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Chapter 4. Our Venture
We were standing on a narrow, irregular, all too slanting little ledge, and should
doubtless have ignominiously slipped off and broken our rash necks but for the vine. This
was a thick-leaved, wide-spreading thing, a little like Amphelopsis.
"It's not QUITE vertical here, you see," said Terry, full of pride and enthusiasm. "This
thing never would hold our direct weight, but I think if we sort of slide down on it, one at
a time, sticking in with hands and feet, we'll reach that next ledge alive."
"As we do not wish to get up our rope again--and can't comfortably stay here--I
approve," said Jeff solemnly.
Terry slid down first--said he'd show us how a Christian meets his death. Luck was
with us. We had put on the thickest of those intermediate suits, leaving our tunics behind,
and made this scramble quite successfully, though I got a pretty heavy fall just at the end,
and was only kept on the second ledge by main force. The next stage was down a sort of
"chimney"--a long irregular fissure; and so with scratches many and painful and bruises
not a few, we finally reached the stream.
It was darker there, but we felt it highly necessary to put as much distance as possible
behind us; so we waded, jumped, and clambered down that rocky riverbed, in the
flickering black and white moonlight and leaf shadow, till growing daylight forced a halt.
We found a friendly nut-tree, those large, satisfying, soft- shelled nuts we already
knew so well, and filled our pockets.
I see that I have not remarked that these women had pockets in surprising number and
variety. They were in all their garments, and the middle one in particular was shingled
with them. So we stocked up with nuts till we bulged like Prussian privates in marching
order, drank all we could hold, and retired for the day.
It was not a very comfortable place, not at all easy to get at, just a sort of crevice high
up along the steep bank, but it was well veiled with foliage and dry. After our exhaustive
three- or four- hour scramble and the good breakfast food, we all lay down along that
crack--heads and tails, as it were--and slept till the afternoon sun almost toasted our faces.
Terry poked a tentative foot against my head.
"How are you, Van? Alive yet?"
"Very much so," I told him. And Jeff was equally cheerful.
We had room to stretch, if not to turn around; but we could very carefully roll over,
one at a time, behind the sheltering foliage.