People Out Of Time
Edgar Rice Burroughs
Part 2 out of 2
party, what was to become of me? I could not live for long in any
portion of Caspak with which I was familiar; the moment my ammunition
was exhausted, I should be as good as dead.
There was a chance that the Galus would receive me; but even Ajor
could not say definitely whether they would or not, and even provided
that they would, could I retrace my steps from the beginning, after
failing to find my own people, and return to the far northern land
of Galus? I doubted it. However, I was learning from Ajor, who
was more or less of a fatalist, a philosophy which was as necessary
in Caspak to peace of mind as is faith to the devout Christian of
the outer world.
We were sitting before a little fire inside a safe grotto one
night shortly after we had quit the cliff-dwellings of the Band-lu,
when So-al raised a question which it had never occurred to me to
propound to Ajor. She asked her why she had left her own people
and how she had come so far south as the country of the Alus, where
I had found her.
At first Ajor hesitated to explain; but at last she consented,
and for the first time I heard the complete story of her origin
and experiences. For my benefit she entered into greater detail
of explanation than would have been necessary had I been a native
"I am a cos-ata-lo," commenced Ajor, and then she turned toward
me. "A cos-ata-lo, my Tom, is a woman" (lo) "who did not come from
an egg and thus on up from the beginning." (Cor sva jo.) "I was
a babe at my mother's breast. Only among the Galus are such, and
then but infrequently. The Wieroo get most of us; but my mother
hid me until I had attained such size that the Wieroo could not
readily distinguish me from one who had come up from the beginning.
I knew both my mother and my father, as only such as I may. My
father is high chief among the Galus. His name is Jor, and both he
and my mother came up from the beginning; but one of them, probably
my mother, had completed the seven cycles" (approximately seven
hundred years), "with the result that their offspring might be
cos-ata-lo, or born as are all the children of your race, my Tom,
as you tell me is the fact. I was therefore apart from my fellows
in that my children would probably be as I, of a higher state of
evolution, and so I was sought by the men of my people; but none
of them appealed to me. I cared for none. The most persistent
was Du-seen, a huge warrior of whom my father stood in considerable
fear, since it was quite possible that Du-seen could wrest from
him his chieftainship of the Galus. He has a large following of
the newer Galus, those most recently come up from the Kro-lu, and
as this class is usually much more powerful numerically than the
older Galus, and as Du-seen's ambition knows no bounds, we have
for a long time been expecting him to find some excuse for a break
with Jor the High Chief, my father.
"A further complication lay in the fact that Duseen wanted me, while
I would have none of him, and then came evidence to my father's
ears that he was in league with the Wieroo; a hunter, returning
late at night, came trembling to my father, saying that he had
seen Du-seen talking with a Wieroo in a lonely spot far from the
village, and that plainly he had heard the words: `If you will help
me, I will help you--I will deliver into your hands all cos-ata-lo
among the Galus, now and hereafter; but for that service you must
slay Jor the High Chief and bring terror and confusion to his
"Now, when my father heard this, he was angry; but he was also
afraid--afraid for me, who am cosata-lo. He called me to him and
told me what he had heard, pointing out two ways in which we might
frustrate Du-seen. The first was that I go to Du-seen as his
mate, after which he would be loath to give me into the hands of
the Wieroo or to further abide by the wicked compact he had made--a
compact which would doom his own offspring, who would doubtless be
as am I, their mother. The alternative was flight until Du-seen
should have been overcome and punished. I chose the latter and
fled toward the south. Beyond the confines of the Galu country is
little danger from the Wieroo, who seek ordinarily only Galus of
the highest orders. There are two excellent reasons for this: One
is that from the beginning of time jealousy had existed between
the Wieroo and the Galus as to which would eventually dominate
the world. It seems generally conceded that that race which first
reaches a point of evolution which permits them to produce young
of their own species and of both sexes must dominate all other
creatures. The Wieroo first began to produce their own kind--after
which evolution from Galu to Wieroo ceased gradually until now it
is unknown; but the Wieroo produce only males--which is why they
steal our female young, and by stealing cos-ata-lo they increase
their own chances of eventually reproducing both sexes and at the
same time lessen ours. Already the Galus produce both male and
female; but so carefully do the Wieroo watch us that few of the
males ever grow to manhood, while even fewer are the females that
are not stolen away. It is indeed a strange condition, for while
our greatest enemies hate and fear us, they dare not exterminate
us, knowing that they too would become extinct but for us.
"Ah, but could we once get a start, I am sure that when all were
true cos-ata-lo there would have been evolved at last the true
dominant race before which all the world would be forced to bow."
Ajor always spoke of the world as though nothing existed beyond
Caspak. She could not seem to grasp the truth of my origin or
the fact that there were countless other peoples outside her stern
barrier-cliffs. She apparently felt that I came from an entirely
different world. Where it was and how I came to Caspak from it
were matters quite beyond her with which she refused to trouble
her pretty head.
"Well," she continued, "and so I ran away to hide, intending to pass
the cliffs to the south of Galu and find a retreat in the Kro-lu
country. It would be dangerous, but there seemed no other way.
"The third night I took refuge in a large cave in the cliffs at the
edge of my own country; upon the following day I would cross over
into the Kro-lu country, where I felt that I should be reasonably
safe from the Wieroo, though menaced by countless other dangers.
However, to a cos-ata-lo any fate is preferable to that of falling
into the clutches of the frightful Wieroo, from whose land none
"I had been sleeping peacefully for several hours when I was
awakened by a slight noise within the cavern. The moon was shining
brightly, illumining the entrance, against which I saw silhouetted
the dread figure of a Wieroo. There was no escape. The cave was
shallow, the entrance narrow. I lay very still, hoping against
hope, that the creature had but paused here to rest and might soon
depart without discovering me; yet all the while I knew that he
came seeking me.
"I waited, scarce breathing, watching the thing creep stealthily
toward me, its great eyes luminous in the darkness of the cave's
interior, and at last I knew that those eyes were directed upon me,
for the Wieroo can see in the darkness better than even the lion
or the tiger. But a few feet separated us when I sprang to my feet
and dashed madly toward my menacer in a vain effort to dodge past
him and reach the outside world. It was madness of course, for
even had I succeeded temporarily, the Wieroo would have but followed
and swooped down upon me from above. As it was, he reached forth
and seized me, and though I struggled, he overpowered me. In the
duel his long, white robe was nearly torn from him, and he became
very angry, so that he trembled and beat his wings together in his
"He asked me my name; but I would not answer him, and that angered
him still more. At last he dragged me to the entrance of the cave,
lifted me in his arms, spread his great wings and leaping into
the air, flapped dismally through the night. I saw the moonlit
landscape sliding away beneath me, and then we were out above the
sea and on our way to Oo-oh, the country of the Wieroo.
"The dim outlines of Oo-oh were unfolding below us when there
came from above a loud whirring of giant wings. The Wieroo and I
glanced up simultaneously, to see a pair of huge jo-oos" (flying
reptiles--pterodactyls) "swooping down upon us. The Wieroo
wheeled and dropped almost to sea-level, and then raced southward
in an effort to outdistance our pursuers. The great creatures,
notwithstanding their enormous weight, are swift on their wings;
but the Wieroo are swifter. Even with my added weight, the creature
that bore me maintained his lead, though he could not increase it.
Faster than the fastest wind we raced through the night, southward
along the coast. Sometimes we rose to great heights, where the
air was chill and the world below but a blur of dim outlines; but
always the jo-oos stuck behind us.
"I knew that we had covered a great distance, for the rush of
the wind by my face attested the speed of our progress, but I had
no idea where we were when at last I realized that the Wieroo was
weakening. One of the jo-oos gained on us and succeeded in heading
us, so that my captor had to turn in toward the coast. Further
and further they forced him to the left; lower and lower he sank.
More labored was his breathing, and weaker the stroke of his once
powerful wings. We were not ten feet above the ground when they
overtook us, and at the edge of a forest. One of them seized the
Wieroo by his right wing, and in an effort to free himself, he
loosed his grasp upon me, dropping me to earth. Like a frightened
ecca I leaped to my feet and raced for the sheltering sanctuary of
the forest, where I knew neither could follow or seize me. Then I
turned and looked back to see two great reptiles tear my abductor
asunder and devour him on the spot.
"I was saved; yet I felt that I was lost. How far I was from the
country of the Galus I could not guess; nor did it seem probable
that I ever could make my way in safety to my native land.
"Day was breaking; soon the carnivora would stalk forth for their
first kill; I was armed only with my knife. About me was a strange
landscape--the flowers, the trees, the grasses, even, were different
from those of my northern world, and presently there appeared before
me a creature fully as hideous as the Wieroo--a hairy manthing
that barely walked erect. I shuddered, and then I fled. Through
the hideous dangers that my forebears had endured in the earlier
stages of their human evolution I fled; and always pursuing was
the hairy monster that had discovered me. Later he was joined by
others of his kind. They were the speechless men, the Alus, from
whom you rescued me, my Tom. From then on, you know the story of
my adventures, and from the first, I would endure them all again
because they led me to you!"
It was very nice of her to say that, and I appreciated it. I felt
that she was a mighty nice little girl whose friendship anyone
might be glad to have; but I wished that when she touched me, those
peculiar thrills would not run through me. It was most discomforting,
because it reminded me of love; and I knew that I never could love
this half-baked little barbarian. I was very much interested in
her account of the Wieroo, which up to this time I had considered
a purely mythological creature; but Ajor shuddered so at even the
veriest mention of the name that I was loath to press the subject
upon her, and so the Wieroo still remained a mystery to me.
While the Wieroo interested me greatly, I had little time to think
about them, as our waking hours were filled with the necessities
of existence--the constant battle for survival which is the chief
occupation of Caspakians. To-mar and So-al were now about fitted
for their advent into Kro-lu society and must therefore leave
us, as we could not accompany them without incurring great danger
ourselves and running the chance of endangering them; but each
swore to be always our friend and assured us that should we need
their aid at any time we had but to ask it; nor could I doubt their
sincerity, since we had been so instrumental in bringing them safely
upon their journey toward the Kro-lu village.
This was our last day together. In the afternoon we should separate,
To-mar and So-al going directly to the Kro-lu village, while Ajor
and I made a detour to avoid a conflict with the archers. The
former both showed evidence of nervous apprehension as the time
approached for them to make their entry into the village of their
new people, and yet both were very proud and happy. They told us
that they would be well received as additions to a tribe always
are welcomed, and the more so as the distance from the beginning
increased, the higher tribes or races being far weaker numerically
than the lower. The southern end of the island fairly swarms with
the Ho-lu, or apes; next above these are the Alus, who are slightly
fewer in number than the Ho-lu; and again there are fewer Bolu than
Alus, and fewer Sto-lu than Bo-lu. Thus it goes until the Kro-lu
are fewer in number than any of the others; and here the law reverses,
for the Galus outnumber the Kro-lu. As Ajor explained it to me,
the reason for this is that as evolution practically ceases with
the Galus, there is no less among them on this score, for even the
cos-ata-lo are still considered Galus and remain with them. And
Galus come up both from the west and east coasts. There are, too,
fewer carnivorous reptiles at the north end of the island, and not
so many of the great and ferocious members of the cat family as
take their hideous toll of life among the races further south.
By now I was obtaining some idea of the Caspakian scheme of
evolution, which partly accounted for the lack of young among the
races I had so far seen. Coming up from the beginning, the Caspakian
passes, during a single existence, through the various stages of
evolution, or at least many of them, through which the human race
has passed during the countless ages since life first stirred upon
a new world; but the question which continued to puzzle me was:
What creates life at the beginning, cor sva jo?
I had noticed that as we traveled northward from the Alus' country
the land had gradually risen until we were now several hundred feet
above the level of the inland sea. Ajor told me that the Galus
country was still higher and considerably colder, which accounted
for the scarcity of reptiles. The change in form and kinds of the
lower animals was even more marked than the evolutionary stages
of man. The diminutive ecca, or small horse, became a rough-coated
and sturdy little pony in the Kro-lu country. I saw a greater
number of small lions and tigers, though many of the huge ones still
persisted, while the woolly mammoth was more in evidence, as were
several varieties of the Labyrinthadonta. These creatures, from
which God save me, I should have expected to find further south;
but for some unaccountable reason they gain their greatest bulk in
the Kro-lu and Galu countries, though fortunately they are rare.
I rather imagine that they are a very early life which is rapidly
nearing extinction in Caspak, though wherever they are found, they
constitute a menace to all forms of life.
It was mid-afternoon when To-mar and So-al bade us good-bye. We
were not far from Kro-lu village; in fact, we had approached it
much closer than we had intended, and now Ajor and I were to make
a detour toward the sea while our companions went directly in search
of the Kro-lu chief.
Ajor and I had gone perhaps a mile or two and were just about to
emerge from a dense wood when I saw that ahead of us which caused
me to draw back into concealment, at the same time pushing Ajor
behind me. What I saw was a party of Band-lu warriors--large,
fierce-appearing men. From the direction of their march I saw that
they were returning to their caves, and that if we remained where
we were, they would pass without discovering us.
Presently Ajor nudged me. "They have a prisoner," she whispered.
"He is a Kro-lu."
And then I saw him, the first fully developed Krolu I had seen. He
was a fine-looking savage, tall and straight with a regal carriage.
To-mar was a handsome fellow; but this Kro-lu showed plainly in
his every physical attribute a higher plane of evolution. While
To-mar was just entering the Kro-lu sphere, this man, it seemed
to me, must be close indeed to the next stage of his development,
which would see him an envied Galu.
"They will kill him?" I whispered to Ajor.
"The dance of death," she replied, and I shuddered, so recently had
I escaped the same fate. It seemed cruel that one who must have
passed safely up through all the frightful stages of human evolution
within Caspak, should die at the very foot of his goal. I raised
my rifle to my shoulder and took careful aim at one of the Band-lu.
If I hit him, I would hit two, for another was directly behind the
Ajor touched my arm. "What would you do?" she asked. "They are
all our enemies."
"I am going to save him from the dance of death," I replied, "enemy
or no enemy," and I squeezed the trigger. At the report, the two
Band-lu lunged forward upon their faces. I handed my rifle to Ajor,
and drawing my pistol, stepped out in full view of the startled
party. The Band-lu did not run away as had some of the lower orders
of Caspakians at the sound of the rifle. Instead, the moment they
saw me, they let out a series of demoniac war-cries, and raising
their spears above their heads, charged me.
The Kro-lu stood silent and statuesque, watching the proceedings.
He made no attempt to escape, though his feet were not bound and
none of the warriors remained to guard him. There were ten of
the Band-lu coming for me. I dropped three of them with my pistol
as rapidly as a man might count by three, and then my rifle spoke
close to my left shoulder, and another of them stumbled and rolled
over and over upon the ground. Plucky little Ajor! She had never
fired a shot before in all her life, though I had taught her to
sight and aim and how to squeeze the trigger instead of pulling it.
She had practiced these new accomplishments often, but little had
I thought they would make a marksman of her so quickly.
With six of their fellows put out of the fight so easily, the
remaining six sought cover behind some low bushes and commenced
a council of war. I wished that they would go away, as I had no
ammunition to waste, and I was fearful that should they institute
another charge, some of them would reach us, for they were already
quite close. Suddenly one of them rose and launched his spear. It
was the most marvelous exhibition of speed I have ever witnessed.
It seemed to me that he had scarce gained an upright position when
the weapon was half-way upon its journey, speeding like an arrow
toward Ajor. And then it was, with that little life in danger,
that I made the best shot I have ever made in my life! I took
no conscious aim; it was as though my subconscious mind, impelled
by a stronger power even than that of self-preservation, directed
my hand. Ajor was in danger! Simultaneously with the thought my
pistol flew to position, a streak of incandescent powder marked
the path of the bullet from its muzzle; and the spear, its point
shattered, was deflected from its path. With a howl of dismay the
six Band-lu rose from their shelter and raced away toward the south.
I turned toward Ajor. She was very white and wide-eyed, for the
clutching fingers of death had all but seized her; but a little
smile came to her lips and an expression of great pride to her eyes.
"My Tom!" she said, and took my hand in hers. That was all--"My
Tom!" and a pressure of the hand. Her Tom! Something stirred within
my bosom. Was it exaltation or was it consternation? Impossible!
I turned away almost brusquely.
"Come!" I said, and strode off toward the Kro-lu prisoner.
The Kro-lu stood watching us with stolid indifference. I presume
that he expected to be killed; but if he did, he showed no outward
sign of fear. His eyes, indicating his greatest interest, were
fixed upon my pistol or the rifle which Ajor still carried. I cut
his bonds with my knife. As I did so, an expression of surprise
tinged and animated the haughty reserve of his countenance. He
eyed me quizzically.
"What are you going to do with me?" he asked.
"You are free," I replied. "Go home, if you wish."
"Why don't you kill me?" he inquired. "I am defenseless."
"Why should I kill you? I have risked my life and that of this young
lady to save your life. Why, therefore should I now take it?" Of
course, I didn't say "young lady" as there is no Caspakian equivalent
for that term; but I have to allow myself considerable latitude in
the translation of Caspakian conversations. To speak always of a
beautiful young girl as a "she" may be literal; but it seems far
The Kro-lu concentrated his steady, level gaze upon me for at least
a full minute. Then he spoke again.
"Who are you, man of strange skins?" he asked. "Your she is Galu;
but you are neither Galu nor Krolu nor Band-lu, nor any other sort
of man which I have seen before. Tell me from whence comes so
mighty a warrior and so generous a foe."
"It is a long story," I replied, "but suffice it to say that I am
not of Caspak. I am a stranger here, and--let this sink in--I am
not a foe. I have no wish to be an enemy of any man in Caspak,
with the possible exception of the Galu warrior Du-seen."
"Du-seen!" he exclaimed. "You are an enemy of Du-seen? And why?"
"Because he would harm Ajor," I replied. "You know him?"
"He cannot know him," said Ajor. "Du-seen rose from the Kro-lu
long ago, taking a new name, as all do when they enter a new sphere.
He cannot know him, as there is no intercourse between the Kro-lu
and the Galu."
The warrior smiled. "Du-seen rose not so long ago," he said,
"that I do not recall him well, and recently he has taken it upon
himself to abrogate the ancient laws of Caspak; he had had intercourse
with the Kro-lu. Du-seen would be chief of the Galus, and he has
come to the Kro-lu for help."
Ajor was aghast. The thing was incredible. Never had Kro-lu and
Galu had friendly relations; by the savage laws of Caspak they were
deadly enemies, for only so can the several races maintain their
"Will the Kro-lu join him?" asked Ajor. "Will they invade the
country of Jor my father?"
"The younger Kro-lu favor the plan," replied the warrior, "since
they believe they will thus become Galus immediately. They hope
to span the long years of change through which they must pass in
the ordinary course of events and at a single stride become Galus.
We of the older Kro-lu tell them that though they occupy the land
of the Galu and wear the skins and ornaments of the golden people,
still they will not be Galus till the time arrives that they are
ripe to rise. We also tell them that even then they will never
become a true Galu race, since there will still be those among
them who can never rise. It is all right to raid the Galu country
occasionally for plunder, as our people do; but to attempt to conquer
it and hold it is madness. For my part, I have been content to
wait until the call came to me. I feel that it cannot now be long."
"What is your name?" asked Ajor.
"Chal-az, " replied the man.
"You are chief of the Kro-lu?" Ajor continued.
"No, it is Al-tan who is chief of the Kro-lu of the east," answered
"And he is against this plan to invade my father's country?"
"Unfortunately he is rather in favor of it," replied the man, "since
he has about come to the conclusion that he is batu. He has been
chief ever since, before I came up from the Band-lu, and I can see
no change in him in all those years. In fact, he still appears
to be more Band-lu than Kro-lu. However, he is a good chief and a
mighty warrior, and if Du-seen persuades him to his cause, the Galus
may find themselves under a Kro-lu chieftain before long--Du-seen
as well as the others, for Al-tan would never consent to occupy a
subordinate position, and once he plants a victorious foot in Galu,
he will not withdraw it without a struggle."
I asked them what batu meant, as I had not before heard the word.
Literally translated, it is equivalent to through, finished,
done-for, as applied to an individual's evolutionary progress in
Caspak, and with this information was developed the interesting
fact that not every individual is capable of rising through every
stage to that of Galu. Some never progress beyond the Alu stage;
others stop as Bo-lu, as Sto-lu, as Bandlu or as Kro-lu. The
Ho-lu of the first generation may rise to become Alus; the Alus
of the second generation may become Bo-lu, while it requires three
generations of Bo-lu to become Band-lu, and so on until Kro-lu's
parent on one side must be of the sixth generation.
It was not entirely plain to me even with this explanation, since
I couldn't understand how there could be different generations of
peoples who apparently had no offspring. Yet I was commencing to
get a slight glimmer of the strange laws which govern propagation
and evolution in this weird land. Already I knew that the warm
pools which always lie close to every tribal abiding-place were
closely linked with the Caspakian scheme of evolution, and that the
daily immersion of the females in the greenish slimy water was in
response to some natural law, since neither pleasure nor cleanliness
could be derived from what seemed almost a religious rite. Yet I
was still at sea; nor, seemingly, could Ajor enlighten me, since
she was compelled to use words which I could not understand and
which it was impossible for her to explain the meanings of.
As we stood talking, we were suddenly startled by a commotion in
the bushes and among the boles of the trees surrounding us, and
simultaneously a hundred Kro-lu warriors appeared in a rough circle
about us. They greeted Chal-az with a volley of questions as they
approached slowly from all sides, their heavy bows fitted with
long, sharp arrows. Upon Ajor and me they looked with covetousness
in the one instance and suspicion in the other; but after they
had heard Chal-az's story, their attitude was more friendly. A
huge savage did all the talking. He was a mountain of a man, yet
"This is Al-tan the chief," said Chal-az by way of introduction. Then
he told something of my story, and Al-tan asked me many questions
of the land from which I came. The warriors crowded around close
to hear my replies, and there were many expressions of incredulity
as I spoke of what was to them another world, of the yacht which
had brought me over vast waters, and of the plane that had borne
me Jo-oo-like over the summit of the barrier-cliffs. It was the
mention of the hydroaeroplane which precipitated the first outspoken
skepticism, and then Ajor came to my defense.
"I saw it with my own eyes!" she exclaimed. "I saw him flying
through the air in battle with a Jo-oo. The Alus were chasing me,
and they saw and ran away."
"Whose is this she?" demanded Al-tan suddenly, his eyes fixed
fiercely upon Ajor.
For a moment there was silence. Ajor looked up at me, a hurt and
questioning expression on her face. "Whose she is this?" repeated
"She is mine," I replied, though what force it was that impelled me
to say it I could not have told; but an instant later I was glad
that I had spoken the words, for the reward of Ajor's proud and
happy face was reward indeed.
Al-tan eyed her for several minutes and then turned to me. "Can
you keep her?" he asked, just the tinge of a sneer upon his face.
I laid my palm upon the grip of my pistol and answered that I could.
He saw the move, glanced at the butt of the automatic where it
protruded from its holster, and smiled. Then he turned and raising
his great bow, fitted an arrow and drew the shaft far back. His
warriors, supercilious smiles upon their faces, stood silently
watching him. His bow was the longest and the heaviest among them
all. A mighty man indeed must he be to bend it; yet Al-tan drew
the shaft back until the stone point touched his left forefinger,
and he did it with consummate ease. Then he raised the shaft to the
level of his right eye, held it there for an instant and released
it. When the arrow stopped, half its length protruded from the
opposite side of a six-inch tree fifty feet away. Al-tan and his
warriors turned toward me with expressions of immense satisfaction
upon their faces, and then, apparently for Ajor's benefit, the
chieftain swaggered to and fro a couple of times, swinging his
great arms and his bulky shoulders for all the world like a drunken
prize-fighter at a beach dancehall.
I saw that some reply was necessary, and so in a single motion,
I drew my gun, dropped it on the still quivering arrow and pulled
the trigger. At the sound of the report, the Kro-lu leaped back
and raised their weapons; but as I was smiling, they took heart
and lowered them again, following my eyes to the tree; the shaft
of their chief was gone, and through the bole was a little round
hole marking the path of my bullet. It was a good shot if I do
say it myself, "as shouldn't" but necessity must have guided that
bullet; I simply had to make a good shot, that I might immediately
establish my position among those savage and warlike Caspakians of the
sixth sphere. That it had its effect was immediately noticeable,
but I am none too sure that it helped my cause with Al-tan.
Whereas he might have condescended to tolerate me as a harmless
and interesting curiosity, he now, by the change in his expression,
appeared to consider me in a new and unfavorable light. Nor can I
wonder, knowing this type as I did, for had I not made him ridiculous
in the eyes of his warriors, beating him at his own game? What
king, savage or civilized, could condone such impudence? Seeing his
black scowls, I deemed it expedient, especially on Ajor's account,
to terminate the interview and continue upon our way; but when
I would have done so, Al-tan detained us with a gesture, and his
warriors pressed around us.
"What is the meaning of this?" I demanded, and before Al-tan could
reply, Chal-az raised his voice in our behalf.
"Is this the gratitude of a Kro-lu chieftain, Al-tan," he asked,
"to one who has served you by saving one of your warriors from the
enemy--saving him from the death dance of the Band-lu?"
Al-tan was silent for a moment, and then his brow cleared, and the
faint imitation of a pleasant expression struggled for existence
as he said: "The stranger will not be harmed. I wished only to
detain him that he may be feasted tonight in the village of Al-tan
the Kro-lu. In the morning he may go his way. Al-tan will not
I was not entirely reassured; but I wanted to see the interior
of the Kro-lu village, and anyway I knew that if Al-tan intended
treachery I would be no more in his power in the morning than I now
was--in fact, during the night I might find opportunity to escape
with Ajor, while at the instant neither of us could hope to escape
unscathed from the encircling warriors. Therefore, in order to
disarm him of any thought that I might entertain suspicion as to
his sincerity, I promptly and courteously accepted his invitation.
His satisfaction was evident, and as we set off toward his village,
he walked beside me, asking many questions as to the country
from which I came, its peoples and their customs. He seemed much
mystified by the fact that we could walk abroad by day or night
without fear of being devoured by wild beasts or savage reptiles,
and when I told him of the great armies which we maintained, his
simple mind could not grasp the fact that they existed solely for
the slaughtering of human beings.
"I am glad," he said, "that I do not dwell in your country among
such savage peoples. Here, in Caspak, men fight with men when they
meet--men of different races--but their weapons are first for the
slaying of beasts in the chase and in defense. We do not fashion
weapons solely for the killing of man as do your peoples. Your
country must indeed be a savage country, from which you are fortunate
to have escaped to the peace and security of Caspak."
Here was a new and refreshing viewpoint; nor could I take exception
to it after what I had told Altan of the great war which had been
raging in Europe for over two years before I left home.
On the march to the Kro-lu village we were continually stalked by
innumerable beasts of prey, and three times we were attacked by
frightful creatures; but Altan took it all as a matter of course,
rushing forward with raised spear or sending a heavy shaft into
the body of the attacker and then returning to our conversation
as though no interruption had occurred. Twice were members of his
band mauled, and one was killed by a huge and bellicose rhinoceros;
but the instant the action was over, it was as though it never had
occurred. The dead man was stripped of his belongings and left
where he had died; the carnivora would take care of his burial.
The trophies that these Kro-lu left to the meat-eaters would have
turned an English big-game hunter green with envy. They did, it
is true, cut all the edible parts from the rhino and carry them
home; but already they were pretty well weighted down with the
spoils of the chase, and only the fact that they are particularly
fond of rhino-meat caused them to do so.
They left the hide on the pieces they selected, as they use it
for sandals, shield-covers, the hilts of their knives and various
other purposes where tough hide is desirable. I was much interested
in their shields, especially after I saw one used in defense against
the attack of a saber-tooth tiger. The huge creature had charged
us without warning from a clump of dense bushes where it was lying
up after eating. It was met with an avalanche of spears, some of
which passed entirely through its body, with such force were they
hurled. The charge was from a very short distance, requiring
the use of the spear rather than the bow and arrow; but after the
launching of the spears, the men not directly in the path of the
charge sent bolt after bolt into the great carcass with almost
incredible rapidity. The beast, screaming with pain and rage, bore
down upon Chal-az while I stood helpless with my rifle for fear
of hitting one of the warriors who were closing in upon it. But
Chal-az was ready. Throwing aside his bow, he crouched behind
his large oval shield, in the center of which was a hole about six
inches in diameter. The shield was held by tight loops to his left
arm, while in his right hand he grasped his heavy knife. Bristling
with spears and arrows, the great cat hurled itself upon the shield,
and down went Chal-az upon his back with the shield entirely covering
him. The tiger clawed and bit at the heavy rhinoceros hide with
which the shield was faced, while Chal-az, through the round hole in
the shield's center, plunged his blade repeatedly into the vitals
of the savage animal. Doubtless the battle would have gone to
Chal-az even though I had not interfered; but the moment that I
saw a clean opening, with no Kro-lu beyond, I raised my rifle and
killed the beast.
When Chal-az arose, he glanced at the sky and remarked that it
looked like rain. The others already had resumed the march toward
the village. The incident was closed. For some unaccountable
reason the whole thing reminded me of a friend who once shot a cat
in his backyard. For three weeks he talked of nothing else.
It was almost dark when we reached the village--a large palisaded
enclosure of several hundred leaf-thatched huts set in groups
of from two to seven. The huts were hexagonal in form, and where
grouped were joined so that they resembled the cells of a bee-hive.
One hut meant a warrior and his mate, and each additional hut in a
group indicated an additional female. The palisade which surrounded
the village was of logs set close together and woven into a solid
wall with tough creepers which were planted at their base and
trained to weave in and out to bind the logs together. The logs
slanted outward at an angle of about thirty degrees, in which
position they were held by shorter logs embedded in the ground
at right angles to them and with their upper ends supporting the
longer pieces a trifle above their centers of equilibrium. Along
the top of the palisade sharpened stakes had been driven at all
sorts of angles.
The only opening into the inclosure was through a small aperture
three feet wide and three feet high, which was closed from the inside
by logs about six feet long laid horizontally, one upon another,
between the inside face of the palisade and two other braced logs
which paralleled the face of the wall upon the inside.
As we entered the village, we were greeted by a not unfriendly
crowd of curious warriors and women, to whom Chal-az generously
explained the service we had rendered him, whereupon they showered
us with the most well-meant attentions, for Chal-az, it seemed,
was a most popular member of the tribe. Necklaces of lion and
tiger-teeth, bits of dried meat, finely tanned hides and earthen
pots, beautifully decorated, they thrust upon us until we were
loaded down, and all the while Al-tan glared balefully upon us,
seemingly jealous of the attentions heaped upon us because we had
At last we reached a hut that they set apart for us, and there we
cooked our meat and some vegetables the women brought us, and had
milk from cows--the first I had had in Caspak--and cheese from
the milk of wild goats, with honey and thin bread made from wheat
flour of their own grinding, and grapes and the fermented juice
of grapes. It was quite the most wonderful meal I had eaten since
I quit the Toreador and Bowen J. Tyler's colored chef, who could
make pork-chops taste like chicken, and chicken taste like heaven.
After dinner I rolled a cigaret and stretched myself at ease upon
a pile of furs before the doorway, with Ajor's head pillowed in my
lap and a feeling of great content pervading me. It was the first
time since my plane had topped the barrier-cliffs of Caspak that I
had felt any sense of peace or security. My hand wandered to the
velvet cheek of the girl I had claimed as mine, and to her luxuriant
hair and the golden fillet which bound it close to her shapely
head. Her slender fingers groping upward sought mine and drew them
to her lips, and then I gathered her in my arms and crushed her to
me, smothering her mouth with a long, long kiss. It was the first
time that passion had tinged my intercourse with Ajor. We were
alone, and the hut was ours until morning.
But now from beyond the palisade in the direction of the main gate
came the hallooing of men and the answering calls and queries of
the guard. We listened. Returning hunters, no doubt. We heard
them enter the village amidst the barking dogs. I have forgotten
to mention the dogs of Kro-lu. The village swarmed with them,
gaunt, wolflike creatures that guarded the herd by day when it
grazed without the palisade, ten dogs to a cow. By night the cows
were herded in an outer inclosure roofed against the onslaughts of
the carnivorous cats; and the dogs, with the exception of a few,
were brought into the village; these few well-tested brutes remained
with the herd. During the day they fed plentifully upon the beasts
of prey which they killed in protection of the herd, so that their
keep amounted to nothing at all.
Shortly after the commotion at the gate had subsided, Ajor and
I arose to enter the hut, and at the same time a warrior appeared
from one of the twisted alleys which, lying between the irregularly
placed huts and groups of huts, form the streets of the Kro-lu
village. The fellow halted before us and addressed me, saying
that Al-tan desired my presence at his hut. The wording of the
invitation and the manner of the messenger threw me entirely off
my guard, so cordial was the one and respectful the other, and the
result was that I went willingly, telling Ajor that I would return
presently. I had laid my arms and ammunition aside as soon as we
had taken over the hut, and I left them with Ajor now, as I had
noticed that aside from their hunting-knives the men of Kro-lu
bore no weapons about the village streets. There was an atmosphere
of peace and security within that village that I had not hoped to
experience within Caspak, and after what I had passed through, it
must have cast a numbing spell over my faculties of judgment and
reason. I had eaten of the lotus-flower of safety; dangers no
longer threatened for they had ceased to be.
The messenger led me through the labyrinthine alleys to an open
plaza near the center of the village. At one end of this plaza was
a long hut, much the largest that I had yet seen, before the door
of which were many warriors. I could see that the interior was
lighted and that a great number of men were gathered within. The
dogs about the plaza were as thick as fleas, and those I approached
closely evinced a strong desire to devour me, their noses evidently
apprising them of the fact that I was of an alien race, since
they paid no attention whatever to my companion. Once inside the
council-hut, for such it appeared to be, I found a large concourse
of warriors seated, or rather squatted, around the floor. At
one end of the oval space which the warriors left down the center
of the room stood Al-tan and another warrior whom I immediately
recognized as a Galu, and then I saw that there were many Galus
present. About the walls were a number of flaming torches stuck
in holes in a clay plaster which evidently served the purpose of
preventing the inflammable wood and grasses of which the hut was
composed from being ignited by the flames. Lying about among the
warriors or wandering restlessly to and fro were a number of savage
The warriors eyed me curiously as I entered, especially the Galus,
and then I was conducted into the center of the group and led forward
toward Al-tan. As I advanced I felt one of the dogs sniffing at
my heels, and of a sudden a great brute leaped upon my back. As
I turned to thrust it aside before its fangs found a hold upon me,
I beheld a huge Airedale leaping frantically about me. The grinning
jaws, the half-closed eyes, the back-laid ears spoke to me louder
than might the words of man that here was no savage enemy but
a joyous friend, and then I recognized him, and fell to one knee
and put my arms about his neck while he whined and cried with joy.
It was Nobs, dear old Nobs. Bowen Tyler's Nobs, who had loved me
next to his master.
"Where is the master of this dog?" I asked, turning toward Al-tan.
The chieftain inclined his head toward the Galu standing at his
side. "He belongs to Du-seen the Galu," he replied.
"He belongs to Bowen J. Tyler, Jr., of Santa Monica," I retorted,
"and I want to know where his master is."
The Galu shrugged. "The dog is mine," he said. "He came to
me cor-sva-jo, and he is unlike any dog in Caspak, being kind and
docile and yet a killer when aroused. I would not part with him.
I do not know the man of whom you speak."
So this was Du-seen! This was the man from whom Ajor had fled. I
wondered if he knew that she was here. I wondered if they had sent
for me because of her; but after they had commenced to question me,
my mind was relieved; they did not mention Ajor. Their interest
seemed centered upon the strange world from which I had come,
my journey to Caspak and my intentions now that I had arrived. I
answered them frankly as I had nothing to conceal and assured
them that my only wish was to find my friends and return to my own
country. In the Galu Du-seen and his warriors I saw something of
the explanation of the term "golden race" which is applied to them,
for their ornaments and weapons were either wholly of beaten gold
or heavily decorated with the precious metal. They were a very
imposing set of men--tall and straight and handsome. About their
heads were bands of gold like that which Ajor wore, and from their
left shoulders depended the leopard-tails of the Galus. In addition
to the deer-skin tunic which constituted the major portion of their
apparel, each carried a light blanket of barbaric yet beautiful
design--the first evidence of weaving I had seen in Caspak. Ajor
had had no blanket, having lost it during her flight from the
attentions of Du-seen; nor was she so heavily incrusted with gold
as these male members of her tribe.
The audience must have lasted fully an hour when Al-tan signified
that I might return to my hut. All the time Nobs had lain quietly
at my feet; but the instant that I turned to leave, he was up and
after me. Duseen called to him; but the terrier never even so
much as looked in his direction. I had almost reached the doorway
leading from the council-hall when Al-tan rose and called after
me. "Stop!" he shouted. "Stop, stranger! The beast of Du-seen
the Galu follows you."
"The dog is not Du-seen's," I replied. "He belongs to my friend,
as I told you, and he prefers to stay with me until his master is
found." And I turned again to resume my way. I had taken but a
few steps when I heard a commotion behind me, and at the same moment
a man leaned close and whispered "Kazar!" close to my ear--kazar,
the Caspakian equivalent of beware. It was To-mar. As he spoke,
he turned quickly away as though loath to have others see that
he knew me, and at the same instant I wheeled to discover Du-seen
striding rapidly after me. Al-tan followed him, and it was evident
that both were angry.
Du-seen, a weapon half drawn, approached truculently. "The beast
is mine," he reiterated. "Would you steal him?"
"He is not yours nor mine," I replied, "and I am not stealing him.
If he wishes to follow you, he may; I will not interfere; but if
he wishes to follow me, he shall; nor shall you prevent." I turned
to Al-tan. "Is not that fair?" I demanded. "Let the dog choose
Du-seen, without waiting for Al-tan's reply, reached for Nobs and
grasped him by the scruff of the neck. I did not interfere, for
I guessed what would happen; and it did. With a savage growl Nobs
turned like lightning upon the Galu, wrenched loose from his hold
and leaped for his throat. The man stepped back and warded off
the first attack with a heavy blow of his fist, immediately drawing
his knife with which to meet the Airedale's return. And Nobs would
have returned, all right, had not I spoken to him. In a low voice
I called him to heel. For just an instant he hesitated, standing
there trembling and with bared fangs, glaring at his foe; but he
was well trained and had been out with me quite as much as he had
with Bowen--in fact, I had had most to do with his early training;
then he walked slowly and very stiff-legged to his place behind
Du-seen, red with rage, would have had it out with the two of us
had not Al-tan drawn him to one side and whispered in his ear--upon
which, with a grunt, the Galu walked straight back to the opposite
end of the hall, while Nobs and I continued upon our way toward
the hut and Ajor. As we passed out into the village plaza, I saw
Chal-az--we were so close to one another that I could have reached
out and touched him--and our eyes met; but though I greeted him
pleasantly and paused to speak to him, he brushed past me without
a sign of recognition. I was puzzled at his behavior, and then
I recalled that To-mar, though he had warned me, had appeared not
to wish to seem friendly with me. I could not understand their
attitude, and was trying to puzzle out some sort of explanation,
when the matter was suddenly driven from my mind by the report of
a firearm. Instantly I broke into a run, my brain in a whirl of
forebodings, for the only firearms in the Kro-lu country were those
I had left in the hut with Ajor.
That she was in danger I could not but fear, as she was now something
of an adept in the handling of both the pistol and rifle, a fact
which largely eliminated the chance that the shot had come from an
accidentally discharged firearm. When I left the hut, I had felt
that she and I were safe among friends; no thought of danger was in
my mind; but since my audience with Al-tan, the presence and bearing
of Duseen and the strange attitude of both To-mar and Chal-az had
each contributed toward arousing my suspicions, and now I ran along
the narrow, winding alleys of the Kro-lu village with my heart
fairly in my mouth.
I am endowed with an excellent sense of direction, which has been
greatly perfected by the years I have spent in the mountains and
upon the plains and deserts of my native state, so that it was
with little or no difficulty that I found my way back to the hut
in which I had left Ajor. As I entered the doorway, I called her
name aloud. There was no response. I drew a box of matches from
my pocket and struck a light and as the flame flared up, a half-dozen
brawny warriors leaped upon me from as many directions; but even
in the brief instant that the flare lasted, I saw that Ajor was
not within the hut, and that my arms and ammunition had been removed.
As the six men leaped upon me, an angry growl burst from behind
them. I had forgotten Nobs. Like a demon of hate he sprang among
those Kro-lu fighting-men, tearing, rending, ripping with his long
tusks and his mighty jaws. They had me down in an instant, and it
goes without saying that the six of them could have kept me there
had it not been for Nobs; but while I was struggling to throw them
off, Nobs was springing first upon one and then upon another of
them until they were so put to it to preserve their hides and their
lives from him that they could give me only a small part of their
attention. One of them was assiduously attempting to strike me on
the head with his stone hatchet; but I caught his arm and at the
same time turned over upon my belly, after which it took but an
instant to get my feet under me and rise suddenly.
As I did so, I kept a grip upon the man's arm, carrying it over one
shoulder. Then I leaned suddenly forward and hurled my antagonist
over my head to a hasty fall at the opposite side of the hut. In
the dim light of the interior I saw that Nobs had already accounted
for one of the others--one who lay very quiet upon the floor--while
the four remaining upon their feet were striking at him with knives
Running to one side of the man I had just put out of the fighting,
I seized his hatchet and knife, and in another moment was in the
thick of the argument. I was no match for these savage warriors
with their own weapons and would soon have gone down to ignominious
defeat and death had it not been for Nobs, who alone was a match
for the four of them. I never saw any creature so quick upon its
feet as was that great Airedale, nor such frightful ferocity as he
manifested in his attacks. It was as much the latter as the former
which contributed to the undoing of our enemies, who, accustomed
though they were to the ferocity of terrible creatures, seemed awed
by the sight of this strange beast from another world battling at
the side of his equally strange master. Yet they were no cowards,
and only by teamwork did Nobs and I overcome them at last. We
would rush for a man, simultaneously, and as Nobs leaped for him
upon one side, I would strike at his head with the stone hatchet
from the other.
As the last man went down, I heard the running of many feet approaching
us from the direction of the plaza. To be captured now would mean
death; yet I could not attempt to leave the village without first
ascertaining the whereabouts of Ajor and releasing her if she were
held a captive. That I could escape the village I was not at all
sure; but of one thing I was positive; that it would do neither
Ajor nor myself any service to remain where I was and be captured;
so with Nobs, bloody but happy, following at heel, I turned down
the first alley and slunk away in the direction of the northern
end of the village.
Friendless and alone, hunted through the dark labyrinths of this
savage community, I seldom have felt more helpless than at that
moment; yet far transcending any fear which I may have felt for my
own safety was my concern for that of Ajor. What fate had befallen
her? Where was she, and in whose power? That I should live to
learn the answers to these queries I doubted; but that I should
face death gladly in the attempt--of that I was certain. And why?
With all my concern for the welfare of my friends who had accompanied
me to Caprona, and of my best friend of all, Bowen J. Tyler, Jr.,
I never yet had experienced the almost paralyzing fear for the
safety of any other creature which now threw me alternately into a
fever of despair and into a cold sweat of apprehension as my mind
dwelt upon the fate on one bit of half-savage femininity of whose
very existence even I had not dreamed a few short weeks before.
What was this hold she had upon me? Was I bewitched, that my mind
refused to function sanely, and that judgment and reason were
dethroned by some mad sentiment which I steadfastly refused to believe
was love? I had never been in love. I was not in love now--the
very thought was preposterous. How could I, Thomas Billings, the
right-hand man of the late Bowen J. Tyler, Sr., one of America's
foremost captains of industry and the greatest man in California,
be in love with a--a--the word stuck in my throat; yet by my own
American standards Ajor could be nothing else; at home, for all
her beauty, for all her delicately tinted skin, little Ajor by her
apparel, by the habits and customs and manners of her people, by
her life, would have been classed a squaw. Tom Billings in love
with a squaw! I shuddered at the thought.
And then there came to my mind, in a sudden, brilliant flash upon
the screen of recollection the picture of Ajor as I had last seen
her, and I lived again the delicious moment in which we had clung
to one another, lips smothering lips, as I left her to go to the
council hall of Al-tan; and I could have kicked myself for the
snob and the cad that my thoughts had proven me--me, who had always
prided myself that I was neither the one nor the other!
These things ran through my mind as Nobs and I made our way through
the dark village, the voices and footsteps of those who sought us
still in our ears. These and many other things, nor could I escape
the incontrovertible fact that the little figure round which
my recollections and my hopes entwined themselves was that of
Ajor--beloved barbarian! My reveries were broken in upon by a hoarse
whisper from the black interior of a hut past which we were making
our way. My name was called in a low voice, and a man stepped out
beside me as I halted with raised knife. It was Chal-az.
"Quick!" he warned. "In here! It is my hut, and they will not
I hesitated, recalled his attitude of a few minutes before; and
as though he had read my thoughts, he said quickly: "I could not
speak to you in the plaza without danger of arousing suspicions
which would prevent me aiding you later, for word had gone out
that Al-tan had turned against you and would destroy you--this was
after Du-seen the Galu arrived."
I followed him into the hut, and with Nobs at our heels we passed
through several chambers into a remote and windowless apartment
where a small lamp sputtered in its unequal battle with the inky
darkness. A hole in the roof permitted the smoke from burning
oil egress; yet the atmosphere was far from lucid. Here Chal-az
motioned me to a seat upon a furry hide spread upon the earthen
"I am your friend," he said. "You saved my life; and I am no
ingrate as is the batu Al-tan. I will serve you, and there are
others here who will serve you against Al-tan and this renegade
"But where is Ajor?" I asked, for I cared little for my own safety
while she was in danger.
"Ajor is safe, too," he answered. "We learned the designs of Al-tan
and Du-seen. The latter, learning that Ajor was here, demanded her;
and Al-tan promised that he should have her; but when the warriors
went to get her To-mar went with them. Ajor tried to defend herself.
She killed one of the warriors, and then To-mar picked her up in
his arms when the others had taken her weapons from her. He told
the others to look after the wounded man, who was really already
dead, and to seize you upon your return, and that he, To-mar, would
bear Ajor to Al-tan; but instead of bearing her to Al-tan, he took
her to his own hut, where she now is with So-al, To-mar's she. It
all happened very quickly. To-mar and I were in the council-hut
when Du-seen attempted to take the dog from you. I was seeking
To-mar for this work. He ran out immediately and accompanied the
warriors to your hut while I remained to watch what went on within
the council-hut and to aid you if you needed aid. What has happened
since you know."
I thanked him for his loyalty and then asked him to take me to Ajor;
but he said that it could not be done, as the village streets were
filled with searchers. In fact, we could hear them passing to and
fro among the huts, making inquiries, and at last Chal-az thought
it best to go to the doorway of his dwelling, which consisted of
many huts joined together, lest they enter and search.
Chal-az was absent for a long time--several hours which seemed an
eternity to me. All sounds of pursuit had long since ceased, and
I was becoming uneasy because of his protracted absence when I
heard him returning through the other apartments of his dwelling.
He was perturbed when he entered that in which I awaited him, and
I saw a worried expression upon his face.
"What is wrong?" I asked. "Have they found Ajor?"
"No," he replied; "but Ajor has gone. She learned that you had
escaped them and was told that you had left the village, believing
that she had escaped too. So-al could not detain her. She made her
way out over the top of the palisade, armed with only her knife."
"Then I must go," I said, rising. Nobs rose and shook himself.
He had been dead asleep when I spoke.
"Yes," agreed Chal-az, "you must go at once. It is almost dawn.
Du-seen leaves at daylight to search for her." He leaned close
to my ear and whispered: "There are many to follow and help you.
Al-tan has agreed to aid Du-seen against the Galus of Jor; but
there are many of us who have combined to rise against Al-tan and
prevent this ruthless desecration of the laws and customs of the
Kro-lu and of Caspak. We will rise as Luata has ordained that we
shall rise, and only thus. No batu may win to the estate of a Galu
by treachery and force of arms while Chal-az lives and may wield
a heavy blow and a sharp spear with true Kro-lus at his back!"
"I hope that I may live to aid you," I replied. "If I had my weapons
and my ammunition, I could do much. Do you know where they are?"
"No," he said, "they have disappeared." And then: "Wait! You
cannot go forth half armed, and garbed as you are. You are going
into the Galu country, and you must go as a Galu. Come!" And
without waiting for a reply, he led me into another apartment, or
to be more explicit, another of the several huts which formed his
Here was a pile of skins, weapons, and ornaments. "Remove your
strange apparel," said Chal-az, "and I will fit you out as a true
Galu. I have slain several of them in the raids of my early days
as a Kro-lu, and here are their trappings."
I saw the wisdom of his suggestion, and as my clothes were by now
so ragged as to but half conceal my nakedness, I had no regrets in
laying them aside. Stripped to the skin, I donned the red-deerskin
tunic, the leopard-tail, the golden fillet, armlets and leg-ornaments
of a Galu, with the belt, scabbard and knife, the shield, spear,
bow and arrow and the long rope which I learned now for the first
time is the distinctive weapon of the Galu warrior. It is a rawhide
rope, not dissimilar to those of the Western plains and cow-camps
of my youth. The honda is a golden oval and accurate weight for
the throwing of the noose. This heavy honda, Chal-az explained,
is used as a weapon, being thrown with great force and accuracy at
an enemy and then coiled in for another cast. In hunting and in
battle, they use both the noose and the honda. If several warriors
surround a single foeman or quarry, they rope it with the noose
from several sides; but a single warrior against a lone antagonist
will attempt to brain his foe with the metal oval.
I could not have been more pleased with any weapon, short of a
rifle, which he could have found for me, since I have been adept with
the rope from early childhood; but I must confess that I was less
favorably inclined toward my apparel. In so far as the sensation
was concerned, I might as well have been entirely naked, so short
and light was the tunic. When I asked Chal-az for the Caspakian
name for rope, he told me ga, and for the first time I understood
the derivation of the word Galu, which means ropeman.
Entirely outfitted I would not have known myself, so strange was
my garb and my armament. Upon my back were slung my bow, arrows,
shield, and short spear; from the center of my girdle depended my
knife; at my right hip was my stone hatchet; and at my left hung
the coils of my long rope. By reaching my right hand over my left
shoulder, I could seize the spear or arrows; my left hand could find
my bow over my right shoulder, while a veritable contortionist-act
was necessary to place my shield in front of me and upon my left
arm. The shield, long and oval, is utilized more as back-armor than
as a defense against frontal attack, for the close-set armlets of
gold upon the left forearm are principally depended upon to ward
off knife, spear, hatchet, or arrow from in front; but against the
greater carnivora and the attacks of several human antagonists,
the shield is utilized to its best advantage and carried by loops
upon the left arm.
Fully equipped, except for a blanket, I followed Chal-az from his
domicile into the dark and deserted alleys of Kro-lu. Silently
we crept along, Nobs silent at heel, toward the nearest portion of
the palisade. Here Chal-az bade me farewell, telling me that he
hoped to see me soon among the Galus, as he felt that "the call
soon would come" to him. I thanked him for his loyal assistance and
promised that whether I reached the Galu country or not, I should
always stand ready to repay his kindness to me, and that he could
count on me in the revolution against Al-tan.
To run up the inclined surface of the palisade and drop to the
ground outside was the work of but a moment, or would have been but
for Nobs. I had to put my rope about him after we reached the top,
lift him over the sharpened stakes and lower him upon the outside.
To find Ajor in the unknown country to the north seemed rather
hopeless; yet I could do no less than try, praying in the meanwhile
that she would come through unscathed and in safety to her father.
As Nobs and I swung along in the growing light of the coming day,
I was impressed by the lessening numbers of savage beasts the
farther north I traveled. With the decrease among the carnivora,
the herbivora increased in quantity, though anywhere in Caspak they
are sufficiently plentiful to furnish ample food for the meateaters
of each locality. The wild cattle, antelope, deer, and horses
I passed showed changes in evolution from their cousins farther
south. The kine were smaller and less shaggy, the horses larger.
North of the Kro-lu village I saw a small band of the latter
of about the size of those of our old Western plains--such as the
Indians bred in former days and to a lesser extent even now. They
were fat and sleek, and I looked upon them with covetous eyes and
with thoughts that any old cow-puncher may well imagine I might
entertain after having hoofed it for weeks; but they were wary,
scarce permitting me to approach within bow-and-arrow range, much
less within roping-distance; yet I still had hopes which I never
Twice before noon we were stalked and charged by man-eaters; but
even though I was without firearms, I still had ample protection in
Nobs, who evidently had learned something of Caspakian hunt rules
under the tutelage of Du-seen or some other Galu, and of course
a great deal more by experience. He always was on the alert for
dangerous foes, invariably warning me by low growls of the approach
of a large carnivorous animal long before I could either see or
hear it, and then when the thing appeared, he would run snapping
at its heels, drawing the charge away from me until I found safety
in some tree; yet never did the wily Nobs take an unnecessary chance
of a mauling. He would dart in and away so quickly that not even
the lightning-like movements of the great cats could reach him.
I have seen him tantalize them thus until they fairly screamed in
The greatest inconvenience the hunters caused me was the delay,
for they have a nasty habit of keeping one treed for an hour or
more if balked in their designs; but at last we came in sight of
a line of cliffs running east and west across our path as far as
the eye could see in either direction, and I knew that we reached
the natural boundary which marks the line between the Kro-lu and
Galu countries. The southern face of these cliffs loomed high and
forbidding, rising to an altitude of some two hundred feet, sheer
and precipitous, without a break that the eye could perceive. How
I was to find a crossing I could not guess. Whether to search to
the east toward the still loftier barrier-cliffs fronting upon the
ocean, or westward in the direction of the inland sea was a question
which baffled me. Were there many passes or only one? I had no
way of knowing. I could but trust to chance. It never occurred
to me that Nobs had made the crossing at least once, possibly
a greater number of times, and that he might lead me to the pass;
and so it was with no idea of assistance that I appealed to him as
a man alone with a dumb brute so often does.
"Nobs," I said, "how the devil are we going to cross those cliffs?"
I do not say that he understood me, even though I realize that an
Airedale is a mighty intelligent dog; but I do swear that he seemed
to understand me, for he wheeled about, barking joyously and trotted
off toward the west; and when I didn't follow him, he ran back to
me barking furiously, and at last taking hold of the calf of my leg
in an effort to pull me along in the direction he wished me to go.
Now, as my legs were naked and Nobs' jaws are much more powerful
than he realizes, I gave in and followed him, for I knew that
I might as well go west as east, as far as any knowledge I had of
the correct direction went.
We followed the base of the cliffs for a considerable distance.
The ground was rolling and tree-dotted and covered with grazing
animals, alone, in pairs and in herds--a motley aggregation of the
modern and extinct herbivore of the world. A huge woolly mastodon
stood swaying to and fro in the shade of a giant fern--a mighty
bull with enormous upcurving tusks. Near him grazed an aurochs
bull with a cow and a calf, close beside a lone rhinoceros asleep
in a dust-hole. Deer, antelope, bison, horses, sheep, and goats
were all in sight at the same time, and at a little distance a
great megatherium reared up on its huge tail and massive hind feet
to tear the leaves from a tall tree. The forgotten past rubbed
flanks with the present--while Tom Billings, modern of the moderns,
passed in the garb of pre-Glacial man, and before him trotted a
creature of a breed scarce sixty years old. Nobs was a parvenu;
but it failed to worry him.
As we neared the inland sea we saw more flying reptiles and several
great amphibians, but none of them attacked us. As we were topping
a rise in the middle of the afternoon, I saw something that brought
me to a sudden stop. Calling Nobs in a whisper, I cautioned him to
silence and kept him at heel while I threw myself flat and watched,
from behind a sheltering shrub, a body of warriors approaching
the cliff from the south. I could see that they were Galus, and I
guessed that Du-seen led them. They had taken a shorter route to
the pass and so had overhauled me. I could see them plainly, for
they were no great distance away, and saw with relief that Ajor
was not with them.
The cliffs before them were broken and ragged, those coming from
the east overlapping the cliffs from the west. Into the defile
formed by this overlapping the party filed. I could see them
climbing upward for a few minutes, and then they disappeared from
view. When the last of them had passed from sight, I rose and bent
my steps in the direction of the pass--the same pass toward which
Nobs had evidently been leading me. I went warily as I approached
it, for fear the party might have halted to rest. If they hadn't
halted, I had no fear of being discovered, for I had seen that
the Galus marched without point, flankers or rear guard; and when
I reached the pass and saw a narrow, one-man trail leading upward
at a stiff angle, I wished that I were chief of the Galus for a
few weeks. A dozen men could hold off forever in that narrow pass
all the hordes which might be brought up from the south; yet there
it lay entirely unguarded.
The Galus might be a great people in Caspak; but they were pitifully
inefficient in even the simpler forms of military tactics. I was
surprised that even a man of the Stone Age should be so lacking
in military perspicacity. Du-seen dropped far below par in my
estimation as I saw the slovenly formation of his troop as it passed
through an enemy country and entered the domain of the chief against
whom he had risen in revolt; but Du-seen must have known Jor the
chief and known that Jor would not be waiting for him at the pass.
Nevertheless he took unwarranted chances. With one squad of a
home-guard company I could have conquered Caspak.
Nobs and I followed to the summit of the pass, and there we saw the
party defiling into the Galu country, the level of which was not,
on an average, over fifty feet below the summit of the cliffs and
about a hundred and fifty feet above the adjacent Kro-lu domain.
Immediately the landscape changed. The trees, the flowers and the
shrubs were of a hardier type, and I realized that at night the
Galu blanket might be almost a necessity. Acacia and eucalyptus
predominated among the trees; yet there were ash and oak and even
pine and fir and hemlock. The tree-life was riotous. The forests
were dense and peopled by enormous trees. From the summit of the
cliff I could see forests rising hundreds of feet above the level
upon which I stood, and even at the distance they were from me I
realized that the boles were of gigantic size.
At last I had come to the Galu country. Though not conceived in
Caspak, I had indeed come up cor-sva jo--from the beginning I had
come up through the hideous horrors of the lower Caspakian spheres
of evolution, and I could not but feel something of the elation and
pride which had filled To-mar and So-al when they realized that the
call had come to them and they were about to rise from the estate
of Band-lus to that of Kro-lus. I was glad that I was not batu.
But where was Ajor? Though my eyes searched the wide landscape
before me, I saw nothing other than the warriors of Du-seen and
the beasts of the fields and the forests. Surrounded by forests,
I could see wide plains dotting the country as far as the eye could
reach; but nowhere was a sign of a small Galu she--the beloved she
whom I would have given my right hand to see.
Nobs and I were hungry; we had not eaten since the preceding night,
and below us was game-deer, sheep, anything that a hungry hunter
might crave; so down the steep trail we made our way, and then
upon my belly with Nobs crouching low behind me, I crawled toward a
small herd of red deer feeding at the edge of a plain close beside
a forest. There was ample cover, what with solitary trees and
dotting bushes so that I found no difficulty in stalking up wind
to within fifty feet of my quarry--a large, sleek doe unaccompanied
by a fawn. Greatly then did I regret my rifle. Never in my life
had I shot an arrow, but I knew how it was done, and fitting the
shaft to my string, I aimed carefully and let drive. At the same
instant I called to Nobs and leaped to me feet.
The arrow caught the doe full in the side, and in the same moment
Nobs was after her. She turned to flee with the two of us pursuing
her, Nobs with his great fangs bared and I with my short spear
poised for a cast. The balance of the herd sprang quickly away;
but the hurt doe lagged, and in a moment Nobs was beside her and
had leaped at her throat. He had her down when I came up, and I
finished her with my spear. It didn't take me long to have a fire
going and a steak broiling, and while I was preparing for my own
feast, Nobs was filling himself with raw venison. Never have I
enjoyed a meal so heartily.
For two days I searched fruitlessly back and forth from the inland
sea almost to the barrier cliffs for some trace of Ajor, and always
I trended northward; but I saw no sign of any human being, not even
the band of Galu warriors under Du-seen; and then I commenced to
have misgivings. Had Chal-az spoken the truth to me when he said
that Ajor had quit the village of the Kro-lu? Might he not have
been acting upon the orders of Al-tan, in whose savage bosom might
have lurked some small spark of shame that he had attempted to do
to death one who had befriended a Kro-lu warrior--a guest who had
brought no harm upon the Kro-lu race--and thus have sent me out
upon a fruitless mission in the hope that the wild beasts would do
what Al-tan hesitated to do? I did not know; but the more I thought
upon it, the more convinced I became that Ajor had not quitted the
Kro-lu village; but if not, what had brought Du-seen forth without
her? There was a puzzler, and once again I was all at sea.
On the second day of my experience of the Galu country I came upon a
bunch of as magnificent horses as it has ever been my lot to see.
They were dark bays with blazed faces and perfect surcingles of
white about their barrels. Their forelegs were white to the knees.
In height they stood almost sixteen hands, the mares being a trifle
smaller than the stallions, of which there were three or four in
this band of a hundred, which comprised many colts and half-grown
horses. Their markings were almost identical, indicating a purity
of strain that might have persisted since long ages ago. If I had
coveted one of the little ponies of the Kro-lu country, imagine
my state of mind when I came upon these magnificent creatures! No
sooner had I espied them than I determined to possess one of them;
nor did it take me long to select a beautiful young stallion--a
four-year-old, I guessed him.
The horses were grazing close to the edge of the forest in which
Nobs and I were concealed, while the ground between us and them
was dotted with clumps of flowering brush which offered perfect
concealment. The stallion of my choice grazed with a filly and two
yearlings a little apart from the balance of the herd and nearest
to the forest and to me. At my whispered "Charge!" Nobs flattened
himself to the ground, and I knew that he would not again move until
I called him, unless danger threatened me from the rear. Carefully
I crept forward toward my unsuspecting quarry, coming undetected
to the concealment of a bush not more than twenty feet from him.
Here I quietly arranged my noose, spreading it flat and open upon
To step to one side of the bush and throw directly from the ground,
which is the style I am best in, would take but an instant, and
in that instant the stallion would doubtless be under way at top
speed in the opposite direction. Then he would have to wheel about
when I surprised him, and in doing so, he would most certainly
rise slightly upon his hind feet and throw up his head, presenting
a perfect target for my noose as he pivoted.
Yes, I had it beautifully worked out, and I waited until he should
turn in my direction. At last it became evident that he was doing
so, when apparently without cause, the filly raised her head, neighed
and started off at a trot in the opposite direction, immediately
followed, of course, by the colts and my stallion. It looked for
a moment as though my last hope was blasted; but presently their
fright, if fright it was, passed, and they resumed grazing again
a hundred yards farther on. This time there was no bush within
fifty feet of them, and I was at a loss as to how to get within
safe roping-distance. Anywhere under forty feet I am an excellent
roper, at fifty feet I am fair; but over that I knew it would
be a matter of luck if I succeeded in getting my noose about that
beautiful arched neck.
As I stood debating the question in my mind, I was almost upon the
point of making the attempt at the long throw. I had plenty of
rope, this Galu weapon being fully sixty feet long. How I wished
for the collies from the ranch! At a word they would have circled
this little bunch and driven it straight down to me; and then it
flashed into my mind that Nobs had run with those collies all one
summer, that he had gone down to the pasture with them after the
cows every evening and done his part in driving them back to the
milking-barn, and had done it intelligently; but Nobs had never
done the thing alone, and it had been a year since he had done it
at all. However, the chances were more in favor of my foozling
the long throw than that Nobs would fall down in his part if I gave
him the chance.
Having come to a decision, I had to creep back to Nobs and get him,
and then with him at my heels return to a large bush near the four
horses. Here we could see directly through the bush, and pointing
the animals out to Nobs I whispered: "Fetch 'em, boy!"
In an instant he was gone, circling wide toward the rear of the
quarry. They caught sight of him almost immediately and broke
into a trot away from him; but when they saw that he was apparently
giving them a wide berth they stopped again, though they stood
watching him, with high-held heads and quivering nostrils. It was
a beautiful sight. And then Nobs turned in behind them and trotted
slowly back toward me. He did not bark, nor come rushing down upon
them, and when he had come closer to them, he proceeded at a walk.
The splendid creatures seemed more curious than fearful, making
no effort to escape until Nobs was quite close to them; then they
trotted slowly away, but at right angles.
And now the fun and trouble commenced. Nobs, of course, attempted
to turn them, and he seemed to have selected the stallion to work
upon, for he paid no attention to the others, having intelligence
enough to know that a lone dog could run his legs off before he
could round up four horses that didn't wish to be rounded up. The
stallion, however, had notions of his own about being headed, and
the result was as pretty a race as one would care to see. Gad, how
that horse could run! He seemed to flatten out and shoot through
the air with the very minimum of exertion, and at his forefoot ran
Nobs, doing his best to turn him. He was barking now, and twice he
leaped high against the stallion's flank; but this cost too much
effort and always lost him ground, as each time he was hurled heels
over head by the impact; yet before they disappeared over a rise
in the ground I was sure that Nob's persistence was bearing fruit;
it seemed to me that the horse was giving way a trifle to the right.
Nobs was between him and the main herd, to which the yearling and
filly had already fled.
As I stood waiting for Nobs' return, I could not but speculate
upon my chances should I be attacked by some formidable beast. I
was some distance from the forest and armed with weapons in the use
of which I was quite untrained, though I had practiced some with
the spear since leaving the Kro-lu country. I must admit that my
thoughts were not pleasant ones, verging almost upon cowardice,
until I chanced to think of little Ajor alone in this same land
and armed only with a knife! I was immediately filled with shame;
but in thinking the matter over since, I have come to the conclusion
that my state of mind was influenced largely by my approximate
nakedness. If you have never wandered about in broad daylight
garbed in a bit of red-deer skin in inadequate length, you can have
no conception of the sensation of futility that overwhelms one.
Clothes, to a man accustomed to wearing clothes, impart a certain
self-confidence; lack of them induces panic.
But no beast attacked me, though I saw several menacing forms
passing through the dark aisles of the forest. At last I commenced
to worry over Nobs' protracted absence and to fear that something
had befallen him. I was coiling my rope to start out in search
of him, when I saw the stallion leap into view at almost the same
spot behind which he had disappeared, and at his heels ran Nobs.
Neither was running so fast or furiously as when last I had seen
The horse, as he approached me, I could see was laboring hard; yet
he kept gamely to his task, and Nobs, too. The splendid fellow was
driving the quarry straight toward me. I crouched behind my bush
and laid my noose in readiness to throw. As the two approached my
hiding-place, Nobs reduced his speed, and the stallion, evidently
only too glad of the respite, dropped into a trot. It was at this
gait that he passed me; my rope-hand flew forward; the honda, well
down, held the noose open, and the beautiful bay fairly ran his
head into it.
Instantly he wheeled to dash off at right angles. I braced myself
with the rope around my hip and brought him to a sudden stand.
Rearing and struggling, he fought for his liberty while Nobs,
panting and with lolling tongue, came and threw himself down near
me. He seemed to know that his work was done and that he had
earned his rest. The stallion was pretty well spent, and after a
few minutes of struggling he stood with feet far spread, nostrils
dilated and eyes wide, watching me as I edged toward him, taking
in the slack of the rope as I advanced. A dozen times he reared
and tried to break away; but always I spoke soothingly to him and
after an hour of effort I succeeded in reaching his head and stroking
his muzzle. Then I gathered a handful of grass and offered it to
him, and always I talked to him in a quiet and reassuring voice.
I had expected a battle royal; but on the contrary I found his
taming a matter of comparative ease. Though wild, he was gentle
to a degree, and of such remarkable intelligence that he soon
discovered that I had no intention of harming him. After that,
all was easy. Before that day was done, I had taught him to lead
and to stand while I stroked his head and flanks, and to eat from
my hand, and had the satisfaction of seeing the light of fear die
in his large, intelligent eyes.
The following day I fashioned a hackamore from a piece which I cut
from the end of my long Galu rope, and then I mounted him fully
prepared for a struggle of titanic proportions in which I was none
too sure that he would not come off victor; but he never made the
slightest effort to unseat me, and from then on his education was
rapid. No horse ever learned more quickly the meaning of the rein
and the pressure of the knees. I think he soon learned to love
me, and I know that I loved him; while he and Nobs were the best
of pals. I called him Ace. I had a friend who was once in the
French flying-corps, and when Ace let himself out, he certainly
I cannot explain to you, nor can you understand, unless you too are
a horseman, the exhilarating feeling of well-being which pervaded
me from the moment that I commenced riding Ace. I was a new man,
imbued with a sense of superiority that led me to feel that I could
go forth and conquer all Caspak single-handed. Now, when I needed
meat, I ran it down on Ace and roped it, and when some great beast
with which we could not cope threatened us, we galloped away to
safety; but for the most part the creatures we met looked upon us
in terror, for Ace and I in combination presented a new and unusual
beast beyond their experience and ken.
For five days I rode back and forth across the southern end of the
Galu country without seeing a human being; yet all the time I was
working slowly toward the north, for I had determined to comb the
territory thoroughly in search of Ajor; but on the fifth day as
I emerged from a forest, I saw some distance ahead of me a single
small figure pursued by many others. Instantly I recognized the
quarry as Ajor. The entire party was fully a mile away from me,
and they were crossing my path at right angles. Ajor a few hundred
yards in advance of those who followed her. One of her pursuers
was far in advance of the others, and was gaining upon her rapidly.
With a word and a pressure of the knees I sent Ace leaping out into
the open, and with Nobs running close alongside, we raced toward
At first none of them saw us; but as we neared Ajor, the pack
behind the foremost pursuer discovered us and set up such a howl
as I never before have heard. They were all Galus, and I soon
recognized the foremost as Du-seen. He was almost upon Ajor now,
and with a sense of terror such as I had never before experienced,
I saw that he ran with his knife in his hand, and that his intention
was to slay rather than capture. I could not understand it, but
I could only urge Ace to greater speed, and most nobly did the
wondrous creature respond to my demands. If ever a four-footed
creature approximated flying, it was Ace that day.
Du-seen, intent upon his brutal design, had as yet not noticed us.
He was within a pace of Ajor when Ace and I dashed between them,
and I, leaning down to the left, swept my little barbarian into
the hollow of an arm and up on the withers of my glorious Ace. We
had snatched her from the very clutches of Du-seen, who halted,
mystified and raging. Ajor, too, was mystified, as we had come
up from diagonally behind her so that she had no idea that we were
near until she was swung to Ace's back. The little savage turned
with drawn knife to stab me, thinking that I was some new enemy,
when her eyes found my face and she recognized me. With a little
sob she threw her arms about my neck, gasping: "My Tom! My Tom!"
And then Ace sank suddenly into thick mud to his belly, and Ajor
and I were thrown far over his head. He had run into one of those
numerous springs which cover Caspak. Sometimes they are little
lakes, again but tiny pools, and often mere quagmires of mud, as
was this one overgrown with lush grasses which effectually hid its
treacherous identity. It is a wonder that Ace did not break a leg,
so fast he was going when he fell; but he didn't, though with four
good legs he was unable to wallow from the mire. Ajor and I had
sprawled face down in the covering grasses and so had not sunk
deeply; but when we tried to rise, we found that there was not
footing, and presently we saw that Du-seen and his followers were
coming down upon us. There was no escape. It was evident that we
"Slay me!" begged Ajor. "Let me die at thy loved hands rather than
beneath the knife of this hateful thing, for he will kill me. He
has sworn to kill me. Last night he captured me, and when later
he would have his way with me, I struck him with my fists and with
my knife I stabbed him, and then I escaped, leaving him raging in
pain and thwarted desire. Today they searched for me and found
me; and as I fled, Du-seen ran after me crying that he would slay
me. Kill me, my Tom, and then fall upon thine own spear, for they
will kill you horribly if they take you alive."
I couldn't kill her--not at least until the last moment; and I told
her so, and that I loved her, and that until death came, I would
live and fight for her.
Nobs had followed us into the bog and had done fairly well at
first, but when he neared us he too sank to his belly and could
only flounder about. We were in this predicament when Du-seen and
his followers approached the edge of the horrible swamp. I saw that
Al-tan was with him and many other Kro-lu warriors. The alliance
against Jor the chief had, therefore, been consummated, and this
horde was already marching upon the Galu city. I sighed as I
thought how close I had been to saving not only Ajor but her father
and his people from defeat and death.
Beyond the swamp was a dense wood. Could we have reached this,
we would have been safe; but it might as well have been a hundred
miles away as a hundred yards across that hidden lake of sticky mud.
Upon the edge of the swamp Du-seen and his horde halted to revile
us. They could not reach us with their hands; but at a command from
Du-seen they fitted arrows to their bows, and I saw that the end
had come. Ajor huddled close to me, and I took her in my arms. "I
love you, Tom," she said, "only you." Tears came to my eyes then,
not tears of self-pity for my predicament, but tears from a heart
filled with a great love--a heart that sees the sun of its life
and its love setting even as it rises.
The renegade Galus and their Kro-lu allies stood waiting for the
word from Du-seen that would launch that barbed avalanche of death
upon us, when there broke from the wood beyond the swamp the sweetest
music that ever fell upon the ears of man--the sharp staccato of at
least two score rifles fired rapidly at will. Down went the Galu
and Kro-lu warriors like tenpins before that deadly fusillade.
What could it mean? To me it meant but one thing, and that was
that Hollis and Short and the others had scaled the cliffs and made
their way north to the Galu country upon the opposite side of the
island in time to save Ajor and me from almost certain death. I
didn't have to have an introduction to them to know that the men
who held those rifles were the men of my own party; and when, a
few minutes later, they came forth from their concealment, my eyes
verified my hopes. There they were, every man-jack of them; and
with them were a thousand straight, sleek warriors of the Galu
race; and ahead of the others came two men in the garb of Galus.
Each was tall and straight and wonderfully muscled; yet they differed
as Ace might differ from a perfect specimen of another species.
As they approached the mire, Ajor held forth her arms and cried,
"Jor, my chief! My father!" and the elder of the two rushed in
knee-deep to rescue her, and then the other came close and looked
into my face, and his eyes went wide, and mine too, and I cried:
"Bowen! For heaven's sake, Bowen Tyler!"
It was he. My search was ended. Around me were all my company
and the man we had searched a new world to find. They cut saplings
from the forest and laid a road into the swamp before they could
get us all out, and then we marched back to the city of Jor the
Galu chief, and there was great rejoicing when Ajor came home again
mounted upon the glossy back of the stallion Ace.
Tyler and Hollis and Short and all the rest of us Americans nearly
worked our jaws loose on the march back to the village, and for
days afterward we kept it up. They told me how they had crossed
the barrier cliffs in five days, working twenty-four hours a day in
three eight-hour shifts with two reliefs to each shift alternating
half-hourly. Two men with electric drills driven from the dynamos
aboard the Toreador drilled two holes four feet apart in the face
of the cliff and in the same horizontal planes. The holes slanted
slightly downward. Into these holes the iron rods brought as
a part of our equipment and for just this purpose were inserted,
extending about a foot beyond the face of the rock, across these
two rods a plank was laid, and then the next shift, mounting to the
new level, bored two more holes five feet above the new platform,
and so on.
During the nights the searchlights from the Toreador were kept
playing upon the cliff at the point where the drills were working,
and at the rate of ten feet an hour the summit was reached upon
the fifth day. Ropes were lowered, blocks lashed to trees at the
top, and crude elevators rigged, so that by the night of the fifth
day the entire party, with the exception of the few men needed to
man the Toreador, were within Caspak with an abundance of arms,
ammunition and equipment.
From then on, they fought their way north in search of me, after
a vain and perilous effort to enter the hideous reptile-infested
country to the south. Owing to the number of guns among them,
they had not lost a man; but their path was strewn with the dead
creatures they had been forced to slay to win their way to the
north end of the island, where they had found Bowen and his bride
among the Galus of Jor.
The reunion between Bowen and Nobs was marked by a frantic display
upon Nobs' part, which almost stripped Bowen of the scanty attire
that the Galu custom had vouchsafed him. When we arrived at the
Galu city, Lys La Rue was waiting to welcome us. She was Mrs.
Tyler now, as the master of the Toreador had married them the very
day that the search-party had found them, though neither Lys nor
Bowen would admit that any civil or religious ceremony could have
rendered more sacred the bonds with which God had united them.
Neither Bowen nor the party from the Toreador had seen any sign
of Bradley and his party. They had been so long lost now that any
hopes for them must be definitely abandoned. The Galus had heard
rumors of them, as had the Western Kro-lu and Band-lu; but none had
seen aught of them since they had left Fort Dinosaur months since.
We rested in Jor's village for a fortnight while we prepared for
the southward journey to the point where the Toreador was to lie
off shore in wait for us. During these two weeks Chal-az came up
from the Krolu country, now a full-fledged Galu. He told us that
the remnants of Al-tan's party had been slain when they attempted
to re-enter Kro-lu. Chal-az had been made chief, and when he rose,
had left the tribe under a new leader whom all respected.
Nobs stuck close to Bowen; but Ace and Ajor and I went out upon
many long rides through the beautiful north Galu country. Chal-az
had brought my arms and ammunition up from Kro-lu with him; but my
clothes were gone; nor did I miss them once I became accustomed to
the free attire of the Galu.
At last came the time for our departure; upon the following morning
we were to set out toward the south and the Toreador and dear old
California. I had asked Ajor to go with us; but Jor her father
had refused to listen to the suggestion. No pleas could swerve him
from his decision: Ajor, the cos-ata-lo, from whom might spring a
new and greater Caspakian race, could not be spared. I might have
any other she among the Galus; but Ajor--no!
The poor child was heartbroken; and as for me, I was slowly realizing
the hold that Ajor had upon my heart and wondered how I should get
along without her. As I held her in my arms that last night, I
tried to imagine what life would be like without her, for at last
there had come to me the realization that I loved her--loved my
little barbarian; and as I finally tore myself away and went to
my own hut to snatch a few hours' sleep before we set off upon our
long journey on the morrow, I consoled myself with the thought that
time would heal the wound and that back in my native land I should
find a mate who would be all and more to me than little Ajor could
ever be--a woman of my own race and my own culture.
Morning came more quickly than I could have wished. I rose and
breakfasted, but saw nothing of Ajor. It was best, I thought, that
I go thus without the harrowing pangs of a last farewell. The
party formed for the march, an escort of Galu warriors ready to
accompany us. I could not even bear to go to Ace's corral and bid
him farewell. The night before, I had given him to Ajor, and now
in my mind the two seemed inseparable.
And so we marched away, down the street flanked with its stone
houses and out through the wide gateway in the stone wall which
surrounds the city and on across the clearing toward the forest
through which we must pass to reach the northern boundary of Galu,
beyond which we would turn south. At the edge of the forest I cast
a backward glance at the city which held my heart, and beside the
massive gateway I saw that which brought me to a sudden halt. It
was a little figure leaning against one of the great upright posts
upon which the gates swing--a crumpled little figure; and even
at this distance I could see its shoulders heave to the sobs that
racked it. It was the last straw.
Bowen was near me. "Good-bye old man," I said. "I'm going back."
He looked at me in surprise. "Good-bye, old man," he said, and
grasped my hand. "I thought you'd do it in the end."
And then I went back and took Ajor in my arms and kissed the tears
from her eyes and a smile to her lips while together we watched
the last of the Americans disappear into the forest.
I have made the following changes to the text:
PAGE LINE ORIGINAL CHANGED TO
75 15 later latter
108 14 in is
123 24 the he
131 13 plans planes
131 28 new few
132 24 Donosaur Dinosaur
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