THE VIKINGS IN PELLUCIDAR
by Conrad H. Ruppert
Science Fiction Digest -- November 1932
With apologies to Edgar Rice Burroughs, Ralph Milne Farley,
and whoever wants apologies.
Angus Selkirk and Eric Redmond shook hands before turning toward their wives. "To the luck and good fortune of our expedition," solemnly declared Eric. After kissing their wives they each stepped into the Viking vessels which lay upon the beach and, without more ado, the youths left behind applied their husky shoulders to the ships and pushed them into the water. The Norsemen seated at the oars now took up the task and the two proud galleys commenced their journey into the unknown.
As the ships faded into the distance the crowd slowly straggled from the beach until only three women were left, Helga, Eric's wife, Astrid, Angus' wife, and Borghild, Scarface Boston Jimmy's wife. They stood and watched the departing explorers until they weren't even a speck upon the horizon. Helga was the first to leave. Astrid and Borghild stood for some time comforting each other until finally Astrid dried her tears and suggested a short ride in one of the small boats. Poor Borghild managed to assent through her tears and so they departed, on a trip which proved to be longer than anticipated.
It was one of the giant birds of the inner world which caused Astrid to lose her first oar, and in trying to retrieve that, she lost the other also.
Tanar of Pellucidar, son of David I and Diane the Beautiful, was out fishing one fine morning (oh, darn that timeless world, there ain't no morning). Fishing was one of Tanar's favorite sports, and had involved him in trouble several times all-ready, but not the kind of trouble our fishermen get.
A fierce storm came up, these things have a remarkable habit of happening at just the right time for an author's plans. If this storm hadn't come up I couldn't have written this tale. So, you say that would have been a good thing, well, now you'll suffer.
Naturally, for the purposes of this story, the storm continued with unabated fury until Tanar was completely driven from land, and from his course. In other words, he was lost. But he wasn't the only one lost. The storm seperated Angus' ship from that of Eric. It also managed to drive the small boat containing Astrid and Borghild far away from land, and beyond hope of rescue.
Of course word reached the royal family of Pellucidar that their son had gone fishing, and had not returned after the storm. Just as naturally, in the course of events, as time dragged on, the parents became, as parents have a habit of becoming, worried at the continued absence of their son. So it is that one fine morning, David I, Emperor of Pellucidar, kissed his Empress Diane the Beautiful, goodbye, and set out upon an expedition to find his wandering boy.
At about the same time another rescue party set out from the Viking City. Helga had heard of Astrid's leaving on her ill-fated rowboat ride. As time dragged on after the storm she became worried. Finally, some time after David's expedition set out, Helga dispatched a fleet of Viking ships. After these returned, one by one, without finding any trace of the missing blondes, Helga decided to explore by air. So she sailed out one fine morning (ah, even if there ain't no time in there, what difference does it make?) on a glider.
Just after the storm stopped Tanar woke up, for he had been knocked unconscious during the tossings of his small boat. He found himself in the middle of the sea (how in blazes would he know it was the middle?) and not even an island in sight. He wasn't a castaway, yet.
How long he drifted before he sighted the island, I cannot say, for even though I keep forgetting it, time is non-existent in Pellucidar. The strange ball of light which serves as a sun in the Inner World is never extinguished, so eternal day reigns at the earth's core.
He landed on the island about the same time that Helga set out on her glider ride and Diane, but read what follows ---
Diane, the Beautiful, Empress of Pellucidar, missed her David very much. She sat for hours on end watching the horizon. At this particular time she was paddling in one of the kayuk-like canoes, just a little off shore.
Now the stage is set for another storm. I like to use those things, gives such a feeling of power over nature. This kind storm (kind to me) was Pellucidar-wide, in fact it gripped the whole core of the earth. (Obliging storm, eh, what?) Naturally all but Tanar were gripped in this storm. The Pellucidarian prince was slumbering on the island, blissfully unaware of nature's terrors.
Angus Selkirk's vessel was wrecked upon an island close by the one on which Tanar slumbered. Eric Redmond's vessel was tossed near Tanar's island, and David's ship wasn't left far from the island on which we just wrecked Selkirk's vessel. Of course, Helga was tossed around, and Astrid and Borghild got another shaking up. Diane was also tossed far away from the shores of her homeland.
Tanar watched the approach of the queer vessel with keen eyes. His meeting with the terrible Korsairs had taught him caution, so he did not rush to greet Eric Redmond when he stepped upon the beach. He judged that the strangers must have intelligence for their bows and arrows were a sure sign of that. He also noticed the glider on board, but its strangeness left him puzzled, and he decided it must be an unusual weapon.
He watched as Eric divided the Vikings into two search parties. One went off to the right, the other to the left. Eric and Scarface Boston Jimmy remained on the beach to repair some slight damage to the ship. Tanar crept slowly closer until he was within earshot, and he was indeed much surprised to hear the two talking English. He showed himself, and before the search parties returned explanations were over, and they were ready to depart. They set out for the island nearby, on which incidently, Selkirk had been wrecked.
The Vikings watched the approach of the strange craft bearing David I with interest but they did not relax their grips on the weapons they carried. David and his party landed and rushed toward the group standing upon the beach. The Emperor was astounded to see real living Vikings in Pellucidar, but when he saw their hostile mien he stopped, and, after commanding his men to halt, he called out in English. Angus answered with a great deal of surprise.
After the explanations had been made they all embarked in David's craft to leave the island. At the very same time Redmond and his party were landing upon the opposite side of the island. And thus our two threads cross, but do not meet, fate has another trick up her sleeve.
Of course Redmond found the remains of the Viking vessel, and the party lost a good deal of time looking for the Vikings who weren't there. By the time they set out again the other vessel had disappeared over the horizon. So Eric set out in the direction of Tanar's home, for the Pellucidarians have a peculiar sense of direction and they always know just where their home is.
When the storm abated, Diane saw another boat containing two women just a short distance away. She joined them, and their attempts to establish communication would have been ludicrous if it weren't for the seriousness of their position. Finally, in desperation, Diane tried English and soon they were recounting their experiences and, laughing and crying by turns, as women will do when overcome by emotion.
A speck appeared in the sky, at first the three women were fearful that it was one of the dreadful bird denizens of the Inner World, but they soon were able to see that it was a glider. Thus Helga joined the wives' convention.
(I didn't ask you to start reading this but as long as you've managed to get this far, read the end on page 14, all's x, ace. Chr.)
Tanar expressed great interest in the glider so, during one high wind Jimmy and Tanar were launched into the air. They set off in the direction of Pellucidar. Now gentle reader (bet you wouldn't be so gentle if you could lay your hands on me) we will have our last storm. Must we? Oh, yes indeed, for thus we gather the threads and end the story.
When this third, and very last, and most fierce storm ended the beach near the Pellucidarian shipyards saw a strange sight. Riding off shore was a Viking vessel, on the sand lay the remains of a rowboat and a glider, and the ship which had set out with David I. David, Diane, and Tanar embraced each other. Helga and Eric, Angus and Astrid, Jimmy and Borghild completed the lovers' convention. The Viking party and the Pellucidar party watched the happy reunion and thus our story ends on a happy note
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