The missile of the gigantic savage had passed between Ashman and the Professor, missing both by a few inches.
The young man, like a flash, brought his rifle to his shoulder and sighted at the savage who was still in plain sight, as if defying the whites to do their worst.
But Ashman did not pull the trigger. Lowering his weapon, he said:
“You have earned your life.”
The native who had made the wonderful throw of the javelin stood a moment longer, and then as if satisfied that he could do no more, he turned about and disappeared.
Fortunately, the missile had struck the upper part of the canoe, through which it tore a jagged hole several inches wide, and a short distance above the water. The injury could be easily repaired, and at present required no attention.
The paddles were again called into play, and the prow of the craft gently touched shore.
Having reached the right bank, the explorers had something to think of beside the savages whom they hoped were left behind for good. Two white men were known to be in the neighborhood, and there was warrant for believing they were as hostile as the natives from whom our friends had had such a narrow escape. With their superior intelligence, there was more to be feared from them than from the brave but ignorant savages; but, at the same time, it was to be hoped they might be conciliated, and that, if not, they would fight without the use of the fearful implements used by the savages, who held human life in such light esteem.
On the other hand, the explorers were too sensible to believe they had seen the last of the warriors that had proven their daring and ferocity.
It was decided to leave all the luggage in the canoe which was held so lightly against the bank that it could be shoved into the river at an instant’s need. No fire was to be kindled, although the entire party left the boat and advanced to the edge of the wood, beneath whose shelter they seated themselves on the ground.
The night which they had hoped would afford them much needed rest, promised to be most exhausting in its requirements.
It had been the custom of the explorers, when camping on their way to the Matto Grosso, to have at all times a couple of their number on guard, the night being divided into two watches. For the first five hundred miles, after leaving the Amazon, this precaution was mainly to provide against the wild animals, that were always prowling around camp, and often showed a curiosity to make the acquaintance of the sleepers, and especially of their supplies.
The white men held an earnest consultation, while occupied in eating their evening meal or lunch. Had they deemed it prudent to kindle a fire, they would have prepared some fragrant coffee, of which they carried an abundance, though plenty of the little berries were encountered growing wild along the Xingu.