ERB'S EMBRYONIC JOURNEY:
THE TRIMESTERS OF CASPAK
Woodrow Edgar Nichols, Jr.
(Dedicated to George McWhorter)
OUT OF TIME'S ABYSS
We left our Adam and Eve in the little Garden of Eden, happy
and content. Though Bradley is slow in realizing his true feelings for
the Galu beauty, I believe deep down that he realized it way before the
third person narrator reveals it. Even though Bradley is culturally bound
by his ties to his father and family, he is not made of stone. Surely he
would have responded to the girl’s charms eventually because of the unique
circumstances they were under.
Swimming in the nude together would be one of those circumstances. Remember,
the girl does not want another brother and Bradley knows what she must
have in mind, for he felt it strongly once before, wanting to take the
girl until he saw a vision of his father at home, and limped out. Just
how long do think that vision will keep him from temptation. See for yourself:
“Days became weeks, and weeks became
months, and the months followed one another in a lazy procession of hot,
humid days and warm, humid nights. The fugitives saw never a Wieroo by
day though often at night they heard the melancholy flapping of giant wings
far above them.
As we will see, there are many things during this period that we are not
told at the time, but are hinted at later in the story. So it will not
be against the logic of the story if we assume some necessary facts. First,
there had to be some physical contact between them if he taught her how
to swim. Second, they would have been naked during this enterprise. Third,
there is quite a passage of time for anything to happen.
“Each day was much like its predecessor. Bradley
splashed about for a few minutes in the cold pool early each morning and
after a time the girl tried it and liked it. Toward the center it was deep
enough for swimming, and so he taught her to swim – she was probably the
first human being in all Caspak’s long ages who had done this thing. And
then while she prepared breakfast, the man shaved – this he never neglected.
At first it was a source of wonderment to the girl, for the Galu men were
Remember how Ajor had strip-teased in front of Billings before she jumped
naked into a pool to clean herself off? It would have been the same for
this Galu girl, who was virtually naked in front of Bradley the whole time
since her tunic exposed her right breast at all times, not to mention her
vulva most of the time.
Bradley too does not appear to be shy about his body in front of the
girl, for it is highly doubtful that he wore anything during his morning
splashes in the pool. Thus naked body against naked body in the water would
lead to natural consequences, especially when physical desire is rampant.
It is up to your imagination either way you want to visualize it. Keep
in mind that our narrator had certain standards of censorship in mind that
would have hindered a unexpurgated telling of the story. My bet is that
a sexual relationship soon developed in this idyllic location.
“When they needed meat, he hunted, otherwise
he busied himself in improving their shelter, making new and better weapons,
perfecting his knowledge of the girl’s language and teaching her to speak
and to write English – anything that would keep them both occupied. He
still sought new plans for escape, but with ever-lessening enthusiasm,
since each new scheme presented some insurmountable obstacle.
You have to hand it to ERB’s creativity: that was some kind of escape.
The Wieroos played right into his trap. I know, if you were thinking like
me, you expected the party to be crashed by some pterodactyls, but sometimes
ERB is merciful to his characters and readers.
“And then one day as a bolt out of a clear sky
came that which blasted the peace and security of their sanctuary forever.
Bradley was just emerging from the water after his morning plunge when
from overhead came the sound of flapping wings. Glancing quickly up the
man saw a white-robed Wieroo circling slowly above him. That he had been
discovered he could not doubt since the creature even dropped to a lower
altitude as though to assure itself that what it saw was a man. Then it
rose rapidly and winged away toward the city.
“For two days Bradley and the girl lived in a
constant state of apprehension, awaiting the moment when the hunters would
come for them; but nothing happened until just after the dawn of the third
day, when the flapping of wings apprised them of the approach of Wieroos.
Together they went to the edge of the wood and looked up to see five red-robed
creatures dropping slowly in ever-lessening spirals toward their little
amphitheater. With no attempt at concealment they came, sure of their ability
to overwhelm these two fugitives, and with the fullest measure of self-confidence
they landed in the clearing but a few yards from the man and the girl.
“Following a plan already discussed Bradley and
the girl retreated slowly into the woods. The Wieroos advanced, calling
upon them to give themselves up; but the quarry made no reply. Farther
and farther into the little wood Bradley led the hunters, permitting them
to approach ever closer; then he circled back again toward the clearing,
evidently to the great delight of the Wieroos, who now followed more leisurely,
awaiting the moment when they should be beyond the trees and able to use
their wings. They had opened into semicircular formation now with the evident
intention of cutting the two off from returning into the
wood. Each Wieroo advanced with his curved blade
ready in his hand, each hideous face blank and expressionless.
“It was then that Bradley opened fire with his
pistol – three shots, aimed with careful deliberation, for it had been
long since he had used the weapon, and he could not afford to chance wasting
ammunition on misses. At each shot a Wieroo dropped; and then the remaining
two sought escape by flight, screaming and wailing after the manner of
their kind. When a Wieroo runs, his wings spread almost without any volition
upon his part, since from time immemorial he has always used them to balance
himself and accelerate his running speed so that in the open they appear
to skim the surface of the ground when in the act of running. But here
in the woods, among the close-set boles, the spreading of their wings proved
their undoing – it hindered and stopped them and threw them to the ground,
and then Bradley was upon them threatening them with instant death if they
did not surrender – promising them their freedom if they did his bidding.
“‘As you have seen,’ he cried, ‘I can kill you
when I wish and at a distance. You cannot escape me. Your only hope of
life lies in obedience. Quick, or I kill!’
“The Wieroos stopped and faced him. ‘What do
you want of us?’ asked one.
“‘Throw aside your weapons,’ Bradley commanded.
After a moment’s hesitation, they obeyed.
“‘Now approach!’ A great plan – the only plan
– had suddenly come to him like an inspiration.
“The Wieroos came closer and halted at his command.
Bradley turned to the girl.
'There is rope in the shelter,’ he said. ‘Fetch
“She did as he bid, and then he directed her
to fasten one end of a fiftyfoot length to the ankle of one of the Wieroos
and the opposite end to the second. The creatures gave evidence of great
fear, but they dared not attempt to prevent the act.
“‘Now go out into the clearing,’ said Bradley,
‘and remember that I am walking close behind and that I will shoot the
nearer one should either attempt to escape – that will hold the other until
I can kill him as well.’
“In the open he halted them. ‘The girl will get
upon the back of the one in front,’ announced the Englishman. ‘I will mount
the other. She carries a sharp blade, and I carry this weapon that you
know kills easily at a distance. If you disobey in the slightest, the instructions
that I am about to give you, you shall both die. That we must die with
you, will not deter us. If you obey, I promise to set you free without
“‘You will carry us due west, depositing us upon
the shore of the mainland – that is all. It is the price of your lives.
Do you agree?’
“Sullenly the Wieroos acquiesced. Bradley examined
the knots that held the rope to their ankles, and feeling them secure directed
the girl to mount the back of the leading Wieroo, himself upon the other.
Then he gave the signal for the two to rise together. With loud flapping
of the powerful wings the creatures took to the air, circling once before
they topped the trees upon the hill and then taking a course due west out
over the waters of the sea.
“Nowhere about them could Bradley see signs of
other Wieroos, nor of those other menaces which he had feared might bring
disaster to his plans for escape – the huge, winged reptilia that are so
numerous above the southern areas of Caspak and which are often seen, though
in lesser numbers, farther north.
“Nearer and nearer loomed the mainland – a broad,
parklike expanse stretching inland to the foot of a low plateau spread
out before them. The little dots in the foreground became grazing herds
of deer and antelope and bos; a huge wooly rhinoceros wallowed in a mudhole
to the right, and beyond, a mighty mammoth culled the tender shoots from
a tall tree. The roars and screams and growls of giant carnivora came faintly
to their ears. Ah, this was Caspak. With all of its dangers and its primal
savagery it brought a fullness to the throat of the Englishman as to one
who sees and hears the familiar sights and sounds of home after a long
absence. Then the Wieroos dropped swiftly downward to the flowerstarred
turf that grew almost to the water’s edge, the fugitives slipped from their
backs, and Bradley told the red-robed creatures they were free to go.
“When he had cut the ropes from their ankles
they rose with that uncanny wailing upon their lips that always brought
a shudder to the Englishman, and upon dismal wings they flapped away toward
frightful Oo-oh.” (OTA/5.)
“When the creatures had gone, the girl
turned toward Bradley. ‘Why did you have them bring us here?’ she asked.
‘Now we are far from my country. We may never live to reach it, as we are
now among enemies who, while not so horrible will kill us just as surely
as would the Wieroos should they capture us, and we have before us many
marches through lands filled with savage beasts.’
See, that makes two things that they talked about in their Paradise that
we were not told about at the time: the fort and the submarine. But wait,
there is more.
“‘There are two reasons,’ replied Bradley. ‘You
told me that there are two Wieroo cities at the eastern end of the island.
To have passed near either of them might have been to have brought about
our heads hundreds of the creatures from whom we could not possibly have
escaped. Again, my friends must be near this spot – it cannot be over two
marches to the fort of which I have told you. It is my duty to return to
them. If they still live we shall find a way to return you to your people.’
“‘And you?’ asked the girl.
“‘I escaped from Oo-oh,’ replied Bradley. ‘I
have accomplished the impossible once, and so I shall accomplish it again
– I shall escape from Caspak.’
“He was not looking at her face as he answered
her, and so he did not see the shadow of sorrow that crossed her countenance.
When he raised his eyes again, she was smiling.
“‘What you wish, I wish,’ said the girl.
“Southward along the coast they made their way
following the beach, where the walking was best, but always keeping close
enough to trees to insure sanctuary from the beasts and reptiles that so
often menaced them. It was late in the afternoon when the girl suddenly
seized Bradley’s arm and pointed straight ahead along the shore. ‘What
is that?’ she whispered. ‘What strange reptile is it?’
“‘It is the most frightful reptile that the waters
of the world have ever known,’ he replied. ‘It is a German U-boat!’
“An expression of amazement and understanding
lighted her features. ‘It is the thing of which you told me,’ she exclaimed,
‘ – the thing that swims under the water and carries men in its belly.’
“‘It is,’ replied Bradley.” (OTA/5.)
“‘Then why do you hide from it?’ asked
the girl. ‘You said that now it belonged to your friends.’
Can you believe these guys from Bradley’s expedition! They make it back
to the fort after Bradley is captured by the Wieroos, the whole fort celebrates,
and then they manage to be taken prisoner by the Germans, who have somehow
returned to Caspak. Without Bradley to lead them, they appear totally clueless.
“‘Many months have passed since I knew what was
going on among my friends,’ he replied. ‘I cannot know what has befallen
them. They should have been gone from here in this vessel long since, and
so I cannot understand why it is still here. I am going to investigate
first before I show myself. When I left, there were more Germans on the
U-33 than were men of my own party at the fort, and I have had sufficient
experience of Germans to know that they will bear watching – if they have
not been properly watched since I left.’
“Making their way through a fringe of wood that
grew a few yards inland the two crept unseen toward the U-boat which lay
moored to the shore at a point which Bradley now recognized as being near
the oil-pool north of Dinosaur. As close as possible to the vessel they
halted, crouching low among the dense vegetation, and watched the boat
for signs of human life about it. The hatches were closed – no one could
be seen or heard. For five minutes Bradley watched, and then he determined
to board the submarine and investigate. He had risen to carry his decision
into effect when there suddenly broke upon his ear, uttered in loud and
menacing tones, a volley of German oaths and expletives among which he
heard Englische schweinhunde repeated several times. The voice did not
come from the direction of the U-boat; but from inland. Creeping forward
Bradley reached a spot where, through the creepers hanging from the trees,
he could see a party of men coming down toward the shore.
“He saw Baron Friedrich von Schoenvorts and six
of his men – all armed – while marching in a little knot among them were
Olson, Brady, Sinclair, Wilson, and Whitely.” (OTA/5.)
“Bradley knew nothing of the disappearance
of Bowen Tyler and Miss La Rue, nor of the perfidy of the Germans in shelling
the fort and attempting to escape in the U-33; but he was in no way surprised
at what he saw before him.
Are you falling for it? This sudden realization that Bradley is in love
with his little girl? I’m not. After the amount of time these two have
been together, they are bonded by more than just companionship, that’s
for sure. Just wait and see how Bradley introduces her to his friends.
“The little party came slowly onward, the prisoners
staggering beneath heavy cans of oil, while Schwartz, one of the German
noncommissioned officers cursed and beat them with a stick of wood, impartially.
Von Schoenvorts walked in the rear of the column, encouraging Schwartz
and laughing at the discomfiture of the Britishers. Dietz, Heinz, and Klatz
also seemed to enjoy the entertainment immensely; but two of the men –
Plesser and Hindle – marched with eyes straight to the front and with scowling
“Bradley felt his blood boil at sight of the
cowardly indignities being heaped upon his men, and in the brief span of
time occupied by the column to come abreast of where he lay hidden he made
his plans, foolhardy though he knew them. Then he drew the girl close to
him. ‘Stay here,’ he whispered. ‘I am going out to fight those beasts;
but I shall be killed. Do not let them see you. Do not let them take you
alive. They are more cruel, more cowardly, more bestial than the Wieroos.’
“The girl pressed close to him, her face very
white. ‘Go, if that is right,’ she whispered; ‘but if you die, I shall
die, for I cannot live without you.’
“He looked sharply into her eyes. ‘Oh!’ he ejaculated.
‘What an idiot I have been! Nor could I live without you, little girl.’
And he drew her very close and kissed her lips. ‘Good-bye.’ He disengaged
himself from her arms and looked again in time to see that the rear of
the column had just passed him. Then he rose and leaped quickly and silently
from the jungle.” (OTA/5.)
“Suddenly von Schoenvorts felt an arm
thrown about his neck and his pistol jerked from its holster. He gave a
cry of fright and warning, and his men turned to see a half-naked white
man holding their leader securely from behind and aiming a pistol at them
over his shoulder.
Here we go again, with more information about Bradley’s background. He
knows and can speak perfect German. Where did he learn it? At Oxford or
Cambridge? Studying abroad? We are never told and are left to guess.
“‘Drop those guns!’ came in short, sharp syllables
and perfect German from the lips of the newcomer. ‘Drop them or I’ll put
a bullet through the back of von Schoenvort’s head.’” (OTA/5.)
“The Germans hesitated for a moment,
looking first toward von Schoenvorts and then to Schwartz, who was evidently
second in command, for orders.
Ah, bayonet practice: how well I remember it. We had it for two hours a
day, five days a week for eight weeks during basic training. I recall our
drill sergeant, a big black man from Fort Polk, Louisiana. He would always
start by telling us that he was the meanest, baddest ass out of Fort Polk,
then he would shout, “What is the spirit of the bayonet?” And we all would
yell back in unison: “To kill!” “I can’t hear you,” he would say; “What
is the spirit of the bayonet?” “To kill!”
“‘It’s the English pig, Bradley,’ shouted the
latter, ‘and he’s alone – go and get him!’
“‘Go yourself,’ growled Plesser. Hindle moved
close to the side of Plesser and whispered something to him. The latter
nodded. Suddenly von Schoenvorts wheeled about and seized Bradley’s pistol
with both hands. ‘Now!’ he shouted. ‘Come and take him, quick!’
“Schwartz and three others leaped forward; but
Plesser and Hindle held back, looking questioningly toward the English
prisoners. Then Plesser spoke.
‘Now is your chance, Englander,’ he called in
low tones. ‘Seize Hindle and me and take our guns from us – we will not
“Olson and Brady were not long in acting upon
the suggestion. They had seen enough of the brutal treatment von Schoenvorts
accorded his men and the especially venomous attentions he had taken great
enjoyment in according Plesser and Hindle to understand that these two
might be sincere in a desire for revenge. In another moment the two Germans
were unarmed and Olson and Brady were running to the support of Bradley;
but already it seemed too late.
“Von Schoenvorts had managed to drag the Englishman
around so that his back was toward Schwartz and the other advancing Germans.
Schwartz was almost upon Bradley with a gun clubbed and ready to smash
down upon the Englishman’s skull. Brady and Olson were charging the Germans
in the rear with Wilson, Whitely, and Sinclair supporting them with bare
fists. It seemed that Bradley was doomed when, apparently out of space,
an arrow whizzed, striking Schwartz in the side, passing half-way through
his body to crumple him to earth. With a shriek the man fell, and at the
same time Olson and Brady saw the slim figure of a young girl standing
at the edge of the jungle coolly fitting another arrow to her bow.
“Bradley had now succeeded in wrestling his arm
free from von Schoenvorts’ grip and in dropping the latter with a blow
from the butt of his pistol. The rest of the English and Germans were engaged
in a hand-to-hand encounter, Plesser and Hindle standing aside from the
melee and urging their comrades to surrender and join with the English
against the tyranny of von Schoenvorts. Heinz and Klatz, possibly influenced
by their exhortation, were putting up but a half-hearted resistance; but
Dietz, a huge, bearded, bull-necked Prussian, yelling like a maniac, sought
to exterminate the Englische schweinhunde with his bayonet, fearing to
fire his piece lest he kill some of his comrades.
“It was Olson who engaged him, and though unused
to the long German rifle and bayonet, he met the bull-rush of the Hun with
the cold, cruel precision and science of English bayonet-fighting. There
was no feinting, no retiring and no parrying that was not also an attack.
Bayonet-fighting today is not a pretty thing to see – it is no artistic
fencing-match in which men give and take – it is slaughter inevitable and
“Dietz lunged once madly at Olson’s throat. A
short point, with just a twist of the bayonet to the left sent the sharp
blade over the Englishman’s left shoulder. Instantly he stepped close in,
dropped his rifle through his hands and grasped it with both close below
the muzzle and with a short, sharp stab sent his blade up beneath Dietz’s
chin clear to the brain. So quickly was the thing done and so quick the
withdrawal that Olson had wheeled to take on another adversary before the
German’s corpse had toppled to the ground.” (OTA/5.)
I remember during those two hours every morning in the Monterey Bay
fog at Fort Ord thinking about the movie Zulu, where British soldiers had
used the bayonet to repulse thousands of Zulu warriors with vicious efficiency.
Yes, that was some of the most fun and best training I ever had in the
“But there were no more adversaries to take on. Heinz and Klatz
had thrown down their rifles and with hands above their heads were crying,
‘Kamerad! Kamerad!’ at the tops of their voices. Von Schoenvorts still
lay where he had fallen. Plesser and Hindle were explaining to Bradley
that they were glad of the outcome of the fight, as they could no longer
endure the brutality of the U-boat commander.
Well, it is nice to know that Bradley learned the name of the girl during
those months of swimming lessons; and I’m sure he learned more than that
“The remainder of the men were looking at the girl who now advanced
slowly, her bow ready, when Bradley turned toward her and held out his
“‘Co-Tan,’ he said, ‘unstring your bow – these are my friends, and
yours.’ And to the Englishmen: ‘This is Co-Tan. You who saw her save me
from Schwartz know a part of what I owe her.’
“The rough men gathered about the girl, and when she spoke to them
in broken English, with a smile upon her lips enhancing the charm of her
irresistible accent, each and every one of them promptly fell in love with
her and constituted himself henceforth her guardian and her slave.” (OTA/5.)
“A moment later the attention of each
was called to Plesser by a volley of invective. They turned in time to
see the man running toward von Schoenvorts who was just rising from the
ground. Plesser carried a rifle with bayonet fixed, that he had snatched
from the side of Dietz’s corpse. Von Schoenvorts’ face was livid with fear,
his jaws working as though he would call for help; but no sound came from
his blue lips.
World War One was not yet over when ERB wrote the Caspakian Trilogy, but
this passage sums up best the crux of the idea I saw put forth in the movie,
Grand Illusion. I remember a conversation between two noblemen, a Frenchman
and a Prussian discussing the fall of the European aristocracy as a result
of the great social changes brought about because of the war. They realized
that the whole thing had been a Grand Illusion in light of the new wave
of democracy seizing the public mind.
“‘You struck me,’ shrieked Plesser. ‘Once, twice,
three times, you struck me, pig. You murdered Schwerke – you drove him
insane by your cruelty until he took his own life. You are only one of
your kind – they are all like you from the Kaiser down. I wish that you
were the Kaiser. Thus would I do!’ And he lunged his bayonet through von
Schoenvorts’ chest. Then he let his rifle fall with the dying man and wheeled
toward Bradley. ‘Here I am,’ he said. ‘Do with me as you like. All my life
I have been kicked and cuffed by such as that, and yet always have I gone
out when they commanded, singing, to give my life if need be to keep them
in power. Only lately have I come to know what a fool I have been. But
now I am no longer a fool, and besides, I am avenged and Schwerke is avenged,
so you can kill me if you wish. Here I am.’” (OTA/5.)
“‘If I was after bein’ the king,’ said
Olson, ‘I’d pin the V.C. on your noble chist; but bein’ only an Irishman
with a Swede name, for which God forgive me, the bist I can do is shake
Again, we learn something more about their time together in their little
Eden. In my opinion, he would have only broached this sore subject during
some moment of extreme intimacy, especially since he had consigned An-Tak’s
body to the River of Death right in front of her when she had been ignorant
of the Ben Gunn-like person of the corpse.
“‘You will not be punished,’ said Bradley. ‘There
are four of you left – if you four want to come along and work with us,
we will take you; but you will come as prisoners.’
“‘It suits me,’ said Plesser. ‘Now that the captain-lieutenant
is dead you need not fear us. All our lives we have known nothing but to
obey his class. If I had not killed him, I suppose I would be fool enough
to obey him again; but he is dead. Now we will obey you – we must obey
“‘And you?’ Bradley turned to the other survivors
of the original crew of the U-33. Each promised obedience.
“The three dead Germans were buried in a single
grave, and then the party boarded the submarine and stowed away the oil.
“Here Bradley told the men what had befallen
him since the night of September 14th when he had disappeared so mysteriously
from the camp upon the plateau. Now he learned for the first time that
Bowen J. Tyler, Jr., and Miss La Rue had been missing even longer than
he and that no faintest trace of them had been discovered.
“Olson told him of how the Germans had returned
and waited in ambush for them outside the fort, capturing them that they
might be used to assist in the work of refining oil and later in manning
the U-33; and Plesser told briefly of the experience of the German crew
under von Schoenvorts since they had escaped from Caspak months before
– of how they lost their bearings after having been shelled by ships they
had attempted to sneak farther north and how at last with provisions gone
and fuel almost exhausted they had sought and at last found, more by accident
than design, the mysterious island they had once been so glad to leave
“‘Now,’ announced Bradley, ‘we’ll plan for the
future. The boat has fuel, provisions and water for a month, I believe
you said, Plesser; there are ten of us to man it. We have a last sad duty
here – we must search for Miss La Rue and Mr. Tyler. I say a sad duty because
we know that we shall not find them; but it is none the less our duty to
comb the shoreline, firing signal shells at intervals, that we at least
may leave at last with full knowledge that we have done all that men might
do to locate them.’
“None dissented from this conviction, nor was
there a voice raised in protest against the plan to at least make assurance
doubly sure before quitting Caspak forever.
“That night they dropped anchor at the mouth
of a sluggish stream whose warm waters swarmed with millions of tiny tadpolelike
organisms – minute human spawn starting on their precarious journey from
some inland pool toward ‘the beginning’ – a journey in which one in millions,
perhaps, might survive to complete. Already almost at the inception of
life they were being greeted by thousands of voracious mouths as fish and
reptiles of many kinds fought to devour them, while other and larger creatures
pursued the devourers, to be, in turn, preyed upon by other of the countless
forms that inhabit the deeps of Caprona’s frightful sea.
“The second day was practically a repitition
of the first. They moved very slowly with frequent stops and once they
landed in the Kro-lu country to hunt. Here they were attacked by the bow-and-arrow
men, whom they could not persuade to palaver with them. So belligerent
were the natives that it became necessary to fire into them in order to
escape their persistent and ferocious attentions.
“‘What chance,’ asked Bradley, as they were returning
to the boat with their game, ‘could Tyler and Miss La Rue have had among
such as these?’
“But they continued on their fruitless quest,
and the third day, after cruising along the shore of a deep inlet, they
passed a line of lofty cliffs that formed the southern shore of the inlet
and rounded a sharp promontory about noon. Co-Tan and Bradley were on deck
alone, and as the new shoreline appeared beyond the point, the girl gave
an exclamation of joy and seized the man’s hand in hers.
“‘Oh, look!’ she cried. ‘The Galu country! The
Galu country! It is my country that I never thought to see again.’
“‘You are glad to come again, Co-Tan?’ asked
“‘Oh, so glad!’ she cried. ‘And you will come
with me to my people? We may live here among them, and you will be a great
warrior – oh, when Jor dies you may even be chief, for there is none so
mighty as my warrior. You will come?’
“Bradley shook his head. ‘I cannot, little Co-Tan,’
he answered. ‘My country needs me, and I must go back. Maybe someday I
shall return. You will not forget me, Co-Tan?’
“Bradley looked down upon the little bowed head.
He felt the soft cheek against his bare arm; and he felt something else
there too – hot drops of moisture that ran down to his very finger-tips
and splashes, but each one wrung from a woman’s heart.
“He bent low and raised the tear-stained face
to his own. ‘No, Co-Tan,’ he said, ‘I am not going away from you – for
you are going with me. You are going back to my own country to be my wife.
Tell me that you will, Co-Tan.’ And he bent still lower yet from his height
and kissed her lips. Nor did he need more than the wonderful new light
in her eyes to tell him that she would go to the end of the world with
him if he would but take her. And then the gun-crew came up from below
again to fire a signal shot, and the two were brought down from the high
heaven of their new happiness to the scarred and weather-beaten deck of
“An hour later the vessel was running close in
by a shore of wondrous beauty beside a parklike meadow that stretched back
a mile inland to the foot of a plateau when Whitely called attention to
a score of figures clambering downward from the elevation to the lowland
below. The engines were reversed and the boat brought to a stop while all
hands gathered on deck to watch the little party coming toward them across
“‘They are Galus,’ cried Co-Tan; ‘they are my
own people. Let me speak to them lest they think we come to fight them.
Put me ashore, my man, and I will go meet them.’
“The nose of the U-boat was run close in to the
steep bank; but when Co-Tan would have run forward alone, Bradley seized
her hand and held her back. ‘I will go with you, Co-Tan,’ he said; and
together they advanced to meet the oncoming party.
“There were about twenty warriors moving forward
in a thin line, as our infantry advance on skirmishers. Bradley could not
but notice the marked difference between this formation and the moblike
methods of the lower tribes he had come in contact with, and he commented
upon it to Co-Tan.
“‘Galu warriors always advance into battle thus,’
she said. ‘The lesser people remain in a huddled group where they can scarce
use their weapons the while present so big a mark to us that our spears
and arrows cannot miss them; but when they hurl theirs at our warriors,
if they miss the first man, there is no chance that they will kill some
one behind him.
“‘Stand still now,’ she cautioned, ‘and fold
your arms. They will not harm us then.’
“Bradley did as he was bid, and the two stood
with arms folded as the line of warriors approached. When they had come
within some fifty yards, they halted and one spoke. ‘Who are you and from
whence do you come?’ he asked; and then Co-Tan gave a little, glad cry
and sprang forward with outstretched arms.
“‘Oh, Tan!’ she exclaimed. ‘Do you not know your
“The warrior stared, incredulous, for a moment,
and then he, too, ran forward and when they met, took the girl in his arms.
It was then that Bradley experienced to the full a sensation that was new
to him – a sudden hatred for the strange warrior before him and a desire
to kill without knowing why he would kill. He moved quickly to the girl’s
side and grasped her wrist.
“‘Who is this man?’ he demaned in cold tones.
“Co-Tan turned a surprised face toward the Englishman
and then of a sudden broke forth into a merry peal of laughter. ‘This is
my father, Bradlee,’ she cried.
“‘And who is Brad-lee?’ demanded the warrior.
“‘He is my man,’ replied Co-Tan simply.
“‘By what right?’ insisted Tan.
“And then she told him briefly of all that she
had passed through since the Wieroos had stolen her and of how Bradley
had rescued her and sought to rescue An-Tak, her brother.’” (OTA/5.)
“‘You are satisfied with him?’ asked
How could she be Mrs. Bradley unless they had already consummated their
relationship? In many societies there is no true marriage without consummation.
That is my case for their time in Eden, when I assume Bradley finally succumbed
to temptation and ate of the fruit. Of course, you are free to believe
“”Yes,’ replied the girl proudly.
“It was then that Bradley’s attention was attracted
to the edge of the plateau by a movement there, and looking closely he
saw a horse bearing two figures sliding down the steep declivity. Once
at the bottom, the animal came charging across the meadowland at a rapid
run. It was a magnificent animal – a great bay stallion with white-blazed
face and white forelegs to the knees, its barrel encircled by a broad surcingle
of white; and as it came to a sudden stop beside Tan, the Englishman saw
that it bore a man and a girl – a tall man and a girl as beautiful as Co-Tan.
When the girl espied the latter, she slid from the horse and ran toward
her, fairly screaming for joy.
“The man dismounted and stood beside Tan. Like
Bradley he was garbed after the fashion of the surrounding warriors; but
there was a subtle difference between him and his companion. Possibly he
detected a similar difference in Bradley, for his first question was, ‘From
what country?’ and though he spoke in Galu Bradley thought he detected
“‘England,’ replied Bradley.
“A broad smile lighted the newcomer’s face as
he held out his hand. ‘I am Tom Billings of Santa Monica, California,’
he said. ‘I know all about you, and I’m mighty glad to find you alive.’
“‘How did you get here?’ asked Bradley. ‘I thought
ours was the only party of men from the outer world ever to enter Caprona.’
“‘It was, until we came in search of Bowen J.
Tyler, Jr.,’ replied Billings.
‘We found him and sent him home with his bride;
but I was kept a prisoner here.’
“Bradley’s face darkened – then they were not
among friends after all.
‘There are ten of us down there on a German sub
with small-arms and a gun,’ he said quickly in English. ‘It will be no
trick to get away from these people.’
“‘You don’t know my jailer,’ replied Billings,
‘or you’d not be so sure. Wait, I’ll introduce you.’ And then turning to
the girl who had accompanied him he called her by name. ‘Ajor,’ he said,
‘permit me to introduce Lieutenant Bradley; Lieutenant, Mrs. Billings –
“The Englishman laughed as he shook hands with
the girl. ‘You are not as good a soldier as I,’ he said to Billings. ‘Instead
of being taken prisoner myself I have taken one – Mrs. Bradley, this is
Mrs. Billings.’” (OTA/5.)
“Ajor, quick to understand, turned toward
Co-Tan. ‘You are going back with him to his country?’ she asked. Co-Tan
Wait a minute here! Just what kind of cowboy is Billings,
anyway? He didn’t say a word about his excellent horse that unfortunately
he had to be left behind. “As they steamed down the inland sea past the
island of Oo-oh, the stories of their adventures were retold, and Bradley
learned that Bowen Tyler and his bride had left the Galu country but a
fortnight before and that there was every reason to believe that the Toreador
might still be lying in the Pacific not far off the subterranean mouth
of the river which emitted Caprona’s heated waters into the ocean.
“‘You dare?’ asked Ajor. ‘But your father will
not permit it – Jor, my father, High Chief of the Galus, will not permit
it, for like me you are cos-ata-lo. Oh, Co-Tan, if we but could! How I
would love to see all the strange and wonderful things of which my Tom
“Bradley bent and whispered in her ear. ‘Say
the word and you may both go with us.’
“Billings heard and speaking in English, asked
Ajor if she would go.
“‘Yes,’ she answered, ‘if you wish it; but you
know, my Tom, that if Jor captures us, both you and Co-Tan’s man will pay
the penalty with your lives – not even his love for me nor his admiration
for you can save you.’
“Bradley noticed that she spoke in English –
broken English like Co-Tan’s but equally appealing. ‘We can easily get
you aboard the ship,’ he said, ‘on some pretext or other, and then we can
steam away. They can neither harm nor detain us, nor will we have to fire
a shot at them.’
“And so it was done, Bradley and Co-Tan taking
Ajor and Billings aboard to ‘show’ them the vessel, which almost immediately
raised anchor and moved slowly out into the sea.
“‘I hate to do it,’ said Billings. ‘They have
been fine to me. Jor and Tan are splendid men and they will think me an
ingrate; but I can’t waste my life here when there is so much to be done
in the outer world.’” (OTA/5.)
“Late in the second day, after running
through swarms of hideous reptiles, they submerged at the point where the
river entered beneath the cliffs and shortly after rose to the sunlit surface
of the Pacific; but nowhere as far as they could see was sign of another
craft. Down the coast they steamed toward the beach where Billings had
made his crossing in the hydro-aeroplane and just at dusk the lookout announced
a light dead ahead. It proved to be aboard the Toreador, and a halfhour
later there was such a reunion on deck of the trig little yacht as no one
there had ever dreamed might be possible. Of the Allies there were only
Tippet and James to be mourned, and no one mourned any of the German dead
nor Benson, the traitor, whose ugly story was first told in Bowen Tyler’s
Those are the last words ERB ever wrote about Caspak. I am sure he could
have written many more. What about the kids of Billings and Bradley? Wouldn’t
they have dreamed of returning to the land of their mother’s birth? Did
they have sons? Were they World War Two heroes? And so forth and so forth.
But he never did. Perhaps he realized the Trilogy was perfect as it was,
since the evolutionary scheme had been exhausted ad nauseum. Perhaps the
stories would have been too much like Pellucidar...one can only speculate.
I would like to have known what happened to Plesser. Was he interned in
the USA or Britain? Likely the USA, for the British would have hanged him
for killing his superior officer, that’s for sure.
“Tyler and the rescue party had but just reached
the yacht that afternoon. They had heard, faintly, the signal shots fired
by the U-33 but had been unable to locate their direction and so had assumed
that they had come from the guns of the Toreador.
“It was a happy party that sailed north toward
sunny, southern California, the old U-33 trailing in the wake of the Toreador
and flying with the latter the glorious Stars and Stripes beneath which
she had been born in the shipyard at Santa Monica. Three newly married
couples, their bonds now duly solemnized by the master of the ship, joyed
in the peace and security of the untracked waters of the south Pacific
and the unique honeymoon which, had it not been for the stern duty ahead,
they could have wished protracted till the end of time.
“And so they came one day to dock at the shipyard
which Bowen Tyler now controlled, and here the U-33 still lies while those
who passed so many eventful days within and because of her, have gone their
various ways.” (OTA/5.)
Did Bowen become part of America’s military-industrial complex? Would
he have voted for Mitt Romney in the upcoming election if he were still
alive? (I write this on September 18, 2012, 96 years and 8 days after John
Tippet was tragically eaten by a T-Rex.) ERB was a Republican to the end
of his days, even though he started to change his mind about modern warfare,
having had a taste of it first hand in the Pacific as a war correspondent
during World War Two after Pearl Harbor, which he witnessed first hand
with his oldest son while playing tennis.
But let us be grateful for the creation of Caspak, another vivid world
of ERB’s imagination excellently told. Amen, and may the tas-ad be with
you, George, always.
(Continued in Part Twenty-Seven)