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The Monster Men

Chapter 13. Buried Treasure
After the escape of the girl Barunda and Ninaka had fallen out over that affair and the
division of the treasure, with the result that the panglima had slipped a knife between the
ribs of his companion and dropped the body overboard.
Barunda's followers, however, had been highly enraged at the act, and in the ensuing
battle which they waged for revenge of their murdered chief Ninaka and his crew had
been forced to take to the shore and hide in the jungle.
With difficulty they had saved the chest and dragged it after them into the mazes of the
underbrush. Finally, however, they succeeded in eluding the angry enemy, and took up
their march through the interior for the head of a river which would lead them to the sea
by another route, it being Ninaka's intention to dispose of the contents of the chest as
quickly as possible through the assistance of a rascally Malay who dwelt at Gunung
Tebor, where he carried on a thriving trade with pirates.
But presently it became apparent that he had not so easily escaped the fruits of his
villainy as he had supposed, for upon the evening of the first day the rear of his little
column was attacked by some of Barunda's warriors who had forged ahead of their
fellows, with the result that the head of Ninaka's brother went to increase the prestige and
glory of the house of the enemy.
Ninaka was panic-stricken, since he knew that hampered as he was by the heavy chest he
could neither fight nor run to advantage. And so, upon a dark night near the head waters
of the river he sought, he buried the treasure at the foot of a mighty buttress tree, and with
his parang made certain cabalistic signs upon the bole whereby he might identify the spot
when it was safe to return and disinter his booty. Then, with his men, he hastened down
the stream until they reached the head of prahu navigation where they stole a craft and
paddled swiftly on toward the sea.
When the three bull ourang outangs closed upon Bulan he felt no fear as to the outcome
of the battle, for never in his experience had he coped with any muscles that his own
mighty thews could not overcome. But as the battle continued he realized that there might
be a limit to the number of antagonists which he could successfully withstand, since he
could scarcely hope with but two hands to reach the throats of three enemies, or ward off
the blows and clutches of six powerful hands, or the gnashing of three sets of savage
fangs.
When the truth dawned upon him that he was being killed the instinct of self-preservation
was born in him. The ferocity with which he had fought before paled into insignificance
beside the mad fury with which he now attacked the three terrible creatures upon him.
Shaking himself like a great lion he freed his arms for a moment from the clinging
embrace of his foemen, and seizing the neck of the nearest in his mighty clutch wrenched
the head completely around.
 
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