Part 4 out of 4
It was to this apartment that the chief finally consented
to dispatch two of his warriors. The men crept noiselessly
within the pitch dark interior until they came to the sleeping
form of one of the Dyak women. Cautiously they awoke her.
"Where is the white girl?" asked one of the men in a
low whisper. "Muda Saffir has sent us for her.
Tell her that her father is very sick and wants her,
but do not mention Muda Saffir's name lest she
might not come."
The whispering awakened Virginia and she lay wondering
what the cause of the midnight conference might be,
for she recognized that one of the speakers was a man,
and there had been no man in the apartment when she had
gone to sleep earlier in the night.
Presently she heard some one approach her, and a moment
later a woman's voice addressed her; but she could not
understand enough of the native tongue to make out
precisely the message the speaker wished to convey.
The words "father," "sick," and "come," however she
finally understood after several repetitions, for she
had picked up a smattering of the Dyak language during
her enforced association with the natives.
The moment that the possibilities suggested by these
few words dawned upon her, she sprang to her feet and
followed the woman toward the door of the apartment.
Immediately without the two warriors stood upon the
verandah awaiting their victim, and as Virginia passed
through the doorway she was seized roughly from either
side, a heavy hand was clapped over her mouth,
and before she could make even an effort to rebel
she had been dragged to the end of the verandah,
down the notched log to the ground and a moment later
found herself in a war prahu which was immediately
pushed into the stream.
Since Virginia had come to the long-house after her
rescue from the ourang outangs, supposedly by von Horn,
Rajah Muda Saffir had kept very much out of sight,
for he knew that should the girl see him she would
recognize him as the man who had stolen her from
the Ithaca. So it came as a mighty shock to the girl
when she heard the hated tones of the man whom she
had knocked overboard from the prahu two nights before,
and realized that the bestial Malay sat close beside her,
and that she was again in his power. She looked now
for no mercy, nor could she hope to again escape him so
easily as she had before, and so she sat with bowed head
in the bottom of the swiftly moving craft, buried in
anguished thoughts, hopeless and miserable.
Along the stretch of black river that the prahu and her
consort covered that night Virginia Maxon saw no living
thing other than a single figure in a small sampan
which hugged the shadows of the shore as the two larger
boats met and passed it, nor answered their hail.
Where von Horn and his two Dyak guides had landed,
Muda Saffir's force disembarked and plunged into the jungle.
Rapidly they hastened along the well known trail toward
the point designated by the two messengers, to come upon
the spot almost simultaneously with the party under
Barunda's uncle, who, startled by the two shots
several hours previously, had been cautiously searching
through the jungle for an explanation of them.
They had gone warily for fear that they might stumble
upon Ninaka's party before Muda Saffir arrived with
reinforcements, and but just now had they discovered
the prostrate forms of their two companions.
One was dead, but the other was still conscious
and had just sufficient vitality left after the coming
of his fellows to whisper that they had been treacherously
shot by the younger white man who had been at the long-house
where they had found Muda Saffir--then the fellow expired
without having an opportunity to divulge the secret hiding
place of the treasure, over the top of which his body lay.
Now Bulan had been an interested witness of all
that transpired. At first he had been inclined to come
out of his hiding place and follow von Horn, but so much
had already occurred beneath the branches of the great
tree where the chest lay hidden that he decided to wait
until morning at least, for he was sure that he had by
no means seen the last of the drama which surrounded
the heavy box. This belief was strengthened by the
haste displayed by both Ninaka and von Horn to escape
the neighborhood as quickly as possible, as though they
feared that they might be apprehended should they delay
even for a moment.
Number Three and Number Twelve still slept, not having
been aroused even by the shots fired by von Horn.
Bulan himself had dozed after the departure of the
doctor, but the advent of Barunda's uncle with his
followers had awakened him, and now he lay wide eyed
and alert as the second party, under Muda Saffir,
came into view when they left the jungle trail
and entered the clearing.
His interest in either party was but passive until
he saw the khaki blouse, short skirt and trim leggins
of the captive walking between two of the Dyaks of Muda
Saffir's company. At the same instant he recognized
the evil features of the rajah as those of the man who
had directed the abduction of Virginia Maxon from
the wrecked Ithaca.
Like a great cat Bulan drew himself cautiously to all fours--
every nerve and muscle taut with the excitement of the moment.
Before him he saw a hundred and fifty ferocious Borneo head hunters,
armed with parangs, spears and sumpitans. At his back slept two
almost brainless creatures--his sole support against the awful odds
he must face before he could hope to succor the divinity whose image
was enshrined in his brave and simple heart.
The muscles stood out upon his giant forearm as he gripped the stock
of his bull whip. He believed that he was going to his death,
for mighty as were his thews he knew that in the face of the horde
they would avail him little, yet he saw no other way than to sit
supinely by while the girl went to her doom, and that he could not do.
He nudged Number Twelve. "Silence!" he whispered, and "Come!
The girl is here. We must save her. Kill the men,"
and the same to the hairy and terrible Number Three.
Both the creatures awoke and rose to their hands
and knees without noise that could be heard above
the chattering of the natives, who had crowded forward
to view the dead bodies of von Horn's victims.
Silently Bulan came to his feet, the two monsters
at his back rising and pressing close behind him.
Along the denser shadows the three crept to a position
in the rear of the natives. The girl's guards had
stepped forward with the others to join in the discussion
that followed the dying statement of the murdered warrior,
leaving her upon the outer fringe of the crowd.
For an instant a sudden hope of escape sprang to
Virginia Maxon's mind--there was none between her
and the jungle through which they had just passed.
Though unknown dangers lurked in the black and uncanny
depths of the dismal forest, would not death in any
form be far preferable to the hideous fate which awaited
her in the person of the bestial Malay pirate?
She had turned to take the first step toward freedom
when three figures emerged from the wall of darkness
behind her. She saw the war-caps, shields, and war-
coats, and her heart sank. Here were others of the
rajah's party--stragglers who had come just in time to
thwart her plans. How large these men were--she never
had seen a native of such giant proportions; and now
they had come quite close to her, and as the foremost
stooped to speak to her she shrank back in fear.
Then, to her surprise, she heard in whispered English;
"Come quietly, while they are not looking."
She thought the voice familiar, but could not place it,
though her heart whispered that it might belong to the
young stranger of her dreams. He reached out and took
her hand and together they turned and walked quickly toward
the jungle, followed by the two who had accompanied him.
Scarcely had they covered half the distance before one
of the Dyaks whose duty it had been to guard the girl
discovered that she was gone. With a cry he alarmed
his fellows, and in another instant a sharp pair of eyes
caught the movement of the four who had now broken into a run.
With savage shouts the entire force of head hunters
sprang in pursuit. Bulan lifted Virginia in his arms
and dashed on ahead of Number Twelve and Number Three.
A shower of poisoned darts blown from half a hundred
sumpitans fell about them, and then Muda Saffir called
to his warriors to cease using their deadly blow-pipes
lest they kill the girl.
Into the jungle dashed the four while close behind them
came the howling pack of enraged savages. Now one
closed upon Number Three only to fall back dead with
a broken neck as the giant fingers released their hold
upon him. A parang swung close to Number Twelve,
but his own, which he had now learned to wield with
fearful effect, clove through the pursuing warrior's
skull splitting him wide to the breast bone.
Thus they fought the while they forced their way deeper
and deeper into the dark mazes of the entangled vegetation.
The brunt of the running battle was borne by the two monsters,
for Bulan was carrying Virginia, and keeping a little ahead
of his companions to insure the girl's greater safety.
Now and then patches of moonlight filtering through
occasional openings in the leafy roofing revealed
to Virginia the battle that was being waged for possession
of her, and once, when Number Three turned toward her
after disposing of a new assailant, she was horrified
to see the grotesque and terrible face of the creature.
A moment later she caught sight of Number Twelve's
hideous face. She was appalled.
Could it be that she had been rescued from the Malay
to fall into the hands of creatures equally heartless
and entirely without souls? She glanced up at the face
of him who carried her. In the darkness of the night
she had not yet had an opportunity to see the features
of the man, but after a glimpse at those of his two
companions she trembled to think of the hideous thing
that might be revealed to her.
Could it be that she had at last fallen into the hands
of the dreaded and terrible Number Thirteen!
Instinctively she shrank from contact with the man
in whose arms she had been carried without a trace
of repugnance until the thought obtruded itself that
he might be the creature of her father's mad
experimentation, to whose arms she had been doomed
by the insane obsession of her parent.
The man shifted her now to give himself freer use
of his right arm, for the savages were pressing more
closely upon Twelve and Three, and the change made
it impossible for the girl to see his face even
in the more frequent moonlit places.
But she could see the two who ran and fought just
behind them, and she shuddered at her inevitable fate.
For should the three be successful in bearing her away
from the Dyaks she must face an unknown doom, while
should the natives recapture her there was the terrible
Malay into whose clutches she had already twice fallen.
Now the head hunters were pressing closer,
and suddenly, even as the girl looked directly at him,
a spear passed through the heart of Number Three.
Clutching madly at the shaft protruding from his
misshapen body the grotesque thing stumbled on for a
dozen paces, and then sank to the ground as two of the
brown warriors sprang upon him with naked parangs.
An instant later Virginia Maxon saw the hideous
and grisly head swinging high in the hand of a dancing,
The man who carried her was now forced to turn and fight
off the enemy that pressed forward past Number Twelve.
The mighty bull whip whirled and cracked across the heads
and faces of the Dyaks. It was a formidable weapon
when backed by the Herculean muscles that rolled
and shifted beneath Bulan's sun-tanned skin,
and many were the brown warriors that went down
beneath its cruel lash.
Virginia could see that the creature who bore her was
not deformed of body, but she shrank from the thought
of what a sight of his face might reveal. How much
longer the two could fight off the horde at their heels
the girl could not guess; and as a matter of fact
she was indifferent to the outcome of the strange,
running battle that was being waged with herself
as the victor's spoil.
The country now was becoming rougher and more open.
The flight seemed to be leading into a range of low hills,
where the jungle grew less dense, and the way rocky and rugged.
They had entered a narrow canyon when Number Twelve went down
beneath a half dozen parangs. Again the girl saw a bloody head
swung on high and heard the fierce, wild chorus of exulting victory.
She wondered how long it would be ere the creature beneath her
would add his share to the grim trophies of the hunt.
In the interval that the head hunters had paused
to sever Number Twelve's head, Bulan had gained
fifty yards upon them, and then, of a sudden, he came
to a sheer wall rising straight across the narrow trail
he had been following. Ahead there was no way--a cat
could scarce have scaled that formidable barrier--but
to the right he discerned what appeared to be a steep
and winding pathway up the canyon's side, and with a
bound he clambered along it to where it surmounted
the rocky wall.
There he turned, winded, to await the oncoming foe.
Here was a spot where a single man might defy an army,
and Bulan had been quick to see the natural advantages
of it. He placed the girl upon her feet behind a protruding
shoulder of the canyon's wall which rose to a considerable
distance still above them. Then he turned to face the mob
that was surging up the narrow pathway toward him.
At his feet lay an accumulation of broken rock from
the hillside above, and as a spear sped, singing,
close above his shoulder, the occurrence suggested a use
for the rough and jagged missiles which lay about him
in such profusion. Many of the pieces were large,
weighing twenty and thirty pounds, and some even as
much as fifty. Picking up one of the larger Bulan
raised it high above his head, and then hurled it down
amongst the upclimbing warriors. In an instant
pandemonium reigned, for the heavy boulder had mowed
down a score of the pursuers, breaking arms and legs
in its meteoric descent.
Missile after missile Bulan rained down upon the
struggling, howling Dyaks, until, seized by panic,
they turned and fled incontinently down into the depths
of the canyon and back along the narrow trail they had come,
and then superstitious fear completed the rout that the
flying rocks had started, for one whispered to another
that this was the terrible Bulan and that he had but lured
them on into the hills that he might call forth all
his demons and destroy them.
For a moment Bulan stood watching the retreating savages,
a smile upon his lips, and then as the sudden equatorial
dawn burst forth he turned to face the girl.
As Virginia Maxon saw the fine features of the giant
where she had expected to find the grotesque and
hideous lineaments of a monster, she gave a quick
little cry of pleasure and relief.
"Thank God!" she cried fervently. "Thank God that
you are a man--I thought that I was in the clutches
of the hideous and soulless monster, Number Thirteen."
The smile upon the young man's face died. An expression
of pain, and hopelessness, and sorrow swept across his features.
The girl saw the change, and wondered, but how could she guess
the grievous wound her words had inflicted?
For a moment the two stood in silence; Bulan tortured
by thoughts of the bitter humiliation that he must
suffer when the girl should learn his identity;
Virginia wondering at the sad lines that had come
into the young man's face, and at his silence.
It was the girl who first spoke. "Who are you,"
she asked, "to whom I owe my safety?"
The man hesitated. To speak aught than the truth
had never occurred to him during his brief existence.
He scarcely knew how to lie. To him a question demanded
but one manner of reply--the facts. But never before
had he had to face a question where so much depended
upon his answer. He tried to form the bitter,
galling words; but a vision of that lovely face
suddenly transformed with horror and disgust throttled
the name in his throat.
"I am Bulan," he said, at last, quietly.
"Bulan," repeated the girl. "Bulan. Why that
is a native name. You are either an Englishman
or an American. What is your true name?"
"My name is Bulan," he insisted doggedly.
Virginia Maxon thought that he must have some good
reason of his own for wishing to conceal his identity.
At first she wondered if he could be a fugitive from
justice--the perpetrator of some horrid crime,
who dared not divulge his true name even in the remote
fastness of a Bornean wilderness; but a glance at
his frank and noble countenance drove every vestige
of the traitorous thought from her mind. Her woman's
intuition was sufficient guarantee of the nobility
of his character.
"Then let me thank you, Mr. Bulan," she said, "for the
service that you have rendered a strange and helpless woman."
"Just Bulan," he said. "There is no need for Miss
or Mister in the savage jungle, Virginia."
The girl flushed at the sudden and unexpected use of her
given name, and was surprised that she was not offended.
"How do you know my name?" she asked.
Bulan saw that he would get into deep water if
he attempted to explain too much, and, as is ever the way,
discovered that one deception had led him into another;
so he determined to forestall future embarrassing queries
by concocting a story immediately to explain his presence
and his knowledge.
"I lived upon the island near your father's camp,"
he said. "I knew you all--by sight."
"How long have you lived there?" asked the girl.
"We thought the island uninhabited."
"All my life," replied Bulan truthfully.
"It is strange," she mused. "I cannot understand it.
But the monsters--how is it that they followed you and
obeyed your commands?"
Bulan touched the bull whip that hung at his side.
"Von Horn taught them to obey this," he said.
"He used that upon them?" cried the girl in horror.
"It was the only way," said Bulan. "They were almost brainless--
they could understand nothing else, for they could not reason."
"Where are they now--the balance of them?" she asked.
"They are dead, poor things," he replied, sadly.
"Poor, hideous, unloved, unloving monsters--they gave
up their lives for the daughter of the man who made
them the awful, repulsive creatures that they were."
"What do you mean?" cried the girl.
"I mean that all have been killed searching for you,
and battling with your enemies. They were soulless
creatures, but they loved the mean lives they gave up
so bravely for you whose father was the author
of their misery-- you owe a great deal to them, Virginia."
"Poor things," murmured the girl, "but yet they are
better off, for without brains or souls there could
be no happiness in life for them. My father did them
a hideous wrong, but it was an unintentional wrong.
His mind was crazed with dwelling upon the wonderful
discovery he had made, and if he wronged them
he contemplated a still more terrible wrong
to be inflicted upon me, his daughter."
"I do not understand," said Bulan.
"It was his intention to give me in marriage to one
of his soulless monsters--to the one he called Number
Thirteen. Oh, it is terrible even to think of the
hideousness of it; but now they are all dead he cannot
do it even though his poor mind, which seems well again,
should suffer a relapse."
"Why do you loathe them so?" asked Bulan. "Is it because
they are hideous, or because they are soulless?"
"Either fact were enough to make them repulsive,"
replied the girl, "but it is the fact that they were
without souls that made them totally impossible--
one easily overlooks physical deformity, but the moral
depravity that must be inherent in a creature without
a soul must forever cut him off from intercourse
with human beings."
"And you think that regardless of their physical appearance
the fact that they were without souls would have been apparent?"
"I am sure of it," cried Virginia. "I would know the
moment I set my eyes upon a creature without a soul."
With all the sorrow that was his, Bulan could scarce
repress a smile, for it was quite evident either that
it was impossible to perceive a soul, or else that he
"Just how do you distinguish the possessor of a soul?"
The girl cast a quick glance up at him.
"You are making fun of me," she said.
"Not at all," he replied. "I am just curious as to how
souls make themselves apparent. I have seen men kill
one another as beasts kill. I have seen one who was
cruel to those within his power, yet they were all men
with souls. I have seen eleven soulless monsters die
to save the daughter of a man whom they believed had
wronged them terribly--a man with a soul. How then
am I to know what attributes denote the possession
of the immortal spark? How am I to know whether
or not I possess a soul?"
"You are courageous and honorable and chivalrous--
those are enough to warrant the belief that you have a soul,
were it not apparent from your countenance that you are
of the higher type of mankind," she said.
"I hope that you will never change your opinion of me,
Virginia," said the man; but he knew that there lay
before her a severe shock, and before him a great
sorrow when they should come to where her father
was and the girl should learn the truth concerning him.
That he did not himself tell her may be forgiven him,
for he had only a life of misery to look forward
to after she should know that he, too, was equally
a soulless monster with the twelve that had preceded him
to a merciful death. He would have envied them but
for the anticipation of the time that he might be alone
with her before she learned the truth.
As he pondered the future there came to him the thought
that should they never find Professor Maxon or von Horn
the girl need never know but that he was a human being.
He need not lose her then, but always be near her.
The idea grew and with it the mighty temptation to lead
Virginia Maxon far into the jungle, and keep her forever
from the sight of men. And why not? Had he not saved her
where others had failed? Was she not, by all that was
just and fair, his?
Did he owe any loyalty to either her father or von Horn?
Already he had saved Professor Maxon's life, so the obligation,
if there was any, lay all against the older man; and three times
he had saved Virginia. He would be very kind and good to her.
She should be much happier and a thousand times safer than
with those others who were so poorly equipped to protect her.
As he stood silently gazing out across the jungle
beneath them toward the new sun the girl watched him
in a spell of admiration of his strong and noble face,
and his perfect physique. What would have been
her emotions had she guessed what thoughts were his!
It was she who broke the silence.
"Can you find the way to the long-house where my father is?"
Bulan, startled at the question, looked up from his reverie.
The thing must be faced, then, sooner than he thought.
How was he to tell her of his intention? It occurred
to him to sound her first--possibly she would make no
objection to the plan.
"You are anxious to return?" he asked.
"Why, yes, of course, I am," she replied. "My father
will be half mad with apprehension, until he knows that
I am safe. What a strange question, indeed." Still,
however, she did not doubt the motives of her companion.
"Suppose we should be unable to find our way to the
long-house?" he continued.
"Oh, don't say such a thing," cried the girl.
"It would be terrible. I should die of misery
and fright and loneliness in this awful jungle.
Surely you can find your way to the river--
it was but a short march through the jungle
from where we landed to the spot at which
you took me away from that fearful Malay."
The girl's words cast a cloud over Bulan's hopes.
The future looked less roseate with the knowledge
that she would be unhappy in the life that he had been
mapping for them. He was silent--thinking. In his breast
a riot of conflicting emotions were waging the first
great battle which was to point the trend of the man's
character--would the selfish and the base prevail,
or would the noble?
With the thought of losing her his desire for her
companionship became almost a mania. To return her
to her father and von Horn would be to lose her--
of that there could be no doubt, for they would not leave
her long in ignorance of his origin. Then, in addition
to being deprived of her forever, he must suffer
the galling mortification of her scorn.
It was a great deal to ask of a fledgling morality
that was yet scarcely cognizant of its untried wings;
but even as the man wavered between right and wrong
there crept into his mind the one great and burning question
of his life--had he a soul? And he knew that upon
his decision of the fate of Virginia Maxon rested
to some extent the true answer to that question, for,
unconsciously, he had worked out his own crude soul
hypothesis which imparted to this invisible entity
the power to direct his actions only for good.
Therefore he reasoned that wickedness presupposed
a small and worthless soul, or the entire lack of one.
That she would hate a soulless creature he accepted
as a foregone conclusion. He desired her respect,
and that fact helped him to his final decision, but the
thing that decided him was born of the truly chivalrous
nature he possessed--he wanted Virginia Maxon to be
happy; it mattered not at what cost to him.
The girl had been watching him closely as he stood
silently thinking after her last words. She did not know
the struggle that the calm face hid; yet she felt that
the dragging moments were big with the question of her fate.
"Well?" she said at length.
"We must eat first," he replied in a matter-of-fact tone,
and not at all as though he was about to renounce
his life's happiness, "and then we shall set out
in search of your father. I shall take you to him,
Virginia, if man can find him."
"I knew that you could," she said, simply, "but how my
father and I ever can repay you I do not know--do you?"
"Yes," said Bulan, and there was a sudden rush of fire
to his eyes that kept Virginia Maxon from urging a
detailed explanation of just how she might repay him.
In truth she did not know whether to be angry,
or frightened, or glad of the truth that she read there;
or mortified that it had awakened in her a realization
that possibly an analysis of her own interest in this
young stranger might reveal more than she had imagined.
The constraint that suddenly fell upon them was
relieved when Bulan motioned her to follow him back
down the trail into the gorge in search of food.
There they sat together upon a fallen tree beside
a tiny rivulet, eating the fruit that the man gathered.
Often their eyes met as they talked, but always
the girl's fell before the open worship of the man's.
Many were the men who had looked in admiration
at Virginia Maxon in the past, but never, she felt,
with eyes so clean and brave and honest. There was
no guile or evil in them, and because of it she
wondered all the more that she could not face them.
"What a wonderful soul those eyes portray," she thought,
"and how perfectly they assure the safety of my life
and honor while their owner is near me."
And the man thought: "Would that I owned a soul that I might
aspire to live always near her--always to protect her."
When they had eaten the two set out once more
in search of the river, and the confidence that is born
of ignorance was theirs, so that beyond each succeeding
tangled barrier of vines and creepers they looked to see
the swirling stream that would lead them to the girl's father.
On and on they trudged, the man often carrying the girl
across the rougher obstacles and through the little
streams that crossed their path, until at last came
noon, and yet no sign of the river they sought.
The combined jungle craft of the two had been insufficient
either to trace the way that they had come,
or point the general direction of the river.
As the afternoon drew to a close Virginia Maxon
commenced to lose heart--she was confident that they
were lost. Bulan made no pretence of knowing the way,
the most that he would say being that eventually they
must come to the river. As a matter-of-fact had it not
been for the girl's evident concern he would have been
glad to know that they were irretrievably lost;
but for her sake his efforts to find the river
When at last night closed down upon them the girl was,
at heart, terror stricken, but she hid her true state
from the man, because she knew that their plight was
no fault of his. The strange and uncanny noises
of the jungle night filled her with the most dreadful
forebodings, and when a cold, drizzling rain set
in upon them her cup of misery was full.
Bulan rigged a rude shelter for her, making her lie
down beneath it, and then he removed his Dyak war-coat
and threw it over her, but it was hours before her
exhausted body overpowered her nervous fright and won
a fitful and restless slumber. Several times Virginia
became obsessed with the idea that Bulan had left her
alone there in the jungle, but when she called his name
he answered from close beside her shelter.
She thought that he had reared another for himself nearby,
but even the thought that he might sleep filled her with dread,
yet she would not call to him again, since she knew that
he needed his rest even more than she. And all the night
Bulan stood close beside the woman he had learned to love--
stood almost naked in the chill night air and the cold rain,
lest some savage man or beast creep out of the darkness
after her while he slept.
The next day with its night, and the next, and the next
were but repetitions of the first. It had become an
agony of suffering for the man to fight off sleep longer.
The girl read part of the truth in his heavy eyes and worn face,
and tried to force him to take needed rest, but she did not
guess that he had not slept for four days and nights.
At last abused Nature succumbed to the terrific strain
that had been put upon her, and the giant constitution
of the man went down before the cold and the wet,
weakened and impoverished by loss of sleep and
insufficient food; for through the last two days
he had been able to find but little, and that little he
had given to the girl, telling her that he had eaten
his fill while he gathered hers.
It was on the fifth morning, when Virginia awoke, that
she found Bulan rolling and tossing upon the wet ground
before her shelter, delirious with fever. At the sight
of the mighty figure reduced to pitiable inefficiency
and weakness, despite the knowledge that her protector
could no longer protect, the fear of the jungle faded
from the heart of the young girl--she was no more
a weak and trembling daughter of an effete civilization.
Instead she was a lioness, watching over and protecting
her sick mate. The analogy did not occur to her,
but something else did as she saw the flushed face
and fever wracked body of the man whose appeal to her
she would have thought purely physical had she given
the subject any analytic consideration; and as
a realization of his utter helplessness came to her
she bent over him and kissed first his forehead
and then his lips.
"What a noble and unselfish love yours has been,"
she murmured. "You have even tried to hide it that
my position might be the easier to bear, and now that
it may be too late I learn that I love you--that I
have always loved you. Oh, Bulan, my Bulan, what a cruel
fate that permitted us to find one another only to die together!"
For a week Professor Maxon with von Horn and Sing
sought for Virginia. They could get no help from
the natives of the long-house, who feared the vengeance
of Muda Saffir should he learn that they had aided
the white men upon his trail.
And always as the three hunted through the jungle
and up and down the river there lurked ever near
a handful of the men of the tribe of the two whom
von Horn had murdered, waiting for the chance that would
give them revenge and the heads of the three they followed.
They feared the guns of the white men too much to venture
an open attack, and at night the quarry never abated
their watchfulness, so that days dragged on, and still
the three continued their hopeless quest unconscious
of the relentless foe that dogged their footsteps.
Von Horn was always searching for an opportunity to
enlist the aid of the friendly natives in an effort
to regain the chest, but so far he had found none
who would agree to accompany him even in consideration
of a large share of the booty. It was the treasure alone
which kept him to the search for Virginia Maxon, and he
made it a point to direct the hunt always in the vicinity
of the spot where it was buried, for a great fear consumed
him that Ninaka might return and claim it before he had a
chance to make away with it.
Three times during the week they returned and slept
at the long-house, hoping each time to learn that
the natives had received some news of her they sought,
through the wonderful channels of communication that
seemed always open across the trackless jungle and up
and down the savage, lonely rivers.
For two days Bulan lay raving in the delirium of fever,
while the delicate girl, unused to hardship and exposure,
watched over him and nursed him with the loving tenderness
and care of a young mother with her first born.
For the most part the young giant's ravings were
inarticulate, but now and then Virginia heard
her name linked with words of reverence and worship.
The man fought again the recent battles he had passed through,
and again suffered the long night watches beside the
sleeping girl who filled his heart. Then it was that
she learned the truth of his self-sacrificing devotion.
The thing that puzzled her most was the repetition of
a number and a name which ran through all his delirium--
"Nine ninety nine Priscilla."
She could make neither head nor tail of it, nor was
there another word to give a clue to its meaning,
so at last from constant repetition it became
a commonplace and she gave it no further thought.
The girl had given up hope that Bulan ever could
recover, so weak and emaciated had he become,
and when the fever finally left him quite suddenly
she was positive that it was the beginning of the end.
It was on the morning of the seventh day since they
had commenced their wandering in search of the long-house
that, as she sat watching him, she saw his eyes resting
upon her face with a look of recognition.
Gently she took his hand, and at the act he smiled
at her very weakly.
"You are better, Bulan," she said. "You have been very sick,
but now you shall soon be well again."
She did not believe her own words, yet the mere saying
of them gave her renewed hope.
"Yes," replied the man. "I shall soon be well again.
How long have I been like this?"
"For two days," she replied.
"And you have watched over me alone in the jungle
for two days?" he asked incredulously.
"Had it been for life," she said in a low voice,
"it would scarce have repaid the debt I owe you."
For a long time he lay looking up into her eyes--
"I wish that it had been for life," he said.
At first she did not quite realize what he meant,
but presently the tired and hopeless expression of
his eyes brought to her a sudden knowledge of his meaning.
"Oh, Bulan," she cried, "you must not say that.
Why should you wish to die?"
"Because I love you, Virginia," he replied.
"And because, when you know what I am,
you will hate and loathe me."
On the girl's lips was an avowal of her own love,
but as she bent closer to whisper the words in his ear
there came the sound of men crashing through the jungle,
and as she turned to face the peril that she thought approaching,
von Horn sprang into view, while directly behind him came
her father and Sing Lee.
Bulan saw them at the same instant, and as Virginia ran
forward to greet her father he staggered weakly to his feet.
Von Horn was the first to see the young giant, and with an oath
sprang toward him, drawing his revolver as he came.
"You beast," he cried. "We have caught you at last."
At the words Virginia turned back toward Bulan
with a little scream of warning and of horror.
Professor Maxon was behind her.
"Shoot the monster, von Horn," he ordered.
"Do not let him escape."
Bulan drew himself to his full height, and though
he wavered from weakness, yet he towered mighty
and magnificent above the evil faced man who menaced him.
"Shoot!" he said calmly. "Death cannot come too soon now."
At the same instant von Horn pulled the trigger.
The giant's head fell back, he staggered, whirled about,
and crumpled to the earth just as Virginia Maxon's
arms closed about him.
Von Horn rushed close and pushing the girl aside
pressed the muzzle of his gun to Bulan's temple,
but an avalanche of wrinkled, yellow skin was upon him
before he could pull the trigger a second time, and Sing
had hurled him back a dozen feet and snatched his weapon.
Moaning and sobbing Virginia threw herself upon
the body of the man she loved, while Professor Maxon
hurried to her side to drag her away from the soulless
thing for whom he had once intended her.
Like a tigress the girl turned upon the two white men.
"You are murderers," she cried. "Cowardly murderers.
Weak and exhausted by fever he could not combat you,
and so you have robbed the world of one of the noblest
men that God ever created."
"Hush!" cried Professor Maxon. "Hush, child, you do
not know what you say. The thing was a monster--
a soulless monster."
At the words the girl looked up quickly at her father,
a faint realization of his meaning striking her like a
blow in the face.
"What do you mean?" she whispered. "Who was he?"
It was von Horn who answered.
"No god created that," he said, with a contemptuous
glance at the still body of the man at their feet.
"He was one of the creatures of your father's mad
experiments--the soulless thing for whose arms his
insane obsession doomed you. The thing at your feet,
Virginia, was Number Thirteen."
With a piteous little moan the girl turned back toward
the body of the young giant. A faltering step she took
toward it, and then to the horror of her father
she sank upon her knees beside it and lifting
the man's head in her arms covered the face with kisses.
"Virginia!" cried the professor. "Are you mad, child?"
"I am not mad," she moaned, "not yet. I love him.
Man or monster, it would have been all the same to me,
for I loved him."
Her father turned away, burying his face in his hands.
"God!" he muttered. "What an awful punishment you
have visited upon me for the sin of the thing I did."
The silence which followed was broken by Sing who had
kneeled opposite Virginia upon the other side of Bulan,
where he was feeling the giant's wrists and pressing
his ear close above his heart.
"Do'n cly, Linee," said the kindly old Chinaman.
"Him no dlead." Then, as he poured a pinch of brownish
powder into the man's mouth from a tiny sack he had
brought forth from the depths of one of his sleeves:
"Him no mlonster either, Linee. Him white man,
alsame Mlaxon. Sing know."
The girl looked up at him in gratitude.
"He is not dead, Sing? He will live?" she cried.
"I don't care about anything else, Sing, if you will
only make him live."
"Him live. Gettem lilee flesh wounds. Las all."
"What do you mean by saying that he is not a monster?"
demanded von Horn.
"You waitee, you dam flool," cried Sing. "I tellee
lot more I know. You waitee I flixee him, and then,
by God, I flixee you."
Von Horn took a menacing step toward the Chinaman,
his face black with wrath, but Professor Maxon interposed.
"This has gone quite far enough, Doctor von Horn," he said.
"It may be that we acted hastily. I do not know, of course,
what Sing means, but I intend to find out. He has been very
faithful to us, and deserves every consideration."
Von Horn stepped back, still scowling. Sing poured
a little water between Bulan's lips, and then asked
Professor Maxon for his brandy flask. With the first
few drops of the fiery liquid the giant's eyelids moved,
and a moment later he raised them and looked about him.
The first face he saw was Virginia's. It was full of
love and compassion.
"They have not told you yet?" he asked.
"Yes," she replied. "They have told me, but it makes
no difference. You have given me the right to say it,
Bulan, and I do say it now again, before them all--
I love you, and that is all there is that makes
A look of happiness lighted his face momentarily, only
to fade as quickly as it had come.
"No, Virginia," he said, sadly, "it would not be right.
It would be wicked. I am not a human being. I am only
a soulless monster. You cannot mate with such as I.
You must go away with your father. Soon you will forget me."
"Never, Bulan!" cried the girl, determinedly.
The man was about to attempt to dissuade her, when Sing interrupted.
"You keepee still, Bulan," he said. "You wait till Sing tellee.
You no mlonster. Mlaxon he no makee you. Sing he find you
in low bloat jus' outsidee cove. You dummy. No know nothing.
No know namee. No know where comee from. No talkee.
"Sing he jes' hearee Mlaxon tellee Hornee 'bout Nlumber
Thlirteen. How he makee him for Linee. Makee Linee
mally him. Sing he know what kindee fleaks Mlaxon makee.
Linee always good to old Sing. Sing he been peeking
thlu clack in wallee. See blig vlat where Thlirteen growing.
"Sing he takee you to Sing's shackee that night.
Hide you till evlybody sleep. Then he sneak you
in workee shop. Kickee over vlat. Leaves you.
Nex' mlorning Mlaxon makee blig hulabaloo.
Dance up and downee. Whoop! Thlirteen clome too soonee,
but allight; him finee, perfec' man. Whoop!
"Anyway, you heap better for Linee than one Mlaxon's fleaks,"
he concluded, turning toward Bulan.
"You are lying, you yellow devil," cried von Horn.
The Chinaman turned his shrewd, slant eyes malevolently
upon the doctor.
"Sing lies?" he hissed. "Mabbeso Sing lies when
he ask what for you glet Bludleen steal tleasure.
But Lajah Saffir he come and spoil it all while you
tly glet Linee to the ship--Sing knows.
"Then you tellee Mlaxon Thlirteen steal Linee.
You lie then and you knew you lie. You lie again
when Thlirteen savee Linee flom Oulang Outang--
you say you savee Linee.
"Then you make bad talkee with Lajah Saffir at long-house.
Sing hear you all timee. You tly getee tleasure away
from Dlyaks for your self. Then--"
"Stop!" roared von Horn. "Stop! You lying yellow sneak,
before I put a bullet in you."
"Both of you may stop now," said Professor Maxon
authoritatively. "There have been charges made here
that cannot go unnoticed. Can you prove these things Sing?"
he asked turning to the Chinaman.
"I plove much by Bludleen's lascar. Bludleen tell
him all 'bout Hornee. I plove some more by Dyak chief
at long-house. He knows lots. Lajah Saffir tell him.
It all tlue, Mlaxon."
"And it is true about this man--the thing that you
have told us is true? He is not one of those created
in the laboratory?"
"No, Mlaxon. You no makee fine young man like Blulan--
you know lat, Mlaxon. You makee One, Two, Thlee--
all up to Twelve. All fleaks. You ought to know,
Mlaxon, lat you no can makee a Blulan."
During these revelations Bulan had sat with his
eyes fixed upon the Chinaman. There was a puzzled
expression upon his wan, blood-streaked face.
It was as though he were trying to wrest from the inner temple
of his consciousness a vague and tantalizing memory
that eluded him each time that he felt he had it within
his grasp--the key to the strange riddle that hid his origin.
The girl kneeled close beside him, one small hand in his.
Hope and happiness had supplanted the sorrow in her face.
She tore the hem from her skirt, to bandage the bloody
furrow that creased the man's temple. Professor Maxon
stood silently by, watching the loving tenderness
that marked each deft, little movement of her strong, brown hands.
The revelations of the past few minutes had shocked
the old man into stupefied silence. It was difficult,
almost impossible, for him to believe that Sing
had spoken the truth and that this man was not one of
the creatures of his own creation; yet from the bottom
of his heart he prayed that it might prove the truth,
for he saw that his daughter loved the man with a love
that would be stayed by no obstacle or bound by no man-made law,
or social custom.
The Chinaman's indictment of von Horn had come as an
added blow to Professor Maxon, but it had brought its
own supporting evidence in the flood of recollections
it had induced in the professor's mind. Now he recalled
a hundred chance incidents and conversations with his
assistant that pointed squarely toward the man's disloyalty
and villainy. He wondered that he had been so blind
as not to have suspected his lieutenant long before.
Virginia had at last succeeded in adjusting her rude
bandage and stopping the flow of blood. Bulan had
risen weakly to his feet. The girl supported him upon
one side, and Sing upon the other. Professor Maxon
approached the little group.
"I do not know what to make of all that Sing has told us,"
he said. "If you are not Number Thirteen who are you?
Where did you come from? It seems very strange indeed--
impossible, in fact. However, if you will explain who you are,
I shall be glad to--ah--consider--ah--permitting you to pay court
to my daughter."
"I do not know who I am," replied Bulan. "I had always
thought that I was only Number Thirteen, until Sing
just spoke. Now I have a faint recollection
of drifting for days upon the sea in an open boat--
beyond that all is blank. I shall not force my attentions
upon Virginia until I can prove my identity, and that
my past is one which I can lay before her without shame
--until then I shall not see her."
"You shall do nothing of the kind," cried the girl.
"You love me, and I you. My father intended to force
me to marry you while he still thought that you were
a soulless thing. Now that it is quite apparent
that you are a human being, and a gentleman, he hesitates,
but I do not. As I have told you before, it makes no
difference to me what you are. You have told me that
you love me. You have demonstrated a love that is high,
and noble, and self-sacrificing. More than that no girl
needs to know. I am satisfied to be the wife of Bulan--
if Bulan is satisfied to have the daughter of the man
who has so cruelly wronged him."
An arm went around the girl's shoulders and drew her
close to the man she had glorified with her loyalty
and her love. The other hand was stretched out toward
"Professor," said Bulan, "in the face of what Sing has
told us, in the face of a disinterested comparison
between myself and the miserable creatures of your
experiments, is it not folly to suppose that I am one
of them? Some day I shall recall my past, until that
time shall prove my worthiness I shall not ask for
Virginia's hand, and in this decision she must concur,
for the truth might reveal some insurmountable obstacle
to our marriage. In the meantime let us be friends,
professor, for we are both actuated by the same desire--
the welfare and happiness of your daughter."
The old man stepped forward and took Bulan's hand.
The expression of doubt and worry had left his face.
"I cannot believe," he said, "that you are other than
a gentleman, and if, in my desire to protect Virginia,
I have said aught to wound you I ask your forgiveness."
Bulan responded only with a tighter pressure of the hand.
"And now," said the professor, "let us return to the
long-house. I wish to have a few words in private
with you, von Horn," and he turned to face his assistant,
but the man had disappeared.
"Where is Doctor von Horn?" exclaimed the scientist,
"Hornee, him vamoose long time 'go," replied
the Chinaman. "He hear all he likee."
Slowly the little party wound along the jungle trail,
and in less than a mile, to Virginia's infinite
surprise, came out upon the river and the long-house
that she and Bulan had searched for in vain.
"And to think," she cried, "that all these awful days
we have been almost within sound of your voices.
What strange freak of fate sent you to us today?"
"We had about given up hope," replied her father,
"when Sing suggested to me that we cut across the highlands
that separate this valley from the one adjoining it
upon the northeast, where we should strike other tribes
and from them glean some clue to your whereabouts
in case your abductors had attempted to carry you back
to the sea by another route. This seemed likely in view
of the fact that we were assured by enemies of Muda
Saffir that you were not in his possession, and that
the river we were bound for would lead your captors
most quickly out of the domains of that rascally Malay.
You may imagine our surprise, Virginia, when after
proceeding for but a mile we discovered you."
No sooner had the party entered the verandah of the
long-house than Professor Maxon made inquiries for von
Horn, only to learn that he had departed up stream
in a prahu with several warriors whom he had engaged
to accompany him on a "hunting expedition," having
explained that the white girl had been found and was
being brought to the long-house.
The chief further explained that he had done his best
to dissuade the white man from so rash an act, as he
was going directly into the country of the tribe
of the two men he had killed, and there was little chance
that he ever would come out alive.
While they were still discussing von Horn's act,
and wondering at his intentions, a native on the verandah
cried out in astonishment, pointing down the river.
As they looked in the direction he indicated all saw a
graceful, white cutter gliding around a nearby turn.
At the oars were white clad American sailors,
and in the stern two officers in the uniform
of the United States navy.
As the cutter touched the bank the entire party from
the long-house, whites and natives, were gathered on
the shore to meet it. At first the officers held off
as though fearing a hostile demonstration, but when
they saw the whites among the throng, a command was
given to pull in, and a moment later one of the
officers stepped ashore.
"I am Lieutenant May," he said, "of the U.S.S. New
Mexico, flagship of the Pacific Fleet. Have I the
honor to address Professor Maxon?"
The scientist nodded. "I am delighted," he said.
"We have been to your island, Professor," continued
the officer, "and judging from the evidences of hasty
departure, and the corpses of several natives there,
I feared that some harm had befallen you. We therefore
cruised along the Bornean coast making inquiries
of the natives until at last we found one who had heard
a rumor of a party of whites being far in the interior
searching for a white girl who had been stolen from them
"The farther up this river we have come the greater our
assurance that we were on the right trail, for scarcely
a native we interrogated but had seen or heard of some
of your party. Mixed with the truth they told us were
strange tales of terrible monsters led by a gigantic
"The imaginings of childish minds," said the professor.
"However, why, my dear lieutenant, did you honor me by
visiting my island?"
The officer hesitated a moment before answering, his
eyes running about over the assembly as though in
search of someone.
"Well, Professor Maxon, to be quite frank," he said at
length, "we learned at Singapore the personnel of your party,
which included a former naval officer whom we have been seeking
for many years. We came to your island to arrest this man--
I refer to Doctor Carl von Horn."
When the lieutenant learned of the recent disappearance
of the man he sought, he expressed his determination
to push on at once in pursuit; and as Professor Maxon
feared again to remain unprotected in the heart
of the Bornean wilderness his entire party was taken
aboard the cutter.
A few miles up the river they came upon one of the
Dyaks who had accompanied von Horn, a few hours earlier.
The warrior sat smoking beside a beached prahu.
When interrogated he explained that von Horn
and the balance of his crew had gone inland,
leaving him to guard the boat. He said that
he thought he could guide them to the spot
where the white man might be found.
Professor Maxon and Sing accompanied one of the officers
and a dozen sailors in the wake of the Dyak guide.
Virginia and Bulan remained in the cutter, as the latter
was still too weak to attempt the hard march through the jungle.
For an hour the party traversed the trail in the wake of von Horn
and his savage companions. They had come almost to the spot when
their ears were assailed by the weird and blood curdling yells
of native warriors, and a moment later von Horn's escort dashed
into view in full retreat.
At sight of the white men they halted in relief,
pointing back in the direction they had come,
and jabbering excitedly in their native tongue.
Warily the party advanced again behind these new guides;
but when they reached the spot they sought, the cause
of the Dyaks' panic had fled, warned, doubtless,
by their trained ears of the approach of an enemy.
The sight that met the eyes of the searchers told all
of the story that they needed to know. A hole had been
excavated in the ground, partially uncovering a heavy chest,
and across this chest lay the headless body of Doctor Carl von Horn.
Lieutenant May turned toward Professor Maxon with a questioning look.
"It is he," said the scientist.
"But the chest?" inquired the officer.
"Mlaxon's tleasure," spoke up Sing Lee. "Hornee him
tly steal it for long time."
"Treasure!" ejaculated the professor. "Bududreen gave
up his life for this. Rajah Muda Saffir fought and
intrigued and murdered for possession of it! Poor,
misguided von Horn has died for it, and left his head
to wither beneath the rafters of a Dyak long-house!
It is incredible."
"But, Professor Maxon," said Lieutenant May,
"men will suffer all these things and more for gold."
"Gold!" cried the professor. "Why, man, that is a box
of books on biology and eugenics."
"My God!" exclaimed May, "and von Horn was accredited
to be one of the shrewdest swindlers and adventurers
in America! But come, we may as well return to the
cutter--my men will carry the chest."
"No!" exclaimed Professor Maxon with a vehemence the
other could not understand. "Let them bury it again
where it lies. It and what it contains have been the
cause of sufficient misery and suffering and crime.
Let it lie where it is in the heart of savage Borneo,
and pray to God that no man ever finds it, and that
I shall forget forever that which is in it."
On the morning of the third day following the death
of von Horn the New Mexico steamed away from the coast
of Borneo. Upon her deck, looking back toward the
verdure clad hills, stood Virginia and Bulan.
"Thank heaven," exclaimed the girl fervently, "that we
are leaving it behind us forever."
"Amen," replied Bulan, "but yet, had it not been for
Borneo I might never have found you."
"We should have met elsewhere then, Bulan," said the
girl in a low voice, "for we were made for one another.
No power on earth could have kept us apart. In your
true guise you would have found me--I am sure of it."
"It is maddening, Virginia," said the man, "to be
constantly straining every resource of my memory
in futile endeavor to catch and hold one fleeting clue
to my past. Why, dear, do you realize that I may have
been a fugitive from justice, as was von Horn, a vile
criminal perhaps. It is awful, Virginia, to
contemplate the horrible possibilities of my lost past."
"No, Bulan, you could never have been a criminal,"
replied the loyal girl, "but there is one possibility
that has been haunting me constantly. It frightens me
just to think of it--it is," and the girl lowered her
voice as though she feared to say the thing she dreaded
most, "it is that you may have loved another--that--
that you may even be married."
Bulan was about to laugh away any such fears when the
gravity and importance of the possibility impressed him
quite as fully as it had Virginia. He saw that it was
not at all unlikely that he was already a married man;
and he saw too what the girl now acknowledged,
that they might never wed until the mystery
of his past had been cleared away.
"There is something that gives weight to my fear,"
continued Virginia, "something that I had almost
forgotten in the rush and excitement of events during
the past few days. During your delirium your ravings were,
for the most part, quite incoherent, but there was one name
that you repeated many times--a woman's name, preceded by a number.
It was `Nine ninety nine Priscilla.' Maybe she--"
But Virginia got no further. With a low exclamation
of delight Bulan caught her in his arms.
"It is all right, dear," he cried. "It is all right.
Everything has come back to me now. You have given me
the clue. Nine ninety nine Priscilla is my father's
address--Nine ninety nine Priscilla Avenue.
"I am Townsend J. Harper, Jr. You have heard of my father.
Every one has since he commenced consolidating interurban
traction companies. And I'm not married, Virginia,
and never have been; but I shall be if this miserable
old mud scow ever reaches Singapore."
"Oh, Bulan," cried the girl, "how in the world did you
ever happen to come to that terrible island of ours?"
"I came for you, dear," he replied. "It is a long story.
After dinner I will tell you all of it that I can recall.
For the present it must suffice you to know that I followed
you from the railway station at Ithaca half around the world
for a love that had been born from a single glance at your
sweet face as you passed me to enter your Pullman.
"On my father's yacht I reached your island after trailing
you to Singapore. It was a long and tedious hunt and we
followed many blind leads, but at last we came off an island
upon which natives had told us such a party as yours was living.
Five of us put off in a boat to explore--that is the last
that I can recall. Sing says he found me alone in a row boat,
Virginia sighed, and crept closer to him.
"You may be the son of the great Townsend J. Harper,
you have been the soulless Number Thirteen;
but to me you will always be Bulan, for it was
Bulan whom I learned to love."