caught
sight of Number Twelve's hideous face. She was appalled.
Could it be that she had been rescued from the Malay to fall into the
hands of creatures equally heartless and entirely without souls? She
glanced up at the face of him who carried her. In the darkness of the
night she had not yet had an opportunity to see the features of the
man, but after a glimpse at those of his two companions she trembled to
think of the hideous thing that might be revealed to her.
Could it be that she had at last fallen into the hands of the dreaded
and terrible Number Thirteen! Instinctively she shrank from contact
with the man in whose arms she had been carried without a trace of
repugnance until the thought obtruded itself that he might be the
creature of her father's mad experimentation, to whose arms she had
been doomed by the insane obsession of her parent.
The man shifted her now to give himself freer use of his right arm, for
the savages were pressing more closely upon Twelve and Three, and the
change made it impossible for the girl to see his face even in the more
frequent moonlit places.
But she could see the two who ran and fought just behind them, and she
shuddered at her inevitable fate. For should the three be successful
in bearing her away from the Dyaks she must face an unknown doom, while
should the natives recapture her there was the terrible Malay into
whose clutches she had already twice fallen.
Now the head hunters were pressing closer, and suddenly, even as the
girl looked directly at him, a spear passed through the heart of Number
Three. Clutching madly at the shaft protruding from his misshapen body
the grotesque thing stumbled on for a dozen paces, and then sank to the
ground as two of the brown warriors sprang upon him with naked parangs.
An instant later Virginia Maxon saw the hideous and grisly head
swinging high in the hand of a dancing, whooping savage.
The man who carried her was now forced to turn and fight off the enemy
that pressed forward past Number Twelve. The mighty bull whip whirled
and cracked across the heads and faces of the Dyaks. It was a
formidable weapon when backed by the Herculean muscles that rolled and
shifted beneath Bulan's sun-tanned skin, and many were the brown
warriors that went down beneath its cruel lash.
Virginia could see that the creature who bore her was not deformed of
body, but she shrank from the thought of what a sight of his face might
reveal. How much longer the two could fight off the horde at their
heels the girl could not guess; and as a matter of fact she was
indifferent to the outcome of the strange, running battle that was
being waged with herself as the victor's spoil.
The country now was becoming rougher and more open. The flight seemed
to be leading into a range of low hills, where the jungle grew less
dense, and the way rocky and rugged. They had entered a narrow canyon
when Number Twelve went down beneath a half dozen parangs. Again the
girl saw a bloody head swung on high and heard the fierce, wild chorus
of exulting victory. She wondered how long it would be ere the
creature beneath her would add his share to the grim trophies of the
In the interval that the head hunters had paused to sever Number
Twelve's head, Bulan had gained fifty yards upon them, and then, of a
sudden, he came to a sheer wall rising straight across the narrow trail
he had been following. Ahead there was no way—a cat could scarce have
scaled that formidable barrier—but to the right he discerned what
appeared to be a steep and winding pathway up the canyon's side, and
with a bound he clambered along it to where it surmounted the rocky
There he turned, winded, to await the oncoming foe. Here was a spot
where a single man might defy an army, and Bulan had been quick to see
the natural advantages of it. He placed the girl upon her feet behind
a protruding shoulder of the canyon's wall which rose to a considerable
distance still above them. Then he turned to face the mob that was
surging up the narrow pathway toward him.
At his feet lay an accumulation of broken rock from the hillside above,
and as a spear sped, singing, close above his shoulder, the occurrence
suggested a use for the rough and jagged missiles which lay about him
in such profusion. Many of the pieces were large, weighing twenty and
thirty pounds, and some even as much as fifty. Picking up one of the
larger Bulan raised it high above his head, and then hurled it down
amongst the upclimbing warriors. In an instant pandemonium reigned,
for the heavy boulder had mowed down a score of the pursuers, breaking
arms and legs in its meteoric descent.
Missile after missile Bulan rained down upon the struggling, howling
Dyaks, until, seized by panic, they turned and fled incontinently down
into the depths of the canyon and back along the narrow trail they had
come, and then superstitious fear completed the rout that the flying
rocks had started, for one whispered to another that this was the
terrible Bulan and that he had but lured them on into the hills that he
might call forth all his demons and destroy them.
For a moment Bulan stood watching the retreating savages, a smile upon
his lips, and then as the sudden equatorial dawn burst forth he turned
to face the girl.
As Virginia Maxon saw the fine features of the giant where she had
expected to find the grotesque and hideous lineaments of a monster, she
gave a quick little cry of pleasure and relief.
"Thank God!" she cried fervently. "Thank God that you are a man—I
thought that I was in the clutches of the hideous and soulless monster,
The smile upon the young man's face died. An expression of pain, and
hopelessness, and sorrow swept across his features. The girl saw the
change, and wondered, but how could she guess the grievous wound her
words had inflicted?
For a moment the two stood in silence; Bulan tortured by thoughts of
the bitter humiliation that he must suffer when the girl should learn
his identity; Virginia wondering at the sad lines that had come into
the young man's face, and at his silence.
It was the girl who first spoke. "Who are you," she asked, "to whom I
owe my safety?"
The man hesitated. To speak aught than the truth had never occurred to
him during his brief existence. He scarcely knew how to lie. To him a
question demanded but one manner of reply—the facts. But never before
had he had to face a question where so much depended upon his answer.
He tried to form the bitter, galling words; but a vision of that lovely
face suddenly transformed with horror and disgust throttled the name in
"I am Bulan," he said, at last, quietly.
"Bulan," repeated the girl. "Bulan. Why that is a native name. You
are either an Englishman or an American. What is your true name?"
"My name is Bulan," he insisted doggedly.
Virginia Maxon thought that he must have some good reason of his own
for wishing to conceal his identity. At first she wondered if he could
be a fugitive from justice—the perpetrator of some horrid crime, who
dared not divulge his true name even in the remote fastness of a
Bornean wilderness; but a glance at his frank and noble countenance
drove every vestige of the traitorous thought from her mind. Her
woman's intuition was sufficient guarantee of the nobility of his
"Then let me thank you, Mr. Bulan," she said, "for the service that you
have rendered a strange and helpless woman."
"Just Bulan," he said. "There is no need for Miss or Mister in the
savage jungle, Virginia."
The girl flushed at the sudden and unexpected use of her given name,
and was surprised that she was not offended.
"How do you know my name?" she asked.
Bulan saw that he would get into deep water if he attempted to explain
too much, and, as is ever the way, discovered that one deception had
led him into another; so he determined to forestall future embarrassing
queries by concocting a story immediately to explain his presence and
"I lived upon the island near your father's camp," he said. "I knew
you all—by sight."
"How long have you lived there?" asked the girl. "We thought the
"All my life," replied Bulan truthfully.
"It is strange," she mused. "I cannot understand it. But the
monsters—how is it that they followed you and obeyed your commands?"
Bulan touched the bull whip that hung at his side.
"Von Horn taught them to obey this," he said.
"He used that upon them?" cried the girl in horror.
"It was the only way," said Bulan. "They were almost brainless—they
could understand nothing else, for they could not reason."
"Where are they now—the balance of them?" she asked.
"They are dead, poor things," he replied, sadly. "Poor, hideous,
unloved, unloving monsters—they gave up their lives for the daughter
of the man who made them the awful, repulsive creatures that they were."
"What do you mean?" cried the girl.
"I mean that all have been killed searching for you, and battling with
your enemies. They were soulless creatures, but they loved the mean
lives they gave up so bravely for you whose father was the author of
their misery—you owe a great deal to them, Virginia."
"Poor things," murmured the girl, "but yet they are better off, for
without brains or souls there could be no happiness in life for them.
My father did them a hideous wrong, but it was an unintentional wrong.
His mind was crazed with dwelling upon the wonderful discovery he had
made, and if he wronged them he contemplated a still more terrible
wrong to be inflicted upon me, his daughter."
"I do not understand," said Bulan.
"It was his intention to give me in marriage to one of his soulless
monsters—to the one he called Number Thirteen. Oh, it is terrible
even to think of the hideousness of it; but now they are all dead he
cannot do it even though his poor mind, which seems well again, should
suffer a relapse."
"Why do you loathe them so?" asked Bulan. "Is it because they are
hideous, or because they are soulless?"
"Either fact were enough to make them repulsive," replied the girl,
"but it is the fact that they were without souls that made them totally
impossible—one easily overlooks physical deformity, but the moral
depravity that must be inherent in a creature without a soul must
forever cut him off from intercourse with human beings."
"And you think that regardless of their physical appearance the fact
that they were without souls would have been apparent?" asked Bulan.
"I am sure of it," cried Virginia. "I would know the moment I set my
eyes upon a creature without a soul."
With all the sorrow that was his, Bulan could scarce repress a smile,
for it was quite evident either that it was impossible to perceive a
soul, or else that he possessed one.
"Just how do you distinguish the possessor of a soul?" he asked.
The girl cast a quick glance up at him.
"You are making fun of me," she said.
"Not at all," he replied. "I am just curious as to how souls make
themselves apparent. I have seen men kill one another as beasts kill.
I have seen one who was cruel to those within his power, yet they were
all men with souls. I have seen eleven soulless monsters die to save
the daughter of a man whom they believed had wronged them terribly—a
man with a soul. How then am I to know what attributes denote the
possession of the immortal spark? How am I to know whether or not I
possess a soul?"
"You are courageous and honorable and chivalrous—those are enough to
warrant the belief that you have a soul, were it not apparent from your
countenance that you are of the higher type of mankind," she said.
"I hope that you will never change your opinion of me, Virginia," said
the man; but he knew that there lay before her a severe shock, and
before him a great sorrow when they should come to where her father was
and the girl should learn the truth concerning him.
That he did not himself tell her may be forgiven him, for he had only a
life of misery to look forward to after she should know that he, too,
was equally a soulless monster with the twelve that had preceded him to
a merciful death. He would have envied them but for the anticipation
of the time that he might be alone with her before she learned the
As he pondered the future there came to him the thought that should
they never find Professor Maxon or von Horn the girl need never know
but that he was a human being. He need not lose her then, but always
be near her. The idea grew and with it the mighty temptation to lead
Virginia Maxon far into the jungle, and keep her forever from the sight
of men. And why not? Had he not saved her where others had failed?
Was she not, by all that was just and fair, his?
Did he owe any loyalty to either her father or von Horn? Already he
had saved Professor Maxon's life, so the obligation, if there was any,
lay all against the older man; and three times he had saved Virginia.
He would be very kind and good to her. She should be much happier and
a thousand times safer than with those others who were so poorly
equipped to protect her.
As he stood silently gazing out across the jungle beneath them toward
the new sun the girl watched him in a spell of admiration of his strong
and noble face, and his perfect physique. What would have been her
emotions had she guessed what thoughts were his! It was she who broke
"Can you find the way to the long-house where my father is?" she asked.
Bulan, startled at the question, looked up from his reverie. The thing
must be faced, then, sooner than he thought. How was he to tell her of
his intention? It occurred to him to sound her first—possibly she
would make no objection to the plan.
"You are anxious to return?" he asked.
"Why, yes, of course, I am," she replied. "My father will be half mad
with apprehension, until he knows that I am safe. What a strange
question, indeed." Still, however, she did not doubt the motives of
"Suppose we should be unable to find our way to the long-house?" he
"Oh, don't say such a thing," cried the girl. "It would be terrible.
I should die of misery and fright and loneliness in this awful jungle.
Surely you can find your way to the river—it was but a short march
through the jungle from where we landed to the spot at which you took
me away from that fearful Malay."
The girl's words cast a cloud over Bulan's hopes. The future looked
less roseate with the knowledge that she would be unhappy in the life
that he had been mapping for them. He was silent—thinking. In his
breast a riot of conflicting emotions were waging the first great
battle which was to point the trend of the man's character—would the
selfish and the base prevail, or would the noble?
With the thought of losing her his desire for her companionship became
almost a mania. To return her to her father and von Horn would be to
lose her—of that there could be no doubt, for they would not leave her
long in ignorance of his origin. Then, in addition to being deprived
of her forever, he must suffer the galling mortification of her scorn.
It was a great deal to ask of a fledgling morality that was yet
scarcely cognizant of its untried wings; but even as the man wavered
between right and wrong there crept into his mind the one great and
burning question of his life—had he a soul? And he knew that upon his
decision of the fate of Virginia Maxon rested to some extent the true
answer to that question, for, unconsciously, he had worked out his own
crude soul hypothesis which imparted to this invisible entity the power
to direct his actions only for good. Therefore he reasoned that
wickedness presupposed a small and worthless soul, or the entire lack
That she would hate a soulless creature he accepted as a foregone
conclusion. He desired her respect, and that fact helped him to his
final decision, but the thing that decided him was born of the truly
chivalrous nature he possessed—he wanted Virginia Maxon to be happy;
it mattered not at what cost to him.
The girl had been watching him closely as he stood silently thinking
after her last words. She did not know the struggle that the calm face
hid; yet she felt that the dragging moments were big with the question
of her fate.
"Well?" she said at length.
"We must eat first," he replied in a matter-of-fact tone, and not at
all as though he was about to renounce his life's happiness, "and then
we shall set out in search of your father. I shall take you to him,
Virginia, if man can find him."
"I knew that you could," she said, simply, "but how my father and I
ever can repay you I do not know—do you?"
"Yes," said Bulan, and there was a sudden rush of fire to his eyes that
kept Virginia Maxon from urging a detailed explanation of just how she
might repay him.
In truth she did not know whether to be angry, or frightened, or glad
of the truth that she read there; or mortified that it had awakened in
her a realization that possibly an analysis of her own interest in this
young stranger might reveal more than she had imagined.
The constraint that suddenly fell upon them was relieved when Bulan
motioned her to follow him back down the trail into the gorge in search
of food. There they sat together upon a fallen tree beside a tiny
rivulet, eating the fruit that the man gathered. Often their eyes met
as they talked, but always the girl's fell before the open worship of
Many were the men who had looked in admiration at Virginia Maxon in the
past, but never, she felt, with eyes so clean and brave and honest.
There was no guile or evil in them, and because of it she wondered all
the more that she could not face them.
"What a wonderful soul those eyes portray," she thought, "and how
perfectly they assure the safety of my life and honor while their owner
is near me."
And the man thought: "Would that I owned a soul that I might aspire to
live always near her—always to protect her."
When they had eaten the two set out once more in search of the river,
and the confidence that is born of ignorance was theirs, so that beyond
each succeeding tangled barrier of vines and creepers they looked to
see the swirling stream that would lead them to the girl's father.
On and on they trudged, the man often carrying the girl across the
rougher obstacles and through the little streams that crossed their
path, until at last came noon, and yet no sign of the river they
sought. The combined jungle craft of the two had been insufficient
either to trace the way that they had come, or point the general
direction of the river.
As the afternoon drew to a close Virginia Maxon commenced to lose
heart—she was confident that they were lost. Bulan made no pretence
of knowing the way, the most that he would say being that eventually
they must come to the river. As a matter-of-fact had it not been for
the girl's evident concern he would have been glad to know that they
were irretrievably lost; but for her sake his efforts to find the river
When at last night closed down upon them the girl was, at heart, terror
stricken, but she hid her true state from the man, because she knew
that their plight was no fault of his. The strange and uncanny noises
of the jungle night filled her with the most dreadful forebodings, and
when a cold, drizzling rain set in upon them her cup of misery was full.
Bulan rigged a rude shelter for her, making her lie down beneath it,
and then he removed his Dyak war-coat and threw it over her, but it was
hours before her exhausted body overpowered her nervous fright and won
a fitful and restless slumber. Several times Virginia became obsessed
with the idea that Bulan had left her alone there in the jungle, but
when she called his name he answered from close beside her shelter.
She thought that he had reared another for himself nearby, but even the
thought that he might sleep filled her with dread, yet she would not
call to him again, since she knew that he needed his rest even more
than she. And all the night Bulan stood close beside the woman he had
learned to love—stood almost naked in the chill night air and the cold
rain, lest some savage man or beast creep out of the darkness after her
while he slept.
The next day with its night, and the next, and the next were but
repetitions of the first. It had become an agony of suffering for the
man to fight off sleep longer. The girl read part of the truth in his
heavy eyes and worn face, and tried to force him to take needed rest,
but she did not guess that he had not slept for four days and nights.
At last abused Nature succumbed to the terrific strain that had been
put upon her, and the giant constitution of the man went down before
the cold and the wet, weakened and impoverished by loss of sleep and
insufficient food; for through the last two days he had been able to
find but little, and that little he had given to the girl, telling her
that he had eaten his fill while he gathered hers.
It was on the fifth morning, when Virginia awoke, that she found Bulan
rolling and tossing upon the wet ground before her shelter, delirious
with fever. At the sight of the mighty figure reduced to pitiable
inefficiency and weakness, despite the knowledge that her protector
could no longer protect, the fear of the jungle faded from the heart of
the young girl—she was no more a weak and trembling daughter of an
effete civilization. Instead she was a lioness, watching over and
protecting her sick mate. The analogy did not occur to her, but
something else did as she saw the flushed face and fever wracked body
of the man whose appeal to her she would have thought purely physical
had she given the subject any analytic consideration; and as a
realization of his utter helplessness came to her she bent over him and
kissed first his forehead and then his lips.
"What a noble and unselfish love yours has been," she murmured. "You
have even tried to hide it that my position might be the easier to
bear, and now that it may be too late I learn that I love you—that I
have always loved you. Oh, Bulan, my Bulan, what a cruel fate that
permitted us to find one another only to die together!"
For a week Professor Maxon with von Horn and Sing sought for Virginia.
They could get no help from the natives of the long-house, who feared
the vengeance of Muda Saffir should he learn that they had aided the
white men upon his trail.
And always as the three hunted through the jungle and up and down the
river there lurked ever near a handful of the men of the tribe of the
two whom von Horn had murdered, waiting for the chance that would give
them revenge and the heads of the three they followed. They feared the
guns of the white men too much to venture an open attack, and at night
the quarry never abated their watchfulness, so that days dragged on,
and still the three continued their hopeless quest unconscious of the
relentless foe that dogged their footsteps.
Von Horn was always searching for an opportunity to enlist the aid of
the friendly natives in an effort to regain the chest, but so far he
had found none who would agree to accompany him even in consideration
of a large share of the booty. It was the treasure alone which kept
him to the search for Virginia Maxon, and he made it a point to direct
the hunt always in the vicinity of the spot where it was buried, for a
great fear consumed him that Ninaka might return and claim it before he
had a chance to make away with it.
Three times during the week they returned and slept at the long-house,
hoping each time to learn that the natives had received some news of
her they sought, through the wonderful channels of communication that
seemed always open across the trackless jungle and up and down the
savage, lonely rivers.
For two days Bulan lay raving in the delirium of fever, while the
delicate girl, unused to hardship and exposure, watched over him and
nursed him with the loving tenderness and care of a young mother with
her first born.
For the most part the young giant's ravings were inarticulate, but now
and then Virginia heard her name linked with words of reverence and
worship. The man fought again the recent battles he had passed
through, and again suffered the long night watches beside the sleeping
girl who filled his heart. Then it was that she learned the truth of
his self-sacrificing devotion. The thing that puzzled her most was the
repetition of a number and a name which ran through all his
delirium—"Nine ninety nine Priscilla."
She could make neither head nor tail of it, nor was there another word
to give a clue to its meaning, so at last from constant repetition it
became a commonplace and she gave it no further thought.
The girl had given up hope that Bulan ever could recover, so weak and
emaciated had he become, and when the fever finally left him quite
suddenly she was positive that it was the beginning of the end. It was
on the morning of the seventh day since they had commenced their
wandering in search of the long-house that, as she sat watching him,
she saw his eyes resting upon her face with a look of recognition.
Gently she took his hand, and at the act he smiled at her very weakly.
"You are better, Bulan," she said. "You have been very sick, but now
you shall soon be well again."
She did not believe her own words, yet the mere saying of them gave her
"Yes," replied the man. "I shall soon be well again. How long have I
been like this?"
"For two days," she replied.
"And you have watched over me alone in the jungle for two days?" he
"Had it been for life," she said in a low voice, "it would scarce have
repaid the debt I owe you."
For a long time he lay looking up into her eyes—longingly, wistfully.
"I wish that it had been for life," he said.
At first she did not quite realize what he meant, but presently the
tired and hopeless expression of his eyes brought to her a sudden
knowledge of his meaning.
"Oh, Bulan," she cried, "you must not say that. Why should you wish to
"Because I love you, Virginia," he replied. "And because, when you
know what I am, you will hate and loathe me."
On the girl's lips was an avowal of her own love, but as she bent
closer to whisper the words in his ear there came the sound of men
crashing through the jungle, and as she turned to face the peril that
she thought approaching, von Horn sprang into view, while directly
behind him came her father and Sing Lee.
Bulan saw them at the same instant, and as Virginia ran forward to
greet her father he staggered weakly to his feet. Von Horn was the
first to see the young giant, and with an oath sprang toward him,
drawing his revolver as he came.
"You beast," he cried. "We have caught you at last."
At the words Virginia turned back toward Bulan with a little scream of
warning and of horror. Professor Maxon was behind her.
"Shoot the monster, von Horn," he ordered. "Do not let him escape."
Bulan drew himself to his full height, and though he wavered from
weakness, yet he towered mighty and magnificent above the evil faced
man who menaced him.
"Shoot!" he said calmly. "Death cannot come too soon now."
At the same instant von Horn pulled the trigger. The giant's head fell
back, he staggered, whirled about, and crumpled to the earth just as
Virginia Maxon's arms closed about him.
Von Horn rushed close and pushing the girl aside pressed the muzzle of
his gun to Bulan's temple, but an avalanche of wrinkled, yellow skin
was upon him before he could pull the trigger a second time, and Sing
had hurled him back a dozen feet and snatched his weapon.
Moaning and sobbing Virginia threw herself upon the body of the man she
loved, while Professor Maxon hurried to her side to drag her away from
the soulless thing for whom he had once intended her.
Like a tigress the girl turned upon the two white men.
"You are murderers," she cried. "Cowardly murderers. Weak and
exhausted by fever he could not combat you, and so you have robbed the
world of one of the noblest men that God ever created."
"Hush!" cried Professor Maxon. "Hush, child, you do not know what you
say. The thing was a monster—a soulless monster."
At the words the girl looked up quickly at her father, a faint
realization of his meaning striking her like a blow in the face.
"What do you mean?" she whispered. "Who was he?"
It was von Horn who answered.
"No god created that," he said, with a contemptuous glance at the still
body of the man at their feet. "He was one of the creatures of your
father's mad experiments—the soulless thing for whose arms his insane
obsession doomed you. The thing at your feet, Virginia, was Number
With a piteous little moan the girl turned back toward the body of the
young giant. A faltering step she took toward it, and then to the
horror of her father she sank upon her knees beside it and lifting the
man's head in her arms covered the face with kisses.
"Virginia!" cried the professor. "Are you mad, child?"
"I am not mad," she moaned, "not yet. I love him. Man or monster, it
would have been all the same to me, for I loved him."
Her father turned away, burying his face in his hands.
"God!" he muttered. "What an awful punishment you have visited upon me
for the sin of the thing I did."
The silence which followed was broken by Sing who had kneeled opposite
Virginia upon the other side of Bulan, where he was feeling the giant's
wrists and pressing his ear close above his heart.
"Do'n cly, Linee," said the kindly old Chinaman. "Him no dlead."
Then, as he poured a pinch of brownish powder into the man's mouth from
a tiny sack he had brought forth from the depths of one of his sleeves:
"Him no mlonster either, Linee. Him white man, alsame Mlaxon. Sing
The girl looked up at him in gratitude.
"He is not dead, Sing? He will live?" she cried. "I don't care about
anything else, Sing, if you will only make him live."
"Him live. Gettem lilee flesh wounds. Las all."
"What do you mean by saying that he is not a monster?" demanded von
"You waitee, you dam flool," cried Sing. "I tellee lot more I know.
You waitee I flixee him, and then, by God, I flixee you."
Von Horn took a menacing step toward the Chinaman, his face black with
wrath, but Professor Maxon interposed.
"This has gone quite far enough, Doctor von Horn," he said. "It may be
that we acted hastily. I do not know, of course, what Sing means, but
I intend to find out. He has been very faithful to us, and deserves
Von Horn stepped back, still scowling. Sing poured a little water
between Bulan's lips, and then asked Professor Maxon for his brandy
flask. With the first few drops of the fiery liquid the giant's
eyelids moved, and a moment later he raised them and looked about him.
The first face he saw was Virginia's. It was full of love and
"They have not told you yet?" he asked.
"Yes," she replied. "They have told me, but it makes no difference.
You have given me the right to say it, Bulan, and I do say it now
again, before them all—I love you, and that is all there is that makes
A look of happiness lighted his face momentarily, only to fade as
quickly as it had come.
"No, Virginia," he said, sadly, "it would not be right. It would be
wicked. I am not a human being. I am only a soulless monster. You
cannot mate with such as I. You must go away with your father. Soon
you will forget me."
"Never, Bulan!" cried the girl, determinedly.
The man was about to attempt to dissuade her, when Sing interrupted.
"You keepee still, Bulan," he said. "You wait till Sing tellee. You
no mlonster. Mlaxon he no makee you. Sing he find you in low bloat
jus' outsidee cove. You dummy. No know nothing. No know namee. No
know where comee from. No talkee.
"Sing he jes' hearee Mlaxon tellee Hornee 'bout Nlumber Thlirteen. How
he makee him for Linee. Makee Linee mally him. Sing he know what
kindee fleaks Mlaxon makee. Linee always good to old Sing. Sing he
been peeking thlu clack in wallee. See blig vlat where Thlirteen
"Sing he takee you to Sing's shackee that night. Hide you till
evlybody sleep. Then he sneak you in workee shop. Kickee over vlat.
Leaves you. Nex' mlorning Mlaxon makee blig hulabaloo. Dance up and
downee. Whoop! Thlirteen clome too soonee, but allight; him finee,
perfec' man. Whoop!
"Anyway, you heap better for Linee than one Mlaxon's fleaks," he
concluded, turning toward Bulan.
"You are lying, you yellow devil," cried von Horn.
The Chinaman turned his shrewd, slant eyes malevolently upon the doctor.
"Sing lies?" he hissed. "Mabbeso Sing lies when he ask what for you
glet Bludleen steal tleasure. But Lajah Saffir he come and spoil it
all while you tly glet Linee to the ship—Sing knows.
"Then you tellee Mlaxon Thlirteen steal Linee. You lie then and you
knew you lie. You lie again when Thlirteen savee Linee flom Oulang
Outang—you say you savee Linee.
"Then you make bad talkee with Lajah Saffir at long-house. Sing hear
you all timee. You tly getee tleasure away from Dlyaks for your self.
"Stop!" roared von Horn. "Stop! You lying yellow sneak, before I put
a bullet in you."
"Both of you may stop now," said Professor Maxon authoritatively.
"There have been charges made here that cannot go unnoticed. Can you
prove these things Sing?" he asked turning to the Chinaman.
"I plove much by Bludleen's lascar. Bludleen tell him all 'bout
Hornee. I plove some more by Dyak chief at long-house. He knows lots.
Lajah Saffir tell him. It all tlue, Mlaxon."
"And it is true about this man—the thing that you have told us is
true? He is not one of those created in the laboratory?"
"No, Mlaxon. You no makee fine young man like Blulan—you know lat,
Mlaxon. You makee One, Two, Thlee—all up to Twelve. All fleaks. You
ought to know, Mlaxon, lat you no can makee a Blulan."
During these revelations Bulan had sat with his eyes fixed upon the
Chinaman. There was a puzzled expression upon his wan, blood-streaked
face. It was as though he were trying to wrest from the inner temple
of his consciousness a vague and tantalizing memory that eluded him
each time that he felt he had it within his grasp—the key to the
strange riddle that hid his origin.
The girl kneeled close beside him, one small hand in his. Hope and
happiness had supplanted the sorrow in her face. She tore the hem from
her skirt, to bandage the bloody furrow that creased the man's temple.
Professor Maxon stood silently by, watching the loving tenderness that
marked each deft, little movement of her strong, brown hands.
The revelations of the past few minutes had shocked the old man into
stupefied silence. It was difficult, almost impossible, for him to
believe that Sing had spoken the truth and that this man was not one of
the creatures of his own creation; yet from the bottom of his heart he
prayed that it might prove the truth, for he saw that his daughter
loved the man with a love that would be stayed by no obstacle or bound
by no man-made law, or social custom.
The Chinaman's indictment of von Horn had come as an added blow to
Professor Maxon, but it had brought its own supporting evidence in the
flood of recollections it had induced in the professor's mind. Now he
recalled a hundred chance incidents and conversations with his
assistant that pointed squarely toward the man's disloyalty and
villainy. He wondered that he had been so blind as not to have
suspected his lieutenant long before.
Virginia had at last succeeded in adjusting her rude bandage and
stopping the flow of blood. Bulan had risen weakly to his feet. The
girl supported him upon one side, and Sing upon the other. Professor
Maxon approached the little group.
"I do not know what to make of all that Sing has told us," he said.
"If you are not Number Thirteen who are you? Where did you come from?
It seems very strange indeed—impossible, in fact. However, if you
will explain who you are, I shall be glad
to—ah—consider—ah—permitting you to pay court to my daughter."
"I do not know who I am," replied Bulan. "I had always thought that I
was only Number Thirteen, until Sing just spoke. Now I have a faint
recollection of drifting for days upon the sea in an open boat—beyond
that all is blank. I shall not force my attentions upon Virginia until
I can prove my identity, and that my past is one which I can lay before
her without shame—until then I shall not see her."
"You shall do nothing of the kind," cried the girl. "You love me, and
I you. My father intended to force me to marry you while he still
thought that you were a soulless thing. Now that it is quite apparent
that you are a human being, and a gentleman, he hesitates, but I do
not. As I have told you before, it makes no difference to me what you
are. You have told me that you love me. You have demonstrated a love
that is high, and noble, and self-sacrificing. More than that no girl
needs to know. I am satisfied to be the wife of Bulan—if Bulan is
satisfied to have the daughter of the man who has so cruelly wronged
An arm went around the girl's shoulders and drew her close to the man
she had glorified with her loyalty and her love. The other hand was
stretched out toward Professor Maxon.
"Professor," said Bulan, "in the face of what Sing has told us, in the
face of a disinterested comparison between myself and the miserable
creatures of your experiments, is it not folly to suppose that I am one
of them? Some day I shall recall my past, until that time shall prove
my worthiness I shall not ask for Virginia's hand, and in this decision
she must concur, for the truth might reveal some insurmountable
obstacle to our marriage. In the meantime let us be friends,
professor, for we are both actuated by the same desire—the welfare and
happiness of your daughter."
The old man stepped forward and took Bulan's hand. The expression of
doubt and worry had left his face.
"I cannot believe," he said, "that you are other than a gentleman, and
if, in my desire to protect Virginia, I have said aught to wound you I
ask your forgiveness."
Bulan responded only with a tighter pressure of the hand.
"And now," said the professor, "let us return to the long-house. I
wish to have a few words in private with you, von Horn," and he turned
to face his assistant, but the man had disappeared.
"Where is Doctor von Horn?" exclaimed the scientist, addressing Sing.
"Hornee, him vamoose long time 'go," replied the Chinaman. "He hear
all he likee."
Slowly the little party wound along the jungle trail, and in less than
a mile, to Virginia's infinite surprise, came out upon the river and
the long-house that she and Bulan had searched for in vain.
"And to think," she cried, "that all these awful days we have been
almost within sound of your voices. What strange freak of fate sent
you to us today?"
"We had about given up hope," replied her father, "when Sing suggested
to me that we cut across the highlands that separate this valley from
the one adjoining it upon the northeast, where we should strike other
tribes and from them glean some clue to your whereabouts in case your
abductors had attempted to carry you back to the sea by another route.
This seemed likely in view of the fact that we were assured by enemies
of Muda Saffir that you were not in his possession, and that the river
we were bound for would lead your captors most quickly out of the
domains of that rascally Malay. You may imagine our surprise,
Virginia, when after proceeding for but a mile we discovered you."
No sooner had the party entered the verandah of the long-house than
Professor Maxon made inquiries for von Horn, only to learn that he had
departed up stream in a prahu with several warriors whom he had engaged
to accompany him on a "hunting expedition," having explained that the
white girl had been found and was being brought to the long-house.
The chief further explained that he had done his best to dissuade the
white man from so rash an act, as he was going directly into the
country of the tribe of the two men he had killed, and there was little
chance that he ever would come out alive.
While they were still discussing von Horn's act, and wondering at his
intentions, a native on the verandah cried out in astonishment,
pointing down the river. As they looked in the direction he indicated
all saw a graceful, white cutter gliding around a nearby turn. At the
oars were white clad American sailors, and in the stern two officers in
the uniform of the United States navy.
As the cutter touched the bank the entire party from the long-house,
whites and natives, were gathered on the shore to meet it. At first
the officers held off as though fearing a hostile demonstration, but
when they saw the whites among the throng, a command was given to pull
in, and a moment later one of the officers stepped ashore.
"I am Lieutenant May," he said, "of the U.S.S. New Mexico, flagship of
the Pacific Fleet. Have I the honor to address Professor Maxon?"
The scientist nodded. "I am delighted," he said.
"We have been to your island, Professor," continued the officer, "and
judging from the evidences of hasty departure, and the corpses of
several natives there, I feared that some harm had befallen you. We
therefore cruised along the Bornean coast making inquiries of the
natives until at last we found one who had heard a rumor of a party of
whites being far in the interior searching for a white girl who had
been stolen from them by pirates.
"The farther up this river we have come the greater our assurance that
we were on the right trail, for scarcely a native we interrogated but
had seen or heard of some of your party. Mixed with the truth they
told us were strange tales of terrible monsters led by a gigantic white
"The imaginings of childish minds," said the professor. "However, why,
my dear lieutenant, did you honor me by visiting my island?"
The officer hesitated a moment before answering, his eyes running about
over the assembly as though in search of someone.
"Well, Professor Maxon, to be quite frank," he said at length, "we
learned at Singapore the personnel of your party, which included a
former naval officer whom we have been seeking for many years. We came
to your island to arrest this man—I refer to Doctor Carl von Horn."
When the lieutenant learned of the recent disappearance of the man he
sought, he expressed his determination to push on at once in pursuit;
and as Professor Maxon feared again to remain unprotected in the heart
of the Bornean wilderness his entire party was taken aboard the cutter.
A few miles up the river they came upon one of the Dyaks who had
accompanied von Horn, a few hours earlier. The warrior sat smoking
beside a beached prahu. When interrogated he explained that von Horn
and the balance of his crew had gone inland, leaving him to guard the
boat. He said that he thought he could guide them to the spot where
the white man might be found.
Professor Maxon and Sing accompanied one of the officers and a dozen
sailors in the wake of the Dyak guide. Virginia and Bulan remained in
the cutter, as the latter was still too weak to attempt the hard march
through the jungle. For an hour the party traversed the trail in the
wake of von Horn and his savage companions. They had come almost to
the spot when their ears were assailed by the weird and blood curdling
yells of native warriors, and a moment later von Horn's escort dashed
into view in full retreat.
At sight of the white men they halted in relief, pointing back in the
direction they had come, and jabbering excitedly in their native
tongue. Warily the party advanced again behind these new guides; but
when they reached the spot they sought, the cause of the Dyaks' panic
had fled, warned, doubtless, by their trained ears of the approach of
The sight that met the eyes of the searchers told all of the story that
they needed to know. A hole had been excavated in the ground,
partially uncovering a heavy chest, and across this chest lay the
headless body of Doctor Carl von Horn.
Lieutenant May turned toward Professor Maxon with a questioning look.
"It is he," said the scientist.
"But the chest?" inquired the officer.
"Mlaxon's tleasure," spoke up Sing Lee. "Hornee him tly steal it for
"Treasure!" ejaculated the professor. "Bududreen gave up his life for
this. Rajah Muda Saffir fought and intrigued and murdered for
possession of it! Poor, misguided von Horn has died for it, and left
his head to wither beneath the rafters of a Dyak long-house! It is
"But, Professor Maxon," said Lieutenant May, "men will suffer all these
things and more for gold."
"Gold!" cried the professor. "Why, man, that is a box of books on
biology and eugenics."
"My God!" exclaimed May, "and von Horn was accredited to be one of the
shrewdest swindlers and adventurers in America! But come, we may as
well return to the cutter—my men will carry the chest."
"No!" exclaimed Professor Maxon with a vehemence the other could not
understand. "Let them bury it again where it lies. It and what it
contains have been the cause of sufficient misery and suffering and
crime. Let it lie where it is in the heart of savage Borneo, and pray
to God that no man ever finds it, and that I shall forget forever that
which is in it."
On the morning of the third day following the death of von Horn the New
Mexico steamed away from the coast of Borneo. Upon her deck, looking
back toward the verdure clad hills, stood Virginia and Bulan.
"Thank heaven," exclaimed the girl fervently, "that we are leaving it
behind us forever."
"Amen," replied Bulan, "but yet, had it not been for Borneo I might
never have found you."
"We should have met elsewhere then, Bulan," said the girl in a low
voice, "for we were made for one another. No power on earth could have
kept us apart. In your true guise you would have found me—I am sure
"It is maddening, Virginia," said the man, "to be constantly straining
every resource of my memory in futile endeavor to catch and hold one
fleeting clue to my past. Why, dear, do you realize that I may have
been a fugitive from justice, as was von Horn, a vile criminal perhaps.
It is awful, Virginia, to contemplate the horrible possibilities of my
"No, Bulan, you could never have been a criminal," replied the loyal
girl, "but there is one possibility that has been haunting me
constantly. It frightens me just to think of it—it is," and the girl
lowered her voice as though she feared to say the thing she dreaded
most, "it is that you may have loved another—that—that you may even
Bulan was about to laugh away any such fears when the gravity and
importance of the possibility impressed him quite as fully as it had
Virginia. He saw that it was not at all unlikely that he was already a
married man; and he saw too what the girl now acknowledged, that they
might never wed until the mystery of his past had been cleared away.
"There is something that gives weight to my fear," continued Virginia,
"something that I had almost forgotten in the rush and excitement of
events during the past few days. During your delirium your ravings
were, for the most part, quite incoherent, but there was one name that
you repeated many times—a woman's name, preceded by a number. It was
'Nine ninety nine Priscilla.' Maybe she—"
But Virginia got no further. With a low exclamation of delight Bulan
caught her in his arms.
"It is all right, dear," he cried. "It is all right. Everything has
come back to me now. You have given me the clue. Nine ninety nine
Priscilla is my father's address—Nine ninety nine Priscilla Avenue.
"I am Townsend J. Harper, Jr. You have heard of my father. Every one
has since he commenced consolidating interurban traction companies.
And I'm not married, Virginia, and never have been; but I shall be if
this miserable old mud scow ever reaches Singapore."
"Oh, Bulan," cried the girl, "how in the world did you ever happen to
come to that terrible island of ours?"
"I came for you, dear," he replied. "It is a long story. After dinner
I will tell you all of it that I can recall. For the present it must
suffice you to know that I followed you from the railway station at
Ithaca half around the world for a love that had been born from a
single glance at your sweet face as you passed me to enter your Pullman.
"On my father's yacht I reached your island after trailing you to
Singapore. It was a long and tedious hunt and we followed many blind
leads, but at last we came off an island upon which natives had told us
such a party as yours was living. Five of us put off in a boat to
explore—that is the last that I can recall. Sing says he found me
alone in a row boat, a 'dummy.'"
Virginia sighed, and crept closer to him.
"You may be the son of the great Townsend J. Harper, you have been the
soulless Number Thirteen; but to me you will always be Bulan, for it
was Bulan whom I learned to love."