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The Monster Men

Chapter 2. The Heavy Chest
Virginia and Sing were compelled to narrate the adventure of the afternoon a dozen
times. The Chinaman was at a loss to understand what had deterred the pirates at the very
threshold of victory. Von Horn thought that they had seen the reinforcements embarking
from the shore, but Sing explained that that was impossible since the Ithaca had been
directly between them and the point at which the returning crew had entered the boats.
Virginia was positive that her fusillade had frightened them into a hasty retreat, but again
Sing discouraged any such idea when he pointed to the fact that another instant would
have carried the prahu close to the Ithaca's side and out of the machine gun's radius of
action.
The old Chinaman was positive that the pirates had some ulterior motive for simulating
defeat, and his long years of experience upon pirate infested waters gave weight to his
opinion. The weak spot in his argument was his inability to suggest a reasonable motive.
And so it was that for a long time they were left to futile conjecture as to the action that
had saved them from a bloody encounter with these bloodthirsty sea wolves.
For a week the men were busy constructing the new camp, but never again was Virginia
left without a sufficient guard for her protection. Von Horn was always needed at the
work, for to him had fallen the entire direction of matters of importance that were at all of
a practical nature. Professor Maxon wished to watch the building of the houses and the
stockade, that he might offer such suggestions as he thought necessary, and again the girl
noticed her father's comparative indifference to her welfare.
She had been shocked at his apathy at the time of the pirate attack, and chagrined that it
should have been necessary for von Horn to have insisted upon a proper guard being left
with her thereafter.
The nearer the approach of the time when he might enter again upon those experiments
which had now been neglected for the better part of a year the more self absorbed and
moody became the professor. At times he was scarcely civil to those about him, and
never now did he have a pleasant word or a caress for the daughter who had been his
whole life but a few short months before.
It often seemed to Virginia when she caught her father's eyes upon her that there was a
gleam of dislike in them, as though he would have been glad to have been rid of her that
she might not in any way embarrass or interfere with his work.
The camp was at last completed, and on a Saturday afternoon all the heavier articles from
the ship had been transported to it. On the following Monday the balance of the goods
was to be sent on shore and the party were to transfer their residence to their new
quarters.
 
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