What seemed to be a creek a hundred feet wide, suddenly opened on the right, winding through an exuberant forest whose branches overhung the water. She motioned with her hand for him to guide the boat into this, adding that it was the entrance to the enchanted lake of which he had heard such glowing accounts, and whose existence, he remembered, had been denied by Ziffak, though it had been admitted by him only a brief while before.
The course of the canoe was changed, and Ashman involuntarily slackened the pace, while he gazed around with increasing wonder.
The distance was not far, when a towering rock was observed jutting out from the bank. It was fully twenty feet high, rough, jagged and massive and obtruded half-way across the stream.
She whispered to him to proceed as cautiously as he could, for on the rock was stationed one of the lookouts of King Haffgo, whose duty it was to challenge every one on his way to the enchanted lake. Ashman was told to keep his lips mute, in case they were hailed, as they were likely to be, and to leave to her any explanation it might be necessary to make.
In the bright moonlight, the sentinel was sure to notice the presence of a white man in the boat, but would be likely to believe he was either Waggaman or Burkhardt, while he would not dare to question the daughter of the king, however much he might be astonished at her presence at this time.
Ashman saw the figure of a Murhapa, but instead of being erect, he was seated on a ledge of the rock, his body half prone and in a motionless posture. The paddle was dipped more softly than ever as the craft came opposite him, but he did not speak, or stir.
“He’s asleep?” whispered Ashman, looking inquiringly at her.
She nodded her head, and he did not require to be told of the great gain that would be secured, if they could pass without awaking him.
With that view, he used the utmost care, causing only the faintest ripple, as he propelled the light craft over the mirror-like surface.
In a few seconds, the massive rock was passed, and still the sentinel remained as motionless, as if he were a part of the solid stone, on which he was seated. He surely was a negligent servant to lose his consciousness thus early in the night.
A few more strokes, and a turn in the creek left him out of sight. That danger was safely passed, and Fred Ashman drew a sigh of relief, accepting it as a good omen of their future.
He now dipped the paddle deeper, and, within the following five minutes, the canoe and its occupants debouched upon the waters of the wonderful enchanted lake.
The situation in which the visitors to the dominions of King Haffgo were placed, was such as to sharpen their wits to the keenest edge.
After the departure of Fred Ashman, Ziffak talked more plainly with the Professor and New Englander. The head chieftain told his white friends what they had suspected; Haffgo was enraged at Ashman’s presumption with his daughter. He was in that mood indeed, in which, but for his promise, he would have hurled his javelin at the youth before he left the audience chamber.