Such was the astounding truth, and it was easily explained. Ziffak on his way up the Xingu with his new friends had warned the Aryks that they must do the whites no harm: they were on their way at that time to the Murhapa village as friends, and the head chieftain told his allies that any further hostility would be visited with the punishment of death.
The Aryks were not likely to forget such a notice. They had seen the boat approaching; and, being totally unsuspicious of what had occurred during the earlier part of the evening, were anxious to manifest their good will by carrying the canoe around the rapids.
Jared Long could hardly credit the truth, and held himself ready for a desperate fight; but, when the boat was lifted upon the shoulders of a half dozen stalwart warriors who started down the shore with it, he smiled grimly and admitted that the Professor was right.
The load was quite burdensome, but the carriers stepped off, highly pleased with the privilege, while the rest of their party straggled after them, the whites and their servants bringing up the rear.
Bippo and Pedros were not quite able to comprehend the extraordinary condition of affairs, and kept close to the heels of their masters like a couple of frightened dogs.
At the base of the rapids, the Aryks set down the boat, with great care, saluted in their rude way, and turning about, disappeared in the forest from which they had emerged.
“If they only knew,” said Long when they were drifting down stream once more.
“But they don’t,” replied the Professor, “and yet they will learn the truth before long.”
The boat was allowed to drift a half mile further, when, convinced they had gone far enough, they ran into land, disembarked and carried it in among the trees, where it was out of the sight of any one passing up or down the Xingu. Then they prepared to await the coming of Fred Ashman, doubtful, however, whether he ever would come.
THE CAVERN OF DIAMONDS.
Fred Ashman was greatly relieved when he had assisted Ariel down from the high, rocky wall, and they had picked their way to the spot where the little canoe had been left but a short time before.
He had felt a singular misgiving from the first about the boat, fearful that in this region of enchantment, as it seemed to him, something would cause it to disappear, and he and his lovely companion be left in a most exposed and dangerous situation.
But it was found just where it had been left, and helping her in it, he shoved it clear and then looked to her for directions as to what was to be the next step.
The maiden now made a singular statement. She said that some weeks before, she had visited this place with no companion but her father. They landed at a point which she indicated, and he ordered her to stay on the shore until his return. He was gone so long, however, that she undertook a little exploration on her own account, and made a discovery which she now hoped to turn to account.