With the lightly freshening breeze, the ship hauled away from danger, at least from the imminent threat of that particular cliff. But who knew what lay just ahead in the fog?
Again the wind died, the sails hung limp, the fog closed in tighter than before. The tide and a strong current bore the helpless ship on. But where? Abner Perry’s crude compass did 180s and 360s, as the current and the tide turned the John Tyler slowly this way and that.
“She ain’t nuthin’ but a dod-burned derelict,” groaned Ah-gilak, “jest driftin’ around. It all comes from shippin’ a woman, durn ’em. If we’re driftin’ to sea, we’re all right. If we’re driftin’ t’other way, she’ll go ashore. Gad an’ Gabriel! I’d ruther pitch a whole slew o’ women overboard than lose a sweet ship like the John Tyler.”
“Shut up!” said Ja. “You talk too much. Listen!”
With a palm, Ah-gilak cupped an ear. “I don’t hear nuthin’,” he said.
“You’re deaf, old man,” said Ja.
“I can hear as good as the next feller, as the feller said,” remonstrated Ah-gilak.
“Then you can hear the surf that I hear,” said Ja.
“Surf?” screamed Ah-gilak. “Where? How far?”
“There,” said Ja, pointing. “And close.”
The Lo-har was fogbound. She had been cruising northeast after a futile search in the other direction. Hodon was loath to give up and admit that O-aa was hopelessly lost to him. Dian the Beautiful was apathetic. She knew that David might have been borne almost anywhere by the balloon that had carried him in search of her, and that she stood as good a chance of finding him while searching for O-aa as in any other way. But she was resigned to the fact that she would never see him again; so she encouraged Hodon to search for his O-aa.
Raj and the other Mezops were content just to sail. They loved the sea. Gamba, the Xexot, who had been a king, did not love the sea. It frightened him, but then Gamba was afraid of many things. He was not of the stuff of which kings are supposed to be made. And he was always whining and finding fault. Hodon would long since have pitched him overboard had not Dian interceded in his behalf.
“How many more sleeps before we reach your country?” he asked Dian.
“Many,” she replied.
“I have already lost count of the number of times I have slept since I came aboard this thing you call a ship. We should be close to your country by now. The world is not so large that one can travel for so many sleeps without seeing it all.”
“Pellucidar is very large,” said Dian. “You might travel many thousands of sleeps and yet see but little of it. Furthermore, we have not been traveling toward Sari.”
“What?” shrieked Gamba. “Not travelling toward your country?”
“Hodon has been searching for his mate.”
“He did not find her,” said Gamba, “so I suppose that we are not travelling toward Sari.”
“No,” said Dian. “We are getting farther and farther from Sari, at least by water.”
“Make him turn around, and sail toward Sari,” demanded Gamba. “I, Gamba the King do not like the ocean nor the ship.”
Dian smiled. “King of what?” she asked.
“I shall probably be king of Sari when we get there,” said Gamba.
“Well, take my advice and don’t tell Ghak the Hairy One,” said Dian.
“Why not? Who is this Ghak the Hairy One?”
“He is king of Sari,” explained Dian, “and he is a very large person and very fierce when he is crossed.”
“I am not afraid of him,” said Gamba.
Again Dian smiled.