The jungle was thicker from the ground then it looked from the sky. Johnathon was glad to have the Commander to guide them. He wasn't certain that he and his men could have navigated the way to Melanie. Dark took on a whole new meaning in these trees. Sounds came from seemingly no-where and at the same time... right beside you. They traveled along the river and the sounds of Crocodiles fighting and hissing was enough to un-nerve even the bravest soul.
"How far did you fly before landing after you had seen your daughter?"
"We went maybe two or three miles, Commander. It didn't seem long before we saw the landing strip."
"The natives home is four miles in. They must have been near that area when you saw them. Mr.Kendall, I must tell you something. Moments before we left I received a call from one of my patrols. They had located your daughters plane many miles to the north of where we are now. They found the "remnants" of three men. Though the animals of the jungle had torn the apart, it appeared they died in the crash. It is grace that your daughter and this man with her have lived so long."
Johnathon walked on in silence. He thought of all the things he had taught his daughter... no, drilled into her young mind about not giving credit to anything or anyone for something you had done yourself. He knew that he had been wrong so many times and now, after all of those years, he hoped his daughter had not listened well to him. He would be giving thanks to heaven for his daughters life every day for the rest of his life. They walked on without speaking a word.
Melanie sat in the little hut she had been put in alone. She wondered how she and Shaun could get out of this situation. She thought of her father and where he might be.
"I didn't always obey you Daddy," she said aloud as if he were listening. "Whenever you went away, I prayed to God. I asked him to take care of you and bring you home safe. I prayed he would let momma sleep without crying and that you would be good to her. I am praying now, Daddy. Praying that we get out of here alive. I will pray always now. Please Daddy, come and get us. Please." She cried into her hands, wishing morning would never come.
Shaun had been taken to another hut. He had started a fight and let them beat him down. When they moved him, he feigned being weak and unable to walk. Men were set outside his hut to watch him. He watched closely to see how often they looked in on him. He took the time to count the minutes between. he found a window of five minutes was all that was between the checks.He would have to be fast and quiet. He waited once more for them to look inside. As soon as he heard them leave he crawled to the backside of the hut. He pushed himself under the bottom of the wall. The shoots cut into his hands and back as he crawled to the outside. When he reached the outside, he looked around. Seeing men sitting in front of another hut, he knew it had to have Melanie inside. Still crawling on his belly, he slipped into the jungle. He figured it was either the creatures in the trees or the old man in the morning. Slipping behind Melanie's hut, he again crawled under the wall. Melanie, hearing a sound behind her, saw Shaun. He put his fingers to his lips to silence her. Holding the bottom of the wall as high as he could, Melanie slipped under it and out of the hut.
"Oh God, Shaun... We have to..."
"Sh-h-h-h-h-h-h-h, we have to be quiet. Can you run?"
"Yes, I think so."
"When we get into the trees, run! Run as hard and fast as you can! Don't stop, Princess!"
"I won't, but please, call me Melanie. I don't want to be a Princess any more."
In seconds, they were in the Jungle. They both stood and Shaun took Melanie's hand tight in his. As they began to run, they could hear yelling coming from the tribe. They knew they had been discovered.
"Don't look back, Mel. Just keeping running!"
They could hear the trees breaking behind them as the tribe grew closer. They had no idea where they were running to nor did they care. The tribe was gaining on them. They knew the Jungle much better and probably could see better at night. Shaun suddenly felt his arm tighten. He turned and saw Melanie dragging on her knees. She had tripped and was struggling to stand. Shaun tried to pull her up as quickly as he could. Before they could both run again, the tribe broke through the trees behind them. They were on top of Shaun and Melanie within seconds. Dragging them both back through the jungle, they heard the old man's voice.
"Bring them to me! We will not wait for the Sun. We will sacrifice them to the night. We will still be pleasured for their deaths! This is why I am King!"
Tied to poles that stood together, Shaun and Melanie were sure they had run their last run. A huge fire was lit. The old man brought out a huge knife.
"We will give their bodies to the River Gods in pieces so that many can enjoy. This will bring more gifts to us." He raised the knife above his head. Chanting loudly, he began to thrust it towards Shaun's heart. Melanie screamed out as she closed her eyes. She could not watch the man she loved die.
"I love you Shaun!"
Suddenly, a crack rose from the jungle. It echoed through the trees like a huge tree splitting and falling. Another shot rang out. Melanie opened her eyes in time to see the old man falling forward. Blood was coming from his chest and face. The tribes-men stood silent now as they watched their King fall to the ground, dead. Out of the jungle, they saw Soldiers with guns surrounding the tribe. Surrendering, hands in the air, they laid down on the ground. Melanie heard her fathers voice calling her name.
"Daddy! Daddy, I knew you would come!"
Johnathon untied her and hugged her tight. He then walked over to Shaun. He untied him and took his hand. "I know what you did for my daughter. I have no words to thank you. Please forgive this greedy fool. My daughter could not do better than to have you."
As they walked back to the Commanders office, Melanie and Shaun told them all that had happened. "Daddy, Mr. Turner is the reason I didn't die in the crash. He gave his life for mine."
"I will find some way to give back to you all I can, Shaun. It won't bring him back but it is all I have to give."
"If you will allow me to love your daughter for the rest of her life, I will be a happy man, Sir."
"I wouldn't want her with anyone else." Johnathon touched his daughters face.
"It's alright Daddy. Somehow, beauty has a whole new meaning to it for me."
"I have a lot of wrongs to right, Melanie."
"Not as many as you think, Daddy. I didn't Always listen to you."
Johnathon smiled at her and Shaun. "I am thankful for that, Mel. Very thankful to heaven."
Melanie smiled at her father and winked.
"Me too, Daddy."