Part 2 out of 4
would have been impossible for them to have landed and
reached the camp without having been seen by himself or
some member of his company, was sufficient evidence to
warrant him in attributing their presence to some
supernatural and malignant power.
This explanation the crew embraced willingly, and with
it Bududreen's suggestion that Professor Maxon had
power to transform them all into similar atrocities.
The ball once started gained size and momentum as it
progressed. The professor's ofttimes strange
expression was attributed to an evil eye, and every
ailment suffered by any member of the crew was blamed
upon their employer's Satanic influence. There was but
one escape from the horrors of such a curse--the death
of its author; and when Bududreen discovered that
they had reached this point, and were even discussing
the method of procedure, he added all that was needed
to the dangerously smouldering embers of bloody mutiny by
explaining that should anything happen to the white men
he would become sole owner of their belongings,
including the heavy chest, and that the reward
of each member of the crew would be generous.
Von Horn was really the only stumbling block in
Bududreen's path. With the natural cowardice of the
Malay he feared this masterful American who never moved
without a brace of guns slung about his hips; and it
was at just this psychological moment that the doctor
played into the hands of his subordinate, much to the
latter's inward elation.
Von Horn had finally despaired of winning Virginia by
peaceful court, and had about decided to resort to
force when he was precipitately confirmed in his
decision by a conversation with the girl's father.
He and the professor were talking in the workshop of
the remarkable progress of Number Thirteen toward a
complete mastery of English and the ways and manners
of society, in which von Horn had been assisting his
employer to train the young giant. The breach between
the latter and von Horn had been patched over by
Professor Maxon's explanations to Number Thirteen
as soon as the young man was able to comprehend--in the
meantime it had been necessary to keep von Horn out of
the workshop except when the giant was confined in his
own room off the larger one.
Von Horn had been particularly anxious, for the furtherance
of certain plans he had in mind, to effect a reconciliation
with Number Thirteen, to reach a basis of friendship
with the young man, and had left no stone unturned
to accomplish this result. To this end he had spent
considerable time with Number Thirteen, coaching him
in English and in the ethics of human association.
"He is progressing splendidly, Doctor," Professor Maxon
had said. "It will be but a matter of a day or so when
I can introduce him to Virginia, but we must be careful
that she has no inkling of his origin until mutual
affection has gained a sure foothold between them."
"And if that should not occur?" questioned von Horn.
"I should prefer that they mated voluntarily," replied
the professor, the strange gleam leaping to his eyes at
the suggestion of possible antagonism to his cherished
plan, "but if not, then they shall be compelled by
the force of my authority--they both belong to me,
body and soul."
"You will wait for the final consummation of your
desires until you return with them to civilization,
I presume," said von Horn.
"And why?" returned the professor. "I can wed them
here myself--it would be the surer way--yes, that is
what I shall do."
It was this determination on the part of Professor
Maxon that decided von Horn to act at once. Further,
it lent a reasonable justification for his purposed act.
Shortly after their talk the older man left the workshop,
and von Horn took the opportunity to inaugurate the
second move of his campaign. Number Thirteen was sitting
near a window which let upon the inner court, busy with
the rudiments of written English. Von Horn approached him.
"You are getting along nicely, Jack," he said kindly,
looking over the other's shoulder and using the name
which had been adopted at his suggestion to lend a more
human tone to their relations with the nameless man.
"Yes," replied the other, looking up with a smile.
"Professor Maxon says that in another day or two I may
come and live in his own house, and again meet his
beautiful daughter. It seems almost too good to be
true that I shall actually live under the same roof
with her and see her every day--sit at the same table
with her--and walk with her among the beautiful trees
and flowers that witnessed our first meeting. I wonder
if she will remember me. I wonder if she will be as
glad to see me again as I shall be to see her."
"Jack," said von Horn, sadly, "I am afraid there
is a terrible and disappointing awakening for you.
It grieves me that it should be so, but it seems only
fair to tell you, what Professor Maxon either does not know
or has forgotten, that his daughter will not look with
pleasure upon you when she learns your origin.
"You are not as other men. You are but the accident of
a laboratory experiment. You have no soul, and the
soul is all that raises man above the beasts. Jack,
poor boy, you are not a human being--you are not even
a beast. The world, and Miss Maxon is of the world,
will look upon you as a terrible creature to be shunned--
a horrible monstrosity far lower in the scale of creation
than the lowest order of brutes.
"Look," and the man pointed through the window toward
the group of hideous things that wandered aimlessly
about the court of mystery. "You are of the same breed
as those, you differ from them only in the symmetry of
your face and features, and the superior development of
your brain. There is no place in the world for them,
nor for you.
"I am sorry that it is so. I am sorry that I should
have to be the one to tell you; but it is better that
you know it now from a friend than that you meet the
bitter truth when you least expected it, and possibly
from the lips of one like Miss Maxon for whom you might
have formed a hopeless affection."
As von Horn spoke the expression on the young man's
face became more and more hopeless, and when he had
ceased he dropped his head into his open palms, sitting
quiet and motionless as a carven statue. No sob shook
his great frame, there was no outward indication of the
terrible grief that racked him inwardly--only in the
pose was utter dejection and hopelessness.
The older man could not repress a cold smile--it had
had more effect than he had hoped.
"Don't take it too hard, my boy," he continued.
"The world is wide. It would be easy to find a thousand
places where your antecedents would be neither known
nor questioned. You might be very happy elsewhere and
there a hundred thousand girls as beautiful and sweet
as Virginia Maxon--remember that you have never seen
another, so you can scarcely judge."
"Why did he ever bring me into the world?" exclaimed
the young man suddenly. "It was wicked--wicked--
terribly cruel and wicked."
"I agree with you," said von Horn quickly, seeing
another possibility that would make his future plans
immeasurably easier. "It was wicked, and it is still
more wicked to continue the work and bring still other
unfortunate creatures into the world to be the butt
and plaything of cruel fate."
"He intends to do that?" asked the youth.
"Unless he is stopped," replied von Horn.
"He must be stopped," cried the other. "Even if
it were necessary to kill him."
Von Horn was quite satisfied with the turn events had taken.
He shrugged his shoulders and turned on his heel toward
the outer campong.
"If he had wronged me as he has you, and those others,"
with a gesture toward the court of mystery, "I should
not be long in reaching a decision." And with that he
passed out, leaving the door unlatched.
Von Horn went straight to the south campong and sought
out Bududreen. Motioning the Malay to follow him they
walked across the clearing and entered the jungle out
of sight and hearing of the camp. Sing, hanging
clothes in the north end of the clearing saw them
depart, and wondered a little.
"Bududreen," said von Horn, when the two had reached a
safe distance from the enclosures, "there is no need of
mincing matters--something must be done at once. I do
not know how much you know of the work that Professor
Maxon has been engaged in since we reached this island;
but it has been hellish enough and it must go no
further. You have seen the creatures in the campong
next to yours?"
"I have seen," replied Bududreen, with a shudder.
"Professor Maxon intends to wed one of these to his
daughter," von Horn continued. "She loves me and we
wish to escape--can I rely on you and your men to aid
us? There is a chest in the workshop which we must
take along too, and I can assure you that you all will
be well rewarded for your work. We intend merely to leave
Professor Maxon here with the creatures he has created."
Bududreen could scarce repress a smile--it was indeed
too splendid to be true.
"It will be perilous work, Captain," he answered.
"We should all be hanged were we caught."
"There will be no danger of that, Bududreen,
for there will be no one to divulge our secret."
"There will be the Professor Maxon," urged the Malay.
"Some day he will escape from the island, and then we
shall all hang."
"He will never escape," replied von Horn, "his own
creatures will see to that. They are already
commencing to realize the horrible crime he has
committed against them, and when once they are fully
aroused there will be no safety for any of us. If you
wish to leave the island at all it will be best for you
to accept my proposal and leave while your head yet
remains upon your shoulders. Were we to suggest to the
professor that he leave now he would not only refuse
but he would take steps to make it impossible for any
of us to leave, even to sinking the Ithaca. The man
is mad--quite mad--Bududreen, and we cannot longer
jeopardize our own throats merely to humor his crazy
and criminal whims."
The Malay was thinking fast, and could von Horn have
guessed what thoughts raced through the tortuous
channels of that semi-barbarous brain he would have
wished himself safely housed in the American prison
where he belonged.
"When do you wish to sail?" asked the Malay.
"Tonight," replied von Horn, and together they matured
their plans. An hour later the second mate with six
men disappeared into the jungle toward the harbor.
They, with the three on watch, were to get the vessel
in readiness for immediate departure.
After the evening meal von Horn sat on the verandah
with Virginia Maxon until the Professor came from the
workshop to retire for the night. As he passed them he
stopped for a word with von Horn, taking him aside out
of the girl's hearing.
"Have you noticed anything peculiar in the actions of
Thirteen?" asked the older man. "He was sullen and
morose this evening, and at times there was a strange,
wild light in his eyes as he looked at me. Can it be
possible that, after all, his brain is defective?
It would be terrible. My work would have gone for naught,
for I can see no way in which I can improve upon him."
"I will go and have a talk with him later," said von
Horn, "so if you hear us moving about in the workshop,
or even out here in the campong think nothing of it.
I may take him for a long walk. It is possible that
the hard study and close confinement to that little
building have been too severe upon his brain and nerves.
A long walk each evening may bring him around all right."
"Splendid--splendid," replied the professor. "You may
be quite right. Do it by all means, my dear doctor,"
and there was a touch of the old, friendly, sane tone
which had been so long missing, that almost caused von
Horn to feel a trace of compunction for the hideous act
of disloyalty that he was on the verge of perpetrating.
As Professor Maxon entered the house von Horn returned
to Virginia and suggested that they take a short walk
outside the campong before retiring. The girl readily
acquiesced to the plan, and a moment later found them
strolling through the clearing toward the southern end
of the camp. In the dark shadows of the gateway
leading to the men's enclosure a figure crouched.
The girl did not see it, but as they came opposite it
von Horn coughed twice, and then the two passed on
toward the edge of the jungle.
The Rajah Muda Saffir, tiring of the excuses and delays
which Bududreen interposed to postpone the fulfillment
of his agreement with the former, whereby he was to deliver
into the hands of the rajah a certain beautiful maiden,
decided at last to act upon his own initiative.
The truth of the matter was that he had come to suspect
the motives of the first mate of the Ithaca, and not
knowing of the great chest attributed them to
Bududreen's desire to possess the girl for himself.
So it was that as the second mate of the Ithaca with
his six men waded down the bed of the little stream
toward the harbor and the ship, a fleet of ten war
prahus manned by over five hundred fierce Dyaks and
commanded by Muda Saffir himself, pulled cautiously
into the little cove upon the opposite side of the
island, and landed but a quarter of a mile from camp.
At the same moment von Horn was leading Virginia Maxon
farther and farther from the north campong where resistance,
if there was to be any, would be most likely to occur.
At his superior's cough Bududreen had signalled silently
to the men within the enclosure, and a moment later
six savage lascars crept stealthily to his side.
The moment that von Horn and the girl were entirely
concealed by the darkness, the seven moved cautiously
along the shadow of the palisade toward the north
campong. There was murder in the cowardly hearts of
several of them, and stupidity and lust in the hearts
of all. There was no single one who would not betray
his best friend for a handful of silver, nor any but
was inwardly hoping and scheming to the end that he
might alone possess both the chest and the girl.
It was such a pack of scoundrels that Bududreen led
toward the north campong to bear away the treasure.
In the breast of the leader was the hope that he had
planted enough of superstitious terror in their hearts
to make the sight of the supposed author of their
imagined wrongs sufficient provocation for his murder;
for Bududreen was too sly to give the order for the
killing of a white man--the arm of the white man's law
was too long--but he felt that he would rest easier
were he to leave the island with the knowledge that only
a dead man remained behind with the secret of his perfidy.
While these events were transpiring Number Thirteen
was pacing restlessly back and forth the length of
the workshop. But a short time before he had had his
author--the author of his misery--within the four walls
of his prison, and yet he had not wreaked the vengeance
that was in his heart. Twice he had been on the point
of springing upon the man, but both times the other's
eyes had met his and something which he was not able to
comprehend had stayed him. Now that the other had gone
and he was alone contemplation of the hideous wrong that
had been done loosed again the flood gates of his pent rage.
The thought that he had been made by this man--made in
the semblance of a human being, yet denied by the
manner of his creation a place among the lowest of
Nature's creatures--filled him with fury, but it was
not this thought that drove him to the verge of
madness. It was the knowledge, suggested by von Horn,
that Virginia Maxon would look upon him in horror,
as a grotesque and loathsome monstrosity.
He had no standard and no experience whereby he might
classify his sentiments toward this wonderful creature.
All he knew was that his life would be complete could
he be near her always--see her and speak with her
daily. He had thought of her almost constantly since
those short, delicious moments that he had held her in
his arms. Again and again he experienced in
retrospection the exquisite thrill that had run through
every fiber of his being at the sight of her averted
eyes and flushed face. And the more he let his mind
dwell upon the wonderful happiness that was denied him
because of his origin, the greater became his wrath
against his creator.
It was now quite dark without. The door leading to
Professor Maxon's campong, left unlatched earlier in
the evening by von Horn for sinister motives of his
own, was still unbarred through a fatal coincidence
of forgetfulness on the part of the professor.
Number Thirteen approached this door. He laid his hand
upon the knob. A moment later he was moving noiselessly
across the campong toward the house in which Professor Maxon
lay peacefully sleeping; while at the south gate Bududreen
and his six cutthroats crept cautiously within and slunk
in the dense shadows of the palisade toward the workshop
where lay the heavy chest of their desire. At the same
instant Muda Saffir with fifty of his head-hunting Dyaks
emerged from the jungle east of the camp, bent on discovering
the whereabouts of the girl the Malay sought and bearing her
away to his savage court far within the jungle fastness
of his Bornean principality.
Number Thirteen reached the verandah of the house and
peered through the window into the living room, where
an oil lamp, turned low, dimly lighted the interior,
which he saw was unoccupied. Going to the door he
pushed it open and entered the apartment. All was
still within. He listened intently for some slight
sound which might lead him to the victim he sought,
or warn him from the apartment of the girl or that of
von Horn--his business was with Professor Maxon. He did
not wish to disturb the others whom he believed to be
sleeping somewhere within the structure--a low,
rambling bungalow of eight rooms.
Cautiously he approached one of the four doors which
opened from the living room. Gently he turned the knob
and pushed the door ajar. The interior of the
apartment beyond was in inky darkness, but Number
Thirteen's greatest fear was that he might have
stumbled upon the sleeping room of Virginia Maxon,
and that if she were to discover him there, not only
would she be frightened, but her cries would alarm
the other inmates of the dwelling.
The thought of the horror that his presence would
arouse within her, the knowledge that she would look
upon him as a terrifying monstrosity, added new fuel
to the fires of hate that raged in his bosom against
the man who had created him. With clenched fists,
and tight set jaws the great, soulless giant moved across
the dark chamber with the stealthy noiselessness of a tiger.
Feeling before him with hands and feet he made the circuit
of the room before he reached the bed.
Scarce breathing he leaned over and groped across the
covers with his fingers in search of his prey--the bed
was empty. With the discovery came a sudden nervous
reaction that sent him into a cold sweat. Weakly,
he seated himself upon the edge of the bed.
Had his fingers found the throat of Professor Maxon
beneath the coverlet they would never have released
their hold until life had forever left the body
of the scientist, but now that the highest tide
of the young man's hatred had come and gone
he found himself for the first time assailed by doubts.
Suddenly he recalled the fact that the man whose life
he sought was the father of the beautiful creature he adored.
Perhaps she loved him and would be unhappy were he taken
away from her. Number Thirteen did not know, of course,
but the idea obtruded itself, and had sufficient weight
to cause him to remain seated upon the edge of the
bed meditating upon the act he contemplated.
He had by no means given up the idea of killing
Professor Maxon, but now there were doubts
and obstacles which had not been manifest before.
His standards of right and wrong were but half formed,
from the brief attempts of Professor Maxon and von Horn
to inculcate proper moral perceptions in a mind entirely
devoid of hereditary inclinations toward either good or bad,
but he realized one thing most perfectly--that to be
a soulless thing was to be damned in the estimation
of Virginia Maxon, and it now occurred to him that
to kill her father would be the act of a soulless being.
It was this thought more than another that caused him
to pause in the pursuit of his revenge, since he knew
that the act he contemplated would brand him the
very thing he was, yet wished not to be.
At length, however, he slowly comprehended that no act
of his would change the hideous fact of his origin;
that nothing would make him acceptable in her eyes,
and with a shake of his head he arose and stepped toward
the living room to continue his search for the professor.
In the workshop Bududreen and his men had easily
located the chest. Dragging it into the north campong
the Malay was about to congratulate himself upon the
ease with which the theft had been accomplished when
one of his fellows declared his intention of going to
the house for the purpose of dispatching Professor
Maxon, lest the influence of his evil eye should
overtake them with some terrible curse when the loss
of the chest should be discovered.
While this met fully with Bududreen's plans he urged
the man against any such act that he might have
witnesses to prove that he not only had no hand in the
crime, but had exerted his authority to prevent it;
but when two of the men separated themselves from the party
and crept toward the bungalow no force was interposed
to stop them.
The moon had risen now, so that from the dark shadows
of the palisade Muda Saffir and his savages watched the
party with Bududreen squatting about the heavy chest,
and saw the two who crept toward the house. To Muda
Saffir's evil mind there was but one explanation.
Bududreen had discovered a rich treasure, and having
stolen that had dispatched two of his men to bring him
the girl also.
Rajah Muda Saffir was furious. In subdued whispers he
sent a half dozen of his Dyaks back beneath the shadow
of the palisade to the opposite side of the bungalow
where they were to enter the building, killing all
within except the girl, whom they were to carry
straight to the beach and the war prahus.
Then with the balance of his horde he crept alone in
the darkness until opposite Bududreen and the watchers
about the chest. Just as the two who crept toward the
bungalow reached it, Muda Saffir gave the word for the
attack upon the Malays and lascars who guarded the
treasure. With savage yells they dashed upon the
unsuspecting men. Parangs and spears glistened in the
moonlight. There was a brief and bloody encounter,
for the cowardly Bududreen and his equally cowardly crew
had had no alternative but to fight, so suddenly had
the foe fallen upon them.
In a moment the savage Borneo head hunters had added
five grisly trophies to their record. Bududreen and
another were racing madly toward the jungle beyond
As Number Thirteen arose to continue his search for
Professor Maxon his quick ear caught the shuffling of
bare feet upon the verandah. As he paused to listen
there broke suddenly upon the still night the hideous
war cries of the Dyaks, and the screams and shrieks of
their frightened victims in the campong without.
Almost simultaneously Professor Maxon and Sing rushed
into the living room to ascertain the cause of the
wild alarm, while at the same instant Bududreen's assassins
sprang through the door with upraised krisses, to be
almost immediately followed by Muda Saffir's six Dyaks
brandishing their long spears and wicked parangs.
In an instant the little room was filled with howling,
fighting men. The Dyaks, whose orders as well as
inclinations incited them to a general massacre,
fell first upon Bududreen's lascars who, cornered
in the small room, fought like demons for their lives,
so that when the Dyaks had overcome them two of their own
number lay dead beside the dead bodies of Bududreen's henchmen.
Sing and Professor Maxon stood in the doorway to the
professor's room gazing upon the scene of carnage in
surprise and consternation. The scientist was unarmed,
but Sing held a long, wicked looking Colt in readiness
for any contingency. It was evident the celestial was
no stranger to the use of his deadly weapon, nor to the
moments of extreme and sudden peril which demanded its use,
for he seemed no more perturbed than had he been but
hanging out his weekly wash.
As Number Thirteen watched the two men from the dark
shadows of the room in which he stood, he saw that both
were calm--the Chinaman with the calmness of perfect
courage, the other through lack of full understanding
of the grave danger which menaced him. In the eyes of
the latter shone a strange gleam--it was the wild light
of insanity that the sudden nervous shock of the attack
had brought to a premature culmination.
Now the four remaining Dyaks were advancing upon the
two men. Sing levelled his revolver and fired at
the foremost, and at the same instant Professor Maxon,
with a shrill, maniacal scream, launched himself full upon
a second. Number Thirteen saw the blood spurt from a
superficial wound in the shoulder of the fellow who
received Sing's bullet, but except for eliciting a howl
of rage the missile had no immediate effect. Then Sing
pulled the trigger again and again, but the cylinder
would not revolve and the hammer fell futilely upon the
empty cartridge. As two of the head hunters closed
upon him the brave Chinaman clubbed his weapon and went
down beneath them beating madly at the brown skulls.
The man with whom Professor Maxon had grappled had no
opportunity to use his weapons for the crazed man held
him close with one encircling arm while he tore and
struck at him with his free hand. The fourth Dyak
danced around the two with raised parang watching for
an opening that he might deliver a silencing blow upon
the white man's skull.
The great odds against the two men--their bravery in
the face of death, their grave danger--and last and
greatest, the fact that one was the father of the
beautiful creature he worshipped, wrought a sudden
change in Number Thirteen. In an instant he forgot
that he had come here to kill the white-haired man,
and with a bound stood in the center of the room--
an unarmed giant towering above the battling four.
The parang of the Dyak who sought Professor Maxon's
life was already falling as a mighty hand grasped the
wrist of the head hunter; but even then it was too late
to more than lessen the weight of the blow, and the
sharp edge of the blade bit deep into the forehead of
the white man. As he sank to his knees his other
antagonist freed an arm from the embrace which had
pinioned it to his side, but before he could deal the
professor a blow with the short knife that up to now he
had been unable to use, Number Thirteen had hurled his man
across the room and was upon him who menaced the scientist.
Tearing him loose from his prey, he raised him far
above his head and threw him heavily against the
opposite wall, then he turned his attention toward
Sing's assailants. All that had so far saved the
Chinaman from death was the fact that the two savages
were each so anxious to secure his head for the
verandah rafters of his own particular long-house
that they interfered with one another in the
consummation of their common desire.
Although battling for his life, Sing had not failed to
note the advent of the strange young giant, nor the
part he had played in succoring the professor, so that
it was with a feeling of relief that he saw the
newcomer turn his attention toward those who were
rapidly reducing the citadel of his own existence.
The two Dyaks who sought the trophy which nature had
set upon the Chinaman's shoulders were so busily engaged
with their victim that they knew nothing of the presence
of Number Thirteen until a mighty hand seized each by
the neck and they were raised bodily from the floor,
shaken viciously for an instant, and then hurled
to the opposite end of the room upon the bodies
of the two who had preceded them.
As Sing came to his feet he found Professor Maxon lying
in a pool of his own blood, a great gash in his forehead.
He saw the white giant standing silently looking down
upon the old man. Across the room the four stunned Dyaks
were recovering consciousness. Slowly and fearfully
they regained their feet, and seeing that no attention
was being paid them, cast a parting, terrified look at the
mighty creature who had defeated them with his bare hands,
and slunk quickly out into the darkness of the campong.
When they caught up with Rajah Muda Saffir near the beach,
they narrated a fearful tale of fifty terrible white men
with whom they had battled valiantly, killing many, before
they had been compelled to retreat in the face of terrific odds.
They swore that even then they had only returned because the girl
was not in the house--otherwise they should have brought her
to their beloved master as he had directed.
Now Muda Saffir believed nothing that they said, but he
was well pleased with the great treasure which had so
unexpectedly fallen into his hands, and he decided to
make quite sure of that by transporting it to his own land--
later he could return for the girl. So the ten war prahus
of the Malay pulled quietly out of the little cove
upon the east side of the island, and bending their way
toward the south circled its southern extremity
and bore away for Borneo.
In the bungalow within the north campong Sing and
Number Thirteen had lifted Professor Maxon to his bed,
and the Chinaman was engaged in bathing and bandaging
the wound that had left the older man unconscious.
The white giant stood beside him watching his every move.
He was trying to understand why sometimes men killed
one another and again defended and nursed. He was
curious as to the cause of his own sudden change in
sentiment toward Professor Maxon. At last he gave the
problem up as beyond his powers of solution, and at
Sing's command set about the task of helping to nurse
the man whom he considered the author of his unhappiness
and whom a few short minutes before he had come to kill.
As the two worked over the stricken man their ears
were suddenly assailed by a wild commotion from the
direction of the workshop. There were sounds of
battering upon wood, loud growls and roars, mingled
with weird shrieks and screams and the strange,
uncanny gibbering of brainless things.
Sing looked quickly up at his companion.
"Whallee mallee?" he asked.
The giant did not answer. An expression of pain crossed
his features, and he shuddered--but not from fear.
THE BULL WHIP
As von Horn and Virginia Maxon walked slowly beneath the
dense shadows of the jungle he again renewed his suit.
It would please him more to have the girl accompany
him voluntarily than to be compelled to take her by force,
but take her he would one way or another, and that, this very night,
for all the plans were made and already under way.
"I cannot do it, Doctor von Horn," she had said.
"No matter how much danger I may be in here I cannot desert
my father on this lonely isle with only savage lascars
and the terrible monsters of his own creation
surrounding him. Why, it would be little short
of murder for us to do such a thing. I cannot see how you,
his most trusted lieutenant, can even give an instant's
consideration to the idea.
"And now that you insist that his mind is sorely affected,
it is only an added reason why I must remain with him
to protect him so far as I am able, from himself and his enemies."
Von Horn did not relish the insinuation in the accent
which the girl put upon the last word.
"It is because I love you so, Virginia," he hastened
to urge in extenuation of his suggested disloyalty.
"I cannot see you sacrificed to his horrible mania.
You do not realize the imminence of your peril.
Tomorrow Number Thirteen was to have come to live beneath
the same roof with you. You recall Number One whom the
stranger killed as the thing was bearing you away
through the jungle? Can you imagine sleeping in the
same house with such a soulless thing? Eating your
three meals a day at the same table with it? And
knowing all the time that in a few short weeks at the
most you were destined to be given to the thing as its
mate? Virginia, you must be mad to consider for a
moment remaining within reach of such a terrible peril.
"Come to Singapore with me--it will take but a few
days--and then we can return with some good medical man
and a couple of Europeans, and take your father away
from the terrible creatures he has created. You will
be mine then and safe from the awful fate that now lies
back there in the camp awaiting you. We can take your
father upon a long trip where rest and quiet can have
an opportunity to restore his enfeebled mentality.
Come, Virginia! Come with me now. We can go directly
to the Ithaca and safety. Say that you will come."
The girl shook her head.
"I do not love you, I am afraid, Doctor von Horn, or I
should certainly be moved by your appeal. If you wish
to bring help for my father I shall never cease to
thank you if you will go to Singapore and fetch it, but
it is not necessary that I go. My place is here, near him."
In the darkness the girl did not see the change that
came over the man's face, but his next words revealed
his altered attitude with sufficient exactitude to
thoroughly arouse her fears.
"Virginia," he said, "I love you, and I intend to have you.
Nothing on earth can prevent me. When you know me better
you will return my love, but now I must risk offending you
that I may save you for myself from the monstrous connection
which your father contemplates for you. If you will not come
away from the island with me voluntarily I consider it my duty
to take you away by force."
"You would never do that, Doctor von Horn!" she exclaimed.
Von Horn had gone too far. He cursed himself inwardly
for a fool. Why the devil didn't that villain,
Bududreen, come! He should have been along
to act his part half an hour before.
"No, Virginia," said the man, softly, after a moment's
silence, "I could not do that; though my judgment tells
me that I should do it. You shall remain here if you
insist and I will be with you to serve and protect both
you and your father."
The words were fair, but the girl could not forget the
ugly tone that had tinged his preceding statement.
She felt that she would be glad when she found herself
safely within the bungalow once more.
"Come," she said, "it is late. Let us return to camp."
Von Horn was about to reply when the war cries of Muda
Saffir's Dyaks as they rushed out upon Bududreen and
his companions came to them distinctly through the
"What was that?" cried the girl in an alarmed tone.
"God knows," replied von Horn. "Can it be that
our men have mutinied?"
He thought the six with Bududreen were carrying out
their part in a most realistic manner, and a grim smile
tinged his hard face.
Virginia Maxon turned resolutely toward the camp.
"I must go back there to my father," she said, "and so
must you. Our place is there--God give that we be not
too late," and before von Horn could stop her she
turned and ran through the darkness of the jungle in
the direction of the camp.
Von Horn dashed after her, but so black was the night
beneath the overhanging trees, festooned with their
dark myriad creepers, that the girl was out of sight
in an instant, and upon the soft carpet of the rotting
vegetation her light footfalls gave no sound.
The doctor made straight for the camp, but Virginia,
unused to jungle trailing even by day, veered sharply
to the left. The sounds which had guided her at first
soon died out, the brush became thicker, and presently
she realized that she had no conception of the direction
of the camp. Coming to a spot where the trees were less dense,
and a little moonlight filtered to the ground,
she paused to rest and attempt to regain her bearings.
As she stood listening for some sound which might
indicate the whereabouts of the camp, she detected
the noise of a body approaching through the underbrush.
Whether man or beast she could but conjecture and so
she stood with every nerve taut waiting the thing that
floundered heavily toward her. She hoped it might be
von Horn, but the hideous war cries which had apprised
her of enemies at the encampment made her fear that fate
might be directing the footsteps of one of these upon her.
Nearer and nearer came the sound, and the girl stood
poised ready to fly when the dark face of Bududreen
suddenly emerged into the moonlight beside her.
With an hysterical cry of relief the girl greeted him.
"Oh, Bududreen," she exclaimed, "what has happened at camp?
Where is my father? Is he safe? Tell me."
The Malay could scarce believe the good fortune which
had befallen him so quickly following the sore
affliction of losing the treasure. His evil mind
worked quickly, so that he grasped the full
possibilities that were his before the girl
had finished her questioning.
"The camp was attacked by Dyaks, Miss Maxon," he replied.
"Many of our men were killed, but your father escaped
and has gone to the ship. I have been searching for you
and Doctor von Horn. Where is he?"
"He was with me but a moment ago. When we heard the
cries at camp I hastened on to discover what calamity
had befallen us--we became separated."
"He will be safe," said Bududreen, "for two of my men
are waiting to guide you and the doctor to the ship in
case you returned to camp before I found you. Come,
we will hasten on to the harbor. Your father will be
worried if we are long delayed, and he is anxious to
make sail and escape before the Dyaks discover the
location of the Ithaca."
The man's story seemed plausible enough to Virginia,
although she could not repress a little pang of regret
that her father had been willing to go on to the harbor
before he knew her fate. However, she explained that
by her belief that his mind was unbalanced through
constant application to his weird obsession.
Without demur, then, she turned and accompanied the
rascally Malay toward the harbor. At the bank of the
little stream which led down to the Ithaca's berth the
man lifted her to his shoulder and thus bore her the
balance of the way to the beach. Here two of his men
were awaiting him in one of the ship's boats, and
without words they embarked and pulled for the vessel.
Once on board Virginia started immediately for her
father's cabin. As she crossed the deck she noticed
that the ship was ready to sail, and even as she
descended the companionway she heard the rattle of the
anchor chain about the capstan. She wondered if von
Horn could be on board too. It seemed remarkable that
all should have reached the Ithaca so quickly, and
equally strange that none of her own people were on
deck to welcome her, or to command the vessel.
To her chagrin she found her father's cabin empty,
and a moment's hurried investigation disclosed the fact
that von Horn's was unoccupied as well. Now her doubts
turned quickly to fears, and with a little gasp of
dismay at the grim possibilities which surged through
her imagination she ran quickly to the companionway,
but above her she saw that the hatch was down, and when
she reached the top that it was fastened. Futilely she
beat upon the heavy planks with her delicate hands,
calling aloud to Bududreen to release her, but there
was no reply, and with the realization of the hopelessness
of her position she dropped back to the deck,
and returned to her stateroom. Here she locked
and barricaded the door as best she could,
and throwing herself upon the berth awaited in dry-eyed
terror the next blow that fate held in store for her.
Shortly after von Horn became separated from Virginia
he collided with the fleeing lascar who had escaped the
parangs of Muda Saffir's head hunters at the same time
as had Bududreen. So terror stricken was the fellow
that he had thrown away his weapons in the panic of flight,
which was all that saved von Horn from death at the hands
of the fear crazed man. To him, in the extremity of his fright,
every man was an enemy, and the doctor had a tough scuffle
with him before he could impress upon the fellow that he was a friend.
From him von Horn obtained an incoherent account of the attack,
together with the statement that he was the only person
in camp that escaped, all the others having been
cut down by the savage horde that overwhelmed them.
It was with difficulty that von Horn persuaded the man
to return with him to the campong, but finally,
he consented to do so when the doctor with drawn revolver,
presented death as the only alternative.
Together they cautiously crept back toward the palisade,
not knowing at what moment they might come upon the savage
enemy that had wrought such havoc among their forces,
for von Horn believed the lascar's story that all had perished.
His only motive for returning lay in his desire to prevent
Virginia Maxon falling into the hands of the Dyaks, or,
failing that, rescuing her from their clutches.
Whatever faults and vices were Carl von Horn's
cowardice was not one of them, and it was without an
instant's hesitation that he had elected to return to
succor the girl he believed to have returned to camp,
although he entertained no scruples regarding the
further pursuit of his dishonorable intentions toward
her, should he succeed in saving her from her other enemies.
As the two approached the campong quiet seemed to have
again fallen about the scene of the recent alarm.
Muda Saffir had passed on toward the cove with the
heavy chest, and the scrimmage in the bungalow was over.
But von Horn did not abate his watchfulness as he stole
silently within the precincts of the north campong, and,
hugging the denser shadows of the palisade, crept toward the house.
The dim light in the living room drew him to one of the
windows which overlooked the verandah. A glance within
showed him Sing and Number Thirteen bending over the
body of Professor Maxon. He noted the handsome face
and perfect figure of the young giant. He saw the
bodies of the dead lascars and Dyaks. Then he saw Sing
and the young man lift Professor Maxon tenderly in
their arms and bear him to his own room.
A sudden wave of jealous rage swept through the man's
vicious brain. He saw that the soulless thing within
was endowed with a kindlier and more noble nature than
he himself possessed. He had planted the seed of
hatred and revenge within his untutored heart without
avail, for he read in the dead bodies of Bududreen's
men and the two Dyaks the story of Number Thirteen's
defense of the man von Horn had hoped he would kill.
Von Horn was quite sure now that Virginia Maxon was not
within the campong. Either she had become confused and
lost in the jungle after she left him, or had fallen
into the hands of the wild horde that had attacked the
camp. Convinced of this, there was no obstacle to
thwart the sudden plan which entered his malign brain.
With a single act he could rid himself of the man whom
he had come to look upon as a rival, whose physical
beauty aroused his envy and jealousy; he could remove,
in the person of Professor Maxon, the parental obstacle
which might either prevent his obtaining the girl,
or make serious trouble for him in case he took her
by force, and at the same time he could transfer to
the girl's possession the fortune which was now
her father's--and he could accomplish it all without
tainting his own hands with the blood of his victims.
As the full possibilities of his devilish scheme
unfolded before his mind's eye a grim smile curled his
straight, thin lips at the thought of the fate which it
entailed for the creator of the hideous monsters of the
court of mystery.
As he turned away from the bungalow his eye fell upon
the trembling lascar who had accompanied him to the
edge of the verandah. He must be rid of the fellow in
some way--no eye must see him perpetrate the deed he
had in mind. A solution quickly occurred to him.
"Hasten to the harbor," he said to the man in a
low voice, "and tell those on board the ship that
I shall join them presently. Have all in readiness to sail.
I wish to fetch some of my belongings--all within the
bungalow are dead."
No command could have better suited the sailor.
Without a word he turned and fled toward the jungle.
Von Horn walked quickly to the workshop. The door
hung open. Through the dark interior he strode straight to
the opposite door which let upon the court of mystery.
On a nail driven into the door frame hung a heavy bull whip.
The doctor took it down as he raised the strong bar
which held the door. Then he stepped through into
the moonlit inner campong--the bull whip in his right hand,
a revolver in his left.
A half dozen misshapen monsters roved restlessly about
the hard packed earth of the pen. The noise of the
battle in the adjoining enclosure had aroused them from
slumber and awakened in their half formed brains vague
questionings and fears. At sight of von Horn several
of them rushed for him with menacing growls, but a
swift crack of the bull whip brought them to a sudden
realization of the identity of the intruder, so that
they slunk away, muttering and whining in rage.
Von Horn passed quickly to the low shed in which the
remainder of the eleven were sleeping. With vicious
cuts from the stinging lash he lay about him upon the
sleeping things. Roaring and shrieking in pain and
anger the creatures stumbled to their feet and lumbered
awkwardly into the open. Two of them turned upon their
tormentor, but the burning weapon on their ill protected
flesh sent them staggering back out of reach, and in
another moment all were huddled in the center of the campong.
As cattle are driven, von Horn drove the miserable
creatures toward the door of the workshop. At the
threshold of the dark interior the frightened things
halted fearfully, and then as von Horn urged them on
from behind with his cruel whip they milled as cattle
at the entrance to a strange corral.
Again and again he urged them for the door, but each
time they turned away, and to escape the whip beat and
tore at the wall of the palisade in a vain effort to
batter it from their pathway. Their roars and shrieks
were almost deafening as von Horn, losing what little
remained of his scant self-control, dashed among them
laying to right and left with the stern whip and the
butt of his heavy revolver.
Most of the monsters scattered and turned back into the
center of the enclosure, but three of them were forced
through the doorway into the workshop, from the
darkness of which they saw the patch of moonlight
through the open door upon the opposite side. Toward
this they scurried as von Horn turned back into the
court of mystery for the others.
Three more herculean efforts he made before he beat the
last of the creatures through the outer doorway of the
workshop into the north campong.
Among the age old arts of the celestials none is more
strangely inspiring than that of medicine. Odd herbs
and unspeakable things when properly compounded under
a favorable aspect of the heavenly bodies are potent
to achieve miraculous cures, and few are the Chinamen
who do not brew some special concoction of their own
devising for the lesser ills which beset mankind.
Sing was no exception in this respect. In various
queerly shaped, bamboo covered jars he maintained
a supply of tonics, balms and lotions. His first thought
when he had made Professor Maxon comfortable upon the
couch was to fetch his pet nostrum, for there burned
strong within his yellow breast the same powerful
yearning to experiment that marks the greatest of the
profession to whose mysteries he aspired.
Though the hideous noises from the inner campong rose
threateningly, the imperturbable Sing left the bungalow
and passed across the north campong to the little lean-to
that he had built for himself against the palisade that
separated the north enclosure from the court of mystery.
Here he rummaged about in the dark until he had found
the two phials he sought. The noise of the monsters
upon the opposite side of the palisade had now assumed
the dimensions of pandemonium, and through it all the
Chinaman heard the constant crack that was the sharp
voice of the bull whip.
He had completed his search and was about to return
to the bungalow when the first of the monsters emerged
into the north campong from the workshop. At the door
of his shack Sing Lee drew back to watch, for he knew
that behind them some one was driving these horribly
grotesque creatures from their prison.
One by one they came lumbering into the moonlight until
Sing had counted eleven, and then, after them, came a
white man, bull whip and revolver in hand. It was von
Horn. The equatorial moon shone full upon him--there
could be no mistake. The Chinaman saw him turn and
lock the workshop door; saw him cross the campong to
the outer gate; saw him pass through toward the jungle,
closing the gate.
Of a sudden there was a sad, low moaning through the
surrounding trees; dense, black clouds obscured the
radiant moon; and then with hideous thunder and vivid
flashes of lightning the tempest broke in all its fury
of lashing wind and hurtling deluge. It was the first
great storm of the breaking up of the monsoon, and
under the cover of its darkness Sing Lee scurried
through the monster filled campong to the bungalow.
Within he found the young man bathing Professor Maxon's
head as he had directed him to do.
"All gettee out," he said, jerking his thumb in the
direction of the court of mystery. "Eleven devils.
Plenty soon come bung'low. What do?"
Number Thirteen had seen von Horn's extra bull whip
hanging upon a peg in the living room. For answer
he stepped into that room and took the weapon down.
Then he returned to the professor's side.
Outside the frightened monsters groped through the
blinding rain and darkness in search of shelter.
Each vivid lightning flash, and bellowing of booming thunder
brought responsive cries of rage and terror from their
hideous lips. It was Number Twelve who first spied the
dim light showing through the bungalow's living room
window. With a low guttural to his companions he
started toward the building. Up the low steps to the
verandah they crept. Number Twelve peered through the window.
He saw no one within, but there was warmth and dryness.
His little knowledge and lesser reasoning faculties
suggested no thought of a doorway. With a blow he
shattered the glass of the window. Then he forced his
body through the narrow aperture. At the same moment a
gust of wind sucking through the broken panes drew open
the door, and as Number Thirteen, warned by the sound
of breaking glass, sprang into the living room he was
confronted by the entire horde of misshapen beings.
His heart went out in pity toward the miserable crew,
but he knew that his life as well as those of the two
men in the adjoining room depended upon the force and
skill with which he might handle the grave crisis which
confronted them. He had seen and talked with most
of the creatures when from time to time they had been
brought singly into the workshop that their creator might
mitigate the wrong he had done by training the poor minds
with which he had endowed them to reason intelligently.
A few were hopeless imbeciles, unable to comprehend
more than the rudimentary requirements of filling their
bellies when food was placed before them; yet even
these were endowed with superhuman strength; and when
aroused battled the more fiercely for the very reason
of their brainlessness. Others, like Number Twelve,
were of a higher order of intelligence. They spoke
English, and, after a fashion, reasoned in a crude sort
of way. These were by far the most dangerous, for as
the power of comparison is the fundamental principle of
reasoning, so they were able to compare their lot with
that of the few other men they had seen, and with the
help of von Horn to partially appreciate the horrible
wrong that had been done them.
Von Horn, too, had let them know the identity of their
creator, and thus implanted in their malformed brains
the insidious poison of revenge. Envy and jealousy
were there as well, and hatred of all beings other
than themselves. They envied the ease and comparative
beauty of the old professor and his assistant, and
hated the latter for the cruelty of the bull whip and
the constant menace of the ever ready revolver; and so
as they were to them the representatives of the great
human world of which they could never be a part, their
envy and jealousy and hatred of these men embraced the
entire race which they represented.
It was such that Number Thirteen faced as he emerged
from the professor's apartment.
"What do you want here?" he said, addressing Number
Twelve, who stood a little in advance of the others.
"We have come for Maxon," growled the creature.
"We have been penned up long enough. We want to be out
here. We have come to kill Maxon and you and all who
have made us what we are."
"Why do you wish to kill me?" asked the young man.
"I am one of you. I was made in the same way that you
Number Twelve opened his mismated eyes in astonishment.
"Then you have already killed Maxon?" he asked.
"No. He was wounded by a savage enemy. I have been
helping to make him well again. He has wronged me as
much as he has you. If I do not wish to kill him, why
should you? He did not mean to wrong us. He thought
that he was doing right. He is in trouble now and we
should stay and protect him."
"He lies," suddenly shouted another of the horde.
"He is not one of us. Kill him! Kill him! Kill Maxon,
too, and then we shall be as other men, for it is these
men who keep us as we are."
The fellow started forward toward Number Thirteen as he
spoke, and moved by the impulse of imitation the others
came on with him.
"I have spoken fairly to you," said Number Thirteen in
a low voice. "If you cannot understand fairness here
is something you can understand."
Raising the bull whip above his head the young giant
leaped among the advancing brutes and lay about him
with mighty strokes that put to shame the comparatively
feeble blows with which von Horn had been wont to deal
out punishment to the poor, damned creatures of the
court of mystery.
For a moment they stood valiantly before his attack,
but after two had grappled with him and been hurled
headlong to the floor they gave up and rushed incontinently
out into the maelstrom of the screaming tempest.
In the doorway behind him Sing Lee had been standing
waiting the outcome of the encounter and ready to lend
a hand were it required. As the two men turned back
into the professor's room they saw that the wounded
man's eyes were open and upon them. At sight of Number
Thirteen a questioning look came into his eyes.
"What has happened?" he asked feebly of Sing. "Where
is my daughter? Where is Dr. von Horn? What is this
creature doing out of his pen?"
The blow of the parang upon the professor's skull had
shocked his overwrought mind back into the path of
sanity. It had left him with a clear remembrance
of the past, other than the recent fight in the
living room--that was a blank--and it had given him
a clearer perspective of the plans he had been entertaining
for so long relative to this soulless creature.
The first thought that sprang to his mind as he saw
Number Thirteen before him was of his mad intention to
give his daughter to such a monstrous thing. With the
recollection came a sudden loathing and hatred of this
and the other creatures of his unholy experimentations.
Presently he realized that his questions had not been answered.
"Sing!" he shouted. "Answer me. Where are Virginia
and Dr. von Horn?"
"All gonee. Me no know. All gonee. Maybeso allee dead."
"My God!" groaned the stricken man; and then his eyes
again falling upon the silent giant in the doorway,
"Out of my sight," he shrieked. "Out of my sight!
Never let me see you again--and to think that I would
have given my only daughter to a soulless thing like
you. Away! Before I go mad and slay you."
Slowly the color mounted to the neck and face of the giant--
then suddenly it receded, leaving him as ashen as death.
His great hand gripped the stock of the bull whip.
A single blow was all that would have been needed
to silence Professor Maxon forever. There was murder
in the wounded heart. The man took a step forward
into the room, and then something drew his eyes to a
spot upon the wall just above Professor Maxon's shoulder--
it was a photograph of Virginia Maxon.
Without a word Number Thirteen turned upon his heel
and passed out into the storm.
THE SOUL OF NUMBER 13
Scarcely had the Ithaca cleared the reef which lies
almost across the mouth of the little harbor where she
had been moored for so many months than the tempest
broke upon her in all its terrific fury. Bududreen was
no mean sailor, but he was short handed, nor is it
reasonable to suppose that even with a full crew he
could have weathered the terrific gale which beat down
upon the hapless vessel. Buffeted by great waves, and
stripped of every shred of canvas by the force of the
mighty wind that howled about her, the Ithaca drifted
a hopeless wreck soon after the storm struck her.
Below deck the terrified girl clung desperately to
a stanchion as the stricken ship lunged sickeningly
before the hurricane. For half an hour the awful
suspense endured, and then with a terrific crash the
vessel struck, shivering and trembling from stem to stern.
Virginia Maxon sank to her knees in prayer, for this
she thought must surely be the end. On deck Bududreen
and his crew had lashed themselves to the masts, and as
the Ithaca struck the reef before the harbor, back upon
which she had been driven, the tall poles with their
living freight snapped at the deck and went overboard
carrying every thing with them amid shrieks and cries
of terror that were drowned and choked by the wild
tumult of the night.
Twice the girl felt the ship strike upon the reef, then
a great wave caught and carried her high into the air,
dropping her with a nauseating lunge which seemed to
the imprisoned girl to be carrying the ship to the very
bottom of the ocean. With closed eyes she clung in
silent prayer beside her berth waiting for the moment
that would bring the engulfing waters and oblivion--
praying that the end might come speedily and release
her from the torture of nervous apprehension that had
terrorized her for what seemed an eternity.
After the last, long dive the Ithaca righted herself
laboriously, wallowing drunkenly, but apparently upon
an even keel in less turbulent waters. One long minute
dragged after another, yet no suffocating deluge poured
in upon the girl, and presently she realized that the
ship had, at least temporarily, weathered the awful
buffeting of the savage elements. Now she felt but a
gentle roll, though the wild turmoil of the storm still
came to her ears through the heavy planking of the
For a long hour she lay wondering what fate had
overtaken the vessel and whither she had been driven,
and then, with a gentle grinding sound, the ship
stopped, swung around, and finally came to rest with a
slight list to starboard. The wind howled about her,
the torrential rain beat loudly upon her, but except
for a slight rocking the ship lay quiet.
Hours passed with no other sounds than those of the
rapidly waning tempest. The girl heard no signs of
life upon the ship. Her curiosity became more and more
keenly aroused. She had that indefinable, intuitive
feeling that she was utterly alone upon the vessel,
and at length, unable to endure the inaction and
uncertainty longer, made her way to the companion
ladder where for half an hour she futilely attempted
to remove the hatch.
As she worked she failed to hear the scraping of naked
bodies clambering over the ship's side, or the padding
of unshod feet upon the deck above her. She was about
to give up her work at the hatch when the heavy wooden
cover suddenly commenced to move above her as though
actuated by some supernatural power. Fascinated, the
girl stood gazing in wide-eyed astonishment as one end
of the hatch rose higher and higher until a little
patch of blue sky revealed the fact that morning had
come. Then the cover slid suddenly back and Virginia
Maxon found herself looking into a savage and terrible face.
The dark skin was creased in fierce wrinkles about the
eyes and mouth. Gleaming tiger cat's teeth curved
upward from holes pierced to receive them in the upper
half of each ear. The slit ear lobes supported heavy
rings whose weight had stretched the skin until the
long loop rested upon the brown shoulders. The filed
and blackened teeth behind the loose lips added the
last touch of hideousness to this terrible countenance.
Nor was this all. A score of equally ferocious faces
peered down from behind the foremost. With a little
scream Virginia Maxon sprang back to the lower deck and
ran toward her stateroom. Behind her she heard the
commotion of many men descending the companionway.
As Number Thirteen came into the campong after quitting
the bungalow his heart was a chaos of conflicting
emotions. His little world had been wiped out.
His creator--the man whom he thought his only friend
and benefactor--had suddenly turned against him.
The beautiful creature he worshipped was either lost
or dead; Sing had said so. He was nothing but
a miserable THING. There was no place in the world for him,
and even should he again find Virginia Maxon, he had
von Horn's word for it that she would shrink from him
and loathe him even more than another.
With no plans and no hopes he walked aimlessly through
the blinding rain, oblivious of it and of the vivid
lightning and deafening thunder. The palisade at
length brought him to a sudden stop. Mechanically he
squatted on his haunches with his back against it,
and there, in the midst of the fury of the storm he
conquered the tempest that raged in his own breast.
The murder that rose again and again in his untaught
heart he forced back by thoughts of the sweet, pure
face of the girl whose image he had set up in the inner
temple of his being, as a gentle, guiding divinity.
"He made me without a soul," he repeated over and over
again to himself, "but I have found a soul--she shall
be my soul. Von Horn could not explain to me what a
soul is. He does not know. None of them knows. I am
wiser than all the rest, for I have learned what a soul is.
Eyes cannot see it--fingers cannot feel it, but he who possess
it knows that it is there for it fills his whole breast
with a great, wonderful love and worship for something
infinitely finer than man's dull senses can gauge--
something that guides him into paths far above the plain
of soulless beasts and bestial men.
"Let those who will say that I have no soul, for I am
satisfied with the soul I have found. It would never
permit me to inflict on others the terrible wrong that
Professor Maxon has inflicted on me--yet he never
doubts his own possession of a soul. It would not
allow me to revel in the coarse brutalities of von
Horn--and I am sure that von Horn thinks he has a soul.
And if the savage men who came tonight to kill have
souls, then I am glad that my soul is after my own
choosing--I would not care for one like theirs."
The sudden equatorial dawn found the man still musing.
The storm had ceased and as the daylight brought the
surroundings to view Number Thirteen became aware that
he was not alone in the campong. All about him lay the
eleven terrible men whom he had driven from the bungalow
the previous night. The sight of them brought a
realization of new responsibilities. To leave them
here in the campong would mean the immediate death of
Professor Maxon and the Chinaman. To turn them into
the jungle might mean a similar fate for Virginia Maxon
were she wandering about in search of the encampment--
Number Thirteen could not believe that she was dead.
It seemed too monstrous to believe that he should never
see her again, and he knew so little of death that it
was impossible for him to realize that that beautiful
creature ever could cease to be filled with the
vivacity of life.
The young man had determined to leave the camp himself--
partly on account of the cruel words Professor Maxon
had hurled at him the night before, but principally in
order that he might search for the lost girl.
Of course he had not the remotest idea where to look
for her, but as von Horn had explained that they were
upon a small island he felt reasonably sure that he should
find her in time.
As he looked at the sleeping monsters near him he
determined that the only solution of his problem was to
take them all with him. Number Twelve lay closest
to him, and stepping to his side he nudged him with
the butt of the bull whip he still carried.
The creature opened his dull eyes.
"Get up," said Number Thirteen.
Number Twelve rose, looking askance at the bull whip.
"We are not wanted here," said Number Thirteen.
"I am going away and you are all going with me. We shall
find a place where we may live in peace and freedom.
Are you not tired of always being penned up?"
"Yes," replied Number Twelve, still looking at the whip.
"You need not fear the whip," said the young man.
"I shall not use it on those who make no trouble.
Wake the others and tell them what I have said.
All must come with me--those who refuse shall feel the whip."
Number Twelve did as he was bid. The creatures mumbled
among themselves for a few minutes. Finally Number
Thirteen cracked his long whip to attract their attention.
"Come!" he said.
Nine of them shuffled after him as he turned toward the
outer gate--only Number Ten and Number Three held back.
The young man walked quickly to where they stood eyeing
him sullenly. The others halted to watch--ready to
spring upon their new master should the tide of the
impending battle turn against him. The two mutineers backed
away snarling, their hideous features distorted in rage.
"Come!" repeated Number Thirteen.
"We will stay here," growled Number Ten. "We have not
yet finished with Maxon."
A loop in the butt of the bull whip was about the young
man's wrist. Dropping the weapon from his hand it
still dangled by the loop. At the same instant he
launched himself at the throat of Number Ten, for he
realized that a decisive victory now without the aid
of the weapon they all feared would make the balance of
his work easier.
The brute met the charge with lowered head and
outstretched hands, and in another second they were
locked in a clinch, tearing at one another like two
great gorillas. For a moment Number Three stood
watching the battle, and then he too sprang in to aid
his fellow mutineer. Number Thirteen was striking
heavy blows with his giant hands upon the face and head
of his antagonist, while the long, uneven fangs of the
latter had found his breast and neck a half dozen times.
Blood covered them both. Number Three threw his enormous
weight into the conflict with the frenzy of a mad bull.
Again and again he got a hold upon the young giant's
throat only to be shaken loose by the mighty muscles.
The excitement of the conflict was telling upon the
malformed minds of the spectators. Presently one who
was almost brainless, acting upon the impulse of suggestion,
leaped in among the fighters, striking and biting at Number Thirteen.
It was all that was needed--another second found the whole monstrous
crew upon the single man.
His mighty strength availed him but little in the
unequal conflict--eleven to one were too great odds
even for those powerful thews. His great advantage lay
in his superior intelligence, but even this seemed
futile in the face of the enormous weight of numbers
that opposed him. Time and again he had almost shaken
himself free only to fall once more--dragged down by
hairy arms about his legs.
Hither and thither about the campong the battle raged
until the fighting mass rolled against the palisade,
and here, at last, with his back to the structure,
Number Thirteen regained his feet, and with the heavy
stock of the bull whip beat off, for a moment, those
nearest him. All were winded, but when those who were
left of the eleven original antagonists drew back to
regain their breath, the young giant gave them no respite,
but leaped among them with the long lash they had such
good reason to hate and fear.
The result was as his higher intelligence had foreseen--
the creatures scattered to escape the fury of the lash
and a moment later he had them at his mercy. About the
campong lay four who had felt the full force of his
heavy fist, while not one but bore some mark of the battle.
Not a moment did he give them to recuperate after he had
scattered them before he rounded them up once more near
the outer gate--but now they were docile and submissive.
In pairs he ordered them to lift their unconscious comrades
to their shoulders and bear them into the jungle,
for Number Thirteen was setting out into the world
with his grim tribe in search of his lady love.
Once well within the jungle they halted to eat of the
more familiar fruit which had always formed the greater
bulk of their sustenance. Thus refreshed, they set out
once more after the leader who wandered aimlessly
beneath the shade of the tall jungle trees amidst
the gorgeous tropic blooms and gay, songless birds--
and of the twelve only the leader saw the beauties
that surrounded them or felt the strange, mysterious
influence of the untracked world they trod. Chance
took them toward the west until presently they emerged
upon the harbor's edge, where from the matted jungle
they overlooked for the first time the waters of the
little bay and the broader expanse of strait beyond,
until their eyes rested at last upon the blurred lines
of distant Borneo.
From other vantage points at the jungle's border two
other watchers looked out upon the scene. One was the
lascar whom von Horn had sent down to the Ithaca the
night before but who had reached the harbor after she
sailed. The other was von Horn himself. And both were
looking out upon the dismantled wreck of the Ithaca
where it lay in the sand near the harbor's southern edge.
Neither ventured forth from his place of concealment,
for beyond the Ithaca ten prahus were pulling
gracefully into the quiet waters of the basin.
Rajah Muda Saffir, caught by the hurricane the preceding
night as he had been about to beat across to Borneo,
had scurried for shelter within one of the many
tiny coves which indent the island's entire coast.
It happened that his haven of refuge was but a short
distance south of the harbor in which he knew the Ithaca
to be moored, and in the morning he decided to pay that vessel
a visit in the hope that he might learn something of advantage
about the girl from one of her lascar crew.
The wily Malay had long refrained from pillaging the
Ithaca for fear such an act might militate against
the larger villainy he purposed perpetrating against
her white owner, but when he rounded the point and came
in sight of the stranded wreck he put all such thoughts
from him and made straight for the helpless hulk
to glean whatever of salvage might yet remain within
her battered hull.
The old rascal had little thought of the priceless
treasure hidden beneath the Ithaca's clean swept deck
as he ordered his savage henchmen up her sides while he
lay back upon his sleeping mat beneath the canopy which
protected his vice-regal head from the blistering
Number Thirteen watched the wild head hunters with
keenest interest as they clambered aboard the vessel.
With von Horn he saw the evident amazement which
followed the opening of the hatch, though neither
guessed its cause. He saw the haste with which a half
dozen of the warriors leaped down the companionway and
heard their savage shouts as they pursued their quarry
within the bowels of the ship.
A few minutes later they emerged dragging a woman with
them. Von Horn and Number Thirteen recognized the girl
simultaneously, but the doctor, though he ground his
teeth in futile rage, knew that he was helpless to
avert the tragedy. Number Thirteen neither knew nor
"Come!" he called to his grotesque horde. "Kill the
men and save the girl--the one with the golden hair,"
he added as the sudden realization came to him that
none of these creatures ever had seen a woman before.
Then he dashed from the shelter of the jungle, across
the beach and into the water, his fearful pack at his heels.
The Ithaca lay now in about five feet of water, and the
war prahus of Muda Saffir rode upon her seaward side,
so that those who manned them did not see the twelve
who splashed through the water from land. Never before
had any of the rescuers seen a larger body of water
than the little stream which wound through their
campong, but accidents and experiments in that had
taught them the danger of submerging their heads.
They could not swim, but all were large and strong,
so that they were able to push their way rapidly through
the water to the very side of the ship.
Here they found difficulty in reaching the deck,
but in a moment Number Thirteen had solved the problem
by requiring one of the taller of his crew to stand close
in by the ship while the others clambered upon his
shoulders and from there to the Ithaca's deck.
Number Thirteen was the first to pull himself over the
vessel's side, and as he did so he saw some half dozen
Dyaks preparing to quit her upon the opposite side.
They were the last of the boarding party--the girl was
nowhere in sight. Without waiting for his men the
young giant sprang across the deck. His one thought
was to find Virginia Maxon.
At the sound of his approach the Dyak turned, and at
the sight of a pajama clad white man armed only with
a long whip they emitted savage cries of anticipation,
counting the handsome trophy upon the white one's
shoulders as already theirs. Number Thirteen would
have paid no attention whatever to them had they not
molested him, for he wished only to reach the girl's
side as quickly as possible; but in another moment he
found himself confronted by a half dozen dancing wild
men, brandishing wicked looking parangs, and crying
Up went the great bull whip, and without abating his
speed a particle the man leaped into the midst of the
wicked blades that menaced him. Right and left with
the quickness of thought the heavy lash fell upon heads,
shoulders and sword arms. There was no chance to wield
a blade in the face of that terrific onslaught,
for the whip fell, not with the ordinary force
of a man-held lash, but with all the stupendous power
of those giant shoulders and arms behind it.
A single blow felled the foremost head hunter, breaking
his shoulder and biting into the flesh and bone as a
heavy sword bites. Again and again the merciless
leather fell, while in the boats below Muda Saffir and
his men shouted loud cries of encouragement to their
companions on the ship, and a wide-eyed girl in the
stern of Muda Saffir's own prahu looked on in terror,
hope and admiration at the man of her own race whom she
felt was battling against all these odds for her alone.
Virginia Maxon recognized her champion instantly
as he who had fought for her and saved her once before,
from the hideous creature of her father's experiments.
With hands tight pressed against her bosom the girl
leaned forward, tense with excitement, watching every
move of the lithe, giant figure, as, silhouetted against
the brazen tropic sky, it towered above the dancing,
shrieking head hunters who writhed beneath the awful lash.
Muda Saffir saw that the battle was going against his men,
and it filled him with anger. Turning to one of his headmen
he ordered two more boatloads of warriors to the Ithaca's deck.
As they were rushing to obey their leader's command there was
a respite in the fighting on the ship, for the three
who had not fallen beneath the bull whip had leaped overboard
to escape the fate which had overtaken their comrades.
As the reinforcements started to scale the vessel's
side Number Thirteen's searching eyes found the girl in
Muda Saffir's prahu, where it lay a little off from the
Ithaca, and as the first of the enemy clambered over
the rail she saw a smile of encouragement light the
clear cut features of the man above her. Virginia Maxon
sent back an answering smile--a smile that filled
the young giant's heart with pride and happiness--
such a smile as brave men have been content to fight and die for
since woman first learned the art of smiling.
Number Thirteen could have beaten back many of
the reinforcing party before they reached the deck,
but he did not care to do so. In the spontaneous ethics
of the man there seemed no place for an unfair advantage
over an enemy, and added to this was his newly acquired
love of battle, so he was content to wait until his foes
stood on an even footing with him before he engaged them.
But they never came within reach of his ready lash.
Instead, as they came above the ship's side they paused,
wide-eyed and terror stricken, and with cries of fear
and consternation dropped precipitately back into the sea,
shouting warnings to those who were about to scale the hull.
Muda Saffir arose in his prahu cursing and reviling the
frightened Dyaks. He did not know the cause of their alarm,
but presently he saw it behind the giant upon the Ithaca's deck--
eleven horrible monstrosities lumbering forward, snarling and growling,
to their leader's side.
At the sight his own dark countenance went ashen,
and with trembling lips he ordered his oarsmen to pull
for the open sea. The girl, too, saw the frightful
creatures that surrounded the man upon the deck.
She thought that they were about to attack him,
and gave a little cry of warning, but in another
instant she realized that they were his companions,
for with him they rushed to the side of the ship
to stand for a moment looking down upon the struggling
Dyaks in the water below.
Two prahus lay directly beneath them, and into these
the head hunters were scrambling. The balance of the
flotilla was now making rapid headway under oars and sail
toward the mouth of the harbor, and as Number Thirteen
saw that the girl was being borne away from him,
he shouted a command to his misshapen crew,
and without waiting to see if they would follow him
leaped into the nearer of the two boats beneath.
It was already half filled with Dyaks, some of whom
were hastily manning the oars. Others of the head
hunters were scrambling over the gunwale. In an
instant pandemonium reigned in the little vessel.
Savage warriors sprang toward the tall figure towering
above them. Parangs flashed. The bull whip hissed and
cracked, and then into the midst of it all came a
horrid avalanche of fearful and grotesque monsters--
the young giant's crew had followed at his command.
The battle in the prahu was short and fierce. For an
instant the Dyaks attempted to hold their own, but in
the face of the snarling, rending horde that engulfed them
terror got the better of them all, so that those who were not
overcome dived overboard and swam rapidly toward shore.
The other prahu had not waited to assist its companion,
but before it was entirely filled had gotten under way
and was now rapidly overhauling the balance of the fleet.
Von Horn had been an excited witness to all that had
occurred upon the tranquil bosom of the little harbor.
He had been filled with astonishment at sight of the
inhabitants of the court of mystery fighting under the
leadership of Number Thirteen, and now he watched
interestedly the outcome of the adventure.
The sight of the girl being borne away in the prahu of
the Malay rajah to a fate worse than death, had roused
in him both keen regret and savage rage, but it was the
life of ease that he was losing that concerned him most.
He had felt so sure of winning Professor Maxon's fortune
through either a forced or voluntary marriage with the girl
that his feelings now were as of one whose rightful heritage
has been foully wrested from him. The thought of
the girl's danger and suffering were of but secondary
consideration to him, for the man was incapable of either
deep love or true chivalry.
Quite the contrary were the emotions which urged on the
soulless creature who now found himself in undisputed
possession of a Dyak war prahu. His only thought was
of the girl being rapidly borne away across the
glimmering waters of the strait. He knew not to what
dangers she was exposed, or what fate threatened her.
All he knew was that she had been taken by force
against her will. He had seen the look of terror in
her eyes, and the dawning hope die out as the boat that
carried her had turned rapidly away from the Ithaca.
His one thought now was to rescue her from her abductors
and return her to her father. Of his own reward or profit
he entertained no single thought--it was enough if he could
fight for her. That would be reward sufficient.
Neither Number Thirteen nor any of his crew had ever
before seen a boat, and outside of the leader there was
scarcely enough brains in the entire party to render it
at all likely that they could ever navigate it,
but the young man saw that the other prahus were
being propelled by the long sticks which protruded from
their sides, and he also saw the sails bellying with wind,
though he had but a vague conception of their purpose.
For a moment he stood watching the actions of the men
in the nearest boat, and then he set himself to the
task of placing his own men at the oars and instructing
them in the manner of wielding the unfamiliar implements.
For an hour he worked with the brainless things
that constituted his party. They could not seem
to learn what was required of them. The paddles
were continually fouling one another, or being
merely dipped into the water and withdrawn without
the faintest semblance of a stroke made.
The tiresome maneuvering had carried them about in
circles back and forth across the harbor, but by it
Number Thirteen had himself learned something of the
proper method of propelling and steering his craft.
At last, more through accident than intent, they came
opposite the mouth of the basin, and then chance did
for them what days of arduous endeavor upon their part
might have failed to accomplish.
As they hung wavering in the opening, the broad strait
before them, and their quarry fast diminishing to small
specks upon the distant horizon, a vagrant land breeze
suddenly bellied the flapping sail. The prahu swung
quickly about with nose pointed toward the sea, the
sail filled, and the long, narrow craft shot out of the
harbor and sped on over the dancing waters in the wake
of her sisters.
On shore behind them the infuriated Dyaks who had
escaped to the beach danced and shrieked; von Horn,
from his hiding place, looked on in surprised wonder,
and Bududreen's lascar cursed the fate that had left a party
of forty head hunters upon the same small island with him.
Smaller and smaller grew the retreating prahu as,
straight as an arrow, she sped toward the dim outline
of verdure clad Borneo.
INTO SAVAGE BORNEO
Von Horn cursed the chance that had snatched the girl
from him, but he tried to content himself with the
thought that the treasure probably still rested in the
cabin of the Ithaca, where Bududreen was to have
deposited it. He wished that the Dyaks would take
themselves off so that he could board the vessel and
carry the chest ashore to bury it against the time that
fate should provide a means for transporting it to Singapore.
In the water below him floated the Ithaca's masts,
their grisly burdens still lashed to their wave swept
sides. Bududreen lay there, his contorted features set
in a horrible grimace of death which grinned up at the
man he would have cheated, as though conscious of the
fact that the white man would have betrayed him had the
opportunity come, the while he enjoyed in anticipation
the other's disappointment in the loss of both the girl
and the treasure.
The tide was rising now, and presently the Ithaca began
to float. No sooner was it apparent that she was free
than the Dyaks sprang into the water and swam to her
side. Like monkeys they scrambled aboard, swarming
below deck in search, thought von Horn, of pillage.
He prayed that they would not discover the chest.
Presently a half dozen of them leaped overboard and
swam to the mass of tangled spars and rigging which
littered the beach. Selecting what they wished they
returned to the vessel, and a few minutes later von
Horn was chagrined to see them stepping a jury mast--
he thought the treasure lay in the Ithaca's cabin.
Before dark the vessel moved slowly out of the harbor,
setting a course across the strait in the direction
that the war prahus had taken. When it was apparent
that there was no danger that the head hunters would
return, the lascar came from his hiding place, and
dancing up and down upon the shore screamed warlike
challenges and taunts at the retreating enemy.
Von Horn also came forth, much to the sailor's
surprise, and in silence the two stood watching the
disappearing ship. At length they turned and made
their way up the stream toward camp--there was no
longer aught to fear there. Von Horn wondered if the
creatures he had loosed upon Professor Maxon had done
their work before they left, or if they had all turned
to mush as had Number Thirteen.
Once at the encampment his questions were answered,
for he saw a light in the bungalow, and as he mounted
the steps there were Sing and Professor Maxon just
coming from the living room.
"Von Horn!" exclaimed the professor. "You, then, are not dead;
but where is Virginia? Tell me that she is safe."
"She has been carried away" was the startling answer.
"Your creatures, under the thing you wished to marry
her to, have taken her to Borneo with a band of Malay
and Dyak pirates. I was alone and could do nothing to
"God!" moaned the old man. "Why did I not kill the thing
when it stood within my power to do so. Only last night
he was here beside me, and now it is too late."
"I warned you," said von Horn, coldly.
"I was mad," retorted the professor. "Could you not
see that I was mad? Oh, why did you not stop me?
You were sane enough. You at least might have forced
me to abandon the insane obsession which has overpowered
my reason for all these terrible months. I am sane now,
but it is too late--too late."
"Both you and your daughter could only have interpreted
any such action on my part as instigated by self-
interest, for you both knew that I wanted to make
her my wife," replied the other. "My hands were tied.
I am sorry now that I did not act, but you can readily
see the position in which I was placed."
"Can nothing be done to get her back?" cried the father.
"There must be some way to save her. Do it von Horn,
and not only is my daughter yours but my wealth as well--
every thing that I possess shall be yours if you will
but save her from those frightful creatures."
"The Ithaca is gone, too," replied the doctor. "There
is only a small boat that I hid in the jungle for some
such emergency. It will carry us to Borneo, but what
can we four do against five hundred pirates and the
dozen monsters you have brought into the world?
No, Professor Maxon, I fear there is little hope,
though I am willing to give my life in an attempt
to save Virginia. You will not forget your promise
should we succeed?"
"No, doctor," replied the old man. "I swear that you
shall have Virginia as your wife, and all my property
shall be made over to you if she is rescued."
Sing Lee had been a silent listener to this strange
conversation. An odd look came into his slant eyes
as he heard von Horn exact a confirmation from
the professor, but what passed in his shrewd mind
only he could say.
It was too late to attempt to make a start that day for Borneo,
as darkness had already fallen. Professor Maxon and von Horn
walked over to the workshop and the inner campong to ascertain
what damage had been done there.
On their return Sing was setting the table on the