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Lost World

13.
"Those Were The Real Conquests"
We had imagined that our pursuers, the ape-men, knew nothing of our brush-wood
hiding-place, but we were soon to find out our mistake. There was no sound in the
woods--not a leaf moved upon the trees, and all was peace around us--but we should have
been warned by our first experience how cunningly and how patiently these creatures can
watch and wait until their chance comes. Whatever fate may be mine through life, I am
very sure that I shall never be nearer death than I was that morning. But I will tell you the
thing in its due order.
We all awoke exhausted after the terrific emotions and scanty food of yesterday.
Summerlee was still so weak that it was an effort for him to stand; but the old man was
full of a sort of surly courage which would never admit defeat. A council was held, and it
was agreed that we should wait quietly for an hour or two where we were, have our
much-needed breakfast, and then make our way across the plateau and round the central
lake to the caves where my observations had shown that the Indians lived. We relied
upon the fact that we could count upon the good word of those whom we had rescued to
ensure a warm welcome from their fellows. Then, with our mission accomplished and
possessing a fuller knowledge of the secrets of Maple White Land, we should turn our
whole thoughts to the vital problem of our escape and return. Even Challenger was ready
to admit that we should then have done all for which we had come, and that our first duty
from that time onwards was to carry back to civilization the amazing discoveries we had
made.
We were able now to take a more leisurely view of the Indians whom we had rescued.
They were small men, wiry, active, and well-built, with lank black hair tied up in a bunch
behind their heads with a leathern thong, and leathern also were their loin-clothes. Their
faces were hairless, well formed, and good-humored. The lobes of their ears, hanging
ragged and bloody, showed that they had been pierced for some ornaments which their
captors had torn out. Their speech, though unintelligible to us, was fluent among
themselves, and as they pointed to each other and uttered the word "Accala" many times
over, we gathered that this was the name of the nation. Occasionally, with faces which
were convulsed with fear and hatred, they shook their clenched hands at the woods round
and cried: "Doda! Doda!" which was surely their term for their enemies.
What do you make of them, Challenger?" asked Lord John. "One thing is very clear to
me, and that is that the little chap with the front of his head shaved is a chief among
them."
It was indeed evident that this man stood apart from the others, and that they never
ventured to address him without every sign of deep respect. He seemed to be the
youngest of them all, and yet, so proud and high was his spirit that, upon Challenger
laying his great hand upon his head, he started like a spurred horse and, with a quick flash
of his dark eyes, moved further away from the Professor. Then, placing his hand upon his
breast and holding himself with great dignity, he uttered the word "Maretas" several
 
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