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Lost World

12.
"A Sight Which I Shall Never Forget"
Just as the sun was setting upon that melancholy night I saw the lonely figure of the
Indian upon the vast plain beneath me, and I watched him, our one faint hope of
salvation, until he disappeared in the rising mists of evening which lay, rose-tinted from
the setting sun, between the far-off river and me.
It was quite dark when I at last turned back to our stricken camp, and my last vision as I
went was the red gleam of Zambo's fire, the one point of light in the wide world below,
as was his faithful presence in my own shadowed soul. And yet I felt happier than I had
done since this crushing blow had fallen upon me, for it was good to think that the world
should know what we had done, so that at the worst our names should not perish with our
bodies, but should go down to posterity associated with the result of our labors.
It was an awesome thing to sleep in that ill-fated camp; and yet it was even more
unnerving to do so in the jungle. One or the other it must be. Prudence, on the one hand,
warned me that I should remain on guard, but exhausted Nature, on the other, declared
that I should do nothing of the kind. I climbed up on to a limb of the great gingko tree,
but there was no secure perch on its rounded surface, and I should certainly have fallen
off and broken my neck the moment I began to doze. I got down, therefore, and pondered
over what I should do. Finally, I closed the door of the zareba, lit three separate fires in a
triangle, and having eaten a hearty supper dropped off into a profound sleep, from which
I had a strange and most welcome awakening. In the early morning, just as day was
breaking, a hand was laid upon my arm, and starting up, with all my nerves in a tingle
and my hand feeling for a rifle, I gave a cry of joy as in the cold gray light I saw Lord
John Roxton kneeling beside me.
It was he--and yet it was not he. I had left him calm in his bearing, correct in his person,
prim in his dress. Now he was pale and wild-eyed, gasping as he breathed like one who
has run far and fast. His gaunt face was scratched and bloody, his clothes were hanging in
rags, and his hat was gone. I stared in amazement, but he gave me no chance for
questions. He was grabbing at our stores all the time he spoke.
"Quick, young fellah! Quick!" he cried. "Every moment counts. Get the rifles, both of
them. I have the other two. Now, all the cartridges you can gather. Fill up your pockets.
Now, some food. Half a dozen tins will do. That's all right! Don't wait to talk or think.
Get a move on, or we are done!"
Still half-awake, and unable to imagine what it all might mean, I found myself hurrying
madly after him through the wood, a rifle under each arm and a pile of various stores in
my hands. He dodged in and out through the thickest of the scrub until he came to a
dense clump of brush-wood. Into this he rushed, regardless of thorns, and threw himself
into the heart of it, pulling me down by his side.
 
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