ERB'S EMBRYONIC JOURNEY:
THE TRIMESTERS OF CASPAK
Woodrow Edgar Nichols, Jr.
(Dedicated to George McWhorter)
THE PEOPLE THAT TIME FORGOT
F. Tom Billings (continued):
Unfortunately, Tom appears to have been lulled
into a feeling of security after the feast. The bliss of the moment has
hazed his memory of having insulted the leader of the tribe. He believes
he has until the morning to plan and execute his escape from this hostile
tribe. He has also passed the ledge and leaped into the realm of passion:
“After dinner I rolled a cigaret and
stretched myself at ease upon a pile of furs before the doorway, with Ajor’s
head pillowed in my lap and a feeling of great content pervading me. It
was the first time since my plane had topped the barrier cliffs of Caspak
that I had felt any sense of peace or security. My hand wandered to the
velvet cheek of the girl I had claimed as mine, and to her luxuriant hair
and the golden fillet which bound it close to her shapely head. Her slender
fingers groping upward sought mine and drew them to her lips, and then
I gathered her in my arms and crushed her to me, smothering her mouth with
a long, long kiss. It was the first time that passion had tinged my intercourse
with Ajor. We were alone, and the hut was ours until morning. (PTF/6.)
By now, the reader has become educated enough to
realize that ERB’s use of descriptive words to give a scene drama sometimes
employs double entendre’s, like “with Ajor’s head pillowed in my lap,”
and “the first time that passion had tinged my intercourse with Ajor.”
Other words rather than “intercourse” would have sufficed, but ERB wants
the reader to know where this scene is heading. Or, was heading.
Of course, for those of you who disagree with
my analysis so far – that Tom has been guilty of spreading little white
lies about his relationship with Ajor in order to protect her modesty and
to keep his spotless reputation pure of any insinuations that he is a Caspakian
Casanova – this passage provides them with evidence that there has not
been any hanky-panky before this, that Tom and Ajor have just been traveling
together like two young boys.
So, why is Tom plainly telling the world that
he finally went for it? What has changed to make Tom toss caution to the
wind? Was it his false sense of security? He had been alone with Ajor plenty
of times before. Does he have some kind of sense of it being “now or never”?
We will never know for fate comes crashing down on them like an avalanche.
Yes, once again, it is almost but not yet.
“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 the Kro-lu. The villages 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 welltested 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.
That’s enough of an introduction to tip the reader
off that once again poor old Tom has fallen victim to Bowen’s type of foolishness.
He doesn’t even wonder why his “girl” has not also been summoned, but assures
her that he will return presently. One can almost hear the voice of maniacal
laughter in the background as Tom is drug into the center of Caspakian
“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 ammuntion aside
as soon as we had taken over the hut, and I left them 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 the 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.” (PTF/6.)
“The messenger led me through the labryinthine
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 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 dogs.
One always has a reader’s rapt attention when you
introduce a dog into the picture. And I must say it was a nice touch bringing
Nobs back into the story. One also wonders what is going on inside Tom’s
mind now that he has met Du-seen. Did he realize that there must have been
some really big negotiations going on regarding Ajor’s tribe and the Kro-lu?
What does it have to do with Du-seen’s dealings with the Wieroo?
“The warriors eyed me curiously as I entered,
especially the Galus, and then I was conducted into the center of the group
and led forward toward Al-tan. As I advanced, I felt one of the dogs sniffing
at my heels, and of a sudden a great brute leaped upon my back. As I turned
to thrust it aside before its fangs found a hold upon me, I beheld a huge
Airedale leaping frantically about me. The grinning jaws, the half-closed
eyes, the back-laid ears spoke to me louder than might the words of man
that here was no savage enemy but a joyous friend, and then I recognized
him, and fell to one knee and put my arms about his neck while he whined
and cried with joy. It was Nobs, dear old Nobs. Bowen Tyler’s Nobs, who
had loved me next to his master. “‘Where is the master of this dog?’ I
asked, turning toward Al-tan.
“The chieftan inclined his head toward the Galu
standing at his side. ‘He belongs to Du-seen, the Galu,’ he replied.
“‘He belongs to Bowen J. Tyler, Jr., of Santa
Monica,’ I retorted, ‘and I want to know where his master is.’
“The Galu shrugged. ‘The dog is mine,’ he said.
‘He came to me cor-svajo, and he is unlike any dog in Caspak, being kind
and docile and yet a killer when aroused. I would not part with him. I
do not know the man of whom you speak.’
“So this was Du-seen! This was the man from whom
Ajor had fled. I wondered if he knew that she was here. I wondered if they
had sent for me because of her; but after they had commenced to question
me, my mind was relieved; they did not mention Ajor. Their interest seemed
centered upon the strange world from which I had come, my journey to Caspak
and my intentions now that I had arrived. I answered them frankly as I
had nothing to conceal and assured them that my only wish was to find my
friends and return to my own country. In the Galu Du-seen and his warriors
I saw something of the explanation of the term ‘golden race’ which is applied
to them, for their ornaments and weapons were either wholly of beaten gold
or heavily decorated with the precious metal. They were a very imposing
set of men – tall and straight and handsome. About their heads were bands
of gold like that which Ajor wore, and from their left shoulders depended
the leopard-tails of the Galus. In addition to the deer-skin tunic which
constituted the major portion of their apparel, each carried a light blanket
of barbaric but 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 encrusted 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. Du-seen called to him; but the terrier never even
so much as looked in his direction. I had almost reached the doorway leading
from the council-hall when Al-tan rose and called after me. ‘Stop!’ he
shouted. ‘Stop, stranger! The beast of Du-seen the Galu follows you.’
“‘The dog is not Du-seen’s,’ I replied. ‘He belongs
to my friend, as I told you, and he prefers to stay with me until his master
is found.’ And I turned again to resume my way. I had taken but a few steps
when I heard a commotion behind me, and at the same moment a man leaned
close and whispered ‘Kazar!’ close to my ear – kazar, the Caspakian equivalent
of beware. It was To-mar. As he spoke, he turned quickly away as though
loath to have others see that he knew me, and at the same instant I wheeled
to discover Du-seen striding rapidly after me. Al-tan followed him, and
it was evident that both were angry.
“Du-seen, a weapon half drawn, approached truculently.
‘The beast is mine,’ he reiterated. ‘Would you steal him?’
“‘He is not yours nor mine,’ I replied, ‘and
I am not stealing him. If he wishes to follow you, he may; I will not interfere;
but if he wishes to follow me, he shall; nor shall you prevent.’ I turned
to Al-tan. ‘Is not that fair?’ I demanded. ‘Let the dog choose his master.’
“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 instance
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. (PTF/6.)
“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 with him, he brushed past me without a sign of recognition. I
was puzzled at his behavior, and then I realized 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.
Sometimes I think ERB forgot that his hero couldn’t
wait to escape the village some time before the morning so that the cloak
of darkness could be utilized. Perhaps his passion for Ajor after the feast
did something to his memory? Who knows? But why no doubt of danger was
in his mind before the pistol shot escapes me.
“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 doubt of danger was in
my mind; but since my audience with Al-tan, the presence and bearing of
Du-seen and the strange attitude of both To-mar and Chal-az had each contributed
toward arousing my suspicions, and now I ran along the narrow, winding
alleys of the Kro-lu village with my heart fairly in my mouth.” (PTF/6.)
“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.
It is fun to see how ERB has Billings deal with this
cultural truth about the inherent snobbery of American society vis-a-vis
less civilized people. Tom is still struggling with his ingrained cultural
superiority. This is cognitive dissonance at his most interesting phase:
coming out of the darkness:
“As the six men leaped upon me, an angry growl
burst from behind them. I had forgotten about 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 then upon another of them until they were
so put to it to preserve their hides and their lives from him that they
could give me only a small part of their attention. One of them was assiduously
attempting to strike me on the head with his stone hatchet; but I caught
his arm and at the same time turned over upon my belly, after which it
took but an instant to get my feet under me and rise suddenly.
“As I did so, I kept a grip upon the man’s arm,
carrying it over one shoulder. Then I leaned suddenly forward and hurled
my antagonist over my head to a hasty fall at the opposite side of the
hut. In the dim light of the interior I saw that Nobs had already accounted
for one of the others – one who lay very quiet upon the floor –while the
four remaining upon their feet were striking at him with knives and hatchets.
“Running to the 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 ignominous 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 much the latter as the former which contributed to the undoing of
our enemies, who, accustomed though they werre 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 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
own safety was my concern for that 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. Any 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 of one bit of half-savage femininity of whose very
existence even I had not dreamed a few short weeks before.
“What was this hold she had upon me? Was I bewitched,
that my mind refused to function sanely, and that judgment and reason were
dethroned by some mad sentiment which I steadfastly refused to believe
was love? I had never been in love. I was not in love now – the very thought
was preposterous. How could I, Thoman 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.” (PTF/6.)
“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 declicious 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.
I personally don’t believe it was possible, because
of his upbringing, for Bowen Tyler to have had personal reflections that
are so honest and self revealing as Tom’s. But this is all narrative manipulation.
The reader knew before Tom did that he was walking into a trap. But, to
be honest, the reader could never have experienced the feelings that Tom
must have been feeling for Ajor once he overcame his snobbery and admitted
that he loved the savage girl.
“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 hope entwined themselves was that of Ajor – beloved barbarian!”
I just saw again the 1972 Western classic, Ulzana’s
Raid, with Burt Lancaster and Bruce Davison, which deals with the superiority
of American culture in contrast to the barbarity and cruelty of the Apaches.
There was a moment when it was hard to tell the barbarism and cruelty difference
when American cavalry men got medieval on a dead warrior. ERB knew the
Apaches and admired their culture. The Green Horde culture is nearly identical
to the Apaches.
There is a scene in the movie where a dead rancher
is discovered against a rail fence, having been tortured with a fire burning
between his legs. The Apaches had stuffed his dead dog’s tail in his mouth.
Davison asks Burt why they would have done such a thing. Burt tells him
that they have a sense of humor that no one else can understand, but it
is still a form of humor. That’s exactly how ERB described the Tharks.
Also, Davison is shocked learning that Burt lives
with an Apache squaw, since he has become of firm hater of all Apaches
after first hand witnessing their brutality torturing white people. After
asking Burt his reasons for this, Burt just shrugs and grunts, not wanting
to get involved in such a discussion, knowing that Davison is too culturally
warped into false senses of morality to ever understand. But, yet while
Burt is dying gracefully, Davison appears to be overcoming his bias when
his Apache scout proves to be more loyal than most of his men. Well, let’s
get back to the story:
“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.
Here’s one of the oldest tricks in situation comedy:
have the people that need to meet just miss each other. I remember when
I first became aware of this technique. It was when I was five years old
watching an episode of I love Lucy, where the players kept on just missing
each other on elevators and other places where they were trying really
hard to find each other, and then managed to meet by accident at the end
of the show. My daughters were amazed when we were watching a new TV show
where similar things happened, and I was able to tell them how it would
all work out in the end.
“‘Quick!’ he warned. ‘In here! It is my hut,
and they will not search it.’
“I hesitated, recalled his attitude of a few
minutes before; and as though he had read my thoughts, he said quickly:
‘I could not speak to you in the plaza without danger of arousing suspicions
which would prevent me from aiding you later, for word had gone out that
Al-tan had turned against you and would destroy you – this was after Du-seen
the Galu arrived.’
“I followed him into the hut, and with Nobs at
our heels we passed through several chambers into a remote and windowless
apartment where a small lamp sputtered in its unequal battle with the inky
darkness. A hole in the roof permitted the smoke from the 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 in the batu Al-tan. I will serve you, and there
are others here who will serve you against Al-tan and the renegade Galu,
“‘But where is Ajor?’ I asked, for I cared little
for my own safety while she was in danger.
“‘Ajor is safe, too,’ he answered. ‘We learned
the designs of Al-tan and Du-seen. The latter, learning that Ajor was here,
demanded her; and Al-tan promised that he should have her; but when the
warriors went to get her, To-mar went with them. Ajor tried to defend herself.
She killed one of the warriors, and then To-mar picked her up in his arms
when the others had taken her weapons from her. He told the others to look
after the wounded man, who was really already dead, and to seize you upon
your return, and that he, To-mar, would bear Ajor to Al-tan; but instead
of bearing her to Al-tan, he took her to his own hut, where she is now
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
councilhut and to aid you if you needed aid. What has happened since you
“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 we 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 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.’” (PTF/6.)
I told them I was not a wizard, but a TV addict
who had watched hundreds of situation comedies and learned that there are
only a certain amount of situations in which people can be placed. This
is why I mainly only watch cable TV. Their writers are aware of this problem
and go out of their way to be creative and innovative. Yes, it true, my
addiction costs me a lot more money nowadays, but I am not seeking an intervention.
Anyway, ERB uses the technique to heighten the urgency of the moment in
the lagging plot.
“‘Then I must go,’ I said, rising. Nobs
rose and shook himself. He had been dead asleep when I spoke.
Such new information at a later time may make us
forget that just a few hours earlier Ajor’s head had been pillowed in Tom’s
lap. Just what exactly does he mean that his ragged clothes only half concealed
his nakedness? Was some it exposed in that love pillow? Oh well, I thought
it was worth mentioning.
“‘Yes,’ agreed Chal-az, ‘you must go at once.
It is almost dawn. Du-seen leaves at daylight to search for her.’ He leaned
close to my ear and whispered: ‘There are many to follow and help you.
Al-tan has agreed to aid Du-seen against the Galus of Jor; but there are
many of us who have combined to rise against Altan 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 bow and a sharp spear with the 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
“‘No,’ he said, ‘they have disappeared.’ And
then: ‘Wait! You cannot go forth half armed, and garbed as you are. You
are going into the Galu country, and you must go as a Galu. Come!’ And
without waiting for a reply, he led me into another apartment, or to be
more explicit, another of the several huts which formed his cellular dwelling.
“Here was a pile of skins, weapons and ornaments.
‘Remove your strange apparel,’ said Chal-az, ‘and I will fit you out as
a true Galu. I have slain several of them in the raids of my early days
as a Kro-lu, and here are their trappings.’
“I saw the wisdom of his suggestion, and as my
clothes were by now so ragged as to but half conceal my nakedness, I had
no regrets in laying them aside.” (PTF/6.)
“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 about which is braided the rawhide, making a heavy 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 antangonist will attempt to brain his foe with the
I believe with this added information, there can
be no doubt that Ajor’s vulva was totally exposed, leaving the tunic more
for ornamentation that for a covering. I imagine the sensation that so
concerned him was that of having his family jewels hanging in the wind.
“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.” (PTF/6.)
“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 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 antangonists,
the shield is utilized to its best advantage and carried by loops upon
the left arm.
Yes, Tom has definitely gotten into the Caspakian
thick of things. So ends Chapter 6.
“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
The action picks up and concludes in Chapter
7. Until then.
(Continued in Part Seventeen)