Gamba remained very quiet in his tree, for these Manats looked like fierce and terrible men, almost as fierce and terrible as their grim beasts.
And while Gamba watched them pass beneath him and disappear along the winding trail beyond him, Dian and her three beasts slept beside the little stream where they had quenched their thirst.
Dian was awakened when one of her beasts sprang to its feet with a hideous roar. Approaching were the twelve warriors of Manat with their fighting tahos. The three tarags, roaring and growling, stood between Dian and the approaching Manats.
With cries of encouragement, the Manats turned their twelve beasts loose; and Dian, seeing how greatly her defenders were outnumbered, turned and fled and while the tarags were battling for their lives, a Manat warrior pursued her.
Dian ran like a deer, far outdistancing the Manat. She had no idea in what direction she was running. She followed jungle trails which turned and twisted, and which eventually brought her back to the very clearing in which Bovar, had been killed, and there she saw the Manats and their fighting beasts, but there were only seven of the latter now. Before they had died, her tarags had destroyed five of them.
The warriors did not see Dian, and for that she breathed a sigh of relief as she turned and hurried back along the trail she had come—hurried straight into the arms of the warrior who had been following her. They met at a sharp turn in the trail and he seized her before she could escape. Dian reached for her dagger, but the man caught her wrist; and then he disarmed her.
“You came back to me,” he said, in a gruff voice, “but for making me run so far I shall beat you when I get you back to the village of Manat.”
Dian said nothing, for she knew that nothing she might say could avail her.
Gamba, sitting disconsolate and terrified in his tree, saw the twelve terrible men of Manat return. There were only seven tahos with them now, but this time there was a woman. Gamba recognized her immediately and his sorrow almost overcame him—sorrow for himself and not for Dian; for now he knew that she could never lead him to the cove where the canoe lay and that if he found it himself, he would have to embark on those terrible waters alone. It is wholly impossible that anyone could have been more unhappy than Gamba. He dared not return to the village; he did not know in which direction the cove lay; and he was alone in a jungle haunted by hungry man-eaters, he who had always lived in the safety of a walled city. From wishing that he had never seen Dian, he commenced to wish that he had never been born. Finally he decided to find a stream near which grew trees bearing edible fruits and nuts; and to live up in these trees all the rest of his life, coming down only for water.
While Gamba was bemoaning his fate, Dian, the leash of one of the dead tahos around her neck, was being led across the Island of Tandar toward the country of the Manats; but she was not bemoaning anything, nor being sorry for herself. She could not clutter her mind with useless thoughts while every moment it must be devoted to thoughts of escape. There was never any telling at what instant an emergency might arise, which would offer her an opportunity; yet, deep in the bottom of her heart, her fate must have seemed utterly hopeless.
The warrior who had captured Dian was an ill-natured brute, and the fact that he had lost his ta-ho in the fight with the tarags had not tended to improve his disposition. He jerked at the rope around Dian’s neck roughly and unnecessarily; and occasionally on no pretext at all, he cuffed her; and every time he did one of these things he was strengthening the girl’s resolve to kill him. She would almost have abandoned an opportunity to escape for the pleasure of driving a dagger into his heart.
With all sails set, the John Tyler rode the water of the nameless strait. Ja and Abner Perry and Ah-gilak stood upon the quarterdeck.
“I think,” said Abner Perry, “that we should disembark a searching party as soon as possible. We may have a long shoreline to search and a big country, which we must comb until we find some clew to the whereabouts of Dian”; and the others agreed with him.
As they approached the shore the lookout shouted, “Canoe dead ahead.”
As they bore down upon the little craft the bow was filled with warriors and Mezops, watching the canoe and its single occupant. They saw a figure in a long cloak and an enormous feather headdress; and when they got closer they saw that it was a woman.
O-aa had never seen a ship built or rigged like this one, which had evidently discovered her and was headed for her; but as far as she knew, only the men of the Empire of Pellucidar built any sort of ships, and so she hoped against hope that these might be men of the federation.
As the ship came about and lay to near her, she paddled to its side. A rope was thrown to her and she was hauled to the deck.
“Dod-burn it!” exclaimed Ah-gilak. “Gad and Gabriel! If it isn’t O-aa! What in the name of all that’s dod-blasted are you doing in that get-up, girl; and out here alone in a canoe?”
“Don’t talk so much, old man,” retorted O-aa, who could never forget that Ah-gilak had once planned on killing and eating her that time that they were being besieged in the cave by the sabre-toothed men. “Instead of talking,” she continued, “get to shore and rescue David Innes.”
“David Innes!” exclaimed Abner Perry. “Is David Innes there?”
“He is in that city you can see,” replied O-aa, “and if the warriors from Lolo-lolo get in there, they will kill him.”
The ship was under way again and Ah-gilak brought it as close into shore as he dared, and dropped anchor. Then Ghak and his two hundred warriors, and all but about twenty-five of the Mezops, took to the boats and made for shore. Nearly three hundred veterans they were and they were armed with muskets; crude things, but effective against men of the stone age, or of the bronze age either; for, besides making a good deal of noise, they emitted volumes of black smoke; and those whom they didn’t kill, they nearly frightened to death.
In a long thin line, as David had taught them, they approached the city where the warriors of Lolo-lolo were attempting to force the gates.
When they were discovered, the Lolo-loloans turned to repel them, looking with contempt upon that long, thin line of a few hundred men who had the temerity to threaten a thousand bowmen. But the thunder of the first ragged volley and the black smoke belching at them, as twenty or thirty of their comrades fell screaming to the ground, gave them pause; but they advanced bravely in the face of a second volley. However, with the third volley, those who had not been killed or wounded turned and fled, and Ghak the Hairy One led his troop to the walls of Tanga-tanga.
“Who are you?” demanded a warrior standing upon the top of the wall.
“We are friends, and we have come for Pu,” replied Ghak, who had been coached by O-aa.
Almost immediately the gates were thrown open and David Innes emerged. From the temple he had heard the firing and he was sure that could have come only from the muskets of the empire.
Tears were streaming down Abner Perry’s cheeks as he welcomed David aboard the John Tyler.
David listened while they told him of their plans to search for Dian, but he shook his head and told them that it was useless; that Dian had set out upon the nameless strait in a canoe with a single companion and that if she were not already back in Sari, she must be dead.
O-aa had inquired about Hodon, and when she had been told that he had come this way in search of her, she begged David Innes to continue on through the nameless strait into the Korsar Az in search of him; as he must have gone there if he had not already been wrecked.
While Gamba was searching for a stream where there were trees bearing nuts and fruits he was suddenly confronted by a band of strange warriors bearing weapons such as he had never seen before. He tried to escape them, but they overtook and captured him.
“Who are you?” demanded Hodon.
“I am Gamba, the go-sha of Lolo-lolo,” replied the frightened man.
“I think we should kill him,” said a Mezop. “I do not like the color of his skin.”
“Where is Lolo-lolo,” asked Hodon.
“It is on the other side of the nameless strait,” replied Gamba, “where the country of the Xexots lies.”
“You came from the other side of the nameless strait?”
“Yes; I came in a thing called a ‘canoe’”
“Did you come alone?” asked Hodon.
“No; I came with a woman who said that she came from a country called Sari, and that her name was Dian the Beautiful.”
“Where is she?” demanded Hodon.
“She was captured by the Manats, who live on the other side of this island.”
“Can you lead us there?”
“No,” replied Gamba; “I am lost. I do not even know the way to the coast where our canoe lies. If I were you, I would not go to the country of the Manats. They are terrible men and they lead tahos, who can kill and devour you. There were twelve Manats who captured Dian, and they had seven tahos with them.”
“Can you show us where she was captured?”
“I can show you where I last saw her,” replied Gamba; and this he did. There the trail of men and beasts was plain and to these men of the stone age the following of that trail was simple. They marched rapidly and almost without rest; and though ordinarily it was three long marches to the village of the Manats, Hodon and his hundred warriors reached it shortly after the first sleep.
The men who had captured Dian had only just arrived and her captor had taken her to his cave.
“Now,” he said, “I am going to give you the beating I promised you. It will teach you to behave.” He seized her by the hair and, stooping, picked up a short stick; and as he stooped Dian snatched her bronze dagger that the man had taken from her from the sheath at his side, and as he raised the stick she plunged it into his heart. With a scream he clutched at his breast; and then Dian gave him a push that sent him out of the cave to topple over the ledge and fall to the ground below.
A moment later she heard shouts and war-cries; and she thought that they were caused by the anger of the Manats because of the killing of one of their fellows; and she stood in the shadow of the cave’s entrance with the dagger in her hand, determined to sell her life dearly and take a heavy toll of her enemies.
From below rose the shouts of the warriors and the roars and growls of the tahos; and then, like a thunderbolt out of a clear sky, came the roar of musketry.
Dian could not believe her ears. What other people in all Pellucidar, other than the men of the empire and the inhabitants of far Korsar, had firearms? It was too good to hope that these might be Sarians; and if they were from Korsar, she was as well off here among the Manats as to be captured by the Korsarians.
She stepped to the mouth of the cave and looked out. The fighting was going on almost directly beneath her. The tahos were doing the most damage among the attackers, but one by one they were being shot down; for the Manat warriors, confused by the noise and the smoke, made only an occasional sally, only to be driven back with heavy losses; and at last the remnants of them turned and fled, as the last of the tahos was killed.
Dian had long since seen that these men were no Korsars. She recognized the copper skins of the Mezops and knew that she had been saved.
She stood upon the ledge and called down to them, and the men looked up and cheered. Then she went down and greeted Hodon and the others; and the first question that she asked was of David. “Why is he not with you?” she asked. “Has anything happened to him?”
“He left Sari in a balloon such as carried you away,” explained Hodon, “in the hope that it would take him to the same spot where yours landed. We do not know what became of him.”
“Why are you here?” asked Dian.
“We were looking for O-aa, who, when last seen, was adrift on the Sari.”
“How did you happen to come here and find me?” asked Dian.
“We landed on the island for water and I saw your sandals on the thwart of your canoe; then we came inland in search of you and we found a man who had seen you captured by these Manats. After that it was easy enough to follow their trail.”
They started immediately on the long trek back to the other side of the island; and when they entered the jungle Gamba came down out of a tree where he had been hiding during the fighting.
“This man said that he came here in a canoe with you,” said Hodon. “Did he offer to harm you in any way?”
“No,” said Dian.
“Then we shall let him live,” said Hodon.