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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 188 pages of information about The Land of Mystery.

“Well, then,” said he mournfully, “I must depart and never see you again.  Death would be preferable to that!”

“But you may come back some time,” said she in such a tremulous, hesitating voice, that he impulsively sprang forward and caught her dainty hand before she could escape him.

“O don’t!” she plead like a timid bird, striving to withdraw the imprisoned fingers which he still held fast.

“Nay, but you must, if I am never to see you again,” he exclaimed vehemently; “O, Ariel, I had hoped that I might stay here until I could see and talk with you and tell you that I can never, never leave you; that if I go, you must go with me; I will take you to my home which is many many long miles away, but I will be your slave; I will love you; I will make you happy; you shall never sigh for the land and the people you leave behind you——­”

There is no saying when the impetuous lover would have stopped his wooing in this cyclone-like fashion hut for an alarming interruption.  He had been smitten profoundly, and the urgency of the case impelled him to an ardor which could not have found expression under any other conditions; but, all the time the frightened maiden was striving to free her imprisoned hand, and the lover felt he ought to release it but could not.

Suddenly she ceased her efforts and looked beyond him with a gasp and such a startled expression, that he knew some unusual cause had produced it.

CHAPTER XXV.

ZIFFAK’S BLOW.

Ziffak, head chieftain of the Murhapas, was a shrewder and more far-seeing man than even his white friends suspected.

He had been the first to observe the significant glances of Fred Ashman at the hanging curtains, as he was the first to detect the presence of his beloved niece behind them.

Although King Haffgo saw not the smile which flitted over the face of his daughter, when her eyes met those of the young American, yet Ziffak observed it, and he could not have translated it wrongly had he wished to do so.

An intimation has been given of the nature of the quarrel between Ziffak and his royal brother.  The latter was so infuriated that he declared that every one of the white men should die.  Ziffak reminded him of his pledge that they should be safe for two days, a pledge that he had repeated in their presence.

But in his hot anger, Ziffak said, he would break that pledge.  One of the explorers had dared to look upon the face of Ariel and smile.  Had he detected her returning it, he would have driven his javelin through her body as she stood beside him.

Ziffak gave no hint of what he had observed.

The head chieftain was not afraid to brave his brother to his face; but he wisely forbore carrying the quarrel beyond the point of reconciliation.  He told his brother that he was so beside himself that he forgot he was a Murhapa who never broke his word.  But if the king insisted, he would see that the white men took their departure before the rising of the morrow’s sun.

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