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Chapter XXI. The Rock of Despair.

THE natives came on screeching like devils, and maddened to fury by the sight of their victims standing at bay. They were headed by the old woman and the conjuror, who held waddies in their hands, which they brandished with frightful contortions. The doom of Helen and Jerry now seemed sealed, for they could not hope to resist so many enemies.

“Had we not better try fair means first?” suggested Helen; who, overcome by the weakness natural to her sex at the sight of the

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approaching conflict, was desirous of avoiding a scene of blood and slaughter.

“It would be of no use,” replied Jeremiah; “I see that horrible old woman at the head of the gang, and she looks like a fury from the regions below. If she catches me she will eat me—I feel sure of it.”

The savages advanced nearer and nearer. They began to throw their spears.

“Pray, Miss Helen,” said Jerry, “do lie down flat on the rock, so that the spears may not hit you. I should fight better if I wasn't afraid of your being hurt; I should indeed. There! that old rascal, the conjuror, is aiming at you with a spear! It's coming! See, it has lodged in your dress! Pray, miss, keep out of the way, and give me the other pistol and let me fight. Or—stay; do you load while I fire; that's the way! Now I'll give them a shot!”

He fired among them, and they were so close that he could not avoid hitting some one. The wounded native screamed out; but the

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rest, impelled by a thirst of blood and vengeance, disregarding their fellow's hurt, rushed up the rock as rapidly as its steepness would allow, and in a few seconds more they would have gained the top of the platform, where their bodily strength would have overpowered the two occupants in a moment, when Helen called out:—

“There is a loose piece of rock hanging over the edge where we got up. Stamp on it with your foot; perhaps its fall will frighten the savages away.”

Jerry never before had reason to be so well satisfied with the fact of his own obesity; albeit that his plumpness had been considerably reduced by his late forced travels, and his meagre diet among the natives. Taking advantage of Helen's suggestion, he immediately began to jump most vigorously on the fragment of rock projecting over the slope on which the savages were clustered.

Thanks to his weight and to the agitation of the mass which his jumps produced, the

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huge lump became more and more loosened from its bed, and presently it fell among the assailants with a prodigious crash of dust and splinters.

“They have got it now,” said Jerry; “the savage wretches! That has tumbled more than one of them over.”

“They are going,” cried out Helen, advancing to the edge from which the piece of rock had been detached; “they are going,” she said, clasping her hands, “and we shall be saved!”

“But they are coming again,” said Jerry; “nothing seems to harm that old woman. There she is, brandishing her waddie at us! How she would enjoy smashing in our skulls! They are on us again! we must give them another shot.”

Jerry fired again; but whether it was that the report of the little pistol was not loud enough to strike terror into the savages, or that they had begun to disregard the puny-looking weapon, the assailants pressed forward

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again with loud and furious cries. Jeremiah asked Helen for the other pistol which he had given to her to load; but on looking for the powder-horn which she had laid on the rock, it was not to be seen. By some accident, either she or Jerry had kicked it, as they supposed, from the platform, and their only means of defence was gone!

“It's all over now, miss, that's certain!” said Jeremiah; “but I can throw the pistols at their heads as they come up, and have a fight with my fists when it comes to the last. And there's the water below as a last resource. But what is that? Miss Horton! look down there. There is a man on horseback! and another! and some on foot! See! Scream out! Screech! Scream! If you are a girl, I say scream! Girls can scream loud enough sometimes when they're not wanted. Keep it up. Scream, while I fight the savages with my fists!”

Helen screamed loudly; but her voice at such a height would have been of little avail,

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had she not waved her handkerchief from the top of the rock. That unusual object in such a place was not long in attracting the notice of those below on the other side of the river. She saw one horseman immediately dismount. The figure of a man instantly sprung on the horse; even at that distance her heart told her who that figure was!

The horseman without losing a moment instantly dashed into the water, and hastily made his way across.

“Are they coming?” said Jerry; “the savages will be on us in another minute. They are jabbering about how they shall do it!”

Helen lost sight of the horseman at the base of the rock, but she saw the other two take their measures more coolly, though without losing a moment of time. Holding hands and forming a line, the persons on foot made their way through the water, which at that point was shallow but exceedingly rapid, preceded by one of the horsemen and followed by

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the other. They were immediately hidden from her sight.

“They have crossed the river,” exclaimed Helen.

“Heaven be thanked!” said Jeremiah; “but I fear they will be too late; the savages are coming up in a body.”

Helen turned her head, and beheld some of the savage faces of the natives peering over the ledge of the platform.

“Make haste! make haste!” she screamed out to her advancing friends; but her feeble voice was useless amidst the din of the savages' yells as they came almost within grasp of their prey!

“Oh!” exclaimed Helen, bursting into tears with the excitement of mingled hope and fear, “they will be too late!”

“There goes one fellow,” said Jerry, as concentrating all his strength in one vigorous blow, he gave an old savage a tremendous punch in the face with his fist.

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“I hear a shot fired!” cried out Helen. “It is to tell us that they are at hand!”

There seemed to be some irresolution among the savages at this moment, and they looked behind them.

“There goes another shot; they are coming nearer fast!” said Jerry,—“the savages look puzzled! There go more shots.—Stand out of the way, miss, or you may be hit! By George! they are driving the savages upon us!—Fall down, miss.—fall down—flat on the rock, and cling to it with your hands and feet! The savages will be up and on us in another moment!”

Even while he spoke, five of the natives had gained the level space of the platform, which was scarcely large enough to hold them. Jerry seized one of them by the middle, and hurled him down the precipice into the river. But at the same instant another powerful native clasped Helen round the body, and tried to carry her off.

“Hold on, miss!” cried out Jerry; “hold

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on with your nails! I see our friends coming up! Hold on—a moment longer! For the love of Heaven! hold on!”

“Helen!” cried out a voice which the poor girl knew well. “Helen; where are you, Helen?”

“Here?” screamed Jerry, who was struggling with the natives, and fighting with his fists against their waddies, with which they were beating him. “Here—she is; a native has got hold of her, and in another moment they will both be off the rock into the fire!”

Helen held out her hand to Trevor:—the native, with a savage grasp, held her by the other arm. Trevor drew a pistol from his belt, and fired! The ball crashed through his brain, and the savage with a spring fell over the precipice. Jerry, choosing the least of two dangers, rolled himself up into a ball, and let himself tumble down the slope, where he was presently stopped by his friends; while Trevor, at the same moment, pulled Helen from the platform, and fell with her

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into the supporting hands of his soldiers, who had followed him up quickly, and who were close behind him.

The three natives who were left by themselves on the platform, after hesitating for a few moments, leaped from the rock, and rushing down the slope with the agility of mountain goats, broke their way through the white people, and as Trevor called out loudly to his party not to fire on them, escaped.

He then bore Helen from the rock, and in a few minutes she found herself in the arms of her father.