People Out Of Time
Edgar Rice Burroughs
Part 1 out of 2
Created by Judith Boss, Omaha, Nebraska
The People That Time Forgot
By Edgar Rice Burroughs
I am forced to admit that even though I had traveled a long distance
to place Bowen Tyler's manuscript in the hands of his father,
I was still a trifle skeptical as to its sincerity, since I could
not but recall that it had not been many years since Bowen had been
one of the most notorious practical jokers of his alma mater. The
truth was that as I sat in the Tyler library at Santa Monica I
commenced to feel a trifle foolish and to wish that I had merely
forwarded the manuscript by express instead of bearing it personally,
for I confess that I do not enjoy being laughed at. I have a
well-developed sense of humor--when the joke is not on me.
Mr. Tyler, Sr., was expected almost hourly. The last steamer in
from Honolulu had brought information of the date of the expected
sailing of his yacht Toreador, which was now twenty-four hours
overdue. Mr. Tyler's assistant secretary, who had been left
at home, assured me that there was no doubt but that the Toreador
had sailed as promised, since he knew his employer well enough to
be positive that nothing short of an act of God would prevent his
doing what he had planned to do. I was also aware of the fact
that the sending apparatus of the Toreador's wireless equipment was
sealed, and that it would only be used in event of dire necessity.
There was, therefore, nothing to do but wait, and we waited.
We discussed the manuscript and hazarded guesses concerning it and
the strange events it narrated. The torpedoing of the liner upon
which Bowen J. Tyler, Jr., had taken passage for France to join
the American Ambulance was a well-known fact, and I had further
substantiated by wire to the New York office of the owners, that
a Miss La Rue had been booked for passage. Further, neither she
nor Bowen had been mentioned among the list of survivors; nor had
the body of either of them been recovered.
Their rescue by the English tug was entirely probable; the capture
of the enemy U-33 by the tug's crew was not beyond the range
of possibility; and their adventures during the perilous cruise
which the treachery and deceit of Benson extended until they found
themselves in the waters of the far South Pacific with depleted
stores and poisoned water-casks, while bordering upon the
fantastic, appeared logical enough as narrated, event by event, in
Caprona has always been considered a more or less mythical land,
though it is vouched for by an eminent navigator of the eighteenth
century; but Bowen's narrative made it seem very real, however many
miles of trackless ocean lay between us and it. Yes, the narrative
had us guessing. We were agreed that it was most improbable; but
neither of us could say that anything which it contained was beyond
the range of possibility. The weird flora and fauna of Caspak were
as possible under the thick, warm atmospheric conditions of the
super-heated crater as they were in the Mesozoic era under almost
exactly similar conditions, which were then probably world-wide.
The assistant secretary had heard of Caproni and his discoveries,
but admitted that he never had taken much stock in the one nor the
other. We were agreed that the one statement most difficult of
explanation was that which reported the entire absence of human
young among the various tribes which Tyler had had intercourse.
This was the one irreconcilable statement of the manuscript. A
world of adults! It was impossible.
We speculated upon the probable fate of Bradley and his party of
English sailors. Tyler had found the graves of two of them; how
many more might have perished! And Miss La Rue--could a young
girl long have survived the horrors of Caspak after having been
separated from all of her own kind? The assistant secretary wondered
if Nobs still was with her, and then we both smiled at this tacit
acceptance of the truth of the whole uncanny tale:
"I suppose I'm a fool," remarked the assistant secretary; "but by
George, I can't help believing it, and I can see that girl now,
with the big Airedale at her side protecting her from the terrors
of a million years ago. I can visualize the entire scene--the apelike
Grimaldi men huddled in their filthy caves; the huge pterodactyls
soaring through the heavy air upon their bat-like wings; the mighty
dinosaurs moving their clumsy hulks beneath the dark shadows of
preglacial forests--the dragons which we considered myths until
science taught us that they were the true recollections of the
first man, handed down through countless ages by word of mouth from
father to son out of the unrecorded dawn of humanity."
"It is stupendous--if true," I replied. "And to think that possibly
they are still there--Tyler and Miss La Rue--surrounded by hideous
dangers, and that possibly Bradley still lives, and some of his
party! I can't help hoping all the time that Bowen and the girl
have found the others; the last Bowen knew of them, there were six
left, all told--the mate Bradley, the engineer Olson, and Wilson,
Whitely, Brady and Sinclair. There might be some hope for them
if they could join forces; but separated, I'm afraid they couldn't
"If only they hadn't let the German prisoners capture the U-33!
Bowen should have had better judgment than to have trusted them at
all. The chances are von Schoenvorts succeeded in getting safely
back to Kiel and is strutting around with an Iron Cross this very
minute. With a large supply of oil from the wells they discovered
in Caspak, with plenty of water and ample provisions, there is
no reason why they couldn't have negotiated the submerged tunnel
beneath the barrier cliffs and made good their escape."
"I don't like 'em," said the assistant secretary; "but sometimes
you got to hand it to 'em."
"Yes," I growled, "and there's nothing I'd enjoy more than handing
it to them!" And then the telephone-bell rang.
The assistant secretary answered, and as I watched him, I saw his
jaw drop and his face go white. "My God!" he exclaimed as he hung
up the receiver as one in a trance. "It can't be!"
"What?" I asked.
"Mr. Tyler is dead," he answered in a dull voice. "He died at sea,
The next ten days were occupied in burying Mr. Bowen J. Tyler, Sr.,
and arranging plans for the succor of his son. Mr. Tom Billings,
the late Mr. Tyler's secretary, did it all. He is force, energy,
initiative and good judgment combined and personified. I never
have beheld a more dynamic young man. He handled lawyers, courts
and executors as a sculptor handles his modeling clay. He formed,
fashioned and forced them to his will. He had been a classmate of
Bowen Tyler at college, and a fraternity brother, and before, that
he had been an impoverished and improvident cow-puncher on one of the
great Tyler ranches. Tyler, Sr., had picked him out of thousands
of employees and made him; or rather Tyler had given him the
opportunity, and then Billings had made himself. Tyler, Jr., as
good a judge of men as his father, had taken him into his friendship,
and between the two of them they had turned out a man who would
have died for a Tyler as quickly as he would have for his flag. Yet
there was none of the sycophant or fawner in Billings; ordinarily
I do not wax enthusiastic about men, but this man Billings comes
as close to my conception of what a regular man should be as any
I have ever met. I venture to say that before Bowen J. Tyler sent
him to college he had never heard the word ethics, and yet I am
equally sure that in all his life he never has transgressed a single
tenet of the code of ethics of an American gentleman.
Ten days after they brought Mr. Tyler's body off the Toreador,
we steamed out into the Pacific in search of Caprona. There were
forty in the party, including the master and crew of the Toreador;
and Billings the indomitable was in command. We had a long and
uninteresting search for Caprona, for the old map upon which the
assistant secretary had finally located it was most inaccurate.
When its grim walls finally rose out of the ocean's mists before
us, we were so far south that it was a question as to whether we
were in the South Pacific or the Antarctic. Bergs were numerous,
and it was very cold.
All during the trip Billings had steadfastly evaded questions as
to how we were to enter Caspak after we had found Caprona. Bowen
Tyler's manuscript had made it perfectly evident to all that the
subterranean outlet of the Caspakian River was the only means of
ingress or egress to the crater world beyond the impregnable cliffs.
Tyler's party had been able to navigate this channel because their
craft had been a submarine; but the Toreador could as easily have
flown over the cliffs as sailed under them. Jimmy Hollis and Colin
Short whiled away many an hour inventing schemes for surmounting
the obstacle presented by the barrier cliffs, and making ridiculous
wagers as to which one Tom Billings had in mind; but immediately
we were all assured that we had raised Caprona, Billings called us
"There was no use in talking about these things," he said, "until
we found the island. At best it can be but conjecture on our part
until we have been able to scrutinize the coast closely. Each
of us has formed a mental picture of the Capronian seacoast from
Bowen's manuscript, and it is not likely that any two of these
pictures resemble each other, or that any of them resemble the
coast as we shall presently find it. I have in view three plans
for scaling the cliffs, and the means for carrying out each is in
the hold. There is an electric drill with plenty of waterproof
cable to reach from the ship's dynamos to the cliff-top when the
Toreador is anchored at a safe distance from shore, and there is
sufficient half-inch iron rod to build a ladder from the base to
the top of the cliff. It would be a long, arduous and dangerous
work to bore the holes and insert the rungs of the ladder from the
bottom upward; yet it can be done.
"I also have a life-saving mortar with which we might be able to
throw a line over the summit of the cliffs; but this plan would
necessitate one of us climbing to the top with the chances more
than even that the line would cut at the summit, or the hooks at
the upper end would slip.
"My third plan seems to me the most feasible. You all saw a number
of large, heavy boxes lowered into the hold before we sailed. I
know you did, because you asked me what they contained and commented
upon the large letter 'H' which was painted upon each box. These
boxes contain the various parts of a hydro-aeroplane. I purpose
assembling this upon the strip of beach described in Bowen's
manuscript--the beach where he found the dead body of the apelike
man--provided there is sufficient space above high water; otherwise
we shall have to assemble it on deck and lower it over the side.
After it is assembled, I shall carry tackle and ropes to the
cliff-top, and then it will be comparatively simple to hoist the
search-party and its supplies in safety. Or I can make a sufficient
number of trips to land the entire party in the valley beyond the
barrier; all will depend, of course, upon what my first reconnaissance
That afternoon we steamed slowly along the face of Caprona's towering
"You see now," remarked Billings as we craned our necks to scan the
summit thousands of feet above us, "how futile it would have been
to waste our time in working out details of a plan to surmount those."
And he jerked his thumb toward the cliffs. "It would take weeks,
possibly months, to construct a ladder to the top. I had no
conception of their formidable height. Our mortar would not carry
a line halfway to the crest of the lowest point. There is no use
discussing any plan other than the hydro-aeroplane. We'll find
the beach and get busy."
Late the following morning the lookout announced that he could
discern surf about a mile ahead; and as we approached, we all saw
the line of breakers broken by a long sweep of rolling surf upon
a narrow beach. The launch was lowered, and five of us made a
landing, getting a good ducking in the ice-cold waters in the doing
of it; but we were rewarded by the finding of the clean-picked
bones of what might have been the skeleton of a high order of ape
or a very low order of man, lying close to the base of the cliff.
Billings was satisfied, as were the rest of us, that this was the
beach mentioned by Bowen, and we further found that there was ample
room to assemble the sea-plane.
Billings, having arrived at a decision, lost no time in acting,
with the result that before mid-afternoon we had landed all the
large boxes marked "H" upon the beach, and were busily engaged in
opening them. Two days later the plane was assembled and tuned.
We loaded tackles and ropes, water, food and ammunition in it, and
then we each implored Billings to let us be the one to accompany
him. But he would take no one. That was Billings; if there was
any especially difficult or dangerous work to be done, that one man
could do, Billings always did it himself. If he needed assistance,
he never called for volunteers--just selected the man or men he
considered best qualified for the duty. He said that he considered
the principles underlying all volunteer service fundamentally wrong,
and that it seemed to him that calling for volunteers reflected
upon the courage and loyalty of the entire command.
We rolled the plane down to the water's edge, and Billings mounted
the pilot's seat. There was a moment's delay as he assured
himself that he had everything necessary. Jimmy Hollis went over
his armament and ammunition to see that nothing had been omitted.
Besides pistol and rifle, there was the machine-gun mounted in
front of him on the plane, and ammunition for all three. Bowen's
account of the terrors of Caspak had impressed us all with the
necessity for proper means of defense.
At last all was ready. The motor was started, and we pushed the
plane out into the surf. A moment later, and she was skimming
seaward. Gently she rose from the surface of the water, executed
a wide spiral as she mounted rapidly, circled once far above us
and then disappeared over the crest of the cliffs. We all stood
silent and expectant, our eyes glued upon the towering summit above
us. Hollis, who was now in command, consulted his wrist-watch at
"Gad," exclaimed Short, "we ought to be hearing from him pretty
Hollis laughed nervously. "He's been gone only ten minutes," he
"Seems like an hour," snapped Short. "What's that? Did you hear
that? He's firing! It's the machine-gun! Oh, Lord; and here we
are as helpless as a lot of old ladies ten thousand miles away!
We can't do a thing. We don't know what's happening. Why didn't
he let one of us go with him?"
Yes, it was the machine-gun. We would hear it distinctly for at
least a minute. Then came silence. That was two weeks ago. We
have had no sign nor signal from Tom Billings since.
I'll never forget my first impressions of Caspak as I circled in,
high over the surrounding cliffs. From the plane I looked down
through a mist upon the blurred landscape beneath me. The hot,
humid atmosphere of Caspak condenses as it is fanned by the cold
Antarctic air-currents which sweep across the crater's top, sending
a tenuous ribbon of vapor far out across the Pacific. Through this
the picture gave one the suggestion of a colossal impressionistic
canvas in greens and browns and scarlets and yellows surrounding
the deep blue of the inland sea--just blobs of color taking form
through the tumbling mist.
I dived close to the cliffs and skirted them for several miles
without finding the least indication of a suitable landing-place;
and then I swung back at a lower level, looking for a clearing close
to the bottom of the mighty escarpment; but I could find none of
sufficient area to insure safety. I was flying pretty low by this
time, not only looking for landing places but watching the myriad
life beneath me. I was down pretty well toward the south end
of the island, where an arm of the lake reaches far inland, and I
could see the surface of the water literally black with creatures
of some sort. I was too far up to recognize individuals, but the
general impression was of a vast army of amphibious monsters. The
land was almost equally alive with crawling, leaping, running,
flying things. It was one of the latter which nearly did for me
while my attention was fixed upon the weird scene below.
The first intimation I had of it was the sudden blotting out of
the sunlight from above, and as I glanced quickly up, I saw a most
terrific creature swooping down upon me. It must have been fully
eighty feet long from the end of its long, hideous beak to the tip
of its thick, short tail, with an equal spread of wings. It was
coming straight for me and hissing frightfully--I could hear it
above the whir of the propeller. It was coming straight down toward
the muzzle of the machine-gun and I let it have it right in the
breast; but still it came for me, so that I had to dive and turn,
though I was dangerously close to earth.
The thing didn't miss me by a dozen feet, and when I rose, it wheeled
and followed me, but only to the cooler air close to the level of
the cliff-tops; there it turned again and dropped. Something--man's
natural love of battle and the chase, I presume--impelled me to
pursue it, and so I too circled and dived. The moment I came down
into the warm atmosphere of Caspak, the creature came for me again,
rising above me so that it might swoop down upon me. Nothing could
better have suited my armament, since my machine-gun was pointed
upward at an angle of about degrees and could not be either depressed
or elevated by the pilot. If I had brought someone along with me,
we could have raked the great reptile from almost any position, but
as the creature's mode of attack was always from above, he always
found me ready with a hail of bullets. The battle must have lasted
a minute or more before the thing suddenly turned completely over
in the air and fell to the ground.
Bowen and I roomed together at college, and I learned a lot from
him outside my regular course. He was a pretty good scholar despite
his love of fun, and his particular hobby was paleontology. He
used to tell me about the various forms of animal and vegetable life
which had covered the globe during former eras, and so I was pretty
well acquainted with the fishes, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals
of paleolithic times. I knew that the thing that had attacked me
was some sort of pterodactyl which should have been extinct millions
of years ago. It was all that I needed to realize that Bowen had
exaggerated nothing in his manuscript.
Having disposed of my first foe, I set myself once more to search
for a landing-place near to the base of the cliffs beyond which my
party awaited me. I knew how anxious they would be for word from
me, and I was equally anxious to relieve their minds and also to
get them and our supplies well within Caspak, so that we might set
off about our business of finding and rescuing Bowen Tyler; but the
pterodactyl's carcass had scarcely fallen before I was surrounded
by at least a dozen of the hideous things, some large, some small,
but all bent upon my destruction. I could not cope with them all,
and so I rose rapidly from among them to the cooler strata wherein
they dared not follow; and then I recalled that Bowen's narrative
distinctly indicated that the farther north one traveled in Caspak,
the fewer were the terrible reptiles which rendered human life
impossible at the southern end of the island.
There seemed nothing now but to search out a more northerly
landing-place and then return to the Toreador and transport my
companions, two by two, over the cliffs and deposit them at the
rendezvous. As I flew north, the temptation to explore overcame
me. I knew that I could easily cover Caspak and return to the
beach with less petrol than I had in my tanks; and there was the
hope, too, that I might find Bowen or some of his party. The broad
expanse of the inland sea lured me out over its waters, and as I
crossed, I saw at either extremity of the great body of water an
island--one to the south and one to the north; but I did not alter
my course to examine either closely, leaving that to a later time.
The further shore of the sea revealed a much narrower strip of
land between the cliffs and the water than upon the western side;
but it was a hillier and more open country. There were splendid
landing-places, and in the distance, toward the north, I thought
I descried a village; but of that I was not positive. However, as
I approached the land, I saw a number of human figures apparently
pursuing one who fled across a broad expanse of meadow. As I
dropped lower to have a better look at these people, they caught
the whirring of my propellers and looked aloft. They paused an
instant--pursuers and pursued; and then they broke and raced for
the shelter of the nearest wood. Almost instantaneously a huge
bulk swooped down upon me, and as I looked up, I realized that there
were flying reptiles even in this part of Caspak. The creature
dived for my right wing so quickly that nothing but a sheer drop
could have saved me. I was already close to the ground, so that
my maneuver was extremely dangerous; but I was in a fair way of
making it successfully when I saw that I was too closely approaching
a large tree. My effort to dodge the tree and the pterodactyl at
the same time resulted disastrously. One wing touched an upper
branch; the plane tipped and swung around, and then, out of control,
dashed into the branches of the tree, where it came to rest, battered
and torn, forty feet above the ground.
Hissing loudly, the huge reptile swept close above the tree in
which my plane had lodged, circled twice over me and then flapped
away toward the south. As I guessed then and was to learn later,
forests are the surest sanctuary from these hideous creatures,
which, with their enormous spread of wing and their great weight,
are as much out of place among trees as is a seaplane.
For a minute or so I clung there to my battered flyer, now useless
beyond redemption, my brain numbed by the frightful catastrophe
that had befallen me. All my plans for the succor of Bowen and
Miss La Rue had depended upon this craft, and in a few brief minutes
my own selfish love of adventure had wrecked their hopes and mine.
And what effect it might have upon the future of the balance of
the rescuing expedition I could not even guess. Their lives, too,
might be sacrificed to my suicidal foolishness. That I was doomed
seemed inevitable; but I can honestly say that the fate of my
friends concerned me more greatly than did my own.
Beyond the barrier cliffs my party was even now nervously awaiting
my return. Presently apprehension and fear would claim them--and
they would never know! They would attempt to scale the cliffs--of
that I was sure; but I was not so positive that they would succeed; and
after a while they would turn back, what there were left of them,
and go sadly and mournfully upon their return journey to home.
Home! I set my jaws and tried to forget the word, for I knew that
I should never again see home.
And what of Bowen and his girl? I had doomed them too. They would
never even know that an attempt had been made to rescue them. If
they still lived, they might some day come upon the ruined remnants
of this great plane hanging in its lofty sepulcher and hazard vain
guesses and be filled with wonder; but they would never know; and
I could not but be glad that they would not know that Tom Billings
had sealed their death-warrants by his criminal selfishness.
All these useless regrets were getting me in a bad way; but at last
I shook myself and tried to put such things out of my mind and take
hold of conditions as they existed and do my level best to wrest
victory from defeat. I was badly shaken up and bruised, but
considered myself mighty lucky to escape with my life. The plane
hung at a precarious angle, so that it was with difficulty and
considerable danger that I climbed from it into the tree and then
to the ground.
My predicament was grave. Between me and my friends lay an
inland sea fully sixty miles wide at this point and an estimated
land-distance of some three hundred miles around the northern end
of the sea, through such hideous dangers as I am perfectly free
to admit had me pretty well buffaloed. I had seen quite enough of
Caspak this day to assure me that Bowen had in no way exaggerated
its perils. As a matter of fact, I am inclined to believe that
he had become so accustomed to them before he started upon his
manuscript that he rather slighted them. As I stood there beneath
that tree--a tree which should have been part of a coal-bed countless
ages since--and looked out across a sea teeming with frightful
life--life which should have been fossil before God conceived of
Adam--I would not have given a minim of stale beer for my chances
of ever seeing my friends or the outside world again; yet then
and there I swore to fight my way as far through this hideous land
as circumstances would permit. I had plenty of ammunition, an
automatic pistol and a heavy rifle--the latter one of twenty added
to our equipment on the strength of Bowen's description of the
huge beasts of prey which ravaged Caspak. My greatest danger lay
in the hideous reptilia whose low nervous organizations permitted
their carnivorous instincts to function for several minutes after
they had ceased to live.
But to these things I gave less thought than to the sudden frustration of
all our plans. With the bitterest of thoughts I condemned myself
for the foolish weakness that had permitted me to be drawn from the
main object of my flight into premature and useless exploration.
It seemed to me then that I must be totally eliminated from further
search for Bowen, since, as I estimated it, the three hundred miles
of Caspakian territory I must traverse to reach the base of the
cliffs beyond which my party awaited me were practically impassable
for a single individual unaccustomed to Caspakian life and ignorant
of all that lay before him. Yet I could not give up hope entirely.
My duty lay clear before me; I must follow it while life remained
to me, and so I set forth toward the north.
The country through which I took my way was as lovely as it was
unusual--I had almost said unearthly, for the plants, the trees,
the blooms were not of the earth that I knew. They were larger,
the colors more brilliant and the shapes startling, some almost to
grotesqueness, though even such added to the charm and romance of
the landscape as the giant cacti render weirdly beautiful the waste
spots of the sad Mohave. And over all the sun shone huge and round
and red, a monster sun above a monstrous world, its light dispersed
by the humid air of Caspak--the warm, moist air which lies sluggish
upon the breast of this great mother of life, Nature's mightiest
All about me, in every direction, was life. It moved through the
tree-tops and among the boles; it displayed itself in widening and
intermingling circles upon the bosom of the sea; it leaped from
the depths; I could hear it in a dense wood at my right, the murmur
of it rising and falling in ceaseless volumes of sound, riven at
intervals by a horrid scream or a thunderous roar which shook the
earth; and always I was haunted by that inexplicable sensation that
unseen eyes were watching me, that soundless feet dogged my trail.
I am neither nervous nor highstrung; but the burden of responsibility
upon me weighed heavily, so that I was more cautious than is my
wont. I turned often to right and left and rear lest I be surprised,
and I carried my rifle at the ready in my hand. Once I could have
sworn that among the many creatures dimly perceived amidst the
shadows of the wood I saw a human figure dart from one cover to
another, but I could not be sure.
For the most part I skirted the wood, making occasional detours
rather than enter those forbidding depths of gloom, though many
times I was forced to pass through arms of the forest which extended
to the very shore of the inland sea. There was so sinister a
suggestion in the uncouth sounds and the vague glimpses of moving
things within the forest, of the menace of strange beasts and possibly
still stranger men, that I always breathed more freely when I had
passed once more into open country.
I had traveled northward for perhaps an hour, still haunted by the
conviction that I was being stalked by some creature which kept
always hidden among the trees and shrubbery to my right and a
little to my rear, when for the hundredth time I was attracted by
a sound from that direction, and turning, saw some animal running
rapidly through the forest toward me. There was no longer any
effort on its part at concealment; it came on through the underbrush
swiftly, and I was confident that whatever it was, it had finally
gathered the courage to charge me boldly. Before it finally broke
into plain view, I became aware that it was not alone, for a few
yards in its rear a second thing thrashed through the leafy jungle.
Evidently I was to be attacked in force by a pair of hunting beasts
And then through the last clump of waving ferns broke the figure of
the foremost creature, which came leaping toward me on light feet
as I stood with my rifle to my shoulder covering the point at which
I had expected it would emerge. I must have looked foolish indeed
if my surprise and consternation were in any way reflected upon
my countenance as I lowered my rifle and gazed incredulous at the
lithe figure of the girl speeding swiftly in my direction. But
I did not have long to stand thus with lowered weapon, for as she
came, I saw her cast an affrighted glance over her shoulder, and
at the same moment there broke from the jungle at the same spot at
which I had seen her, the hugest cat I had ever looked upon.
At first I took the beast for a saber-tooth tiger, as it was quite
the most fearsome-appearing beast one could imagine; but it was not
that dread monster of the past, though quite formidable enough to
satisfy the most fastidious thrill-hunter. On it came, grim and
terrible, its baleful eyes glaring above its distended jaws, its
lips curled in a frightful snarl which exposed a whole mouthful of
formidable teeth. At sight of me it had abandoned its impetuous
rush and was now sneaking slowly toward us; while the girl, a long
knife in her hand, took her stand bravely at my left and a little
to my rear. She had called something to me in a strange tongue as
she raced toward me, and now she spoke again; but what she said I
could not then, of course, know--only that her tones were sweet,
well modulated and free from any suggestion of panic.
Facing the huge cat, which I now saw was an enormous panther,
I waited until I could place a shot where I felt it would do the
most good, for at best a frontal shot at any of the large carnivora
is a ticklish matter. I had some advantage in that the beast was
not charging; its head was held low and its back exposed; and so
at forty yards I took careful aim at its spine at the junction of
neck and shoulders. But at the same instant, as though sensing my
intention, the great creature lifted its head and leaped forward
in full charge. To fire at that sloping forehead I knew would be
worse than useless, and so I quickly shifted my aim and pulled the
trigger, hoping against hope that the soft-nosed bullet and the
heavy charge of powder would have sufficient stopping effect to
give me time to place a second shot.
In answer to the report of the rifle I had the satisfaction of seeing
the brute spring into the air, turning a complete somersault; but
it was up again almost instantly, though in the brief second that
it took it to scramble to its feet and get its bearings, it exposed
its left side fully toward me, and a second bullet went crashing
through its heart. Down it went for the second time--and then up
and at me. The vitality of these creatures of Caspak is one of
the marvelous features of this strange world and bespeaks the low
nervous organization of the old paleolithic life which has been so
long extinct in other portions of the world.
I put a third bullet into the beast at three paces, and then I
thought that I was done for; but it rolled over and stopped at my
feet, stone dead. I found that my second bullet had torn its heart
almost completely away, and yet it had lived to charge ferociously
upon me, and but for my third shot would doubtless have slain me
before it finally expired--or as Bowen Tyler so quaintly puts it,
before it knew that it was dead.
With the panther quite evidently conscious of the fact that dissolution
had overtaken it, I turned toward the girl, who was regarding me
with evident admiration and not a little awe, though I must admit
that my rifle claimed quite as much of her attention as did I. She
was quite the most wonderful animal that I have ever looked upon,
and what few of her charms her apparel hid, it quite effectively
succeeded in accentuating. A bit of soft, undressed leather was
caught over her left shoulder and beneath her right breast, falling
upon her left side to her hip and upon the right to a metal band
which encircled her leg above the knee and to which the lowest
point of the hide was attached. About her waist was a loose leather
belt, to the center of which was attached the scabbard belonging
to her knife. There was a single armlet between her right shoulder
and elbow, and a series of them covered her left forearm from elbow
to wrist. These, I learned later, answered the purpose of a shield
against knife attack when the left arm is raised in guard across
the breast or face.
Her masses of heavy hair were held in place by a broad metal band
which bore a large triangular ornament directly in the center of
her forehead. This ornament appeared to be a huge turquoise, while
the metal of all her ornaments was beaten, virgin gold, inlaid in
intricate design with bits of mother-of-pearl and tiny pieces of
stone of various colors. From the left shoulder depended a leopard's
tail, while her feet were shod with sturdy little sandals. The
knife was her only weapon. Its blade was of iron, the grip was
wound with hide and protected by a guard of three out-bowing strips
of flat iron, and upon the top of the hilt was a knob of gold.
I took in much of this in the few seconds during which we stood
facing each other, and I also observed another salient feature of
her appearance: she was frightfully dirty! Her face and limbs and
garment were streaked with mud and perspiration, and yet even so,
I felt that I had never looked upon so perfect and beautiful a
creature as she. Her figure beggars description, and equally so,
her face. Were I one of these writer-fellows, I should probably
say that her features were Grecian, but being neither a writer nor
a poet I can do her greater justice by saying that she combined all
of the finest lines that one sees in the typical American girl's
face rather than the pronounced sheeplike physiognomy of the
Greek goddess. No, even the dirt couldn't hide that fact; she was
beautiful beyond compare.
As we stood looking at each other, a slow smile came to her face,
parting her symmetrical lips and disclosing a row of strong white
"Galu?" she asked with rising inflection.
And remembering that I read in Bowen's manuscript that Galu seemed
to indicate a higher type of man, I answered by pointing to myself
and repeating the word. Then she started off on a regular catechism,
if I could judge by her inflection, for I certainly understood no
word of what she said. All the time the girl kept glancing toward
the forest, and at last she touched my arm and pointed in that
Turning, I saw a hairy figure of a manlike thing standing watching
us, and presently another and another emerged from the jungle and
joined the leader until there must have been at least twenty of
them. They were entirely naked. Their bodies were covered with
hair, and though they stood upon their feet without touching their
hands to the ground, they had a very ape-like appearance, since they
stooped forward and had very long arms and quite apish features.
They were not pretty to look upon with their close-set eyes, flat
noses, long upper lips and protruding yellow fangs.
"Alus!" said the girl.
I had reread Bowen's adventures so often that I knew them almost by
heart, and so now I knew that I was looking upon the last remnant
of that ancient man-race--the Alus of a forgotten period--the
speechless man of antiquity.
"Kazor!" cried the girl, and at the same moment the Alus came
jabbering toward us. They made strange growling, barking noises,
as with much baring of fangs they advanced upon us. They were
armed only with nature's weapons--powerful muscles and giant fangs;
yet I knew that these were quite sufficient to overcome us had we
nothing better to offer in defense, and so I drew my pistol and
fired at the leader. He dropped like a stone, and the others turned
and fled. Once again the girl smiled her slow smile and stepping
closer, caressed the barrel of my automatic. As she did so, her
fingers came in contact with mine, and a sudden thrill ran through
me, which I attributed to the fact that it had been so long since
I had seen a woman of any sort or kind.
She said something to me in her low, liquid tones; but I could not
understand her, and then she pointed toward the north and started
away. I followed her, for my way was north too; but had it been
south I still should have followed, so hungry was I for human
companionship in this world of beasts and reptiles and half-men.
We walked along, the girl talking a great deal and seeming mystified
that I could not understand her. Her silvery laugh rang merrily
when I in turn essayed to speak to her, as though my language was
the quaintest thing she ever had heard. Often after fruitless
attempts to make me understand she would hold her palm toward me,
saying, "Galu!" and then touch my breast or arm and cry, "Alu, alu!"
I knew what she meant, for I had learned from Bowen's narrative the
negative gesture and the two words which she repeated. She meant
that I was no Galu, as I claimed, but an Alu, or speechless one.
Yet every time she said this she laughed again, and so infectious
were her tones that I could only join her. It was only natural,
too, that she should be mystified by my inability to comprehend
her or to make her comprehend me, for from the club-men, the lowest
human type in Caspak to have speech, to the golden race of Galus,
the tongues of the various tribes are identical--except for
amplifications in the rising scale of evolution. She, who is a
Galu, can understand one of the Bo-lu and make herself understood
to him, or to a hatchet-man, a spear-man or an archer. The Ho-lus,
or apes, the Alus and myself were the only creatures of human
semblance with which she could hold no converse; yet it was evident
that her intelligence told her that I was neither Ho-lu nor Alu,
neither anthropoid ape nor speechless man.
Yet she did not despair, but set out to teach me her language; and
had it not been that I worried so greatly over the fate of Bowen
and my companions of the Toreador, I could have wished the period
of instruction prolonged.
I never have been what one might call a ladies' man, though I like
their company immensely, and during my college days and since have
made various friends among the sex. I think that I rather appeal
to a certain type of girl for the reason that I never make love
to them; I leave that to the numerous others who do it infinitely
better than I could hope to, and take my pleasure out of girls'
society in what seem to be more rational ways--dancing, golfing,
boating, riding, tennis, and the like. Yet in the company of this
half-naked little savage I found a new pleasure that was entirely
distinct from any that I ever had experienced. When she touched me,
I thrilled as I had never before thrilled in contact with another
woman. I could not quite understand it, for I am sufficiently
sophisticated to know that this is a symptom of love and I certainly
did not love this filthy little barbarian with her broken, unkempt
nails and her skin so besmeared with mud and the green of crushed
foliage that it was difficult to say what color it originally had
been. But if she was outwardly uncouth, her clear eyes and strong
white, even teeth, her silvery laugh and her queenly carriage,
bespoke an innate fineness which dirt could not quite successfully
The sun was low in the heavens when we came upon a little river
which emptied into a large bay at the foot of low cliffs. Our
journey so far had been beset with constant danger, as is every
journey in this frightful land. I have not bored you with a
recital of the wearying successions of attacks by the multitude of
creatures which were constantly crossing our path or deliberately
stalking us. We were always upon the alert; for here, to paraphrase,
eternal vigilance is indeed the price of life.
I had managed to progress a little in the acquisition of a knowledge
of her tongue, so that I knew many of the animals and reptiles by
their Caspakian names, and trees and ferns and grasses. I knew
the words for sea and river and cliff, for sky and sun and cloud.
Yes, I was getting along finely, and then it occurred to me that I
didn't know my companion's name; so I pointed to myself and said,
"Tom," and to her and raised my eyebrows in interrogation. The
girl ran her fingers into that mass of hair and looked puzzled. I
repeated the action a dozen times.
"Tom," she said finally in that clear, sweet, liquid voice. "Tom!"
I had never thought much of my name before; but when she spoke it,
it sounded to me for the first time in my life like a mighty nice
name, and then she brightened suddenly and tapped her own breast
and said: "Ajor!"
"Ajor!" I repeated, and she laughed and struck her palms together.
Well, we knew each other's names now, and that was some satisfaction.
I rather liked hers--Ajor! And she seemed to like mine, for she
We came to the cliffs beside the little river where it empties
into the bay with the great inland sea beyond. The cliffs were
weather-worn and rotted, and in one place a deep hollow ran back
beneath the overhanging stone for several feet, suggesting shelter
for the night. There were loose rocks strewn all about with which
I might build a barricade across the entrance to the cave, and so
I halted there and pointed out the place to Ajor, trying to make
her understand that we would spend the night there.
As soon as she grasped my meaning, she assented with the Caspakian
equivalent of an affirmative nod, and then touching my rifle,
motioned me to follow her to the river. At the bank she paused,
removed her belt and dagger, dropping them to the ground at her
side; then unfastening the lower edge of her garment from the metal
leg-band to which it was attached, slipped it off her left shoulder
and let it drop to the ground around her feet. It was done so
naturally, so simply and so quickly that it left me gasping like
a fish out of water. Turning, she flashed a smile at me and then
dived into the river, and there she bathed while I stood guard
over her. For five or ten minutes she splashed about, and when
she emerged her glistening skin was smooth and white and beautiful.
Without means of drying herself, she simply ignored what to me
would have seemed a necessity, and in a moment was arrayed in her
simple though effective costume.
It was now within an hour of darkness, and as I was nearly famished,
I led the way back about a quarter of a mile to a low meadow where
we had seen antelope and small horses a short time before. Here
I brought down a young buck, the report of my rifle sending the
balance of the herd scampering for the woods, where they were met
by a chorus of hideous roars as the carnivora took advantage of
their panic and leaped among them.
With my hunting-knife I removed a hind-quarter, and then we returned
to camp. Here I gathered a great quantity of wood from fallen
trees, Ajor helping me; but before I built a fire, I also gathered
sufficient loose rock to build my barricade against the frightful
terrors of the night to come.
I shall never forget the expression upon Ajor's face as she saw
me strike a match and light the kindling beneath our camp-fire.
It was such an expression as might transform a mortal face with
awe as its owner beheld the mysterious workings of divinity. It
was evident that Ajor was quite unfamiliar with modern methods of
fire-making. She had thought my rifle and pistol wonderful; but
these tiny slivers of wood which from a magic rub brought flame to
the camp hearth were indeed miracles to her.
As the meat roasted above the fire, Ajor and I tried once again
to talk; but though copiously filled with incentive, gestures and
sounds, the conversation did not flourish notably. And then Ajor
took up in earnest the task of teaching me her language. She
commenced, as I later learned, with the simplest form of speech
known to Caspak or for that matter to the world--that employed by
the Bo-lu. I found it far from difficult, and even though it was
a great handicap upon my instructor that she could not speak my
language, she did remarkably well and demonstrated that she possessed
ingenuity and intelligence of a high order.
After we had eaten, I added to the pile of firewood so that I could
replenish the fire before the entrance to our barricade, believing
this as good a protection against the carnivora as we could have;
and then Ajor and I sat down before it, and the lesson proceeded,
while from all about us came the weird and awesome noises of the
Caspakian night--the moaning and the coughing and roaring of the
tigers, the panthers and the lions, the barking and the dismal
howling of a wolf, jackal and hyaenadon, the shrill shrieks of
stricken prey and the hissing of the great reptiles; the voice of
man alone was silent.
But though the voice of this choir-terrible rose and fell from
far and near in all directions, reaching at time such a tremendous
volume of sound that the earth shook to it, yet so engrossed was
I in my lesson and in my teacher that often I was deaf to what at
another time would have filled me with awe. The face and voice of
the beautiful girl who leaned so eagerly toward me as she tried to
explain the meaning of some word or correct my pronunciation of
another quite entirely occupied my every faculty of perception.
The firelight shone upon her animated features and sparkling eyes;
it accentuated the graceful motions of her gesturing arms and hands;
it sparkled from her white teeth and from her golden ornaments, and
glistened on the smooth firmness of her perfect skin. I am afraid
that often I was more occupied with admiration of this beautiful
animal than with a desire for knowledge; but be that as it may,
I nevertheless learned much that evening, though part of what I
learned had naught to do with any new language.
Ajor seemed determined that I should speak Caspakian as quickly
as possible, and I thought I saw in her desire a little of that
all-feminine trait which has come down through all the ages from
the first lady of the world--curiosity. Ajor desired that I should
speak her tongue in order that she might satisfy a curiosity concerning
me that was filling her to a point where she was in danger of
bursting; of that I was positive. She was a regular little animated
question-mark. She bubbled over with interrogations which were
never to be satisfied unless I learned to speak her tongue. Her
eyes sparkled with excitement; her hand flew in expressive gestures;
her little tongue raced with time; yet all to no avail. I could
say man and tree and cliff and lion and a number of other words in
perfect Caspakian; but such a vocabulary was only tantalizing; it
did not lend itself well to a very general conversation, and the
result was that Ajor would wax so wroth that she would clench her
little fists and beat me on the breast as hard as ever she could,
and then she would sink back laughing as the humor of the situation
She was trying to teach me some verbs by going through the actions
herself as she repeated the proper word. We were very much
engrossed--so much so that we were giving no heed to what went on
beyond our cave--when Ajor stopped very suddenly, crying: "Kazor!"
Now she had been trying to teach me that ju meant stop; so when she
cried kazor and at the same time stopped, I thought for a moment
that this was part of my lesson--for the moment I forgot that kazor
means beware. I therefore repeated the word after her; but when
I saw the expression in her eyes as they were directed past me and
saw her point toward the entrance to the cave, I turned quickly--to
see a hideous face at the small aperture leading out into the night.
It was the fierce and snarling countenance of a gigantic bear. I
have hunted silvertips in the White Mountains of Arizona and thought
them quite the largest and most formidable of big game; but from
the appearance of the head of this awful creature I judged that
the largest grizzly I had ever seen would shrink by comparison to
the dimensions of a Newfoundland dog.
Our fire was just within the cave, the smoke rising through the
apertures between the rocks that I had piled in such a way that
they arched inward toward the cliff at the top. The opening by
means of which we were to reach the outside was barricaded with a
few large fragments which did not by any means close it entirely;
but through the apertures thus left no large animal could gain
ingress. I had depended most, however, upon our fire, feeling
that none of the dangerous nocturnal beasts of prey would venture
close to the flames. In this, however, I was quite evidently
in error, for the great bear stood with his nose not a foot from
the blaze, which was now low, owing to the fact that I had been
so occupied with my lesson and my teacher that I had neglected to
Ajor whipped out her futile little knife and pointed to my rifle.
At the same time she spoke in a quite level voice entirely devoid
of nervousness or any evidence of fear or panic. I knew she was
exhorting me to fire upon the beast; but this I did not wish to
do other than as a last resort, for I was quite sure that even my
heavy bullets would not more than further enrage him--in which case
he might easily force an entrance to our cave.
Instead of firing, I piled some more wood upon the fire, and as the
smoke and blaze arose in the beast's face, it backed away, growling
most frightfully; but I still could see two ugly points of light
blazing in the outer darkness and hear its growls rumbling terrifically
without. For some time the creature stood there watching the
entrance to our frail sanctuary while I racked my brains in futile
endeavor to plan some method of defense or escape. I knew full
well that should the bear make a determined effort to get at us,
the rocks I had piled as a barrier would come tumbling down about
his giant shoulders like a house of cards, and that he would walk
directly in upon us.
Ajor, having less knowledge of the effectiveness of firearms than
I, and therefore greater confidence in them, entreated me to shoot
the beast; but I knew that the chance that I could stop it with a
single shot was most remote, while that I should but infuriate it
was real and present; and so I waited for what seemed an eternity,
watching those devilish points of fire glaring balefully at us, and
listening to the ever-increasing volume of those seismic growls which
seemed to rumble upward from the bowels of the earth, shaking the
very cliffs beneath which we cowered, until at last I saw that the
brute was again approaching the aperture. It availed me nothing
that I piled the blaze high with firewood, until Ajor and I were
near to roasting; on came that mighty engine of destruction until
once again the hideous face yawned its fanged yawn directly within
the barrier's opening. It stood thus a moment, and then the head
was withdrawn. I breathed a sigh of relief, the thing had altered
its intention and was going on in search of other and more easily
procurable prey; the fire had been too much for it.
But my joy was short-lived, and my heart sank once again as a
moment later I saw a mighty paw insinuated into the opening--a paw
as large around as a large dishpan. Very gently the paw toyed with
the great rock that partly closed the entrance, pushed and pulled
upon it and then very deliberately drew it outward and to one side.
Again came the head, and this time much farther into the cavern;
but still the great shoulders would not pass through the opening.
Ajor moved closer to me until her shoulder touched my side, and I
thought I felt a slight tremor run through her body, but otherwise
she gave no indication of fear. Involuntarily I threw my left
arm about her and drew her to me for an instant. It was an act of
reassurance rather than a caress, though I must admit that again
and even in the face of death I thrilled at the contact with her;
and then I released her and threw my rifle to my shoulder, for at
last I had reached the conclusion that nothing more could be gained
by waiting. My only hope was to get as many shots into the creature
as I could before it was upon me. Already it had torn away a second
rock and was in the very act of forcing its huge bulk through the
opening it had now made.
So now I took careful aim between its eyes; my right fingers
closed firmly and evenly upon the small of the stock, drawing back
my trigger-finger by the muscular action of the hand. The bullet
could not fail to hit its mark! I held my breath lest I swerve
the muzzle a hair by my breathing. I was as steady and cool as I
ever had been upon a target-range, and I had the full consciousness of
a perfect hit in anticipation; I knew that I could not miss. And
then, as the bear surged forward toward me, the hammer fell--futilely,
upon an imperfect cartridge.
Almost simultaneously I heard from without a perfectly hellish
roar; the bear gave voice to a series of growls far transcending
in volume and ferocity anything that he had yet essayed and at the
same time backed quickly from the cave. For an instant I couldn't
understand what had happened to cause this sudden retreat when
his prey was practically within his clutches. The idea that the
harmless clicking of the hammer had frightened him was too ridiculous
to entertain. However, we had not long to wait before we could at
least guess at the cause of the diversion, for from without came
mingled growls and roars and the sound of great bodies thrashing
about until the earth shook. The bear had been attacked in the
rear by some other mighty beast, and the two were now locked in a
titanic struggle for supremacy. With brief respites, during which
we could hear the labored breathing of the contestants, the battle
continued for the better part of an hour until the sounds of combat
grew gradually less and finally ceased entirely.
At Ajor's suggestion, made by signs and a few of the words we knew
in common, I moved the fire directly to the entrance to the cave
so that a beast would have to pass directly through the flames to
reach us, and then we sat and waited for the victor of the battle
to come and claim his reward; but though we sat for a long time
with our eyes glued to the opening, we saw no sign of any beast.
At last I signed to Ajor to lie down, for I knew that she must
have sleep, and I sat on guard until nearly morning, when the girl
awoke and insisted that I take some rest; nor would she be denied,
but dragged me down as she laughingly menaced me with her knife.
When I awoke, it was daylight, and I found Ajor squatting before a
fine bed of coals roasting a large piece of antelope-meat. Believe
me, the sight of the new day and the delicious odor of the cooking
meat filled me with renewed happiness and hope that had been all
but expunged by the experience of the previous night; and perhaps
the slender figure of the bright-faced girl proved also a potent
restorative. She looked up and smiled at me, showing those perfect
teeth, and dimpling with evident happiness--the most adorable
picture that I had ever seen. I recall that it was then I first
regretted that she was only a little untutored savage and so far
beneath me in the scale of evolution.
Her first act was to beckon me to follow her outside, and there
she pointed to the explanation of our rescue from the bear--a huge
saber-tooth tiger, its fine coat and its flesh torn to ribbons,
lying dead a few paces from our cave, and beside it, equally mangled,
and disemboweled, was the carcass of a huge cave-bear. To have
had one's life saved by a saber-tooth tiger, and in the twentieth
century into the bargain, was an experience that was to say the
least unique; but it had happened--I had the proof of it before my
So enormous are the great carnivora of Caspak that they must feed
perpetually to support their giant thews, and the result is that
they will eat the meat of any other creature and will attack anything
that comes within their ken, no matter how formidable the quarry.
From later observation--I mention this as worthy the attention
of paleontologists and naturalists--I came to the conclusion that
such creatures as the cave-bear, the cave-lion and the saber-tooth
tiger, as well as the larger carnivorous reptiles make, ordinarily,
two kills a day--one in the morning and one after night. They
immediately devour the entire carcass, after which they lie up and
sleep for a few hours. Fortunately their numbers are comparatively
few; otherwise there would be no other life within Caspak. It is
their very voracity that keeps their numbers down to a point which
permits other forms of life to persist, for even in the season of
love the great males often turn upon their own mates and devour
them, while both males and females occasionally devour their young.
How the human and semihuman races have managed to survive during
all the countless ages that these conditions must have existed here
is quite beyond me.
After breakfast Ajor and I set out once more upon our northward
journey. We had gone but a little distance when we were attacked
by a number of apelike creatures armed with clubs. They seemed a
little higher in the scale than the Alus. Ajor told me they were
Bo-lu, or clubmen. A revolver-shot killed one and scattered the
others; but several times later during the day we were menaced
by them, until we had left their country and entered that of the
Sto-lu, or hatchet-men. These people were less hairy and more
man-like; nor did they appear so anxious to destroy us. Rather
they were curious, and followed us for some distance examining us
most closely. They called out to us, and Ajor answered them; but
her replies did not seem to satisfy them, for they gradually became
threatening, and I think they were preparing to attack us when a
small deer that had been hiding in some low brush suddenly broke
cover and dashed across our front. We needed meat, for it was near
one o'clock and I was getting hungry; so I drew my pistol and with
a single shot dropped the creature in its tracks. The effect upon
the Bo-lu was electrical. Immediately they abandoned all thoughts
of war, and turning, scampered for the forest which fringed our
That night we spent beside a little stream in the Sto-lu country.
We found a tiny cave in the rock bank, so hidden away that only
chance could direct a beast of prey to it, and after we had eaten
of the deer-meat and some fruit which Ajor gathered, we crawled into
the little hole, and with sticks and stones which I had gathered
for the purpose I erected a strong barricade inside the entrance.
Nothing could reach us without swimming and wading through the
stream, and I felt quite secure from attack. Our quarters were
rather cramped. The ceiling was so low that we could not stand up,
and the floor so narrow that it was with difficulty that we both
wedged into it together; but we were very tired, and so we made
the most of it; and so great was the feeling of security that I am
sure I fell asleep as soon as I had stretched myself beside Ajor.
During the three days which followed, our progress was exasperatingly
slow. I doubt if we made ten miles in the entire three days. The
country was hideously savage, so that we were forced to spend hours
at a time in hiding from one or another of the great beasts which
menaced us continually. There were fewer reptiles; but the quantity
of carnivora seemed to have increased, and the reptiles that we
did see were perfectly gigantic. I shall never forget one enormous
specimen which we came upon browsing upon water-reeds at the edge
of the great sea. It stood well over twelve feet high at the rump,
its highest point, and with its enormously long tail and neck it
was somewhere between seventy-five and a hundred feet in length.
Its head was ridiculously small; its body was unarmored, but its
great bulk gave it a most formidable appearance. My experience of
Caspakian life led me to believe that the gigantic creature would
but have to see us to attack us, and so I raised my rifle and at
the same time drew away toward some brush which offered concealment;
but Ajor only laughed, and picking up a stick, ran toward the great
thing, shouting. The little head was raised high upon the long
neck as the animal stupidly looked here and there in search of the
author of the disturbance. At last its eyes discovered tiny little
Ajor, and then she hurled the stick at the diminutive head. With
a cry that sounded not unlike the bleat of a sheep, the colossal
creature shuffled into the water and was soon submerged.
As I slowly recalled my collegiate studies and paleontological
readings in Bowen's textbooks, I realized that I had looked upon
nothing less than a diplodocus of the Upper Jurassic; but how infinitely
different was the true, live thing from the crude restorations of
Hatcher and Holland! I had had the idea that the diplodocus was
a land-animal, but evidently it is partially amphibious. I have
seen several since my first encounter, and in each case the creature
took to the sea for concealment as soon as it was disturbed. With
the exception of its gigantic tail, it has no weapon of defense;
but with this appendage it can lash so terrific a blow as to lay
low even a giant cave-bear, stunned and broken. It is a stupid,
simple, gentle beast--one of the few within Caspak which such a
description might even remotely fit.
For three nights we slept in trees, finding no caves or other
places of concealment. Here we were free from the attacks of the
large land carnivora; but the smaller flying reptiles, the snakes,
leopards, and panthers were a constant menace, though by no means
as much to be feared as the huge beasts that roamed the surface of
At the close of the third day Ajor and I were able to converse
with considerable fluency, and it was a great relief to both of us,
especially to Ajor. She now did nothing but ask questions whenever
I would let her, which could not be all the time, as our preservation
depended largely upon the rapidity with which I could gain knowledge
of the geography and customs of Caspak, and accordingly I had to
ask numerous questions myself.
I enjoyed immensely hearing and answering her, so naive were many
of her queries and so filled with wonder was she at the things
I told her of the world beyond the lofty barriers of Caspak; not
once did she seem to doubt me, however marvelous my statements must
have seemed; and doubtless they were the cause of marvel to Ajor,
who before had never dreamed that any life existed beyond Caspak
and the life she knew.
Artless though many of her questions were, they evidenced a keen
intellect and a shrewdness which seemed far beyond her years of
her experience. Altogether I was finding my little savage a mighty
interesting and companionable person, and I often thanked the kind
fate that directed the crossing of our paths. From her I learned
much of Caspak, but there still remained the mystery that had proved
so baffling to Bowen Tyler--the total absence of young among the
ape, the semihuman and the human races with which both he and I
had come in contact upon opposite shores of the inland sea. Ajor
tried to explain the matter to me, though it was apparent that
she could not conceive how so natural a condition should demand
explanation. She told me that among the Galus there were a few
babies, that she had once been a baby but that most of her people
"came up," as he put it, "cor sva jo," or literally, "from the
beginning"; and as they all did when they used that phrase, she
would wave a broad gesture toward the south.
"For long," she explained, leaning very close to me and whispering
the words into my ear while she cast apprehensive glances about
and mostly skyward, "for long my mother kept me hidden lest the
Wieroo, passing through the air by night, should come and take me
away to Oo-oh." And the child shuddered as she voiced the word. I
tried to get her to tell me more; but her terror was so real when
she spoke of the Wieroo and the land of Oo-oh where they dwell that
I at last desisted, though I did learn that the Wieroo carried off
only female babes and occasionally women of the Galus who had "come
up from the beginning." It was all very mysterious and unfathomable,
but I got the idea that the Wieroo were creatures of imagination--the
demons or gods of her race, omniscient and omnipresent. This led
me to assume that the Galus had a religious sense, and further
questioning brought out the fact that such was the case. Ajor
spoke in tones of reverence of Luata, the god of heat and life.
The word is derived from two others: Lua, meaning sun, and ata,
meaning variously eggs, life, young, and reproduction. She told
me that they worshiped Luata in several forms, as fire, the sun,
eggs and other material objects which suggested heat and reproduction.
I had noticed that whenever I built a fire, Ajor outlined in the
air before her with a forefinger an isosceles triangle, and that
she did the same in the morning when she first viewed the sun. At
first I had not connected her act with anything in particular, but
after we learned to converse and she had explained a little of her
religious superstitions, I realized that she was making the sign
of the triangle as a Roman Catholic makes the sign of the cross.
Always the short side of the triangle was uppermost. As she
explained all this to me, she pointed to the decorations on her
golden armlets, upon the knob of her dagger-hilt and upon the band
which encircled her right leg above the knee--always was the design
partly made up of isosceles triangles, and when she explained the
significance of this particular geometric figure, I at once grasped
We were now in the country of the Band-lu, the spearmen of Caspak.
Bowen had remarked in his narrative that these people were analogous
to the so-called Cro-Magnon race of the Upper Paleolithic, and I was
therefore very anxious to see them. Nor was I to be disappointed;
I saw them, all right! We had left the Sto-lu country and literally
fought our way through cordons of wild beasts for two days when
we decided to make camp a little earlier than usual, owing to the
fact that we had reached a line of cliffs running east and west in
which were numerous likely cave-lodgings. We were both very tired,
and the sight of these caverns, several of which could be easily
barricaded, decided us to halt until the following morning. It took
but a few minutes' exploration to discover one particular cavern
high up the face of the cliff which seemed ideal for our purpose.
It opened upon a narrow ledge where we could build our cook-fire;
the opening was so small that we had to lie flat and wriggle through
it to gain ingress, while the interior was high-ceiled and spacious.
I lighted a faggot and looked about; but as far as I could see,
the chamber ran back into the cliff.
Laying aside my rifle, pistol and heavy ammunition-belt, I left
Ajor in the cave while I went down to gather firewood. We already
had meat and fruits which we had gathered just before reaching the
cliffs, and my canteen was filled with fresh water. Therefore, all
we required was fuel, and as I always saved Ajor's strength when I
could, I would not permit her to accompany me. The poor girl was
very tired; but she would have gone with me until she dropped,
I know, so loyal was she. She was the best comrade in the world,
and sometimes I regretted and sometimes I was glad that she was
not of my own caste, for had she been, I should unquestionably have
fallen in love with her. As it was, we traveled together like two
boys, with huge respect for each other but no softer sentiment.
There was little timber close to the base of the cliffs, and so
I was forced to enter the wood some two hundred yards distant. I
realize now how foolhardy was my act in such a land as Caspak,
teeming with danger and with death; but there is a certain amount
of fool in every man; and whatever proportion of it I own must
have been in the ascendant that day, for the truth of the matter
is that I went down into those woods absolutely defenseless; and I
paid the price, as people usually do for their indiscretions. As
I searched around in the brush for likely pieces of firewood, my
head bowed and my eyes upon the ground, I suddenly felt a great
weight hurl itself upon me. I struggled to my knees and seized
my assailant, a huge, naked man--naked except for a breechcloth
of snakeskin, the head hanging down to the knees. The fellow was
armed with a stone-shod spear, a stone knife and a hatchet. In his
black hair were several gay-colored feathers. As we struggled to
and fro, I was slowly gaining advantage of him, when a score of
his fellows came running up and overpowered me.
They bound my hands behind me with long rawhide thongs and then
surveyed me critically. I found them fine-looking specimens of
manhood, for the most part. There were some among them who bore
a resemblance to the Sto-lu and were hairy; but the majority had
massive heads and not unlovely features. There was little about them
to suggest the ape, as in the Sto-lu, Bo-lu and Alus. I expected
them to kill me at once, but they did not. Instead they questioned
me; but it was evident that they did not believe my story, for they
scoffed and laughed.
"The Galus have turned you out," they cried. "If you go back to
them, you will die. If you remain here, you will die. We shall
kill you; but first we shall have a dance and you shall dance with
us--the dance of death."
It sounded quite reassuring! But I knew that I was not to be killed
immediately, and so I took heart. They led me toward the cliffs,
and as we approached them, I glanced up and was sure that I saw
Ajor's bright eyes peering down upon us from our lofty cave; but
she gave no sign if she saw me; and we passed on, rounded the end
of the cliffs and proceeded along the opposite face of them until
we came to a section literally honeycombed with caves. All about,
upon the ground and swarming the ledges before the entrances, were
hundreds of members of the tribe. There were many women but no
babes or children, though I noticed that the females had better
developed breasts than any that I had seen among the hatchet-men,
the club-men, the Alus or the apes. In fact, among the lower
orders of Caspakian man the female breast is but a rudimentary
organ, barely suggested in the apes and Alus, and only a little
more defined in the Bo-lu and Sto-lu, though always increasingly
so until it is found about half developed in the females of the
spear-men; yet never was there an indication that the females had
suckled young; nor were there any young among them. Some of the
Band-lu women were quite comely. The figures of all, both men and
women, were symmetrical though heavy, and though there were some
who verged strongly upon the Sto-lu type, there were others who
were positively handsome and whose bodies were quite hairless. The
Alus are all bearded, but among the Bo-lu the beard disappears in
the women. The Sto-lu men show a sparse beard, the Band-lu none;
and there is little hair upon the bodies of their women.
The members of the tribe showed great interest in me, especially
in my clothing, the like of which, of course, they never had seen.
They pulled and hauled upon me, and some of them struck me; but for
the most part they were not inclined to brutality. It was only the
hairier ones, who most closely resembled the Sto-lu, who maltreated
me. At last my captors led me into a great cave in the mouth
of which a fire was burning. The floor was littered with filth,
including the bones of many animals, and the atmosphere reeked
with the stench of human bodies and putrefying flesh. Here they
fed me, releasing my arms, and I ate of half-cooked aurochs steak
and a stew which may have been made of snakes, for many of the
long, round pieces of meat suggested them most nauseatingly.
The meal completed, they led me well within the cavern, which they
lighted with torches stuck in various crevices in the light of
which I saw, to my astonishment, that the walls were covered with
paintings and etchings. There were aurochs, red deer, saber-tooth
tiger, cave-bear, hyaenadon and many other examples of the fauna of
Caspak done in colors, usually of four shades of brown, or scratched
upon the surface of the rock. Often they were super-imposed upon
each other until it required careful examination to trace out the
various outlines. But they all showed a rather remarkable aptitude
for delineation which further fortified Bowen's comparisons between
these people and the extinct Cro-Magnons whose ancient art is still
preserved in the caverns of Niaux and Le Portel. The Band-lu,
however, did not have the bow and arrow, and in this respect they
differ from their extinct progenitors, or descendants, of Western
Should any of my friends chance to read the story of my adventures
upon Caprona, I hope they will not be bored by these diversions,
and if they are, I can only say that I am writing my memoirs for
my own edification and therefore setting down those things which
interested me particularly at the time. I have no desire that
the general public should ever have access to these pages; but it
is possible that my friends may, and also certain savants who are
interested; and to them, while I do not apologize for my philosophizing,
I humbly explain that they are witnessing the groupings of a
finite mind after the infinite, the search for explanations of the
In a far recess of the cavern my captors bade me halt. Again
my hands were secured, and this time my feet as well. During the
operation they questioned me, and I was mighty glad that the marked
similarity between the various tribal tongues of Caspak enabled us
to understand each other perfectly, even though they were unable
to believe or even to comprehend the truth of my origin and the
circumstances of my advent in Caspak; and finally they left me
saying that they would come for me before the dance of death upon
the morrow. Before they departed with their torches, I saw that
I had not been conducted to the farthest extremity of the cavern,
for a dark and gloomy corridor led beyond my prison room into the
heart of the cliff.
I could not but marvel at the immensity of this great underground
grotto. Already I had traversed several hundred yards of it, from
many points of which other corridors diverged. The whole cliff
must be honeycombed with apartments and passages of which this
community occupied but a comparatively small part, so that the
possibility of the more remote passages being the lair of savage
beasts that have other means of ingress and egress than that used
by the Band-lu filled me with dire forebodings.
I believe that I am not ordinarily hysterically apprehensive; yet
I must confess that under the conditions with which I was confronted,
I felt my nerves to be somewhat shaken. On the morrow I was to die
some sort of nameless death for the diversion of a savage horde,
but the morrow held fewer terrors for me than the present, and
I submit to any fair-minded man if it is not a terrifying thing
to lie bound hand and foot in the Stygian blackness of an immense
cave peopled by unknown dangers in a land overrun by hideous beasts
and reptiles of the greatest ferocity. At any moment, perhaps at
this very moment, some silent-footed beast of prey might catch my
scent where it laired in some contiguous passage, and might creep
stealthily upon me. I craned my neck about, and stared through the
inky darkness for the twin spots of blazing hate which I knew would
herald the coming of my executioner. So real were the imaginings
of my overwrought brain that I broke into a cold sweat in absolute
conviction that some beast was close before me; yet the hours
dragged, and no sound broke the grave-like stillness of the cavern.
During that period of eternity many events of my life passed before
my mental vision, a vast parade of friends and occurrences which
would be blotted out forever on the morrow. I cursed myself for
the foolish act which had taken me from the search-party that so
depended upon me, and I wondered what progress, if any, they had
made. Were they still beyond the barrier cliffs, awaiting my return?
Or had they found a way into Caspak? I felt that the latter would
be the truth, for the party was not made up of men easily turned
from a purpose. Quite probable it was that they were already
searching for me; but that they would ever find a trace of me
I doubted. Long since, had I come to the conclusion that it was
beyond human prowess to circle the shores of the inland sea of Caspak
in the face of the myriad menaces which lurked in every shadow by
day and by night. Long since, had I given up any hope of reaching
the point where I had made my entry into the country, and so I was
now equally convinced that our entire expedition had been worse
than futile before ever it was conceived, since Bowen J. Tyler
and his wife could not by any possibility have survived during all
these long months; no more could Bradley and his party of seamen
be yet in existence. If the superior force and equipment of my
party enabled them to circle the north end of the sea, they might
some day come upon the broken wreck of my plane hanging in the
great tree to the south; but long before that, my bones would be
added to the litter upon the floor of this mighty cavern.
And through all my thoughts, real and fanciful, moved the image of
a perfect girl, clear-eyed and strong and straight and beautiful,
with the carriage of a queen and the supple, undulating grace of
a leopard. Though I loved my friends, their fate seemed of less
importance to me than the fate of this little barbarian stranger
for whom, I had convinced myself many a time, I felt no greater
sentiment than passing friendship for a fellow-wayfarer in this
land of horrors. Yet I so worried and fretted about her and her
future that at last I quite forgot my own predicament, though I
still struggled intermittently with bonds in vain endeavor to free
myself; as much, however, that I might hasten to her protection as
that I might escape the fate which had been planned for me. And
while I was thus engaged and had for the moment forgotten my
apprehensions concerning prowling beasts, I was startled into tense
silence by a distinct and unmistakable sound coming from the dark
corridor farther toward the heart of the cliff--the sound of padded
feet moving stealthily in my direction.
I believe that never before in all my life, even amidst the terrors
of childhood nights, have I suffered such a sensation of extreme
horror as I did that moment in which I realized that I must lie
bound and helpless while some horrid beast of prey crept upon me
to devour me in that utter darkness of the Bandlu pits of Caspak.
I reeked with cold sweat, and my flesh crawled--I could feel it
crawl. If ever I came nearer to abject cowardice, I do not recall
the instance; and yet it was not that I was afraid to die, for I
had long since given myself up as lost--a few days of Caspak must
impress anyone with the utter nothingness of life. The waters,
the land, the air teem with it, and always it is being devoured
by some other form of life. Life is the cheapest thing in Caspak,
as it is the cheapest thing on earth and, doubtless, the cheapest
cosmic production. No, I was not afraid to die; in fact, I
prayed for death, that I might be relieved of the frightfulness of
the interval of life which remained to me--the waiting, the awful
waiting, for that fearsome beast to reach me and to strike.
Presently it was so close that I could hear its breathing, and then
it touched me and leaped quickly back as though it had come upon
me unexpectedly. For long moments no sound broke the sepulchral
silence of the cave. Then I heard a movement on the part of the
creature near me, and again it touched me, and I felt something
like a hairless hand pass over my face and down until it touched
the collar of my flannel shirt. And then, subdued, but filled with
pent emotion, a voice cried: "Tom!"
I think I nearly fainted, so great was the reaction. "Ajor!" I
managed to say. "Ajor, my girl, can it be you?"
"Oh, Tom!" she cried again in a trembly little voice and flung
herself upon me, sobbing softly. I had not known that Ajor could
As she cut away my bonds, she told me that from the entrance to
our cave she had seen the Band-lu coming out of the forest with
me, and she had followed until they took me into the cave, which
she had seen was upon the opposite side of the cliff in which ours
was located; and then, knowing that she could do nothing for me
until after the Band-lu slept, she had hastened to return to our
cave. With difficulty she had reached it, after having been stalked
by a cave-lion and almost seized. I trembled at the risk she had
It had been her intention to wait until after midnight, when most
of the carnivora would have made their kills, and then attempt
to reach the cave in which I was imprisoned and rescue me. She
explained that with my rifle and pistol--both of which she assured
me she could use, having watched me so many times--she planned
upon frightening the Band-lu and forcing them to give me up. Brave
little girl! She would have risked her life willingly to save me.
But some time after she reached our cave she heard voices from
the far recesses within, and immediately concluded that we had but
found another entrance to the caves which the Band-lu occupied upon
the other face of the cliff. Then she had set out through those
winding passages and in total darkness had groped her way, guided
solely by a marvelous sense of direction, to where I lay. She had
had to proceed with utmost caution lest she fall into some abyss
in the darkness and in truth she had thrice come upon sheer drops
and had been forced to take the most frightful risks to pass them.
I shudder even now as I contemplate what this girl passed through
for my sake and how she enhanced her peril in loading herself down
with the weight of my arms and ammunition and the awkwardness of
the long rifle which she was unaccustomed to bearing.
I could have knelt and kissed her hand in reverence and gratitude;
nor am I ashamed to say that that is precisely what I did after
I had been freed from my bonds and heard the story of her trials.
Brave little Ajor! Wonder-girl out of the dim, unthinkable past!
Never before had she been kissed; but she seemed to sense something
of the meaning of the new caress, for she leaned forward in the
dark and pressed her own lips to my forehead. A sudden urge surged
through me to seize her and strain her to my bosom and cover her
hot young lips with the kisses of a real love, but I did not do so,
for I knew that I did not love her; and to have kissed her thus,
with passion, would have been to inflict a great wrong upon her
who had offered her life for mine.
No, Ajor should be as safe with me as with her own mother, if she
had one, which I was inclined to doubt, even though she told me that
she had once been a babe and hidden by her mother. I had come to
doubt if there was such a thing as a mother in Caspak, a mother
such as we know. From the Bo-lu to the Kro-lu there is no word
which corresponds with our word mother. They speak of ata and
cor sva jo, meaning reproduction and from the beginning, and point
toward the south; but no one has a mother.
After considerable difficulty we gained what we thought was our
cave, only to find that it was not, and then we realized that we
were lost in the labyrinthine mazes of the great cavern. We retraced
our steps and sought the point from which we had started, but only
succeeded in losing ourselves the more. Ajor was aghast--not so
much from fear of our predicament; but that she should have failed
in the functioning of that wonderful sense she possessed in common
with most other creatures Caspakian, which makes it possible for
them to move unerringly from place to place without compass or
Hand in hand we crept along, searching for an opening into the outer
world, yet realizing that at each step we might be burrowing more
deeply into the heart of the great cliff, or circling futilely in
the vague wandering that could end only in death. And the darkness!
It was almost palpable, and utterly depressing. I had matches, and
in some of the more difficult places I struck one; but we couldn't
afford to waste them, and so we groped our way slowly along, doing
the best we could to keep to one general direction in the hope that
it would eventually lead us to an opening into the outer world.
When I struck matches, I noticed that the walls bore no paintings;
nor was there other sign that man had penetrated this far within
the cliff, nor any spoor of animals of other kinds.
It would be difficult to guess at the time we spent wandering
through those black corridors, climbing steep ascents, feeling
our way along the edges of bottomless pits, never knowing at what
moment we might be plunged into some abyss and always haunted
by the ever-present terror of death by starvation and thirst. As
difficult as it was, I still realized that it might have been
infinitely worse had I had another companion than Ajor--courageous,
uncomplaining, loyal little Ajor! She was tired and hungry and
thirsty, and she must have been discouraged; but she never faltered
in her cheerfulness. I asked her if she was afraid, and she replied
that here the Wieroo could not get her, and that if she died of
hunger, she would at least die with me and she was quite content
that such should be her end. At the time I attributed her attitude
to something akin to a doglike devotion to a new master who had been
kind to her. I can take oath to the fact that I did not think it
was anything more.
Whether we had been imprisoned in the cliff for a day or a week I
could not say; nor even now do I know. We became very tired and
hungry; the hours dragged; we slept at least twice, and then we
rose and stumbled on, always weaker and weaker. There were ages
during which the trend of the corridors was always upward. It was
heartbreaking work for people in the state of exhaustion in which
we then were, but we clung tenaciously to it. We stumbled and
fell; we sank through pure physical inability to retain our feet;
but always we managed to rise at last and go on. At first, wherever
it had been possible, we had walked hand in hand lest we become
separated, and later, when I saw that Ajor was weakening rapidly,
we went side by side, I supporting her with an arm about her waist.
I still retained the heavy burden of my armament; but with the
rifle slung to my back, my hands were free. When I too showed
indisputable evidences of exhaustion, Ajor suggested that I lay
aside my arms and ammunition; but I told her that as it would mean
certain death for me to traverse Caspak without them, I might as
well take the chance of dying here in the cave with them, for there
was the other chance that we might find our wayto liberty.
There came a time when Ajor could no longer walk, and then it was
that I picked her up in my arms and carried her. She begged me
to leave her, saying that after I found an exit, I could come back
and get her; but she knew, and she knew that I knew, that if ever
I did leave her, I could never find her again. Yet she insisted.
Barely had I sufficient strength to take a score of steps at a time;
then I would have to sink down and rest for five to ten minutes.
I don't know what force urged me on and kept me going in the face
of an absolute conviction that my efforts were utterly futile. I
counted us already as good as dead; but still I dragged myself
along until the time came that I could no longer rise, but could
only crawl along a few inches at a time, dragging Ajor beside me.
Her sweet voice, now almost inaudible from weakness, implored me
to abandon her and save myself--she seemed to think only of me. Of
course I couldn't have left her there alone, no matter how much I
might have desired to do so; but the fact of the matter was that
I didn't desire to leave her. What I said to her then came very
simply and naturally to my lips. It couldn't very well have been
otherwise, I imagine, for with death so close, I doubt if people
are much inclined to heroics. "I would rather not get out at
all, Ajor," I said to her, "than to get out without you." We were
resting against a rocky wall, and Ajor was leaning against me, her
head on my breast. I could feel her press closer to me, and one
hand stroked my arm in a weak caress; but she didn't say anything,
nor were words necessary.
After a few minutes' more rest, we started on again upon our utterly
hopeless way; but I soon realized that I was weakening rapidly,
and presently I was forced to admit that I was through. "It's no
use, Ajor," I said, "I've come as far as I can. It may be that
if I sleep, I can go on again after," but I knew that that was not
true, and that the end was near. "Yes, sleep," said Ajor. "We
will sleep together--forever."
She crept close to me as I lay on the hard floor and pillowed
her head upon my arm. With the little strength which remained to
me, I drew her up until our lips touched, and, then I whispered:
"Good-bye!" I must have lost consciousness almost immediately,
for I recall nothing more until I suddenly awoke out of a troubled
sleep, during which I dreamed that I was drowning, to find the
cave lighted by what appeared to be diffused daylight, and a tiny
trickle of water running down the corridor and forming a puddle in
the little depression in which it chanced that Ajor and I lay. I
turned my eyes quickly upon Ajor, fearful for what the light might
disclose; but she still breathed, though very faintly. Then I
searched about for an explanation of the light, and soon discovered
that it came from about a bend in the corridor just ahead of us and
at the top of a steep incline; and instantly I realized that Ajor
and I had stumbled by night almost to the portal of salvation. Had
chance taken us a few yards further, up either of the corridors
which diverged from ours just ahead of us, we might have been
irrevocably lost; we might still be lost; but at least we could die
in the light of day, out of the horrid blackness of this terrible
I tried to rise, and found that sleep had given me back a portion of
my strength; and then I tasted the water and was further refreshed.
I shook Ajor gently by the shoulder; but she did not open her eyes,
and then I gathered a few drops of water in my cupped palm and let
them trickle between her lips. This revived her so that she raised
her lids, and when she saw me, she smiled.
"What happened?" she asked. "Where are we?"
"We are at the end of the corridor," I replied, "and daylight is
coming in from the outside world just ahead. We are saved, Ajor!"
She sat up then and looked about, and then, quite womanlike, she
burst into tears. It was the reaction, of course; and then too,
she was very weak. I took her in my arms and quieted her as best
I could, and finally, with my help, she got to her feet; for she,
as well as I, had found some slight recuperation in sleep. Together
we staggered upward toward the light, and at the first turn we
saw an opening a few yards ahead of us and a leaden sky beyond--a
leaden sky from which was falling a drizzling rain, the author of
our little, trickling stream which had given us drink when we were
most in need of it.
The cave had been damp and cold; but as we crawled through the aperture,
the muggy warmth of the Caspakian air caressed and confronted us;
even the rain was warmer than the atmosphere of those dark corridors.
We had water now, and warmth, and I was sure that Caspak would
soon offer us meat or fruit; but as we came to where we could look
about, we saw that we were upon the summit of the cliffs, where
there seemed little reason to expect game. However, there were
trees, and among them we soon descried edible fruits with which we
broke our long fast.
We spent two days upon the cliff-top, resting and recuperating.
There was some small game which gave us meat, and the little pools
of rainwater were sufficient to quench our thirst. The sun came
out a few hours after we emerged from the cave, and in its warmth
we soon cast off the gloom which our recent experiences had saddled
Upon the morning of the third day we set out to search for a path
down to the valley. Below us, to the north, we saw a large pool
lying at the foot of the cliffs, and in it we could discern the
women of the Band-lu lying in the shallow waters, while beyond and
close to the base of the mighty barrier-cliffs there was a large
party of Band-lu warriors going north to hunt. We had a splendid
view from our lofty cliff-top. Dimly, to the west, we could see the
farther shore of the inland sea, and southwest the large southern
island loomed distinctly before us. A little east of north was the
northern island, which Ajor, shuddering, whispered was the home of
the Wieroo--the land of Oo-oh. It lay at the far end of the lake
and was barely visible to us, being fully sixty miles away.
From our elevation, and in a clearer atmosphere, it would have stood
out distinctly; but the air of Caspak is heavy with moisture, with
the result that distant objects are blurred and indistinct. Ajor
also told me that the mainland east of Oo-oh was her land--the land
of the Galu. She pointed out the cliffs at its southern boundary,
which mark the frontier, south of which lies the country of
Kro-lu--the archers. We now had but to pass through the balance
of the Band-lu territory and that of the Kro-lu to be within the
confines of her own land; but that meant traversing thirty-five
miles of hostile country filled with every imaginable terror, and
possibly many beyond the powers of imagination. I would certainly
have given a lot for my plane at that moment, for with it, twenty
minutes would have landed us within the confines of Ajor's country.
We finally found a place where we could slip over the edge of the
cliff onto a narrow ledge which seemed to give evidence of being
something of a game-path to the valley, though it apparently had
not been used for some time. I lowered Ajor at the end of my rifle
and then slid over myself, and I am free to admit that my hair
stood on end during the process, for the drop was considerable and
the ledge appallingly narrow, with a frightful drop sheer below
down to the rocks at the base of the cliff; but with Ajor there to
catch and steady me, I made it all right, and then we set off down
the trail toward the valley. There were two or three more bad
places, but for the most part it was an easy descent, and we came
to the highest of the Band-lu caves without further trouble. Here
we went more slowly, lest we should be set upon by some member of
We must have passed about half the Band-lu cave-levels before we
were accosted, and then a huge fellow stepped out in front of me,
barring our further progress.
"Who are you?" he asked; and he recognized me and I him, for he
had been one of those who had led me back into the cave and bound
me the night that I had been captured. From me his gaze went
to Ajor. He was a fine-looking man with clear, intelligent eyes,
a good forehead and superb physique--by far the highest type of
Caspakian I had yet seen, barring Ajor, of course.
"You are a true Galu," he said to Ajor, "but this man is of
a different mold. He has the face of a Galu, but his weapons and
the strange skins he wears upon his body are not of the Galus nor
of Caspak. Who is he?"
"He is Tom," replied Ajor succinctly.
"There is no such people," asserted the Band-lu quite truthfully,
toying with his spear in a most suggestive manner.
"My name is Tom," I explained, "and I am from a country beyond
Caspak." I thought it best to propitiate him if possible, because
of the necessity of conserving ammunition as well as to avoid the
loud alarm of a shot which might bring other Band-lu warriors upon
us. "I am from America, a land of which you never heard, and I am
seeking others of my countrymen who are in Caspak and from whom I
am lost. I have no quarrel with you or your people. Let us go our
way in peace."
"You are going there?" he asked, and pointed toward the north.
"I am," I replied.
He was silent for several minutes, apparently weighing some thought
in his mind. At last he spoke. "What is that?" he asked. "And
what is that?" He pointed first at my rifle and then to my pistol.
"They are weapons," I replied, "weapons which kill at a great
distance." I pointed to the women in the pool beneath us. "With
this," I said, tapping my pistol, "I could kill as many of those
women as I cared to, without moving a step from where we now stand."
He looked his incredulity, but I went on. "And with this"--I
weighed my rifle at the balance in the palm of my right hand--"I
could slay one of those distant warriors." And I waved my left
hand toward the tiny figures of the hunters far to the north.
The fellow laughed. "Do it," he cried derisively, "and then it
may be that I shall believe the balance of your strange story."
"But I do not wish to kill any of them," I replied. "Why should
"Why not?" he insisted. "They would have killed you when they
had you prisoner. They would kill you now if they could get their
hands on you, and they would eat you into the bargain. But I know
why you do not try it--it is because you have spoken lies; your
weapon will not kill at a great distance. It is only a queerly
wrought club. For all I know, you are nothing more than a lowly
"Why should you wish me to kill your own people?" I asked.
"They are no longer my people," he replied proudly. "Last night,
in the very middle of the night, the call came to me. Like that
it came into my head"--and he struck his hands together smartly
once--"that I had risen. I have been waiting for it and expecting
it for a long time; today I am a Krolu. Today I go into the
coslupak" (unpeopled country, or literally, no man's land) "between
the Band-lu and the Kro-lu, and there I fashion my bow and my arrows
and my shield; there I hunt the red deer for the leathern jerkin
which is the badge of my new estate. When these things are done,
I can go to the chief of the Kro-lu, and he dare not refuse me.
That is why you may kill those low Band-lu if you wish to live,
for I am in a hurry.
"But why do you wish to kill me?" I asked.
He looked puzzled and finally gave it up. "I do not know," he
admitted. "It is the way in Caspak. If we do not kill, we shall
be killed, therefore it is wise to kill first whomever does not
belong to one's own people. This morning I hid in my cave till the
others were gone upon the hunt, for I knew that they would know at
once that I had become a Kro-lu and would kill me. They will kill
me if they find me in the coslupak; so will the Kro-lu if they
come upon me before I have won my Kro-lu weapons and jerkin. You
would kill me if you could, and that is the reason I know that
you speak lies when you say that your weapons will kill at a great
distance. Would they, you would long since have killed me. Come!
I have no more time to waste in words. I will spare the woman and
take her with me to the Kro-lu, for she is comely." And with that
he advanced upon me with raised spear.
My rifle was at my hip at the ready. He was so close that I did
not need to raise it to my shoulder, having but to pull the trigger
to send him into Kingdom Come whenever I chose; but yet I hesitated.
It was difficult to bring myself to take a human life. I could feel
no enmity toward this savage barbarian who acted almost as wholly
upon instinct as might a wild beast, and to the last moment I was
determined to seek some way to avoid what now seemed inevitable.
Ajor stood at my shoulder, her knife ready in her hand and a sneer
on her lips at his suggestion that he would take her with him.
Just as I thought I should have to fire, a chorus of screams broke
from the women beneath us. I saw the man halt and glance downward,
and following his example my eyes took in the panic and its cause.
The women had, evidently, been quitting the pool and slowly returning
toward the caves, when they were confronted by a monstrous cave-lion
which stood directly between them and their cliffs in the center of
the narrow path that led down to the pool among the tumbled rocks.
Screaming, the women were rushing madly back to the pool.
"It will do them no good," remarked the man, a trace of excitement
in his voice. "It will do them no good, for the lion will wait until
they come out and take as many as he can carry away; and there is
one there," he added, a trace of sadness in his tone, "whom I hoped
would soon follow me to the Kro-lu. Together have we come up from
the beginning." He raised his spear above his head and poised it
ready to hurl downward at the lion. "She is nearest to him," he
muttered. "He will get her and she will never come to me among
the Kro-lu, or ever thereafter. It is useless! No warrior lives
who could hurl a weapon so great a distance."
But even as he spoke, I was leveling my rifle upon the great brute
below; and as he ceased speaking, I squeezed the trigger. My bullet
must have struck to a hair the point at which I had aimed, for it
smashed the brute's spine back of his shoulders and tore on through
his heart, dropping him dead in his tracks. For a moment the women
were as terrified by the report of the rifle as they had been by
the menace of the lion; but when they saw that the loud noise had
evidently destroyed their enemy, they came creeping cautiously back
to examine the carcass.
The man, toward whom I had immediately turned after firing, lest
he should pursue his threatened attack, stood staring at me in
amazement and admiration.
"Why," he asked, "if you could do that, did you not kill me long
"I told you," I replied, "that I had no quarrel with you. I do
not care to kill men with whom I have no quarrel."
But he could not seem to get the idea through his head. "I
can believe now that you are not of Caspak," he admitted, "for no
Caspakian would have permitted such an opportunity to escape him."
This, however, I found later to be an exaggeration, as the tribes
of the west coast and even the Kro-lu of the east coast are far
less bloodthirsty than he would have had me believe. "And your
weapon!" he continued. "You spoke true words when I thought you
spoke lies." And then, suddenly: "Let us be friends!"
I turned to Ajor. "Can I trust him?" I asked.
"Yes," she replied. "Why not? Has he not asked to be friends?"
I was not at the time well enough acquainted with Caspakian ways
to know that truthfulness and loyalty are two of the strongest
characteristics of these primitive people. They are not sufficiently
cultured to have become adept in hypocrisy, treason and dissimulation.
There are, of course, a few exceptions.
"We can go north together," continued the warrior. "I will fight
for you, and you can fight for me. Until death will I serve you,
for you have saved So-al, whom I had given up as dead." He threw
down his spear and covered both his eyes with the palms of his two
hands. I looked inquiringly toward Ajor, who explained as best she
could that this was the form of the Caspakian oath of allegiance.
"You need never fear him after this," she concluded.
"What should I do?" I asked.
"Take his hands down from before his eyes and return his spear to
him," she explained.
I did as she bade, and the man seemed very pleased. I then asked
what I should have done had I not wished to accept his friendship.
They told me that had I walked away, the moment that I was out
of sight of the warrior we would have become deadly enemies again.
"But I could so easily have killed him as he stood there defenseless!"
"Yes," replied the warrior, "but no man with good sense blinds his
eyes before one whom he does not trust."
It was rather a decent compliment, and it taught me just how much
I might rely on the loyalty of my new friend. I was glad to have
him with us, for he knew the country and was evidently a fearless
warrior. I wished that I might have recruited a battalion like
As the women were now approaching the cliffs, Tomar the warrior
suggested that we make our way to the valley before they could
intercept us, as they might attempt to detain us and were almost
certain to set upon Ajor. So we hastened down the narrow path,
reaching the foot of the cliffs but a short distance ahead of the
women. They called after us to stop; but we kept on at a rapid
walk, not wishing to have any trouble with them, which could only
result in the death of some of them.
We had proceeded about a mile when we heard some one behind us
calling To-mar by name, and when we stopped and looked around, we
saw a woman running rapidly toward us. As she approached nearer
I could see that she was a very comely creature, and like all her
sex that I had seen in Caspak, apparently young.
"It is So-al!" exclaimed To-mar. "Is she mad that she follows me
In another moment the young woman stopped, panting, before us.
She paid not the slightest attention to Ajor or me; but devouring
To-mar with her sparkling eyes, she cried: "I have risen! I have
"So-al!" was all that the man could say.
"Yes," she went on, "the call came to me just before I quit the
pool; but I did not know that it had come to you. I can see it in
your eyes, To-mar, my To-mar! We shall go on together!" And she
threw herself into his arms.
It was a very affecting sight, for it was evident that these two
had been mates for a long time and that they had each thought that
they were about to be separated by that strange law of evolution
which holds good in Caspak and which was slowly unfolding before
my incredulous mind. I did not then comprehend even a tithe of
the wondrous process, which goes on eternally within the confines
of Caprona's barrier cliffs nor am I any too sure that I do even
To-mar explained to So-al that it was I who had killed the cave-lion
and saved her life, and that Ajor was my woman and thus entitled
to the same loyalty which was my due.
At first Ajor and So-al were like a couple of stranger cats on a
back fence but soon they began to accept each other under something
of an armed truce, and later became fast friends. So-al was a
mighty fine-looking girl, built like a tigress as to strength and
sinuosity, but withal sweet and womanly. Ajor and I came to be
very fond of her, and she was, I think, equally fond of us. To-mar
was very much of a man--a savage, if you will, but none the less
Finding that traveling in company with To-mar made our journey
both easier and safer, Ajor and I did not continue on our way alone
while the novitiates delayed their approach to the Kro-lu country
in order that they might properly fit themselves in the matter
of arms and apparel, but remained with them. Thus we became well
acquainted--to such an extent that we looked forward with regret
to the day when they took their places among their new comrades
and we should be forced to continue upon our way alone. It was a
matter of much concern to To-mar that the Krolu would undoubtedly
not receive Ajor and me in a friendly manner, and that consequently
we should have to avoid these people.
It would have been very helpful to us could we have made friends
with them, as their country abutted directly upon that of the
Galus. Their friendship would have meant that Ajor's dangers were
practically passed, and that I had accomplished fully one-half of
my long journey. In view of what I had passed through, I often
wondered what chance I had to complete that journey in search of
my friends. The further south I should travel on the west side of
the island, the more frightful would the dangers become as I neared
the stamping-grounds of the more hideous reptilia and the haunts
of the Alus and the Ho-lu, all of which were at the southern half
of the island; and then if I should not find the members of my
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