I am forced to admit that even though I had traveled a long distance
place Bowen Tyler's manuscript in the hands of his father, I was still
a trifle skeptical as to its sincerity, since I could not but recall
that it had not been many years since Bowen had been one of the most
notorious practical jokers of his alma mater. The truth was that as I
sat in the Tyler library at Santa Monica I commenced to feel a trifle
foolish and to wish that I had merely forwarded the manuscript by
express instead of bearing it personally, for I confess that I do not
enjoy being laughed at. I have a well-developed sense of humor--when
the joke is not on me.
Mr. Tyler, Sr., was expected almost hourly. The last steamer in from
Honolulu had brought information of the date of the expected sailing of
his yacht _Toreador_, which was now twenty-four hours overdue. Mr.
Tyler's assistant secretary, who had been left at home, assured me that
there was no doubt but that the _Toreador_ had sailed as promised, since
he knew his employer well enough to be positive that nothing short of
an act of God would prevent his doing what he had planned to do. I was
also aware of the fact that the sending apparatus of the _Toreador_'s
wireless equipment was sealed, and that it would only be used in event
of dire necessity. There was, therefore, nothing to do but wait, and
We discussed the manuscript and hazarded guesses concerning it and the
strange events it narrated. The torpedoing of the liner upon which
Bowen J. Tyler, Jr., had taken passage for France to join the American
Ambulance was a well-known fact, and I had further substantiated by
wire to the New York office of the owners, that a Miss La Rue had been
booked for passage. Further, neither she nor Bowen had been mentioned
among the list of survivors; nor had the body of either of them been
Their rescue by the English tug was entirely probable; the capture of
the enemy _U-33_ by the tug's crew was not beyond the range of
possibility; and their adventures during the perilous cruise which the
treachery and deceit of Benson extended until they found themselves in
the waters of the far South Pacific with depleted stores and poisoned
water-casks, while bordering upon the fantastic, appeared logical
enough as narrated, event by event, in the manuscript.
Caprona has always been considered a more or less mythical land, though
it is vouched for by an eminent navigator of the eighteenth century;
but Bowen's narrative made it seem very real, however many miles of
trackless ocean lay between us and it. Yes, the narrative had us
guessing. We were agreed that it was most improbable; but neither of
us could say that anything which it contained was beyond the range of
possibility. The weird flora and fauna of Caspak were as possible
under the thick, warm atmospheric conditions of the super-heated crater
as they were in the Mesozoic era under almost exactly similar
conditions, which were then probably world-wide. The assistant
secretary had heard of Caproni and his discoveries, but admitted that
he never had taken much stock in the one nor the other. We were agreed
that the one statement most difficult of explanation was that which
reported the entire absence of human young among the various tribes
with which Tyler had had intercourse. This was the one irreconcilable
statement of the manuscript. A world of adults! It was impossible.
We speculated upon the probable fate of Bradley and his party of
English sailors. Tyler had found the graves of two of them; how many
more might have perished! And Miss La Rue--could a young girl long
have survived the horrors of Caspak after having been separated from
all of her own kind? The assistant secretary wondered if Nobs still
was with her, and then we both smiled at this tacit acceptance of the
truth of the whole uncanny tale:
"I suppose I'm a fool," remarked the assistant secretary; "but
George, I can't help believing it, and I can see that girl now, with
the big Airedale at her side protecting her from the terrors of a
million years ago. I can visualize the entire scene--the apelike
Grimaldi men huddled in their filthy caves; the huge pterodactyls
soaring through the heavy air upon their bat-like wings; the mighty
dinosaurs moving their clumsy hulks beneath the dark shadows of
preglacial forests--the dragons which we considered myths until science
taught us that they were the true recollections of the first man,
handed down through countless ages by word of mouth from father to son
out of the unrecorded dawn of humanity."
"It is stupendous--if true," I replied. "And to think
they are still there--Tyler and Miss La Rue--surrounded by hideous
dangers, and that possibly Bradley still lives, and some of his party!
I can't help hoping all the time that Bowen and the girl have found the
others; the last Bowen knew of them, there were six left, all told--the
mate Bradley, the engineer Olson, and Wilson, Whitely, Brady and
Sinclair. There might be some hope for them if they could join forces;
but separated, I'm afraid they couldn't last long."
"If only they hadn't let the German prisoners capture the _U-33_!
should have had better judgment than to have trusted them at all. The
chances are von Schoenvorts succeeded in getting safely back to Kiel
and is strutting around with an Iron Cross this very minute. With a
large supply of oil from the wells they discovered in Caspak, with
plenty of water and ample provisions, there is no reason why they
couldn't have negotiated the submerged tunnel beneath the barrier
cliffs and made good their escape."
"I don't like 'em," said the assistant secretary; "but
got to hand it to 'em."
"Yes," I growled, "and there's nothing I'd enjoy more
than _handing it
to them_!" And then the telephone-bell rang.
The assistant secretary answered, and as I watched him, I saw his jaw
drop and his face go white. "My God!" he exclaimed as he hung
receiver as one in a trance. "It can't be!"
"What?" I asked.
"Mr. Tyler is dead," he answered in a dull voice. "He
died at sea,
The next ten days were occupied in burying Mr. Bowen J. Tyler, Sr., and
arranging plans for the succor of his son. Mr. Tom Billings, the late
Mr. Tyler's secretary, did it all. He is force, energy, initiative and
good judgment combined and personified. I never have beheld a more
dynamic young man. He handled lawyers, courts and executors as a
sculptor handles his modeling clay. He formed, fashioned and forced
them to his will. He had been a classmate of Bowen Tyler at college,
and a fraternity brother, and before that he had been an impoverished
and improvident cow-puncher on one of the great Tyler ranches. Tyler,
Sr., had picked him out of thousands of employees and made him; or
rather Tyler had given him the opportunity, and then Billings had made
himself. Tyler, Jr., as good a judge of men as his father, had taken
him into his friendship, and between the two of them they had turned
out a man who would have died for a Tyler as quickly as he would have
for his flag. Yet there was none of the sycophant or fawner in
Billings; ordinarily I do not wax enthusiastic about men, but this man
Billings comes as close to my conception of what a regular man should
be as any I have ever met. I venture to say that before Bowen J. Tyler
sent him to college he had never heard the word _ethics_, and yet I am
equally sure that in all his life he never has transgressed a single
tenet of the code of ethics of an American gentleman.
Ten days after they brought Mr. Tyler's body off the _Toreador_, we
steamed out into the Pacific in search of Caprona. There were forty in
the party, including the master and crew of the _Toreador_; and Billings
the indomitable was in command. We had a long and uninteresting search
for Caprona, for the old map upon which the assistant secretary had
finally located it was most inaccurate. When its grim walls finally
rose out of the ocean's mists before us, we were so far south that it
was a question as to whether we were in the South Pacific or the
Antarctic. Bergs were numerous, and it was very cold.
All during the trip Billings had steadfastly evaded questions as to how
we were to enter Caspak after we had found Caprona. Bowen Tyler's
manuscript had made it perfectly evident to all that the subterranean
outlet of the Caspakian River was the only means of ingress or egress
to the crater world beyond the impregnable cliffs. Tyler's party had
been able to navigate this channel because their craft had been a
submarine; but the _Toreador_ could as easily have flown over the cliffs
as sailed under them. Jimmy Hollis and Colin Short whiled away many an
hour inventing schemes for surmounting the obstacle presented by the
barrier cliffs, and making ridiculous wagers as to which one Tom
Billings had in mind; but immediately we were all assured that we had
raised Caprona, Billings called us together.
"There was no use in talking about these things," he said,
found the island. At best it can be but conjecture on our part until
we have been able to scrutinize the coast closely. Each of us has
formed a mental picture of the Capronian seacoast from Bowen's
manuscript, and it is not likely that any two of these pictures
resemble each other, or that any of them resemble the coast as we shall
presently find it. I have in view three plans for scaling the cliffs,
and the means for carrying out each is in the hold. There is an
electric drill with plenty of waterproof cable to reach from the ship's
dynamos to the cliff-top when the _Toreador_ is anchored at a safe
distance from shore, and there is sufficient half-inch iron rod to
build a ladder from the base to the top of the cliff. It would be a
long, arduous and dangerous work to bore the holes and insert the rungs
of the ladder from the bottom upward; yet it can be done.
"I also have a life-saving mortar with which we might be able to
a line over the summit of the cliffs; but this plan would necessitate
one of us climbing to the top with the chances more than even that the
line would cut at the summit, or the hooks at the upper end would slip.
"My third plan seems to me the most feasible. You all saw a number
large, heavy boxes lowered into the hold before we sailed. I know you
did, because you asked me what they contained and commented upon the
large letter 'H' which was painted upon each box. These boxes contain
the various parts of a hydro-aeroplane. I purpose assembling this upon
the strip of beach described in Bowen's manuscript--the beach where he
found the dead body of the apelike man--provided there is sufficient
space above high water; otherwise we shall have to assemble it on deck
and lower it over the side. After it is assembled, I shall carry
tackle and ropes to the cliff-top, and then it will be comparatively
simple to hoist the search-party and its supplies in safety. Or I can
make a sufficient number of trips to land the entire party in the
valley beyond the barrier; all will depend, of course, upon what my
first reconnaissance reveals."
That afternoon we steamed slowly along the face of Caprona's towering
"You see now," remarked Billings as we craned our necks to
summit thousands of feet above us, "how futile it would have been to
waste our time in working out details of a plan to surmount those."
he jerked his thumb toward the cliffs. "It would take weeks, possibly
months, to construct a ladder to the top. I had no conception of their
formidable height. Our mortar would not carry a line halfway to the
crest of the lowest point. There is no use discussing any plan other
than the hydro-aeroplane. We'll find the beach and get busy."
Late the following morning the lookout announced that he could discern
surf about a mile ahead; and as we approached, we all saw the line of
breakers broken by a long sweep of rolling surf upon a narrow beach.
The launch was lowered, and five of us made a landing, getting a good
ducking in the ice-cold waters in the doing of it; but we were rewarded
by the finding of the clean-picked bones of what might have been the
skeleton of a high order of ape or a very low order of man, lying close
to the base of the cliff. Billings was satisfied, as were the rest of
us, that this was the beach mentioned by Bowen, and we further found
that there was ample room to assemble the sea-plane.
Billings, having arrived at a decision, lost no time in acting, with
the result that before mid-afternoon we had landed all the large boxes
marked "H" upon the beach, and were busily engaged in opening
Two days later the plane was assembled and tuned. We loaded tackles
and ropes, water, food and ammunition in it, and then we each implored
Billings to let us be the one to accompany him. But he would take no
one. That was Billings; if there was any especially difficult or
dangerous work to be done, that one man could do, Billings always did
it himself. If he needed assistance, he never called for
volunteers--just selected the man or men he considered best qualified
for the duty. He said that he considered the principles underlying all
volunteer service fundamentally wrong, and that it seemed to him that
calling for volunteers reflected upon the courage and loyalty of the
We rolled the plane down to the water's edge, and Billings mounted the
pilot's seat. There was a moment's delay as he assured himself that he
had everything necessary. Jimmy Hollis went over his armament and
ammunition to see that nothing had been omitted. Besides pistol and
rifle, there was the machine-gun mounted in front of him on the plane,
and ammunition for all three. Bowen's account of the terrors of Caspak
had impressed us all with the necessity for proper means of defense.
At last all was ready. The motor was started, and we pushed the plane
out into the surf. A moment later, and she was skimming seaward.
Gently she rose from the surface of the water, executed a wide spiral
as she mounted rapidly, circled once far above us and then disappeared
over the crest of the cliffs. We all stood silent and expectant, our
eyes glued upon the towering summit above us. Hollis, who was now in
command, consulted his wrist-watch at frequent intervals.
"Gad," exclaimed Short, "we ought to be hearing from him
Hollis laughed nervously. "He's been gone only ten minutes,"
"Seems like an hour," snapped Short. "What's that? Did
you hear that?
He's firing! It's the machine-gun! Oh, Lord; and here we are as
helpless as a lot of old ladies ten thousand miles away! We can't do a
thing. We don't know what's happening. Why didn't he let one of us go
Yes, it was the machine-gun. We would hear it distinctly for at least
a minute. Then came silence. That was two weeks ago. We have had no
sign nor signal from Tom Billings since.
I'll never forget my first impressions of Caspak as I circled in, high
over the surrounding cliffs. From the plane I looked down through a
mist upon the blurred landscape beneath me. The hot, humid atmosphere
of Caspak condenses as it is fanned by the cold Antarctic air-currents
which sweep across the crater's top, sending a tenuous ribbon of vapor
far out across the Pacific. Through this the picture gave one the
suggestion of a colossal impressionistic canvas in greens and browns
and scarlets and yellows surrounding the deep blue of the inland
sea--just blobs of color taking form through the tumbling mist.
I dived close to the cliffs and skirted them for several miles without
finding the least indication of a suitable landing-place; and then I
swung back at a lower level, looking for a clearing close to the bottom
of the mighty escarpment; but I could find none of sufficient area to
insure safety. I was flying pretty low by this time, not only looking
for landing places but watching the myriad life beneath me. I was down
pretty well toward the south end of the island, where an arm of the
lake reaches far inland, and I could see the surface of the water
literally black with creatures of some sort. I was too far up to
recognize individuals, but the general impression was of a vast army of
amphibious monsters. The land was almost equally alive with crawling,
leaping, running, flying things. It was one of the latter which nearly
did for me while my attention was fixed upon the weird scene below.
The first intimation I had of it was the sudden blotting out of the
sunlight from above, and as I glanced quickly up, I saw a most terrific
creature swooping down upon me. It must have been fully eighty feet
long from the end of its long, hideous beak to the tip of its thick,
short tail, with an equal spread of wings. It was coming straight for
me and hissing frightfully--I could hear it above the whir of the
propeller. It was coming straight down toward the muzzle of the
machine-gun and I let it have it right in the breast; but still it came
for me, so that I had to dive and turn, though I was dangerously close
The thing didn't miss me by a dozen feet, and when I rose, it wheeled
and followed me, but only to the cooler air close to the level of the
cliff-tops; there it turned again and dropped. Something--man's
natural love of battle and the chase, I presume--impelled me to pursue
it, and so I too circled and dived. The moment I came down into the
warm atmosphere of Caspak, the creature came for me again, rising above
me so that it might swoop down upon me. Nothing could better have
suited my armament, since my machine-gun was pointed upward at an angle
of about 45 degrees and could not be either depressed or elevated by the
pilot. If I had brought someone along with me, we could have raked the
great reptile from almost any position, but as the creature's mode of
attack was always from above, he always found me ready with a hail of
bullets. The battle must have lasted a minute or more before the thing
suddenly turned completely over in the air and fell to the ground.
Bowen and I roomed together at college, and I learned a lot from him
outside my regular course. He was a pretty good scholar despite his
love of fun, and his particular hobby was paleontology. He used to
tell me about the various forms of animal and vegetable life which had
covered the globe during former eras, and so I was pretty well
acquainted with the fishes, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals of
paleolithic times. I knew that the thing that had attacked me was some
sort of pterodactyl which should have been extinct millions of years
ago. It was all that I needed to realize that Bowen had exaggerated
nothing in his manuscript.
Having disposed of my first foe, I set myself once more to search for
landing-place near to the base of the cliffs beyond which my party
awaited me. I knew how anxious they would be for word from me, and I
was equally anxious to relieve their minds and also to get them and our
supplies well within Caspak, so that we might set off about our
business of finding and rescuing Bowen Tyler; but the pterodactyl's
carcass had scarcely fallen before I was surrounded by at least a dozen
of the hideous things, some large, some small, but all bent upon my
destruction. I could not cope with them all, and so I rose rapidly
from among them to the cooler strata wherein they dared not follow; and
then I recalled that Bowen's narrative distinctly indicated that the
farther north one traveled in Caspak, the fewer were the terrible
reptiles which rendered human life impossible at the southern end of
There seemed nothing now but to search out a more northerly
landing-place and then return to the _Toreador_ and transport my
companions, two by two, over the cliffs and deposit them at the
rendezvous. As I flew north, the temptation to explore overcame me. I
knew that I could easily cover Caspak and return to the beach with less
petrol than I had in my tanks; and there was the hope, too, that I
might find Bowen or some of his party. The broad expanse of the inland
sea lured me out over its waters, and as I crossed, I saw at either
extremity of the great body of water an island--one to the south and
one to the north; but I did not alter my course to examine either
closely, leaving that to a later time.
The further shore of the sea revealed a much narrower strip of land
between the cliffs and the water than upon the western side; but it was
a hillier and more open country. There were splendid landing-places,
and in the distance, toward the north, I thought I descried a village;
but of that I was not positive. However, as I approached the land, I
saw a number of human figures apparently pursuing one who fled across a
broad expanse of meadow. As I dropped lower to have a better look at
these people, they caught the whirring of my propellers and looked
aloft. They paused an instant--pursuers and pursued; and then they
broke and raced for the shelter of the nearest wood. Almost
instantaneously a huge bulk swooped down upon me, and as I looked up, I
realized that there were flying reptiles even in this part of Caspak.
The creature dived for my right wing so quickly that nothing but a
sheer drop could have saved me. I was already close to the ground, so
that my maneuver was extremely dangerous; but I was in a fair way of
making it successfully when I saw that I was too closely approaching a
large tree. My effort to dodge the tree and the pterodactyl at the
same time resulted disastrously. One wing touched an upper branch; the
plane tipped and swung around, and then, out of control, dashed into
the branches of the tree, where it came to rest, battered and torn,
forty feet above the ground.
Hissing loudly, the huge reptile swept close above the tree in which
plane had lodged, circled twice over me and then flapped away toward
the south. As I guessed then and was to learn later, forests are the
surest sanctuary from these hideous creatures, which, with their
enormous spread of wing and their great weight, are as much out of
place among trees as is a seaplane.
For a minute or so I clung there to my battered flyer, now useless
beyond redemption, my brain numbed by the frightful catastrophe that
had befallen me. All my plans for the succor of Bowen and Miss La Rue
had depended upon this craft, and in a few brief minutes my own selfish
love of adventure had wrecked their hopes and mine. And what effect it
might have upon the future of the balance of the rescuing expedition I
could not even guess. Their lives, too, might be sacrificed to my
suicidal foolishness. That I was doomed seemed inevitable; but I can
honestly say that the fate of my friends concerned me more greatly than
did my own.
Beyond the barrier cliffs my party was even now nervously awaiting my
return. Presently apprehension and fear would claim them--and they
would never know! They would attempt to scale the cliffs--of that I
was sure; but I was not so positive that they would succeed; and after
a while they would turn back, what there were left of them, and go
sadly and mournfully upon their return journey to home. Home! I set
my jaws and tried to forget the word, for I knew that I should never
again see home.
And what of Bowen and his girl? I had doomed them too. They would
never even know that an attempt had been made to rescue them. If they
still lived, they might some day come upon the ruined remnants of this
great plane hanging in its lofty sepulcher and hazard vain guesses and
be filled with wonder; but they would never know; and I could not but
be glad that they would not know that Tom Billings had sealed their
death-warrants by his criminal selfishness.
All these useless regrets were getting me in a bad way; but at last I
shook myself and tried to put such things out of my mind and take hold
of conditions as they existed and do my level best to wrest victory
from defeat. I was badly shaken up and bruised, but considered myself
mighty lucky to escape with my life. The plane hung at a precarious
angle, so that it was with difficulty and considerable danger that I
climbed from it into the tree and then to the ground.
My predicament was grave. Between me and my friends lay an inland sea
fully sixty miles wide at this point and an estimated land-distance of
some three hundred miles around the northern end of the sea, through
such hideous dangers as I am perfectly free to admit had me pretty well
buffaloed. I had seen quite enough of Caspak this day to assure me
that Bowen had in no way exaggerated its perils. As a matter of fact,
I am inclined to believe that he had become so accustomed to them
before he started upon his manuscript that he rather slighted them. As
I stood there beneath that tree--a tree which should have been part of
a coal-bed countless ages since--and looked out across a sea teeming
with frightful life--life which should have been fossil before God
conceived of Adam--I would not have given a minim of stale beer for my
chances of ever seeing my friends or the outside world again; yet then
and there I swore to fight my way as far through this hideous land as
circumstances would permit. I had plenty of ammunition, an automatic
pistol and a heavy rifle--the latter one of twenty added to our
equipment on the strength of Bowen's description of the huge beasts of
prey which ravaged Caspak. My greatest danger lay in the hideous
reptilia whose low nervous organizations permitted their carnivorous
instincts to function for several minutes after they had ceased to live.
But to these things I gave less thought than to the sudden frustration
of all our plans. With the bitterest of thoughts I condemned myself
for the foolish weakness that had permitted me to be drawn from the
main object of my flight into premature and useless exploration. It
seemed to me then that I must be totally eliminated from further search
for Bowen, since, as I estimated it, the three hundred miles of
Caspakian territory I must traverse to reach the base of the cliffs
beyond which my party awaited me were practically impassable for a
single individual unaccustomed to Caspakian life and ignorant of all
that lay before him. Yet I could not give up hope entirely. My duty
lay clear before me; I must follow it while life remained to me, and so
I set forth toward the north.
The country through which I took my way was as lovely as it was
unusual--I had almost said unearthly, for the plants, the trees, the
blooms were not of the earth that I knew. They were larger, the colors
more brilliant and the shapes startling, some almost to grotesqueness,
though even such added to the charm and romance of the landscape as the
giant cacti render weirdly beautiful the waste spots of the sad Mohave.
And over all the sun shone huge and round and red, a monster sun above
a monstrous world, its light dispersed by the humid air of Caspak--the
warm, moist air which lies sluggish upon the breast of this great
mother of life, Nature's mightiest incubator.
All about me, in every direction, was life. It moved through the
tree-tops and among the boles; it displayed itself in widening and
intermingling circles upon the bosom of the sea; it leaped from the
depths; I could hear it in a dense wood at my right, the murmur of it
rising and falling in ceaseless volumes of sound, riven at intervals by
a horrid scream or a thunderous roar which shook the earth; and always
I was haunted by that inexplicable sensation that unseen eyes were
watching me, that soundless feet dogged my trail. I am neither nervous
nor highstrung; but the burden of responsibility upon me weighed
heavily, so that I was more cautious than is my wont. I turned often
to right and left and rear lest I be surprised, and I carried my rifle
at the ready in my hand. Once I could have sworn that among the many
creatures dimly perceived amidst the shadows of the wood I saw a human
figure dart from one cover to another, but I could not be sure.
For the most part I skirted the wood, making occasional detours rather
than enter those forbidding depths of gloom, though many times I was
forced to pass through arms of the forest which extended to the very
shore of the inland sea. There was so sinister a suggestion in the
uncouth sounds and the vague glimpses of moving things within the
forest, of the menace of strange beasts and possibly still stranger
men, that I always breathed more freely when I had passed once more
into open country.
I had traveled northward for perhaps an hour, still haunted by the
conviction that I was being stalked by some creature which kept always
hidden among the trees and shrubbery to my right and a little to my
rear, when for the hundredth time I was attracted by a sound from that
direction, and turning, saw some animal running rapidly through the
forest toward me. There was no longer any effort on its part at
concealment; it came on through the underbrush swiftly, and I was
confident that whatever it was, it had finally gathered the courage to
charge me boldly. Before it finally broke into plain view, I became
aware that it was not alone, for a few yards in its rear a second thing
thrashed through the leafy jungle. Evidently I was to be attacked in
force by a pair of hunting beasts or men.
And then through the last clump of waving ferns broke the figure of the
foremost creature, which came leaping toward me on light feet as I
stood with my rifle to my shoulder covering the point at which I had
expected it would emerge. I must have looked foolish indeed if my
surprise and consternation were in any way reflected upon my
countenance as I lowered my rifle and gazed incredulous at the lithe
figure of the girl speeding swiftly in my direction. But I did not
have long to stand thus with lowered weapon, for as she came, I saw her
cast an affrighted glance over her shoulder, and at the same moment
there broke from the jungle at the same spot at which I had seen her,
the hugest cat I had ever looked upon.
At first I took the beast for a saber-tooth tiger, as it was quite the
most fearsome-appearing beast one could imagine; but it was not that
dread monster of the past, though quite formidable enough to satisfy
the most fastidious thrill-hunter. On it came, grim and terrible, its
baleful eyes glaring above its distended jaws, its lips curled in a
frightful snarl which exposed a whole mouthful of formidable teeth. At
sight of me it had abandoned its impetuous rush and was now sneaking
slowly toward us; while the girl, a long knife in her hand, took her
stand bravely at my left and a little to my rear. She had called
something to me in a strange tongue as she raced toward me, and now she
spoke again; but what she said I could not then, of course, know--only
that her tones were sweet, well modulated and free from any suggestion
Facing the huge cat, which I now saw was an enormous panther, I waited
until I could place a shot where I felt it would do the most good, for
at best a frontal shot at any of the large carnivora is a ticklish
matter. I had some advantage in that the beast was not charging; its
head was held low and its back exposed; and so at forty yards I took
careful aim at its spine at the junction of neck and shoulders. But at
the same instant, as though sensing my intention, the great creature
lifted its head and leaped forward in full charge. To fire at that
sloping forehead I knew would be worse than useless, and so I quickly
shifted my aim and pulled the trigger, hoping against hope that the
soft-nosed bullet and the heavy charge of powder would have sufficient
stopping effect to give me time to place a second shot.
In answer to the report of the rifle I had the satisfaction of seeing
the brute spring into the air, turning a complete somersault; but it
was up again almost instantly, though in the brief second that it took
it to scramble to its feet and get its bearings, it exposed its left
side fully toward me, and a second bullet went crashing through its
heart. Down it went for the second time--and then up and at me. The
vitality of these creatures of Caspak is one of the marvelous features
of this strange world and bespeaks the low nervous organization of the
old paleolithic life which has been so long extinct in other portions
of the world.
I put a third bullet into the beast at three paces, and then I thought
that I was done for; but it rolled over and stopped at my feet, stone
dead. I found that my second bullet had torn its heart almost
completely away, and yet it had lived to charge ferociously upon me,
and but for my third shot would doubtless have slain me before it
finally expired--or as Bowen Tyler so quaintly puts it, before it knew
that it was dead.
With the panther quite evidently conscious of the fact that dissolution
had overtaken it, I turned toward the girl, who was regarding me with
evident admiration and not a little awe, though I must admit that my
rifle claimed quite as much of her attention as did I. She was quite
the most wonderful animal that I have ever looked upon, and what few of
her charms her apparel hid, it quite effectively succeeded in
accentuating. A bit of soft, undressed leather was caught over her
left shoulder and beneath her right breast, falling upon her left side
to her hip and upon the right to a metal band which encircled her leg
above the knee and to which the lowest point of the hide was attached.
About her waist was a loose leather belt, to the center of which was
attached the scabbard belonging to her knife. There was a single
armlet between her right shoulder and elbow, and a series of them
covered her left forearm from elbow to wrist. These, I learned later,
answered the purpose of a shield against knife attack when the left arm
is raised in guard across the breast or face.
Her masses of heavy hair were held in place by a broad metal band which
bore a large triangular ornament directly in the center of her
forehead. This ornament appeared to be a huge turquoise, while the
metal of all her ornaments was beaten, virgin gold, inlaid in intricate
design with bits of mother-of-pearl and tiny pieces of stone of various
colors. From the left shoulder depended a leopard's tail, while her
feet were shod with sturdy little sandals. The knife was her only
weapon. Its blade was of iron, the grip was wound with hide and
protected by a guard of three out-bowing strips of flat iron, and upon
the top of the hilt was a knob of gold.
I took in much of this in the few seconds during which we stood facing
each other, and I also observed another salient feature of her
appearance: she was frightfully dirty! Her face and limbs and garment
were streaked with mud and perspiration, and yet even so, I felt that I
had never looked upon so perfect and beautiful a creature as she. Her
figure beggars description, and equally so, her face. Were I one of
these writer-fellows, I should probably say that her features were
Grecian, but being neither a writer nor a poet I can do her greater
justice by saying that she combined all of the finest lines that one
sees in the typical American girl's face rather than the pronounced
sheeplike physiognomy of the Greek goddess. No, even the dirt couldn't
hide that fact; she was beautiful beyond compare.
As we stood looking at each other, a slow smile came to her face,
parting her symmetrical lips and disclosing a row of strong white teeth.
"Galu?" she asked with rising inflection.
And remembering that I read in Bowen's manuscript that Galu seemed to
indicate a higher type of man, I answered by pointing to myself and
repeating the word. Then she started off on a regular catechism, if I
could judge by her inflection, for I certainly understood no word of
what she said. All the time the girl kept glancing toward the forest,
and at last she touched my arm and pointed in that direction.
Turning, I saw a hairy figure of a manlike thing standing watching us,
and presently another and another emerged from the jungle and joined
the leader until there must have been at least twenty of them. They
were entirely naked. Their bodies were covered with hair, and though
they stood upon their feet without touching their hands to the ground,
they had a very ape-like appearance, since they stooped forward and had
very long arms and quite apish features. They were not pretty to look
upon with their close-set eyes, flat noses, long upper lips and
protruding yellow fangs.
"_Alus_!" said the girl.
I had reread Bowen's adventures so often that I knew them almost by
heart, and so now I knew that I was looking upon the last remnant of
that ancient man-race--the Alus of a forgotten period--the speechless
man of antiquity.
"_Kazor_!" cried the girl, and at the same moment the Alus
toward us. They made strange growling, barking noises, as with much
baring of fangs they advanced upon us. They were armed only with
nature's weapons--powerful muscles and giant fangs; yet I knew that
these were quite sufficient to overcome us had we nothing better to
offer in defense, and so I drew my pistol and fired at the leader. He
dropped like a stone, and the others turned and fled. Once again the
girl smiled her slow smile and stepping closer, caressed the barrel of
my automatic. As she did so, her fingers came in contact with mine,
and a sudden thrill ran through me, which I attributed to the fact that
it had been so long since I had seen a woman of any sort or kind.
She said something to me in her low, liquid tones; but I could not
understand her, and then she pointed toward the north and started away.
I followed her, for my way was north too; but had it been south I still
should have followed, so hungry was I for human companionship in this
world of beasts and reptiles and half-men.
We walked along, the girl talking a great deal and seeming mystified
that I could not understand her. Her silvery laugh rang merrily when I
in turn essayed to speak to her, as though my language was the
quaintest thing she ever had heard. Often after fruitless attempts to
make me understand she would hold her palm toward me, saying, "_Galu_!"
and then touch my breast or arm and cry, "_Alu_, _alu_!" I knew
meant, for I had learned from Bowen's narrative the negative gesture
and the two words which she repeated. She meant that I was no Galu, as
I claimed, but an Alu, or speechless one. Yet every time she said this
she laughed again, and so infectious were her tones that I could only
join her. It was only natural, too, that she should be mystified by my
inability to comprehend her or to make her comprehend me, for from the
club-men, the lowest human type in Caspak to have speech, to the golden
race of Galus, the tongues of the various tribes are identical--except
for amplifications in the rising scale of evolution. She, who is a
Galu, can understand one of the Bo-lu and make herself understood to
him, or to a hatchet-man, a spear-man or an archer. The Ho-lus, or
apes, the Alus and myself were the only creatures of human semblance
with which she could hold no converse; yet it was evident that her
intelligence told her that I was neither Ho-lu nor Alu, neither
anthropoid ape nor speechless man.
Yet she did not despair, but set out to teach me her language; and had
it not been that I worried so greatly over the fate of Bowen and my
companions of the _Toreador_, I could have wished the period of
I never have been what one might call a ladies' man, though I like
their company immensely, and during my college days and since have made
various friends among the sex. I think that I rather appeal to a
certain type of girl for the reason that I never make love to them; I
leave that to the numerous others who do it infinitely better than I
could hope to, and take my pleasure out of girls' society in what seem
to be more rational ways--dancing, golfing, boating, riding, tennis,
and the like. Yet in the company of this half-naked little savage I
found a new pleasure that was entirely distinct from any that I ever
had experienced. When she touched me, I thrilled as I had never before
thrilled in contact with another woman. I could not quite understand
it, for I am sufficiently sophisticated to know that this is a symptom
of love and I certainly did not love this filthy little barbarian with
her broken, unkempt nails and her skin so besmeared with mud and the
green of crushed foliage that it was difficult to say what color it
originally had been. But if she was outwardly uncouth, her clear eyes
and strong white, even teeth, her silvery laugh and her queenly
carriage, bespoke an innate fineness which dirt could not quite
The sun was low in the heavens when we came upon a little river which
emptied into a large bay at the foot of low cliffs. Our journey so far
had been beset with constant danger, as is every journey in this
frightful land. I have not bored you with a recital of the wearying
successions of attacks by the multitude of creatures which were
constantly crossing our path or deliberately stalking us. We were
always upon the alert; for here, to paraphrase, eternal vigilance is
indeed the price of life.
I had managed to progress a little in the acquisition of a knowledge
her tongue, so that I knew many of the animals and reptiles by their
Caspakian names, and trees and ferns and grasses. I knew the words for
_sea_ and _river_ and _cliff_, for _sky_ and _sun_ and _cloud_. Yes, I
along finely, and then it occurred to me that I didn't know my
companion's name; so I pointed to myself and said, "Tom," and
and raised my eyebrows in interrogation. The girl ran her fingers into
that mass of hair and looked puzzled. I repeated the action a dozen
"Tom," she said finally in that clear, sweet, liquid voice.
I had never thought much of my name before; but when she spoke it, it
sounded to me for the first time in my life like a mighty nice name,
and then she brightened suddenly and tapped her own breast and said:
"Ajor!" I repeated, and she laughed and struck her palms together.
Well, we knew each other's names now, and that was some satisfaction.
I rather liked hers--Ajor! And she seemed to like mine, for she
We came to the cliffs beside the little river where it empties into the
bay with the great inland sea beyond. The cliffs were weather-worn and
rotted, and in one place a deep hollow ran back beneath the overhanging
stone for several feet, suggesting shelter for the night. There were
loose rocks strewn all about with which I might build a barricade
across the entrance to the cave, and so I halted there and pointed out
the place to Ajor, trying to make her understand that we would spend
the night there.
As soon as she grasped my meaning, she assented with the Caspakian
equivalent of an affirmative nod, and then touching my rifle, motioned
me to follow her to the river. At the bank she paused, removed her
belt and dagger, dropping them to the ground at her side; then
unfastening the lower edge of her garment from the metal leg-band to
which it was attached, slipped it off her left shoulder and let it drop
to the ground around her feet. It was done so naturally, so simply and
so quickly that it left me gasping like a fish out of water. Turning,
she flashed a smile at me and then dived into the river, and there she
bathed while I stood guard over her. For five or ten minutes she
splashed about, and when she emerged her glistening skin was smooth and
white and beautiful. Without means of drying herself, she simply
ignored what to me would have seemed a necessity, and in a moment was
arrayed in her simple though effective costume.
It was now within an hour of darkness, and as I was nearly famished,
led the way back about a quarter of a mile to a low meadow where we had
seen antelope and small horses a short time before. Here I brought
down a young buck, the report of my rifle sending the balance of the
herd scampering for the woods, where they were met by a chorus of
hideous roars as the carnivora took advantage of their panic and leaped
With my hunting-knife I removed a hind-quarter, and then we returned
camp. Here I gathered a great quantity of wood from fallen trees, Ajor
helping me; but before I built a fire, I also gathered sufficient loose
rock to build my barricade against the frightful terrors of the night
I shall never forget the expression upon Ajor's face as she saw me
strike a match and light the kindling beneath our camp-fire. It was
such an expression as might transform a mortal face with awe as its
owner beheld the mysterious workings of divinity. It was evident that
Ajor was quite unfamiliar with modern methods of fire-making. She had
thought my rifle and pistol wonderful; but these tiny slivers of wood
which from a magic rub brought flame to the camp hearth were indeed
miracles to her.
As the meat roasted above the fire, Ajor and I tried once again to
talk; but though copiously filled with incentive, gestures and sounds,
the conversation did not flourish notably. And then Ajor took up in
earnest the task of teaching me her language. She commenced, as I
later learned, with the simplest form of speech known to Caspak or for
that matter to the world--that employed by the Bo-lu. I found it far
from difficult, and even though it was a great handicap upon my
instructor that she could not speak my language, she did remarkably
well and demonstrated that she possessed ingenuity and intelligence of
a high order.
After we had eaten, I added to the pile of firewood so that I could
replenish the fire before the entrance to our barricade, believing this
as good a protection against the carnivora as we could have; and then
Ajor and I sat down before it, and the lesson proceeded, while from all
about us came the weird and awesome noises of the Caspakian night--the
moaning and the coughing and roaring of the tigers, the panthers and
the lions, the barking and the dismal howling of a wolf, jackal and
hyaenadon, the shrill shrieks of stricken prey and the hissing of the
great reptiles; the voice of man alone was silent.
But though the voice of this choir-terrible rose and fell from far and
near in all directions, reaching at time such a tremendous volume of
sound that the earth shook to it, yet so engrossed was I in my lesson
and in my teacher that often I was deaf to what at another time would
have filled me with awe. The face and voice of the beautiful girl who
leaned so eagerly toward me as she tried to explain the meaning of some
word or correct my pronunciation of another quite entirely occupied my
every faculty of perception. The firelight shone upon her animated
features and sparkling eyes; it accentuated the graceful motions of her
gesturing arms and hands; it sparkled from her white teeth and from her
golden ornaments, and glistened on the smooth firmness of her perfect
skin. I am afraid that often I was more occupied with admiration of
this beautiful animal than with a desire for knowledge; but be that as
it may, I nevertheless learned much that evening, though part of what I
learned had naught to do with any new language.
Ajor seemed determined that I should speak Caspakian as quickly as
possible, and I thought I saw in her desire a little of that
all-feminine trait which has come down through all the ages from the
first lady of the world--curiosity. Ajor desired that I should speak
her tongue in order that she might satisfy a curiosity concerning me
that was filling her to a point where she was in danger of bursting; of
that I was positive. She was a regular little animated question-mark.
She bubbled over with interrogations which were never to be satisfied
unless I learned to speak her tongue. Her eyes sparkled with
excitement; her hand flew in expressive gestures; her little tongue
raced with time; yet all to no avail. I could say _man_ and _tree_ and
_cliff_ and _lion_ and a number of other words in perfect Caspakian; but
such a vocabulary was only tantalizing; it did not lend itself well to
a very general conversation, and the result was that Ajor would wax so
wroth that she would clench her little fists and beat me on the breast
as hard as ever she could, and then she would sink back laughing as the
humor of the situation captured her.
She was trying to teach me some verbs by going through the actions
herself as she repeated the proper word. We were very much
engrossed--so much so that we were giving no heed to what went on
beyond our cave--when Ajor stopped very suddenly, crying: "_Kazor_!"
she had been trying to teach me that _ju_ meant _stop_; so when she cried
_kazor_ and at the same time stopped, I thought for a moment that this
was part of my lesson--for the moment I forgot that _kazor_ means _beware_.
I therefore repeated the word after her; but when I saw the expression
in her eyes as they were directed past me and saw her point toward the
entrance to the cave, I turned quickly--to see a hideous face at the
small aperture leading out into the night. It was the fierce and
snarling countenance of a gigantic bear. I have hunted silvertips in
the White Mountains of Arizona and thought them quite the largest and
most formidable of big game; but from the appearance of the head of
this awful creature I judged that the largest grizzly I had ever seen
would shrink by comparison to the dimensions of a Newfoundland dog.
Our fire was just within the cave, the smoke rising through the
apertures between the rocks that I had piled in such a way that they
arched inward toward the cliff at the top. The opening by means of
which we were to reach the outside was barricaded with a few large
fragments which did not by any means close it entirely; but through the
apertures thus left no large animal could gain ingress. I had depended
most, however, upon our fire, feeling that none of the dangerous
nocturnal beasts of prey would venture close to the flames. In this,
however, I was quite evidently in error, for the great bear stood with
his nose not a foot from the blaze, which was now low, owing to the
fact that I had been so occupied with my lesson and my teacher that I
had neglected to replenish it.
Ajor whipped out her futile little knife and pointed to my rifle. At
the same time she spoke in a quite level voice entirely devoid of
nervousness or any evidence of fear or panic. I knew she was exhorting
me to fire upon the beast; but this I did not wish to do other than as
a last resort, for I was quite sure that even my heavy bullets would
not more than further enrage him--in which case he might easily force
an entrance to our cave.
Instead of firing, I piled some more wood upon the fire, and as the
smoke and blaze arose in the beast's face, it backed away, growling
most frightfully; but I still could see two ugly points of light
blazing in the outer darkness and hear its growls rumbling terrifically
without. For some time the creature stood there watching the entrance
to our frail sanctuary while I racked my brains in futile endeavor to
plan some method of defense or escape. I knew full well that should
the bear make a determined effort to get at us, the rocks I had piled
as a barrier would come tumbling down about his giant shoulders like a
house of cards, and that he would walk directly in upon us.
Ajor, having less knowledge of the effectiveness of firearms than I,
and therefore greater confidence in them, entreated me to shoot the
beast; but I knew that the chance that I could stop it with a single
shot was most remote, while that I should but infuriate it was real and
present; and so I waited for what seemed an eternity, watching those
devilish points of fire glaring balefully at us, and listening to the
ever-increasing volume of those seismic growls which seemed to rumble
upward from the bowels of the earth, shaking the very cliffs beneath
which we cowered, until at last I saw that the brute was again
approaching the aperture. It availed me nothing that I piled the blaze
high with firewood, until Ajor and I were near to roasting; on came
that mighty engine of destruction until once again the hideous face
yawned its fanged yawn directly within the barrier's opening. It stood
thus a moment, and then the head was withdrawn. I breathed a sigh of
relief, the thing had altered its intention and was going on in search
of other and more easily procurable prey; the fire had been too much
But my joy was short-lived, and my heart sank once again as a moment
later I saw a mighty paw insinuated into the opening--a paw as large
around as a large dishpan. Very gently the paw toyed with the great
rock that partly closed the entrance, pushed and pulled upon it and
then very deliberately drew it outward and to one side. Again came the
head, and this time much farther into the cavern; but still the great
shoulders would not pass through the opening. Ajor moved closer to me
until her shoulder touched my side, and I thought I felt a slight
tremor run through her body, but otherwise she gave no indication of
fear. Involuntarily I threw my left arm about her and drew her to me
for an instant. It was an act of reassurance rather than a caress,
though I must admit that again and even in the face of death I thrilled
at the contact with her; and then I released her and threw my rifle to
my shoulder, for at last I had reached the conclusion that nothing more
could be gained by waiting. My only hope was to get as many shots into
the creature as I could before it was upon me. Already it had torn
away a second rock and was in the very act of forcing its huge bulk
through the opening it had now made.
So now I took careful aim between its eyes; my right fingers closed
firmly and evenly upon the small of the stock, drawing back my
trigger-finger by the muscular action of the hand. The bullet could
not fail to hit its mark! I held my breath lest I swerve the muzzle a
hair by my breathing. I was as steady and cool as I ever had been upon
a target-range, and I had the full consciousness of a perfect hit in
anticipation; I knew that I could not miss. And then, as the bear
surged forward toward me, the hammer fell--futilely, upon an imperfect
Almost simultaneously I heard from without a perfectly hellish roar;
the bear gave voice to a series of growls far transcending in volume
and ferocity anything that he had yet essayed and at the same time
backed quickly from the cave. For an instant I couldn't understand
what had happened to cause this sudden retreat when his prey was
practically within his clutches. The idea that the harmless clicking
of the hammer had frightened him was too ridiculous to entertain.
However, we had not long to wait before we could at least guess at the
cause of the diversion, for from without came mingled growls and roars
and the sound of great bodies thrashing about until the earth shook.
The bear had been attacked in the rear by some other mighty beast, and
the two were now locked in a titanic struggle for supremacy. With
brief respites, during which we could hear the labored breathing of the
contestants, the battle continued for the better part of an hour until
the sounds of combat grew gradually less and finally ceased entirely.
At Ajor's suggestion, made by signs and a few of the words we knew in
common, I moved the fire directly to the entrance to the cave so that a
beast would have to pass directly through the flames to reach us, and
then we sat and waited for the victor of the battle to come and claim
his reward; but though we sat for a long time with our eyes glued to
the opening, we saw no sign of any beast.
At last I signed to Ajor to lie down, for I knew that she must have
sleep, and I sat on guard until nearly morning, when the girl awoke and
insisted that I take some rest; nor would she be denied, but dragged me
down as she laughingly menaced me with her knife.
When I awoke, it was daylight, and I found Ajor squatting before a fine
bed of coals roasting a large piece of antelope-meat. Believe me, the
sight of the new day and the delicious odor of the cooking meat filled
me with renewed happiness and hope that had been all but expunged by
the experience of the previous night; and perhaps the slender figure of
the bright-faced girl proved also a potent restorative. She looked up
and smiled at me, showing those perfect teeth, and dimpling with
evident happiness--the most adorable picture that I had ever seen. I
recall that it was then I first regretted that she was only a little
untutored savage and so far beneath me in the scale of evolution.
Her first act was to beckon me to follow her outside, and there she
pointed to the explanation of our rescue from the bear--a huge
saber-tooth tiger, its fine coat and its flesh torn to ribbons, lying
dead a few paces from our cave, and beside it, equally mangled, and
disemboweled, was the carcass of a huge cave-bear. To have had one's
life saved by a saber-tooth tiger, and in the twentieth century into
the bargain, was an experience that was to say the least unique; but it
had happened--I had the proof of it before my eyes.
So enormous are the great carnivora of Caspak that they must feed
perpetually to support their giant thews, and the result is that they
will eat the meat of any other creature and will attack anything that
comes within their ken, no matter how formidable the quarry. From
later observation--I mention this as worthy the attention of
paleontologists and naturalists--I came to the conclusion that such
creatures as the cave-bear, the cave-lion and the saber-tooth tiger, as
well as the larger carnivorous reptiles make, ordinarily, two kills a
day--one in the morning and one after night. They immediately devour
the entire carcass, after which they lie up and sleep for a few hours.
Fortunately their numbers are comparatively few; otherwise there would
be no other life within Caspak. It is their very voracity that keeps
their numbers down to a point which permits other forms of life to
persist, for even in the season of love the great males often turn upon
their own mates and devour them, while both males and females
occasionally devour their young. How the human and semihuman races
have managed to survive during all the countless ages that these
conditions must have existed here is quite beyond me.
After breakfast Ajor and I set out once more upon our northward
journey. We had gone but a little distance when we were attacked by a
number of apelike creatures armed with clubs. They seemed a little
higher in the scale than the Alus. Ajor told me they were Bo-lu, or
clubmen. A revolver-shot killed one and scattered the others; but
several times later during the day we were menaced by them, until we
had left their country and entered that of the Sto-lu, or hatchet-men.
These people were less hairy and more man-like; nor did they appear so
anxious to destroy us. Rather they were curious, and followed us for
some distance examining us most closely. They called out to us, and
Ajor answered them; but her replies did not seem to satisfy them, for
they gradually became threatening, and I think they were preparing to
attack us when a small deer that had been hiding in some low brush
suddenly broke cover and dashed across our front. We needed meat, for
it was near one o'clock and I was getting hungry; so I drew my pistol
and with a single shot dropped the creature in its tracks. The effect
upon the Bo-lu was electrical. Immediately they abandoned all thoughts
of war, and turning, scampered for the forest which fringed our path.
That night we spent beside a little stream in the Sto-lu country. We
found a tiny cave in the rock bank, so hidden away that only chance
could direct a beast of prey to it, and after we had eaten of the
deer-meat and some fruit which Ajor gathered, we crawled into the
little hole, and with sticks and stones which I had gathered for the
purpose I erected a strong barricade inside the entrance. Nothing
could reach us without swimming and wading through the stream, and I
felt quite secure from attack. Our quarters were rather cramped. The
ceiling was so low that we could not stand up, and the floor so narrow
that it was with difficulty that we both wedged into it together; but
we were very tired, and so we made the most of it; and so great was the
feeling of security that I am sure I fell asleep as soon as I had
stretched myself beside Ajor.
During the three days which followed, our progress was exasperatingly
slow. I doubt if we made ten miles in the entire three days. The
country was hideously savage, so that we were forced to spend hours at
a time in hiding from one or another of the great beasts which menaced
us continually. There were fewer reptiles; but the quantity of
carnivora seemed to have increased, and the reptiles that we did see
were perfectly gigantic. I shall never forget one enormous specimen
which we came upon browsing upon water-reeds at the edge of the great
sea. It stood well over twelve feet high at the rump, its highest
point, and with its enormously long tail and neck it was somewhere
between seventy-five and a hundred feet in length. Its head was
ridiculously small; its body was unarmored, but its great bulk gave it
a most formidable appearance. My experience of Caspakian life led me
to believe that the gigantic creature would but have to see us to
attack us, and so I raised my rifle and at the same time drew away
toward some brush which offered concealment; but Ajor only laughed, and
picking up a stick, ran toward the great thing, shouting. The little
head was raised high upon the long neck as the animal stupidly looked
here and there in search of the author of the disturbance. At last its
eyes discovered tiny little Ajor, and then she hurled the stick at the
diminutive head. With a cry that sounded not unlike the bleat of a
sheep, the colossal creature shuffled into the water and was soon
As I slowly recalled my collegiate studies and paleontological readings
in Bowen's textbooks, I realized that I had looked upon nothing less
than a diplodocus of the Upper Jurassic; but how infinitely different
was the true, live thing from the crude restorations of Hatcher and
Holland! I had had the idea that the diplodocus was a land-animal, but
evidently it is partially amphibious. I have seen several since my
first encounter, and in each case the creature took to the sea for
concealment as soon as it was disturbed. With the exception of its
gigantic tail, it has no weapon of defense; but with this appendage it
can lash so terrific a blow as to lay low even a giant cave-bear,
stunned and broken. It is a stupid, simple, gentle beast--one of the
few within Caspak which such a description might even remotely fit.
For three nights we slept in trees, finding no caves or other places
concealment. Here we were free from the attacks of the large land
carnivora; but the smaller flying reptiles, the snakes, leopards, and
panthers were a constant menace, though by no means as much to be
feared as the huge beasts that roamed the surface of the earth.
At the close of the third day Ajor and I were able to converse with
considerable fluency, and it was a great relief to both of us,
especially to Ajor. She now did nothing but ask questions whenever I
would let her, which could not be all the time, as our preservation
depended largely upon the rapidity with which I could gain knowledge of
the geography and customs of Caspak, and accordingly I had to ask
numerous questions myself.
I enjoyed immensely hearing and answering her, so naive were many of
her queries and so filled with wonder was she at the things I told her
of the world beyond the lofty barriers of Caspak; not once did she seem
to doubt me, however marvelous my statements must have seemed; and
doubtless they were the cause of marvel to Ajor, who before had never
dreamed that any life existed beyond Caspak and the life she knew.
Artless though many of her questions were, they evidenced a keen
intellect and a shrewdness which seemed far beyond her years or her
experience. Altogether I was finding my little savage a mighty
interesting and companionable person, and I often thanked the kind fate
that directed the crossing of our paths. From her I learned much of
Caspak, but there still remained the mystery that had proved so
baffling to Bowen Tyler--the total absence of young among the ape, the
semihuman and the human races with which both he and I had come in
contact upon opposite shores of the inland sea. Ajor tried to explain
the matter to me, though it was apparent that she could not conceive
how so natural a condition should demand explanation. She told me that
among the Galus there were a few babies, that she had once been a baby
but that most of her people "came up," as he put it, "_cor
sva jo_," or
literally, "from the beginning"; and as they all did when they
that phrase, she would wave a broad gesture toward the south.
"For long," she explained, leaning very close to me and whispering
words into my ear while she cast apprehensive glances about and mostly
skyward, "for long my mother kept me hidden lest the Wieroo, passing
through the air by night, should come and take me away to Oo-oh."
the child shuddered as she voiced the word. I tried to get her to tell
me more; but her terror was so real when she spoke of the Wieroo and
the land of Oo-oh where they dwell that I at last desisted, though I
did learn that the Wieroo carried off only female babes and
occasionally women of the Galus who had "come up from the beginning."
It was all very mysterious and unfathomable, but I got the idea that
the Wieroo were creatures of imagination--the demons or gods of her
race, omniscient and omnipresent. This led me to assume that the Galus
had a religious sense, and further questioning brought out the fact
that such was the case. Ajor spoke in tones of reverence of Luata, the
god of heat and life. The word is derived from two others: _Lua_,
meaning sun, and _ata_, meaning variously _eggs_, _life_, _young_, and
_reproduction_. She told me that they worshiped Luata in several forms,
as fire, the sun, eggs and other material objects which suggested heat
I had noticed that whenever I built a fire, Ajor outlined in the air
before her with a forefinger an isosceles triangle, and that she did
the same in the morning when she first viewed the sun. At first I had
not connected her act with anything in particular, but after we learned
to converse and she had explained a little of her religious
superstitions, I realized that she was making the sign of the triangle
as a Roman Catholic makes the sign of the cross. Always the short side
of the triangle was uppermost. As she explained all this to me, she
pointed to the decorations on her golden armlets, upon the knob of her
dagger-hilt and upon the band which encircled her right leg above the
knee--always was the design partly made up of isosceles triangles, and
when she explained the significance of this particular geometric
figure, I at once grasped its appropriateness.
We were now in the country of the Band-lu, the spearmen of Caspak.
Bowen had remarked in his narrative that these people were analogous to
the so-called Cro-Magnon race of the Upper Paleolithic, and I was
therefore very anxious to see them. Nor was I to be disappointed; I
saw them, all right! We had left the Sto-lu country and literally
fought our way through cordons of wild beasts for two days when we
decided to make camp a little earlier than usual, owing to the fact
that we had reached a line of cliffs running east and west in which
were numerous likely cave-lodgings. We were both very tired, and the
sight of these caverns, several of which could be easily barricaded,
decided us to halt until the following morning. It took but a few
minutes' exploration to discover one particular cavern high up the face
of the cliff which seemed ideal for our purpose. It opened upon a
narrow ledge where we could build our cook-fire; the opening was so
small that we had to lie flat and wriggle through it to gain ingress,
while the interior was high-ceiled and spacious. I lighted a faggot
and looked about; but as far as I could see, the chamber ran back into
Laying aside my rifle, pistol and heavy ammunition-belt, I left Ajor
the cave while I went down to gather firewood. We already had meat and
fruits which we had gathered just before reaching the cliffs, and my
canteen was filled with fresh water. Therefore, all we required was
fuel, and as I always saved Ajor's strength when I could, I would not
permit her to accompany me. The poor girl was very tired; but she
would have gone with me until she dropped, I know, so loyal was she.
She was the best comrade in the world, and sometimes I regretted and
sometimes I was glad that she was not of my own caste, for had she
been, I should unquestionably have fallen in love with her. As it was,
we traveled together like two boys, with huge respect for each other
but no softer sentiment.
There was little timber close to the base of the cliffs, and so I was
forced to enter the wood some two hundred yards distant. I realize now
how foolhardy was my act in such a land as Caspak, teeming with danger
and with death; but there is a certain amount of fool in every man; and
whatever proportion of it I own must have been in the ascendant that
day, for the truth of the matter is that I went down into those woods
absolutely defenseless; and I paid the price, as people usually do for
their indiscretions. As I searched around in the brush for likely
pieces of firewood, my head bowed and my eyes upon the ground, I
suddenly felt a great weight hurl itself upon me. I struggled to my
knees and seized my assailant, a huge, naked man--naked except for a
breechcloth of snakeskin, the head hanging down to the knees. The
fellow was armed with a stone-shod spear, a stone knife and a hatchet.
In his black hair were several gay-colored feathers. As we struggled
to and fro, I was slowly gaining advantage of him, when a score of his
fellows came running up and overpowered me.
They bound my hands behind me with long rawhide thongs and then
surveyed me critically. I found them fine-looking specimens of
manhood, for the most part. There were some among them who bore a
resemblance to the Sto-lu and were hairy; but the majority had massive
heads and not unlovely features. There was little about them to
suggest the ape, as in the Sto-lu, Bo-lu and Alus. I expected them to
kill me at once, but they did not. Instead they questioned me; but it
was evident that they did not believe my story, for they scoffed and
"The Galus have turned you out," they cried. "If you
go back to them,
you will die. If you remain here, you will die. We shall kill you;
but first we shall have a dance and you shall dance with us--the dance
It sounded quite reassuring! But I knew that I was not to be killed
immediately, and so I took heart. They led me toward the cliffs, and
as we approached them, I glanced up and was sure that I saw Ajor's
bright eyes peering down upon us from our lofty cave; but she gave no
sign if she saw me; and we passed on, rounded the end of the cliffs and
proceeded along the opposite face of them until we came to a section
literally honeycombed with caves. All about, upon the ground and
swarming the ledges before the entrances, were hundreds of members of
the tribe. There were many women but no babes or children, though I
noticed that the females had better developed breasts than any that I
had seen among the hatchet-men, the club-men, the Alus or the apes. In
fact, among the lower orders of Caspakian man the female breast is but
a rudimentary organ, barely suggested in the apes and Alus, and only a
little more defined in the Bo-lu and Sto-lu, though always increasingly
so until it is found about half developed in the females of the
spear-men; yet never was there an indication that the females had
suckled young; nor were there any young among them. Some of the
Band-lu women were quite comely. The figures of all, both men and
women, were symmetrical though heavy, and though there were some who
verged strongly upon the Sto-lu type, there were others who were
positively handsome and whose bodies were quite hairless. The Alus are
all bearded, but among the Bo-lu the beard disappears in the women.
The Sto-lu men show a sparse beard, the Band-lu none; and there is
little hair upon the bodies of their women.
The members of the tribe showed great interest in me, especially in my
clothing, the like of which, of course, they never had seen. They
pulled and hauled upon me, and some of them struck me; but for the most
part they were not inclined to brutality. It was only the hairier
ones, who most closely resembled the Sto-lu, who maltreated me. At
last my captors led me into a great cave in the mouth of which a fire
was burning. The floor was littered with filth, including the bones of
many animals, and the atmosphere reeked with the stench of human bodies
and putrefying flesh. Here they fed me, releasing my arms, and I ate
of half-cooked aurochs steak and a stew which may have been made of
snakes, for many of the long, round pieces of meat suggested them most
The meal completed, they led me well within the cavern, which they
lighted with torches stuck in various crevices in the light of which I
saw, to my astonishment, that the walls were covered with paintings and
etchings. There were aurochs, red deer, saber-tooth tiger, cave-bear,
hyaenadon and many other examples of the fauna of Caspak done in
colors, usually of four shades of brown, or scratched upon the surface
of the rock. Often they were super-imposed upon each other until it
required careful examination to trace out the various outlines. But
they all showed a rather remarkable aptitude for delineation which
further fortified Bowen's comparisons between these people and the
extinct Cro-Magnons whose ancient art is still preserved in the caverns
of Niaux and Le Portel. The Band-lu, however, did not have the bow and
arrow, and in this respect they differ from their extinct progenitors,
or descendants, of Western Europe.
Should any of my friends chance to read the story of my adventures upon
Caprona, I hope they will not be bored by these diversions, and if they
are, I can only say that I am writing my memoirs for my own edification
and therefore setting down those things which interested me
particularly at the time. I have no desire that the general public
should ever have access to these pages; but it is possible that my
friends may, and also certain savants who are interested; and to them,
while I do not apologize for my philosophizing, I humbly explain that
they are witnessing the gropings of a finite mind after the infinite,
the search for explanations of the inexplicable.
In a far recess of the cavern my captors bade me halt. Again my hands
were secured, and this time my feet as well. During the operation they
questioned me, and I was mighty glad that the marked similarity between
the various tribal tongues of Caspak enabled us to understand each
other perfectly, even though they were unable to believe or even to
comprehend the truth of my origin and the circumstances of my advent in
Caspak; and finally they left me saying that they would come for me
before the dance of death upon the morrow. Before they departed with
their torches, I saw that I had not been conducted to the farthest
extremity of the cavern, for a dark and gloomy corridor led beyond my
prison room into the heart of the cliff.
I could not but marvel at the immensity of this great underground
grotto. Already I had traversed several hundred yards of it, from many
points of which other corridors diverged. The whole cliff must be
honeycombed with apartments and passages of which this community
occupied but a comparatively small part, so that the possibility of the
more remote passages being the lair of savage beasts that have other
means of ingress and egress than that used by the Band-lu filled me
with dire forebodings.
I believe that I am not ordinarily hysterically apprehensive; yet I
must confess that under the conditions with which I was confronted, I
felt my nerves to be somewhat shaken. On the morrow I was to die some
sort of nameless death for the diversion of a savage horde, but the
morrow held fewer terrors for me than the present, and I submit to any
fair-minded man if it is not a terrifying thing to lie bound hand and
foot in the Stygian blackness of an immense cave peopled by unknown
dangers in a land overrun by hideous beasts and reptiles of the
greatest ferocity. At any moment, perhaps at this very moment, some
silent-footed beast of prey might catch my scent where it laired in
some contiguous passage, and might creep stealthily upon me. I craned
my neck about, and stared through the inky darkness for the twin spots
of blazing hate which I knew would herald the coming of my executioner.
So real were the imaginings of my overwrought brain that I broke into a
cold sweat in absolute conviction that some beast was close before me;
yet the hours dragged, and no sound broke the grave-like stillness of
During that period of eternity many events of my life passed before my
mental vision, a vast parade of friends and occurrences which would be
blotted out forever on the morrow. I cursed myself for the foolish act
which had taken me from the search-party that so depended upon me, and
I wondered what progress, if any, they had made. Were they still
beyond the barrier cliffs, awaiting my return? Or had they found a way
into Caspak? I felt that the latter would be the truth, for the party
was not made up of men easily turned from a purpose. Quite probable it
was that they were already searching for me; but that they would ever
find a trace of me I doubted. Long since, had I come to the conclusion
that it was beyond human prowess to circle the shores of the inland sea
of Caspak in the face of the myriad menaces which lurked in every
shadow by day and by night. Long since, had I given up any hope of
reaching the point where I had made my entry into the country, and so I
was now equally convinced that our entire expedition had been worse
than futile before ever it was conceived, since Bowen J. Tyler and his
wife could not by any possibility have survived during all these long
months; no more could Bradley and his party of seamen be yet in
existence. If the superior force and equipment of my party enabled
them to circle the north end of the sea, they might some day come upon
the broken wreck of my plane hanging in the great tree to the south;
but long before that, my bones would be added to the litter upon the
floor of this mighty cavern.
And through all my thoughts, real and fanciful, moved the image of a
perfect girl, clear-eyed and strong and straight and beautiful, with
the carriage of a queen and the supple, undulating grace of a leopard.
Though I loved my friends, their fate seemed of less importance to me
than the fate of this little barbarian stranger for whom, I had
convinced myself many a time, I felt no greater sentiment than passing
friendship for a fellow-wayfarer in this land of horrors. Yet I so
worried and fretted about her and her future that at last I quite
forgot my own predicament, though I still struggled intermittently with
my bonds in vain endeavor to free myself; as much, however, that I might
hasten to her protection as that I might escape the fate which had been
planned for me. And while I was thus engaged and had for the moment
forgotten my apprehensions concerning prowling beasts, I was startled
into tense silence by a distinct and unmistakable sound coming from the
dark corridor farther toward the heart of the cliff--the sound of
padded feet moving stealthily in my direction.
I believe that never before in all my life, even amidst the terrors of
childhood nights, have I suffered such a sensation of extreme horror as
I did that moment in which I realized that I must lie bound and
helpless while some horrid beast of prey crept upon me to devour me in
that utter darkness of the Bandlu pits of Caspak. I reeked with cold
sweat, and my flesh crawled--I could feel it crawl. If ever I came
nearer to abject cowardice, I do not recall the instance; and yet it
was not that I was afraid to die, for I had long since given myself up
as lost--a few days of Caspak must impress anyone with the utter
nothingness of life. The waters, the land, the air teem with it, and
always it is being devoured by some other form of life. Life is the
cheapest thing in Caspak, as it is the cheapest thing on earth and,
doubtless, the cheapest cosmic production. No, I was not afraid to
die; in fact, I prayed for death, that I might be relieved of the
frightfulness of the interval of life which remained to me--the
waiting, the awful waiting, for that fearsome beast to reach me and to
Presently it was so close that I could hear its breathing, and then it
touched me and leaped quickly back as though it had come upon me
unexpectedly. For long moments no sound broke the sepulchral silence
of the cave. Then I heard a movement on the part of the creature near
me, and again it touched me, and I felt something like a hairless hand
pass over my face and down until it touched the collar of my flannel
shirt. And then, subdued, but filled with pent emotion, a voice cried:
I think I nearly fainted, so great was the reaction. "Ajor!"
managed to say. "Ajor, my girl, can it be you?"
"Oh, Tom!" she cried again in a trembly little voice and flung
upon me, sobbing softly. I had not known that Ajor could cry.
As she cut away my bonds, she told me that from the entrance to our
cave she had seen the Band-lu coming out of the forest with me, and she
had followed until they took me into the cave, which she had seen was
upon the opposite side of the cliff in which ours was located; and
then, knowing that she could do nothing for me until after the Band-lu
slept, she had hastened to return to our cave. With difficulty she had
reached it, after having been stalked by a cave-lion and almost seized.
I trembled at the risk she had run.
It had been her intention to wait until after midnight, when most of
the carnivora would have made their kills, and then attempt to reach
the cave in which I was imprisoned and rescue me. She explained that
with my rifle and pistol--both of which she assured me she could use,
having watched me so many times--she planned upon frightening the
Band-lu and forcing them to give me up. Brave little girl! She would
have risked her life willingly to save me. But some time after she
reached our cave she heard voices from the far recesses within, and
immediately concluded that we had but found another entrance to the
caves which the Band-lu occupied upon the other face of the cliff.
Then she had set out through those winding passages and in total
darkness had groped her way, guided solely by a marvelous sense of
direction, to where I lay. She had had to proceed with utmost caution
lest she fall into some abyss in the darkness and in truth she had
thrice come upon sheer drops and had been forced to take the most
frightful risks to pass them. I shudder even now as I contemplate what
this girl passed through for my sake and how she enhanced her peril in
loading herself down with the weight of my arms and ammunition and the
awkwardness of the long rifle which she was unaccustomed to bearing.
I could have knelt and kissed her hand in reverence and gratitude; nor
am I ashamed to say that that is precisely what I did after I had been
freed from my bonds and heard the story of her trials. Brave little
Ajor! Wonder-girl out of the dim, unthinkable past! Never before had
she been kissed; but she seemed to sense something of the meaning of
the new caress, for she leaned forward in the dark and pressed her own
lips to my forehead. A sudden urge surged through me to seize her and
strain her to my bosom and cover her hot young lips with the kisses of
a real love, but I did not do so, for I knew that I did not love her;
and to have kissed her thus, with passion, would have been to inflict a
great wrong upon her who had offered her life for mine.
No, Ajor should be as safe with me as with her own mother, if she had
one, which I was inclined to doubt, even though she told me that she
had once been a babe and hidden by her mother. I had come to doubt if
there was such a thing as a mother in Caspak, a mother such as we know.
From the Bo-lu to the Kro-lu there is no word which corresponds with
our word mother. They speak of _ata_ and _cor sva jo:, meaning
_reproduction_ and _from the beginning_, and point toward the south; but
one has a mother.
After considerable difficulty we gained what we thought was our cave,
only to find that it was not, and then we realized that we were lost in
the labyrinthine mazes of the great cavern. We retraced our steps and
sought the point from which we had started, but only succeeded in
losing ourselves the more. Ajor was aghast--not so much from fear of
our predicament; but that she should have failed in the functioning of
that wonderful sense she possessed in common with most other creatures
Caspakian, which makes it possible for them to move unerringly from
place to place without compass or guide.
Hand in hand we crept along, searching for an opening into the outer
world, yet realizing that at each step we might be burrowing more
deeply into the heart of the great cliff, or circling futilely in the
vague wandering that could end only in death. And the darkness! It
was almost palpable, and utterly depressing. I had matches, and in
some of the more difficult places I struck one; but we couldn't afford
to waste them, and so we groped our way slowly along, doing the best we
could to keep to one general direction in the hope that it would
eventually lead us to an opening into the outer world. When I struck
matches, I noticed that the walls bore no paintings; nor was there
other sign that man had penetrated this far within the cliff, nor any
spoor of animals of other kinds.
It would be difficult to guess at the time we spent wandering through
those black corridors, climbing steep ascents, feeling our way along
the edges of bottomless pits, never knowing at what moment we might be
plunged into some abyss and always haunted by the ever-present terror
of death by starvation and thirst. As difficult as it was, I still
realized that it might have been infinitely worse had I had another
companion than Ajor--courageous, uncomplaining, loyal little Ajor! She
was tired and hungry and thirsty, and she must have been discouraged;
but she never faltered in her cheerfulness. I asked her if she was
afraid, and she replied that here the Wieroo could not get her, and
that if she died of hunger, she would at least die with me and she was
quite content that such should be her end. At the time I attributed
her attitude to something akin to a doglike devotion to a new master
who had been kind to her. I can take oath to the fact that I did not
think it was anything more.
Whether we had been imprisoned in the cliff for a day or a week I could
not say; nor even now do I know. We became very tired and hungry; the
hours dragged; we slept at least twice, and then we rose and stumbled
on, always weaker and weaker. There were ages during which the trend
of the corridors was always upward. It was heartbreaking work for
people in the state of exhaustion in which we then were, but we clung
tenaciously to it. We stumbled and fell; we sank through pure physical
inability to retain our feet; but always we managed to rise at last and
go on. At first, wherever it had been possible, we had walked hand in
hand lest we become separated, and later, when I saw that Ajor was
weakening rapidly, we went side by side, I supporting her with an arm
about her waist. I still retained the heavy burden of my armament; but
with the rifle slung to my back, my hands were free. When I too showed
indisputable evidences of exhaustion, Ajor suggested that I lay aside
my arms and ammunition; but I told her that as it would mean certain
death for me to traverse Caspak without them, I might as well take the
chance of dying here in the cave with them, for there was the other
chance that we might find our way to liberty.
There came a time when Ajor could no longer walk, and then it was that
I picked her up in my arms and carried her. She begged me to leave
her, saying that after I found an exit, I could come back and get her;
but she knew, and she knew that I knew, that if ever I did leave her, I
could never find her again. Yet she insisted. Barely had I sufficient
strength to take a score of steps at a time; then I would have to sink
down and rest for five to ten minutes. I don't know what force urged
me on and kept me going in the face of an absolute conviction that my
efforts were utterly futile. I counted us already as good as dead; but
still I dragged myself along until the time came that I could no longer
rise, but could only crawl along a few inches at a time, dragging Ajor
beside me. Her sweet voice, now almost inaudible from weakness,
implored me to abandon her and save myself--she seemed to think only of
me. Of course I couldn't have left her there alone, no matter how much
I might have desired to do so; but the fact of the matter was that I
didn't desire to leave her. What I said to her then came very simply
and naturally to my lips. It couldn't very well have been otherwise, I
imagine, for with death so close, I doubt if people are much inclined
to heroics. "I would rather not get out at all, Ajor," I said
"than to get out without you." We were resting against a rocky
and Ajor was leaning against me, her head on my breast. I could feel
her press closer to me, and one hand stroked my arm in a weak caress;
but she didn't say anything, nor were words necessary.
After a few minutes' more rest, we started on again upon our utterly
hopeless way; but I soon realized that I was weakening rapidly, and
presently I was forced to admit that I was through. "It's no use,
Ajor," I said, "I've come as far as I can. It may be that if
I can go on again after," but I knew that that was not true, and that
the end was near. "Yes, sleep," said Ajor. "We will sleep
She crept close to me as I lay on the hard floor and pillowed her head
upon my arm. With the little strength which remained to me, I drew her
up until our lips touched, and, then I whispered: "Good-bye!"
have lost consciousness almost immediately, for I recall nothing more
until I suddenly awoke out of a troubled sleep, during which I dreamed
that I was drowning, to find the cave lighted by what appeared to be
diffused daylight, and a tiny trickle of water running down the
corridor and forming a puddle in the little depression in which it
chanced that Ajor and I lay. I turned my eyes quickly upon Ajor,
fearful for what the light might disclose; but she still breathed,
though very faintly. Then I searched about for an explanation of the
light, and soon discovered that it came from about a bend in the
corridor just ahead of us and at the top of a steep incline; and
instantly I realized that Ajor and I had stumbled by night almost to
the portal of salvation. Had chance taken us a few yards further, up
either of the corridors which diverged from ours just ahead of us, we
might have been irrevocably lost; we might still be lost; but at least
we could die in the light of day, out of the horrid blackness of this
I tried to rise, and found that sleep had given me back a portion of
strength; and then I tasted the water and was further refreshed. I
shook Ajor gently by the shoulder; but she did not open her eyes, and
then I gathered a few drops of water in my cupped palm and let them
trickle between her lips. This revived her so that she raised her
lids, and when she saw me, she smiled.
"What happened?" she asked. "Where are we?"
"We are at the end of the corridor," I replied, "and daylight
in from the outside world just ahead. We are saved, Ajor!"
She sat up then and looked about, and then, quite womanlike, she burst
into tears. It was the reaction, of course; and then too, she was very
weak. I took her in my arms and quieted her as best I could, and
finally, with my help, she got to her feet; for she, as well as I, had
found some slight recuperation in sleep. Together we staggered upward
toward the light, and at the first turn we saw an opening a few yards
ahead of us and a leaden sky beyond--a leaden sky from which was
falling a drizzling rain, the author of our little, trickling stream
which had given us drink when we were most in need of it.
The cave had been damp and cold; but as we crawled through the
aperture, the muggy warmth of the Caspakian air caressed and confronted
us; even the rain was warmer than the atmosphere of those dark
corridors. We had water now, and warmth, and I was sure that Caspak
would soon offer us meat or fruit; but as we came to where we could
look about, we saw that we were upon the summit of the cliffs, where
there seemed little reason to expect game. However, there were trees,
and among them we soon descried edible fruits with which we broke our
We spent two days upon the cliff-top, resting and recuperating. There
was some small game which gave us meat, and the little pools of
rainwater were sufficient to quench our thirst. The sun came out a few
hours after we emerged from the cave, and in its warmth we soon cast
off the gloom which our recent experiences had saddled upon us.
Upon the morning of the third day we set out to search for a path down
to the valley. Below us, to the north, we saw a large pool lying at
the foot of the cliffs, and in it we could discern the women of the
Band-lu lying in the shallow waters, while beyond and close to the base
of the mighty barrier-cliffs there was a large party of Band-lu
warriors going north to hunt. We had a splendid view from our lofty
cliff-top. Dimly, to the west, we could see the farther shore of the
inland sea, and southwest the large southern island loomed distinctly
before us. A little east of north was the northern island, which Ajor,
shuddering, whispered was the home of the Wieroo--the land of Oo-oh.
It lay at the far end of the lake and was barely visible to us, being
fully sixty miles away.
From our elevation, and in a clearer atmosphere, it would have stood
out distinctly; but the air of Caspak is heavy with moisture, with the
result that distant objects are blurred and indistinct. Ajor also told
me that the mainland east of Oo-oh was her land--the land of the Galu.
She pointed out the cliffs at its southern boundary, which mark the
frontier, south of which lies the country of Kro-lu--the archers. We
now had but to pass through the balance of the Band-lu territory and
that of the Kro-lu to be within the confines of her own land; but that
meant traversing thirty-five miles of hostile country filled with every
imaginable terror, and possibly many beyond the powers of imagination.
I would certainly have given a lot for my plane at that moment, for
with it, twenty minutes would have landed us within the confines of
We finally found a place where we could slip over the edge of the cliff
onto a narrow ledge which seemed to give evidence of being something of
a game-path to the valley, though it apparently had not been used for
some time. I lowered Ajor at the end of my rifle and then slid over
myself, and I am free to admit that my hair stood on end during the
process, for the drop was considerable and the ledge appallingly
narrow, with a frightful drop sheer below down to the rocks at the base
of the cliff; but with Ajor there to catch and steady me, I made it all
right, and then we set off down the trail toward the valley. There
were two or three more bad places, but for the most part it was an easy
descent, and we came to the highest of the Band-lu caves without
further trouble. Here we went more slowly, lest we should be set upon
by some member of the tribe.
We must have passed about half the Band-lu cave-levels before we were
accosted, and then a huge fellow stepped out in front of me, barring
our further progress.
"Who are you?" he asked; and he recognized me and I him, for
been one of those who had led me back into the cave and bound me the
night that I had been captured. From me his gaze went to Ajor. He was
a fine-looking man with clear, intelligent eyes, a good forehead and
superb physique--by far the highest type of Caspakian I had yet seen,
barring Ajor, of course.
"You are a true Galu," he said to Ajor, "but this man
is of a different
mold. He has the face of a Galu, but his weapons and the strange skins
he wears upon his body are not of the Galus nor of Caspak. Who is he?"
"He is Tom," replied Ajor succinctly.
"There is no such people," asserted the Band-lu quite truthfully,
toying with his spear in a most suggestive manner.
"My name is Tom," I explained, "and I am from a country
I thought it best to propitiate him if possible, because of the
necessity of conserving ammunition as well as to avoid the loud alarm
of a shot which might bring other Band-lu warriors upon us. "I am
America, a land of which you never heard, and I am seeking others of my
countrymen who are in Caspak and from whom I am lost. I have no quarrel
with you or your people. Let us go our way in peace."
"You are going there?" he asked, and pointed toward the north.
"I am," I replied.
He was silent for several minutes, apparently weighing some thought in
his mind. At last he spoke. "What is that?" he asked. "And
that?" He pointed first at my rifle and then to my pistol.
"They are weapons," I replied, "weapons which kill at
distance." I pointed to the women in the pool beneath us. "With
I said, tapping my pistol, "I could kill as many of those women as
cared to, without moving a step from where we now stand."
He looked his incredulity, but I went on. "And with this"--I
my rifle at the balance in the palm of my right hand--"I could slay
of those distant warriors." And I waved my left hand toward the tiny
figures of the hunters far to the north.
The fellow laughed. "Do it," he cried derisively, "and
then it may be
that I shall believe the balance of your strange story."
"But I do not wish to kill any of them," I replied. "Why
"Why not?" he insisted. "They would have killed you when
they had you
prisoner. They would kill you now if they could get their hands on
you, and they would eat you into the bargain. But I know why you do
not try it--it is because you have spoken lies; your weapon will not
kill at a great distance. It is only a queerly wrought club. For all
I know, you are nothing more than a lowly Bo-lu."
"Why should you wish me to kill your own people?" I asked.
"They are no longer my people," he replied proudly. "Last
the very middle of the night, the call came to me. Like that it came
into my head"--and he struck his hands together smartly once--"that
had risen. I have been waiting for it and expecting it for a long
time; today I am a Krolu. Today I go into the coslupak" (unpeopled
country, or literally, no man's land) "between the Band-lu and the
Kro-lu, and there I fashion my bow and my arrows and my shield; there I
hunt the red deer for the leathern jerkin which is the badge of my new
estate. When these things are done, I can go to the chief of the
Kro-lu, and he dare not refuse me. That is why you may kill those low
Band-lu if you wish to live, for I am in a hurry.
"But why do you wish to kill me?" I asked.
He looked puzzled and finally gave it up. "I do not know,"
admitted. "It is the way in Caspak. If we do not kill, we shall be
killed, therefore it is wise to kill first whomever does not belong to
one's own people. This morning I hid in my cave till the others were
gone upon the hunt, for I knew that they would know at once that I had
become a Kro-lu and would kill me. They will kill me if they find me
in the coslupak; so will the Kro-lu if they come upon me before I have
won my Kro-lu weapons and jerkin. You would kill me if you could, and
that is the reason I know that you speak lies when you say that your
weapons will kill at a great distance. Would they, you would long
since have killed me. Come! I have no more time to waste in words. I
will spare the woman and take her with me to the Kro-lu, for she is
comely." And with that he advanced upon me with raised spear.
My rifle was at my hip at the ready. He was so close that I did not
need to raise it to my shoulder, having but to pull the trigger to send
him into Kingdom Come whenever I chose; but yet I hesitated. It was
difficult to bring myself to take a human life. I could feel no enmity
toward this savage barbarian who acted almost as wholly upon instinct
as might a wild beast, and to the last moment I was determined to seek
some way to avoid what now seemed inevitable. Ajor stood at my
shoulder, her knife ready in her hand and a sneer on her lips at his
suggestion that he would take her with him.
Just as I thought I should have to fire, a chorus of screams broke from
the women beneath us. I saw the man halt and glance downward, and
following his example my eyes took in the panic and its cause. The
women had, evidently, been quitting the pool and slowly returning
toward the caves, when they were confronted by a monstrous cave-lion
which stood directly between them and their cliffs in the center of the
narrow path that led down to the pool among the tumbled rocks.
Screaming, the women were rushing madly back to the pool.
"It will do them no good," remarked the man, a trace of excitement
his voice. "It will do them no good, for the lion will wait until
come out and take as many as he can carry away; and there is one
there," he added, a trace of sadness in his tone, "whom I hoped
soon follow me to the Kro-lu. Together have we come up from the
beginning." He raised his spear above his head and poised it ready
hurl downward at the lion. "She is nearest to him," he muttered.
will get her and she will never come to me among the Kro-lu, or ever
thereafter. It is useless! No warrior lives who could hurl a weapon
so great a distance."
But even as he spoke, I was leveling my rifle upon the great brute
below; and as he ceased speaking, I squeezed the trigger. My bullet
must have struck to a hair the point at which I had aimed, for it
smashed the brute's spine back of his shoulders and tore on through his
heart, dropping him dead in his tracks. For a moment the women were as
terrified by the report of the rifle as they had been by the menace of
the lion; but when they saw that the loud noise had evidently destroyed
their enemy, they came creeping cautiously back to examine the carcass.
The man, toward whom I had immediately turned after firing, lest he
should pursue his threatened attack, stood staring at me in amazement
"Why," he asked, "if you could do that, did you not kill
"I told you," I replied, "that I had no quarrel with you.
I do not
care to kill men with whom I have no quarrel."
But he could not seem to get the idea through his head. "I can
now that you are not of Caspak," he admitted, "for no Caspakian
have permitted such an opportunity to escape him." This, however, I
found later to be an exaggeration, as the tribes of the west coast and
even the Kro-lu of the east coast are far less bloodthirsty than he
would have had me believe. "And your weapon!" he continued.
spoke true words when I thought you spoke lies." And then, suddenly:
"Let us be friends!"
I turned to Ajor. "Can I trust him?" I asked.
"Yes," she replied. "Why not? Has he not asked to be
I was not at the time well enough acquainted with Caspakian ways to
know that truthfulness and loyalty are two of the strongest
characteristics of these primitive people. They are not sufficiently
cultured to have become adept in hypocrisy, treason and dissimulation.
There are, of course, a few exceptions.
"We can go north together," continued the warrior. "I
will fight for
you, and you can fight for me. Until death will I serve you, for you
have saved So-al, whom I had given up as dead." He threw down his
spear and covered both his eyes with the palms of his two hands. I
looked inquiringly toward Ajor, who explained as best she could that
this was the form of the Caspakian oath of allegiance. "You need never
fear him after this," she concluded.
"What should I do?" I asked.
"Take his hands down from before his eyes and return his spear to
I did as she bade, and the man seemed very pleased. I then asked what
I should have done had I not wished to accept his friendship. They
told me that had I walked away, the moment that I was out of sight of
the warrior we would have become deadly enemies again. "But I could
easily have killed him as he stood there defenseless!" I exclaimed.
"Yes," replied the warrior, "but no man with good sense
blinds his eyes
before one whom he does not trust."
It was rather a decent compliment, and it taught me just how much I
might rely on the loyalty of my new friend. I was glad to have him
with us, for he knew the country and was evidently a fearless warrior.
I wished that I might have recruited a battalion like him.
As the women were now approaching the cliffs, Tomar the warrior
suggested that we make our way to the valley before they could
intercept us, as they might attempt to detain us and were almost
certain to set upon Ajor. So we hastened down the narrow path,
reaching the foot of the cliffs but a short distance ahead of the
women. They called after us to stop; but we kept on at a rapid walk,
not wishing to have any trouble with them, which could only result in
the death of some of them.
We had proceeded about a mile when we heard some one behind us calling
To-mar by name, and when we stopped and looked around, we saw a woman
running rapidly toward us. As she approached nearer I could see that
she was a very comely creature, and like all her sex that I had seen in
Caspak, apparently young.
"It is So-al!" exclaimed To-mar. "Is she mad that she
follows me thus?"
In another moment the young woman stopped, panting, before us. She
paid not the slightest attention to Ajor or me; but devouring To-mar
with her sparkling eyes, she cried: "I have risen! I have risen!"
"So-al!" was all that the man could say.
"Yes," she went on, "the call came to me just before I
quit the pool;
but I did not know that it had come to you. I can see it in your eyes,
To-mar, my To-mar! We shall go on together!" And she threw herself
into his arms.
It was a very affecting sight, for it was evident that these two had
been mates for a long time and that they had each thought that they
were about to be separated by that strange law of evolution which holds
good in Caspak and which was slowly unfolding before my incredulous
mind. I did not then comprehend even a tithe of the wondrous process,
which goes on eternally within the confines of Caprona's barrier cliffs
nor am I any too sure that I do even now.
To-mar explained to So-al that it was I who had killed the cave-lion
and saved her life, and that Ajor was my woman and thus entitled to the
same loyalty which was my due.
At first Ajor and So-al were like a couple of stranger cats on a back
fence but soon they began to accept each other under something of an
armed truce, and later became fast friends. So-al was a mighty
fine-looking girl, built like a tigress as to strength and sinuosity,
but withal sweet and womanly. Ajor and I came to be very fond of her,
and she was, I think, equally fond of us. To-mar was very much of a
man--a savage, if you will, but none the less a man.
Finding that traveling in company with To-mar made our journey both
easier and safer, Ajor and I did not continue on our way alone while
the novitiates delayed their approach to the Kro-lu country in order
that they might properly fit themselves in the matter of arms and
apparel, but remained with them. Thus we became well acquainted--to
such an extent that we looked forward with regret to the day when they
took their places among their new comrades and we should be forced to
continue upon our way alone. It was a matter of much concern to To-mar
that the Krolu would undoubtedly not receive Ajor and me in a friendly
manner, and that consequently we should have to avoid these people.
It would have been very helpful to us could we have made friends with
them, as their country abutted directly upon that of the Galus. Their
friendship would have meant that Ajor's dangers were practically
passed, and that I had accomplished fully one-half of my long journey.
In view of what I had passed through, I often wondered what chance I
had to complete that journey in search of my friends. The further
south I should travel on the west side of the island, the more
frightful would the dangers become as I neared the stamping-grounds of
the more hideous reptilia and the haunts of the Alus and the Ho-lu, all
of which were at the southern half of the island; and then if I should
not find the members of my 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
cos-ata-lo, my Tom, is a woman" (lo) "who did not come from an
thus on up from the beginning." (Cor sva jo.) "I was a babe
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
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,
"A further complication lay in the fact that Duseen wanted me, while
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 followers.'
"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 has
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
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
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
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 returns.
"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
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 rage.
"He asked me my name; but I would not answer him, and that angered
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Presently Ajor nudged me. "They have a prisoner," she whispered.
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
"They will kill him?" I whispered to Ajor.
"The dance of death," she replied, and I shuddered, so recently
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 first.
Ajor touched my arm. "What would you do?" she asked. "They
"I am going to save him from the dance of death," I replied,
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!"
a pressure of the hand. Her Tom! Something stirred within my bosom.
Was it exaltation or was it consternation? Impossible! I turned away
"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 from gallant.
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?
"Because he would harm Ajor," I replied. "You know him?"
"He cannot know him," said Ajor. "Du-seen rose from the
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
The warrior smiled. "Du-seen rose not so long ago," he said,
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 individuality.
"Will the Kro-lu join him?" asked Ajor. "Will they invade
of Jor my father?"
"The younger Kro-lu favor the plan," replied the warrior, "since
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,"
"And he is against this plan to invade my father's country?"
"Unfortunately he is rather in favor of it," replied the man,
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
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 perfectly
"This is Al-tan the chief," said Chal-az by way of introduction.
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
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
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
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
Al-tan eyed her for several minutes and then turned to me. "Can
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
reply, Chal-az raised his voice in our behalf.
"Is this the gratitude of a Kro-lu chieftain, Al-tan," he asked,
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 hinder him."
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
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
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 served Chal-az.
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
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
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,
I want to know where his master is."
The Galu shrugged. "The dog is mine," he said. "He came
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
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
"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
mine," he reiterated. "Would you steal him?"
"He is not yours nor mine," I replied, "and I am not stealing
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 his
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 me.
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
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
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 and hatchets.
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
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 search
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
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
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 floor.
"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 Galu, Du-seen."
"But where is Ajor?" I asked, for I cared little for my own
while she was in danger.
"Ajor is safe, too," he answered. "We learned the designs
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.
been dead asleep when I spoke.
"Yes," agreed Chal-az, "you must go at once. It is almost
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
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
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
reply, he led me into another apartment, or to be more explicit,
another of the several huts which formed his cellular dwelling.
Here was a pile of skins, weapons, and ornaments. "Remove your
apparel," said Chal-az, "and I will fit you out as a true Galu.
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 rage.
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
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
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 herbivora 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
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 my 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,
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 the ground.
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 Nobs' 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 them.
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
I had expected a battle royal; but on the contrary I found his taming
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 flew.
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
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 her.
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
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 were doomed.
"Slay me!" begged Ajor. "Let me die at thy loved hands
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
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,"
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
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
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
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
He looked at me in surprise. "Good-bye, old man," he said,
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.