Chapter 2. Rash Advances
Not more than ten or fifteen miles we judged it from our landing rock to that last village.
For all our eagerness we thought it wise to keep to the woods and go carefully.
Even Terry's ardor was held in check by his firm conviction that there were men to be
met, and we saw to it that each of us had a good stock of cartridges.
"They may be scarce, and they may be hidden away somewhere-- some kind of a
matriarchate, as Jeff tells us; for that matter, they may live up in the mountains yonder
and keep the women in this part of the country--sort of a national harem! But there are
men somewhere--didn't you see the babies?"
We had all seen babies, children big and little, everywhere that we had come near
enough to distinguish the people. And though by dress we could not be sure of all the
grown persons, still there had not been one man that we were certain of.
"I always liked that Arab saying, `First tie your camel and then trust in the Lord,'" Jeff
murmured; so we all had our weapons in hand, and stole cautiously through the forest.
Terry studied it as we progressed.
"Talk of civilization," he cried softly in restrained enthusiasm. "I never saw a forest so
petted, even in Germany. Look, there's not a dead bough--the vines are trained--actually!
And see here"--he stopped and looked about him, calling Jeff's attention to the kinds of
They left me for a landmark and made a limited excursion on either side.
"Food-bearing, practically all of them," they announced returning. "The rest, splendid
hardwood. Call this a forest? It's a truck farm!"
"Good thing to have a botanist on hand," I agreed. "Sure there are no medicinal ones?
Or any for pure ornament?"
As a matter of fact they were quite right. These towering trees were under as careful
cultivation as so many cabbages. In other conditions we should have found those woods
full of fair foresters and fruit gatherers; but an airship is a conspicuous object, and by no
means quiet--and women are cautious.
All we found moving in those woods, as we started through them, were birds, some
gorgeous, some musical, all so tame that it seemed almost to contradict our theory of
cultivation--at least until we came upon occasional little glades, where carved stone seats
and tables stood in the shade beside clear fountains, with shallow bird baths always