The Monster Men HTML version

Chapter 11. "I Am Coming!"
The morning following the capture of Virginia Maxon by Muda Saffir, Professor Maxon,
von Horn, Sing Lee and the sole surviving lascar from the crew of the Ithaca set out
across the strait toward the mainland of Borneo in the small boat which the doctor had
secreted in the jungle near the harbor. The party was well equipped with firearms and
ammunition, and the bottom of the boat was packed full with provisions and cooking
utensils. Von Horn had been careful to see that the boat was furnished with a mast and
sail, and now, under a good breeze the party was making excellent time toward the
mysterious land of their destination.
They had scarcely cleared the harbor when they sighted a ship far out across the strait. Its
erratic movements riveted their attention upon it, and later, as they drew nearer, they
perceived that the strange craft was a good sized schooner with but a single short mast
and tiny sail. For a minute or two her sail would belly with the wind and the vessel make
headway, then she would come suddenly about, only to repeat the same tactics a moment
later. She sailed first this way and then that, losing one minute what she had gained the
minute before.
Von Horn was the first to recognize her.
"It is the Ithaca," he said, "and her Dyak crew are having a devil of a time managing her--
she acts as though she were rudderless."
Von Horn ran the small boat within hailing distance of the dismasted hulk whose side
was now lined with waving, gesticulating natives. They were peaceful fishermen, they
explained, whose prahus had been wrecked in the recent typhoon. They had barely
escaped with their lives by clambering aboard this wreck which Allah had been so
merciful as to place directly in their road. Would the Tuan Besar be so good as to tell
them how to make the big prahu steer?
Von Horn promised to help them on condition that they would guide him and his party to
the stronghold of Rajah Muda Saffir in the heart of Borneo. The Dyaks willingly agreed,
and von Horn worked his small boat in close under the Ithaca's stern. Here he found that
the rudder had been all but unshipped, probably as the vessel was lifted over the reef
during the storm, but a single pintle remaining in its gudgeon. A half hour's work was
sufficient to repair the damage, and then the two boats continued their journey toward the
mouth of the river up which those they sought had passed the night before.
Inside the river's mouth an anchorage was found for the Ithaca near the very island upon
which the fierce battle between Number Thirteen and Muda Saffir's forces had occurred.
From the deck of the larger vessel the deserted prahu which had borne Bulan across the
strait was visible, as were the bodies of the slain Dyaks and the misshapen creatures of
the white giant's forces.