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Volume 3975

Part Fourteen
Woodrow Edgar Nichols, Jr.
(Dedicated to George McWhorter)
(Chapter Five)

Now we come to a chapter that is more driven by the overall revelation of Caspakian Evolution than by danger and action. Thus, even though ERB’s narrative style always slows down the eye of the speed reader, this is no time for speed reading. Close attention is required. 

Though crazy and straining in credible scientific analysis, ERB’s Caspakian Evolutionary scheme is quite a lot of fun if you pay attention. It is also good to remember that the title of this middle book of the trilogy is called The People that Time Forgot, and thus is more about the Caspakian people and semi-people that inhabit the inner crater of Caprona, than about our first person narrator, Tom Billings. Of course, Billings and his girl, Ajor, are the main engines of the plot, what little of one there is, as is always the case in an ERB story.

So, let us return to our rousing adventure. Tom and Ajor, as you recall, have joined forces with To-mar and So-al, who have both just “evolved,” or “risen,” nearly simultaneously to the next stage, that of Kro-lu, the archers. Of course, this is only a temporary arrangement, just enough time in order for the new Kro-los to prepare their new weapons and apparel before being accepted into the Kro-lu tribe. This gives ample time for Tom, the amateur paleontologist, to question these people about their history and customs.

F. Tom Billings (continued):

“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 Caspakian.
“‘I am a cos-ata-lo,’ commenced Ajor, and then she turned toward me. ‘A cos-ata-lo, my Tom, is a woman’ (lo) ‘who did not come from an egg and thus on up from the beginning.’ (cor-sva-jo). ‘I was a babe at my mother’s breast. Only among the Galus are such, and then but infrequently. The Wieroo get most of us; but my mother hid me until I had attained such size that the Wieroo could not readily distinguish me from one who had come up from the beginning. I knew both my mother and my father, as only such as I may. My father is high chief among the Galus. His name is Jor, and both he and my mother came up from the beginning; but one of them, probably my mother, had completed the seven cycles’ (Approximately seven hundred years), ‘with the result that their offspring might be cos-ata-lo, or born as are all the children of your race, 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 hugh warrior of whom my father stood in considerable fear, since it was quite possible that Du-seen could wrest from him the chieftainship of the Galus. He has a large following of the newer Galus, those most recently come up from the Kro-lu, and as this class is usually much more powerful numerically than the older Galus, and as Du-seen’s ambition knows no bounds, we have for a long time been expecting him to find some excuse for a break with Jor the High Chief, my father.
“‘A further complication lay in the fact that Du-seen wanted me, while I would have none of him, and then came evidence to my father’s ears that he was in league with the Wieroo; a hunter, returning late at night, came trembling to my father, saying that he had seen Du-seen talking with a Wieroo in a lonely spot far from the village, and that plainly he had heard the words: “If you will help me, I will help you – I will deliver into your hands all cos-ata-lo among the Galus, now and hereafter; but for that service you must slay Jor the High Chief and bring terror and confusion to his followers.’
“‘Now, when my father heard this, he was angry; but he was also afraid – afraid for me, who am cos-ata-lo. He called me to him and told me what he had heard, pointing out two ways in which we might frustrate Du-seen. The first was that I go to Du-seen as his mate, after which he would be loath to give me into the hands of the Wieroo or to further abide by the wicked compact he had made – a compact which would doom his own offspring, who would doubtless be as am I, their mother. The alternative was flight until Du-seen should have been overcome and punished. I chose the latter and fled toward the south. Beyond the confines of the Galu country is little danger from the Wieroo, who seek ordinarily only Galus of the highest orders. There are two excellent reasons for this: One is that from the beginning of time jealousy had existed between the Wieroo and the Galus as to which constituted the highest order and therefore which could 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 producing both sexes and at the same time lessen ours. Already the Galus produce both male and female; but so carefully do the Wieroo watch us that few of the males ever grow to manhood, while even fewer are the females that are not stolen away. It is indeed a strange condition, for while our greatest enemies hate and fear us, they dare not exterminate us, knowing that they too would become extinct but for us.’
“‘Ah, but could we once get a start, I am sure that when all were true cosata-lo there would have been evolved at last the true dominant race before which all the world would be forced to bow.’” (PTF/5.)
Did you get all of that? It seems that Tom has stumbled onto a scenario occurring during the long evolution of Caspak that is novel, and wouldn’t you just know it? – his girl, Ajor, is in the thick of it. From what I gathered, at the first, like a new branch on the Caspakian evolutionary tree, the Wieroo were a strange mutation of Galu, and ever since the two orders have been competing to see which one is the fittest for Caspakian supremacy: the new branch or the old? Is the new just a freak, dead-end mutation? Os is the old, like the Neanderthals, bound for the trash heap of extinction.

And what about that Galu-Wieroo conspiracy going on for the first time in Caspakian history – even while Ajor tells her story? And what exactly is a Wieroo? What makes them so frightening?

Tom muses about how Ajor speaks of Caspak as if it’s the only world that exists and that she must think that Tom comes from a completely different one, never troubling her pretty head about where that world is or about how Tom even came to Caspak. 

“‘Well,’ she continued, ‘and so I ran away to hide, intending to pass the cliffs to the south of Galu and find a retreat in the Kro-lu country. It would be dangerous, but there seemed no other way.
“‘The third night I took refuge in a large cave in the cliffs at the edge of my own country; upon the following day I would cross over into the Kro-lu country, where I felt that I should be reasonably safe from the Wieroo, though menaced by countless other dangers. However, to a cos-ata-lo any fate is preferable to that of falling into the clutches of the frightful Wieroo, from whose land none 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 nest and might soon depart without discovering me; yet all the while I knew that he came seeking me.
“‘I waited, scarce breathing, watching the thing creep stealthily toward me, its great eyes luminous in the darkness of the cave’s interior, and at last I knew that those eyes were directed upon me, for the Wieroo can see in the darkness better than even the lion or the tiger. But a few feet separated us when I sprang to my feet and dashed madly toward my menacer in a vain effort to dodge past him and reach the outside world. It was madness, of course, for even had I succeeded temporarily, the Wieroo would have but followed and swooped down upon me from above. As it was, he reached forth and seized me, and though I struggled, he overpowered me. In the duel his long, white robe was nearly torn from him, and he became very angry, so that he trembled and beat his wings together in his rage.’” (PTF/5.)
Ah, here at last come some clues. Wieroos can fly. They wear white robes and have wings, which is why they can swoop down out of nowhere and what makes them so damn scary. But are they like the dinosaurs who adapted to a new environment and now make up the bird kingdom? Was mankind really meant to fly? And what kind of men are they?
“‘He asked me my name; but I would not answer him, and that angered him still more. At last he dragged me to the entrance of the cave, lifted me in his arms, spread his great wings and leaping into the air, flapped dismally through the night. I saw the moonlit landscape sliding away beneath me, and then we were out above the sea and on our way to Oo-oh, the country of the Wieroo.
“‘The dim outlines of Oo-oh were unfolding below us when there came from above a loud whirring of giant wings. The Wieroo and I glanced up simultaneously, to see a pair of huge jo-oos’ (flying reptiles – pterodactyls) ‘swooping down upon us. The Wieroo wheeled and dropped almost to sea-level, and then raced southward in an effort to oudistance 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 close behind us.
“‘I knew that we had covered a great distance, for the rush of the wind by my face attested the speed of our progress, but I had no idea where we were when at last I realized that the Wieroo was weakening. One of the jo-oos gained on us and succeeded in heading us, so that my captor had to turn in toward the coast. Further and further they forced him to the left; lower and lower he sank. More labored was his breathing, and weaker the stroke of his once powerful wings. We were not ten feet above the ground when they overtook us, and at the edge of a forest. One of them seized the Wieroo by his right wing, and in an effort to free himself, he loosed his grasp upon me, dropping me to earth. Like a frightened ecca I leaped to my feet and raced for the sheltering sanctuary of the forest, where I knew that 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.’” (PTF/5.)
Don’t you just love Caspak? Even the Wieroo can be eaten. I must say, Ajor is a damn good story teller. We could even add another first person narrator to our list if we wanted to.

But why confuse things any more than they already are? Are we to suspect that she was being constantly watched by the Wieroo because Du-seen tipped them off about her? Is that why this one was specifically seeking her? We are not told for sure, but I believe this idea is on the right track of analysis. Some times ERB just leaves the reader to parse these things out for him or herself.

Yes, that Ajor is quite the woman, and she refers to Billings as “my Tom.” How sweet.

Yes, a true Caspakian to the core and just what Billings needs to survive.

“‘I was saved; yet I felt that I was lost. How far I was from the country of the Galus I could not guess; nor did it seem probable that I ever could make my way in safety to my native land.
“‘Day was breaking; soon the carnivora would stalk forth for their first kill; I was armed only with my knife. About me was a strange landscape – the flowers, the trees, the grasses, even, were different from those of my northern world, and presently there appeared before me a creature fully as hideous as the Wieroo – a hairy man-thing 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 considererd 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.” (PTF/5.)
Don’t you just love the way ERB makes fun of Tom’s cognitive dissonance about his true feelings for the girl savage? She gives him erections which emind him of love. Well, you caninterpret “those peculiar thrills” anyway you like.

It comes time for To-mar and So-al to confront the Kro-lu chief and hence they must part ways with the couple, who have had the rare privilege of coming up from the beginning together. 

As a result, Tom gets another insight into Caspakian psychology.

“This was our last day together. In the afternoon we should separate, Tomar 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 Bo-lu 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 Galu 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 cosata-lo are still considered Galus and remain with them. And Galus come up both from the west and the 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 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 Galu country was still higher and considerably colder, which accounted for the scarcity of reptiles. The changes in form and kinds of the lower animals were even more marked than the evolutionary stages of man. The diminutive ecca, or small horse, became a roughcoated 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 wooly 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 Galus countries, though fortunately they are rare. I rather imagine that they are a very early form of life which is rapidly nearing extinction in Caspak, though wherever they are found, they constitute a menace to all forms of life.
“It was mid-afternoon when To-mar and So-al bade us good-bye. We were not far from Kro-lu village; in fact, we had approached it much closer than we had intended, and now Ajor and I were to make a detour toward the sea while our companions went directly in search of the Kro-lu chief.” (PTF/5.)
What I really find interesting is the way ERB sets up future complications with what at first sight is just another adventure along the way. The fact is, as we will soon discover, there are more than one just one conspiracy going on in Caspak and what occurs among the Kro-lu is just as important as what occurs among the Galu.
“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 caused me to draw back into concealment, at the same time pushing Ajor behind me. What I saw was a party of Band-lu warriors – large, fierce-appearing men. From the direction of their march I saw that they were returning to their caves, and that if we remained where we were, they would pass without discovering us.
“Presently Ajor nudged me. ‘They have a prisoner,’ she whispered. ‘He is a Kro-lu.’
“And then I saw him, the first fully developed Kro-lu I had seen. He was a fine-looking savage, tall and straight, with a regal carriage. To-mar was a handsome fellow; but this Kro-lu showed plainly in his every physical attribute a higher plane of evolution. While To-mar was just entering the Kro-lu sphere, this man, it seemed to me, must be close indeed to the next stage of his development, which would see him an envied Galu.
“‘They will kill him?’ I whispered to Ajor.
“‘The dance of death,’ she replied, and I shuddered, so recently had I escaped the same fate. It seemed cruel that one who must have passed safely up through all the frightful stages of human evolution within Caspak, should die at the every 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 are all our enemies.’
“‘I am going to save him from the dance of death,’ I replied, ‘enemy or no enemy,’ and I squeezed the trigger. At the report, the two Band-lu lunged foward 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 demonic 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 of 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 they should 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 halfway 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 though my subconscious mind, impelled by a stronger power even than that of self-preservation, directed my hand. Ajor was in danger! Simultaneously with the thought my pistol flew to position, a streak of incandescent powder marked the path of the bullet from its muzzle; and the spear, its point shattered, was deflected from its path. With a howl of dismay the six Band-lu rose from their shelter and raced away toward the south.
“I turned toward Ajor. She was very white and wide-eyed, for the clutching fingers of death had all but seized her; but a little smile came to her lips and an expression of great pride to her eyes. ‘My Tom!’ she said, and took my hand in hers. That was all – ‘My Tom!’ and a pressure of the hand. Her Tom! Something stirred within my bosom. Was it exaltation or was it consternation? Impossible! I turned away almost brusquely.
“‘Come!’ I said, and strode off toward the Kro-lu prisoner.” (PTF/5.)
That’s quite a cultural prejudice Billings carries in heart, wouldn’t you say? It reminds me of the Joan Jett song that goes, “I hate myself for loving you.” We will see what is in store for our heroes when they interrogate the Kro-lu warrior in the next installment. Until then, remember, this is Caspak! Never leave your weapons behind.
(Continued in Part Fifteen)
(For any comments, contact


Woodrow Edgar Nichols, Jr.
(Dedicated to George McWhorter)
ERBzine Refs
The Land that Time Forgot - eText edition

CASPAK IN REVIEW by Steve Servello
Caspak Dictionary by Banks Miller
Wieroo of Caprona by Den Valdron
The Mystery of Caprona by Den Valdron
Caspak Maps
Caspakian Demography
Caspakian Fauna
Caspak Art by Mahlon Blaine
Sociology of the Wieroo by Rick Johnson
Popular Science and the Land That Time Forgot by Phil Burger
LOOSE STRING ~ COS-ATA-LO by Sailor Barsoom
The Land That Time Forgot - Film Version
The Land That Time Forgot - ERB C.H.A.S.E.R.

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