Almost overcome by sleep, he managed to toss a few tiger skins on the ground near the door, not forgetting to place his club beside the improvised couch. “Sleep comfortably and don’t be afraid,” he said. She slowly arose from the block and threw herself on the bed of skins.
“You are so good to me and so thoughtful,” she murmured sleepily. “Good-night!”
“Good-night,” came his far away voice, as out of a dream.
Outside, the celebration was at its height, but the tired idols heard not a sound of the homage which was theirs that night.
THE TRANSFORMATION BEGINS
When Ridgeway opened his eyes, the sunlight was pouring in upon him through the doorway. He looked at his watch, and was surprised to find that it was nearly eleven o’clock. Lady Tennys still slept on her couch of skins; the torches had burned to the ground; the grim idol leered malignantly upon the intruders, and the dream that he had experienced during the night was rudely dispelled. His eyes strayed again to the black, glossy, confused hair of the sleeper in the far corner, and a feeling of ineffable pity for her became companion to the sad wrenches that had grown from the misery of his own unhappiness.
She was sleeping on her side, her face from him, her right arm beneath her head, the dainty jewelled hand lying limply upon the spotted leopard skin. The beautifully moulded figure, slight yet perfect, swelling to the well-turned hip, tapering to the tip of the trim shoe which protruded from beneath the rumpled skirt, affording a tiny glimpse of a tempting ankle, was to him a most pathetic picture. As he was about to turn to the door, she awakened with a start and a faint cry. Sitting half erect, she gave a terrified, bewildered glance about her, her eyes at last falling upon him.
“Are you really here?” she cried, joy rushing to her eyes. “I dreamed that you had fled and left me to be cut to pieces by the savages.”
“Dreams go by contraries, and I am, therefore, a very brave man. But come, it is eleven o’clock. Let us see what this place looks like in the sunlight.”
Together they went to the wide entrance. A surprise awaited them in their first view of the village by day. Along the base of the circular range of hills stretched the email homes of the inhabitants, but, search as they would, they could discover no signs of life. There was not a human form in sight.
“What the dev—dickens does this mean?” exclaimed he.
“It seemed as if there were thousands of them here last night,” she cried.
“Maybe we have lost our worshippers. I wonder if we are to be the sole possessors of this jungle metropolis?”
A mile away they could distinguish the banks of the river, running toward the great stone gateway of this perfect Eden. The plain between the hills and the river was like a green, annular piece of velvet, not over a mile in diameter, skirted on all sides by tree-covered highlands. The river ran directly through the centre of the basin, coming from the forest land to their right.