Every implement used by this people is made from stone, which however seems almost the equal of iron and steel. Spear points, axes and cutting tools are shaped with remarkably keen edges, with which trees are readily felled, and cut into any form desired.
Shells are used in the formation of knives, while the teeth of certain fish, taken from the Xingu, enables them to construct still more delicate implements for cutting and carving.
Indian corn, cotton and tobacco are raised from a soil whose fertility cannot be surpassed, though strangely enough the tribes have no knowledge of the banana, sugar cane and rice, which belong so essentially to the torrid zones. Dogs and fowls are entirely unknown, and there is no conception of a God, though all have a firm belief that they will live again after death. A myth has existed among them from time immemorial of the creation of the world, which, according to their views, consists of the regions around the headwaters of the Xingu and Tapajos.
Ziffak was a favorite of the beauteous Ariel, and it is not improbable that, knowing as he did, her lamentation over the cruel death of the white men, who appeared at her home three years before, he was more willing than would otherwise have been the case to stay his hand, after doing such yeoman service against the new-comers.
Where these tribes came from is a question yet unsolved by anthropologists, though the theory has many supporters that most of the isolated peoples are allied to the original stock of the once mighty Caribs, who journeyed from the south to the sea.
Conscious of their own might, and knowing the prodigious mineral wealth at their command, the Murhapas are naturally jealous of their neighbors, and fight fiercely to resist anything that bears a resemblance to an encroachment upon their rights.
It will be understood that Waggaman and Burkhardt met with little difficulty in rousing their enmity particularly against the Caucasian race, since the members of that, of all others, were the ones most to be dreaded.
The foregoing, much of which is in the way of anticipation, we have deemed best to incorporate in this place.
THE NEW ALLY.
The amazement which so nearly overwhelmed Fred Ashman during the few minutes succeeding the surrender of Ziffak, was shared in all its entirety, when the two presented themselves before the astounded explorers in the canoe.
In fact, Jared Long came within a hair of shooting the Hercules, before the situation could be explained to him. Even then he refused for awhile to believe the astonishing story, but declared that some infernal trickery was afoot. Finally, however, he and the Professor and Bippo and Pedros realized that the most powerful enemy had become their ally.
Ziffak showed a strange talkativeness after joining the company. Seating himself on the ground where all were now veiled in shadow, he answered the questions that were rained upon him, until most of the information given in the preceding chapter was told to the wondering listeners.