David found the people saddened and Perry in tears. “What is the matter?” he demanded. “What is wrong? Where is Dian that she has not come to meet me?”
Perry was sobbing so, that he could not answer. The headman, who had been in charge during their absence, spoke: “Dian the Beautiful is lost to us,” he said.
“Lost! What do you mean?” demanded David; then they told him, and David Innes’s world crumbled from beneath him. He looked long at Perry, and then he went and placed a hand upon his shoulder. “You loved her, too,” he said; “you would not have harmed her. Tears will do no good. Build me another balloon, and perhaps it will drift to the same spot to which she was carried.”
They both worked on the new balloon; in fact everyone in Sari worked on it, and the work gave them relief from sorrowing. Many hunters went out, and the dinosaurs which were to furnish the peritonea for the envelope of the gas bag were soon killed. While they were out hunting, the women wove the basket and braided the many feet of rope; and while this was going on, the runner returned from Thuria.
David was in Sari when he came, and the man came at once to him. “I have news of Dian the Beautiful,” he said. “A man of Thuria, saw the balloon floating across the nameless strait at the end of the world, high in the air.
“Could he see if Dian was still in it?” asked David.
“No,” replied the runner, “it was too high in the air.”
“At least we know where to look,” said David, but his heart was heavy; because he know that there was little chance that Dian could have survived the cold, the hunger, and the thirst.
Before the second balloon was finished the survivors of the Sari returned to the village; and they told Hodon all that they knew of O-aa. “She told us to tell you,” said one, “that she was adrift in the Sari on the Lural Az. She said that when you knew that, you would come and get her.”
Hodon turned to David. “May I have men and a ship with which to go in search of O-aa?” he asked.
“You may have the ship and as many men as you need,” replied David.