Still there was a probability that after rallying from their repulse, more of them had swam across and were at that moment on the western shore, on the watch for just such a movement as was under way.
If this should prove the case, it could not be expected that Ziffak could interfere in time to prevent another sanguinary conflict; but that might come about, even if the explorers remained where they had stopped until daylight. If the Aryks were prepared to attack them while on the move, they could do so with equal effect while they were not in motion.
The increasing roar of the rapids was a great disadvantage, for it drowned all inferior noises and compelled our friends to depend on their eyesight alone to discover the approach of danger.
There was an involuntary shudder on the part of all, when they came opposite the scene of the desperate fight, and they hastened past without exchanging a word.
They had not much further to go when they found themselves, for the time, at the end of their voyage. It was impossible to ascend further, because of the rapids, which tossed the canoe about as though it were an eggshell.
A halt was therefore made, and, at the moment this took place, all observed that day was breaking, the light rapidly increasing in the direction of the Aryk village.
“Just what I told you!” exclaimed Jared Long, as the simultaneous discovery was made by all, that the forest around them was swarming with the vengeful savages, eager for another and bloodier joust at arms.
THE NICK OF TIME.
The peril which menaced the explorers was more frightful than any that they had been called upon to face since entering that mysterious land known by the name of the Matto Grosso.
The Aryks numbered more than half a hundred, all active, vigilant and armed with their fearful poisoned javelins. They had taken position among the trees on the western bank of the Xingu, at the base of the rapids, at the very point where the white men intended to shoulder their canoe and make their last portage.
Instead of being in the open, where they were in plain sight of the defenders, and fair targets for their unerring Winchesters, they were stationed behind the numerous trunks or lying on the ground, where little could be seen of them except their bushy heads and gleaming black eyes, as they glared with inextinguishable hate at the white men who had slain so many of their number.
The suspicious Long was looking in the direction, with the thought that if any ambush was attempted, that would be the very spot, when he caught sight of a dusky figure, as it whisked from behind a narrow trunk to another that afforded better cover.
That hasty glance in the dim morning light revealed an alarming number of heads glaring around the trees and from among the undergrowth like so many wild beasts, aflame with fury and the exultation of savages who knew that their enemies were at last forced inextricably into their grasp.