Then, wheeling about, he broke into a run straight for his home, whence came the shots that left no doubt that Professor Grimcke, Jared Long, and perchance their servants were fighting for their lives.
The chieftain had not far to go, and half the distance was passed, when he paused as suddenly as he had started. A new and startling decision had formed itself in his mind.
Again he wheeled and dashed toward the spot where he had left the lovers a minute before.
They saw him coming, and Ashman released his beloved and started to join the chieftain, who he suspected had come for him.
“Back!” he commanded, waving his immense arms; “neither of you must go to the village!”
“But what shall we do?” asked Ariel, pausing in front of the excited giant.
“Flee at once! Delay not a moment! If you do not, Haffgo will slay both of you! They are searching for Ariel! They suspect she is with you! They will soon know it and death awaits each!”
Never had Ziffak shown such fearful excitement. He swung his arms, and in his wild agitation uttered some of his words in Murhapa, but his meaning was caught by Ashman, who was infected by his overwhelming emotion. He was distraught for the moment, and stood undecided what to do.
It was the lovely Ariel who showed the most self-command.
“Whither shall we go, Ziffak?” she asked in English.
“To the enchanted lake; to the burning mountain! You know the way! Nothing else will save you, and you are lost if you wait another minute!”
And laying hands on the young man, he whirled him about and gave him a shove which nearly threw him off his feet. Then he reached to catch her, but she eluded him and slipped like a bird to the side of her lover.
“We will go!” said she; “leave us alone!”
Ashman turned his head and seizing the hand of his companion, said,
“You are my guide now! Lead on, and I will follow you to the death!”
She made no answer, but moved rapidly through the wood until they came to the open space along the river. Here, since there were no obstructions, they increased their pace almost to a run. He sought to maintain his place beside her, but she moved so fast, with little apparent effort that it was hard to do so.
He had his Winchester and revolver, and he glanced behind to learn whether they were followed. Ziffak had vanished, and no one was in sight. It was well that such was the fact; for he would not have hesitated to shoot down any that might appear.
The extraordinary flight continued for a furlong, and then Ariel paused on the edge of the Xingu. Her lover saw the reason: a small canoe lay against the shore.
“Is this to be used?” he asked, glancing in her pale face.
She nodded her head, and, lifting her skirts, stepped daintily within, and sat down near the stern. He shoved the boat clear, sprang in and sat down near the middle, as he seized the broad thin paddle.