How he reached her side so quickly, he could not have explained if he tried, but in less than five minutes he stood with her, clasping her hand and looking anxiously toward the sands on which the great back of the turtle lay upward to the sun.
GODS FROM THE SEA
Drawn up to the beach were three long canoes, near which were nearly a score of brown-skinned, almost wholly naked savages, with spears, shields and war clubs. They were excitedly inspecting the footprints in the sand. Hugh and Lady Tennys looked down upon this startling picture in speechless concern.
“Where did they come from?” whispered he.
“I did not see them until they were beaching the boats,” replied his white-faced companion. “Do you think they have seen us?”
“Hardly, but they will begin a search at once. See, they are now starting to follow those tracks. By Heaven, they’ll find us, and what chance have we against them? Good Lord, this pocket knife is worse than nothing. We must hide,—and quickly, too.”
“Where can we go, Hugh? Where can we go?” she cried, panic-stricken.
“We must climb up among the crags and lie down. They can’t see us there, and they certainly can’t track us over that stone plateau. Quick! We have no time to lose.”
He fairly pushed her ahead of him, up to the row, of sharp, jutting stones. In an instant they were completely obscured from view.
“I’d rather leap off this rock into the sea than be captured by those horrible things,” she half sobbed. “Hugh, do you think they would eat us?”
“The Lord knows. I can see them down there holding a consultation. Move over here and you can see the whole valley. Don’t be afraid; they can’t see us.” She moved over timidly. Crouching side by side they watched the operations below. The visitors, evidently mystified by the footprints, were huddled together, gesticulating wildly. They ran hither and thither like so many ants, minutely examining the mysterious tracks. After a long time Hugh gave vent to an exclamation.
“By George! I know what’s the matter. They can’t understand the prints of our shoes. Our naked footprints are clear enough to them, but I’ll bet my soul they’ve never seen an impression made by a shoe. They are your and my footprints, you know, with and without shoes.”
“Mine? Why, Hugh Ridgeway, I—never—oh, I never thought!” she exclaimed, deeply embarrassed after her first expression of wonder and incredulity. Then she leaned forward and strained her eyes as if expecting to see the slender little bottoms of her feet in the tell-tale sand. At that moment the brown band divided into squads, a half dozen coming toward the mountain, the others remaining with the boats.
“They are after us, Tennys. I have no weapon but this club, but I will use it as long as I can stand. I’ll protect you to the last. If they kill me, the only thing left for you to do is to crawl to the ledge over there and jump off. We must not be taken.”