The cunning Ziffak dropped a hint that the newcomers were much better persons than the couple that had made their homes among the Murhapas for so many years. Then, having completed his business in that line, he struck through the forest at a high rate of speed and soon reached his own people.
He expected to find Waggaman and Burkhardt there, but they had not yet arrived. He explained to his brother the king what had taken place at the rapids of the Xingu and succeeded in gaining his promise of the king that he would allow the white men to enter the village without the sacrifice of their lives; but he was not willing that they should remain more than a couple of days. Indeed he gave such assent grudgingly and probably would have refused it altogether, but for the earnest pleading of his beloved Ariel, who insisted that it would be a partial recompense of the crime of three years previous.
This was the best that Ziffak, with all his influence at court could do, and indeed it was as much as he expected to accomplish. He admitted that Waggaman and Burkhardt were likely to interfere, but he did not believe they could do so to any serious extent, provided the white men themselves were circumspect in their behavior.
While this interesting interchange was going on, the two boats were side by side, so gently impelled that their progress was moderate and conversation pleasant. Thinking that the Professor had slept long enough, and that he ought to know the news, Fred Ashman turned to wake him; but to his surprise, the German met his look with a smile and the remark that he had heard every word spoken. Then he rose to a sitting posture, saluted Ziffak and proceeded to light his pipe.
The latter pleased the whites still further by explaining that he meant to keep them company for the rest of the distance. Despite his encouraging statements, they felt much easier with him as their escort.
By using their paddles with moderate vigor, they could reach their destination by the middle of the afternoon. There was no better hour to arrive, for the king was always in his best mood after enjoying his siesta, which was always completed by the time the sun was half-way down the sky.
It was to be expected also that before that hour, Waggaman and Burkhardt would spread the news of the expected coming of the wonderful strangers. They would do what they could, to excite distrust and enmity, but Ziffak was positive that since his brother had given his promise, it would be sacredly kept, and that for two days at least their stay at the village would be without peril to any one of the little company.
AT THE MURHAPA VILLAGE.
The sun was half-way down the sky when the canoe containing the explorers, and accompanied by the smaller craft impelled by Ziffak, rounded a bend of the upper Xingu and came in sight of the village of the Murhapas.