Chapter 13. Racing For Life
At last the sea subsided, and we were able to get a better view of the armada of small
boats in our wake. There must have been two hundred of them. Juag said that he had
never seen so many boats before in all his life. Where had they come from? Juag was first
to hazard a guess.
"Hooja," he said, "was building many boats to carry his warriors to the great river and up
it toward Sari. He was building them with almost all his warriors and many slaves upon
the Island of Trees. No one else in all the history of Pellucidar has ever built so many
boats as they told me Hooja was building. These must be Hooja's boats."
"And they were blown out to sea by the great storm just as we were," suggested Dian.
"There can be no better explanation of them," I agreed.
"What shall we do?" asked Juag.
"Suppose we make sure that they are really Hooja's people," suggested Dian. "It may be
that they are not, and that if we run away from them before we learn definitely who they
are, we shall be running away from a chance to live and find the mainland. They may be
a people of whom we have never even heard, and if so we can ask them to help us--if
they know the way to the mainland."
"Which they will not,' interposed Juag.
"Well," I said, "it can't make our predicament any more trying to wait until we find out
who they are. They are heading for us now. Evidently they have spied our sail, and guess
that we do not belong to their fleet."
"They probably want to ask the way to the mainland themselves," said Juag, who was
nothing if not a pes- simist.
"If they want to catch us, they can do it if they can paddle faster than we can sail," I said.
"If we let them come close enough to discover their identity, and can then sail faster than
they can paddle, we can get away from them anyway, so we might as well wait."
And wait we did.
The sea calmed rapidly, so that by the time the foremost canoe had come within five
hundred yards of us we could see them all plainly. Every one was headed for us. The
dugouts, which were of unusual length, were manned by twenty paddlers, ten to a side.
Besides the paddlers there were twenty-five or more warriors in each boat.