Edgar Rice Burroughs.

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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 Galus outnumber the Kro-lu. As Ajor
explained it to me, the reason for this is that as evolution
practically ceases with the Galus, there is no less among them on this
score, for even the cos-ata-lo are still considered Galus and remain
with them. And Galus come up both from the west and east coasts.
There are, too, fewer carnivorous reptiles at the north end of the
island, and not so many of the great and ferocious members of the cat
family as take their hideous toll of life among the races further south.

By now I was obtaining some idea of the Caspakian scheme of evolution,
which partly accounted for the lack of young among the races I had so
far seen. Coming up from the beginning, the Caspakian passes, during a
single existence, through the various stages of evolution, or at least
many of them, through which the human race has passed during the
countless ages since life first stirred upon a new world; but the
question which continued to puzzle me was: What creates life at the
beginning, cor sva jo?

I had noticed that as we traveled northward from the Alus' country the
land had gradually risen until we were now several hundred feet above
the level of the inland sea. Ajor told me that the Galus country was
still higher and considerably colder, which accounted for the scarcity
of reptiles. The change in form and kinds of the lower animals was
even more marked than the evolutionary stages of man. The diminutive
ecca, or small horse, became a rough-coated and sturdy little pony in
the Kro-lu country. I saw a greater number of small lions and tigers,
though many of the huge ones still persisted, while the woolly mammoth
was more in evidence, as were several varieties of the Labyrinthadonta.
These creatures, from which God save me, I should have expected to find
further south; but for some unaccountable reason they gain their
greatest bulk in the Kro-lu and Galu countries, though fortunately they
are rare. I rather imagine that they are a very early life which is
rapidly nearing extinction in Caspak, though wherever they are found,
they constitute a menace to all forms of life.

It was mid-afternoon when To-mar and So-al bade us good-bye. We were
not far from Kro-lu village; in fact, we had approached it much closer
than we had intended, and now Ajor and I were to make a detour toward
the sea while our companions went directly in search of the Kro-lu

Ajor and I had gone perhaps a mile or two and were just about to emerge
from a dense wood when I saw that ahead of us which caused me to draw
back into concealment, at the same time pushing Ajor behind me. What I
saw was a party of Band-lu warriors - large, fierce-appearing men. From
the direction of their march I saw that they were returning to their
caves, and that if we remained where we were, they would pass without
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 very foot of his goal. I raised my rifle to
my shoulder and took careful aim at one of the Band-lu. If I hit him,
I would hit two, for another was directly behind the first.

Ajor touched my arm. "What would you do?" she asked. "They 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 forward upon their faces. I handed my rifle to Ajor, and
drawing my pistol, stepped out in full view of the startled party. The
Band-lu did not run away as had some of the lower orders of Caspakians
at the sound of the rifle. Instead, the moment they saw me, they let
out a series of demoniac war-cries, and raising their spears above
their heads, charged me.

The Kro-lu stood silent and statuesque, watching the proceedings. He
made no attempt to escape, though his feet were not bound and none of
the warriors remained to guard him. There were ten of the Band-lu
coming for me. I dropped three of them with my pistol as rapidly as a
man might count by three, and then my rifle spoke close to my left
shoulder, and another of them stumbled and rolled over and over upon
the ground. Plucky little Ajor! She had never fired a shot before in
all her life, though I had taught her to sight and aim and how to
squeeze the trigger instead of pulling it. She had practiced these new
accomplishments often, but little had I thought they would make a
marksman of her so quickly.

With six of their fellows put out of the fight so easily, the remaining
six sought cover behind some low bushes and commenced a council of war.
I wished that they would go away, as I had no ammunition to waste, and
I was fearful that should they institute another charge, some of them
would reach us, for they were already quite close. Suddenly one of
them rose and launched his spear. It was the most marvelous exhibition
of speed I have ever witnessed. It seemed to me that he had scarce
gained an upright position when the weapon was half-way upon its
journey, speeding like an arrow toward Ajor. And then it was, with
that little life in danger, that I made the best shot I have ever made
in my life! I took no conscious aim; it was as though my subconscious
mind, impelled by a stronger power even than that of self-preservation,
directed my hand. Ajor was in danger! Simultaneously with the thought
my pistol flew to position, a streak of incandescent powder marked the
path of the bullet from its muzzle; and the spear, its point shattered,
was deflected from its path. With a howl of dismay the six Band-lu
rose from their shelter and raced away toward the south.

I turned toward Ajor. She was very white and wide-eyed, for the
clutching fingers of death had all but seized her; but a little smile
came to her lips and an expression of great pride to her eyes. "My
Tom!" she said, and took my hand in hers. That was all - "My Tom!" 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.

The Kro-lu stood watching us with stolid indifference. I presume that
he expected to be killed; but if he did, he showed no outward sign of
fear. His eyes, indicating his greatest interest, were fixed upon my
pistol or the rifle which Ajor still carried. I cut his bonds with my
knife. As I did so, an expression of surprise tinged and animated the
haughty reserve of his countenance. He eyed me quizzically.

"What are you going to do with me?" he asked.

"You are free," I replied. "Go home, if you wish."

"Why don't you kill me?" he inquired. "I am defenseless."

"Why should I kill you? I have risked my life and that of this young
lady to save your life. Why, therefore should I now take it?" Of
course, I didn't say "young lady" as there is no Caspakian equivalent
for that term; but I have to allow myself considerable latitude in the
translation of Caspakian conversations. To speak always of a beautiful
young girl as a "she" may be literal; but it seems far from gallant.

The Kro-lu concentrated his steady, level gaze upon me for at least a
full minute. Then he spoke again.

"Who are you, man of strange skins?" he asked. "Your she is Galu; but
you are neither Galu nor Kro-lu nor Band-lu, nor any other sort of man
which I have seen before. Tell me from whence comes so mighty a
warrior and so generous a foe."

"It is a long story," I replied, "but suffice it to say that I am not
of Caspak. I am a stranger here, and - let this sink in - I am not a
foe. I have no wish to be an enemy of any man in Caspak, with the
possible exception of the Galu warrior Du-seen."

"Du-seen!" he exclaimed. "You are an enemy of Du-seen? And why?"

"Because he would harm Ajor," I replied. "You know him?"

"He cannot know him," said Ajor. "Du-seen rose from the Kro-lu long
ago, taking a new name, as all do when they enter a new sphere. He
cannot know him, as there is no intercourse between the Kro-lu and the

The warrior smiled. "Du-seen rose not so long ago," he said, "that I
do not recall him well, and recently he has taken it upon himself to
abrogate the ancient laws of Caspak; he had had intercourse with the
Kro-lu. Du-seen would be chief of the Galus, and he has come to the
Kro-lu for help."

Ajor was aghast. The thing was incredible. Never had Kro-lu and Galu
had friendly relations; by the savage laws of Caspak they were deadly
enemies, for only so can the several races maintain their individuality.

"Will the Kro-lu join him?" asked Ajor. "Will they invade the country
of Jor my father?"

"The younger Kro-lu favor the plan," replied the warrior, "since they
believe they will thus become Galus immediately. They hope to span the
long years of change through which they must pass in the ordinary
course of events and at a single stride become Galus. We of the older
Kro-lu tell them that though they occupy the land of the Galu and wear
the skins and ornaments of the golden people, still they will not be
Galus till the time arrives that they are ripe to rise. We also tell
them that even then they will never become a true Galu race, since
there will still be those among them who can never rise. It is all
right to raid the Galu country occasionally for plunder, as our people
do; but to attempt to conquer it and hold it is madness. For my part,
I have been content to wait until the call came to me. I feel that it
cannot now be long."

"What is your name?" asked Ajor.

"Chal-az," replied the man.

"You are chief of the Kro-lu?" Ajor continued.

"No, it is Al-tan who is chief of the Kro-lu of the east," answered

"And he is against this plan to invade my father's country?"

"Unfortunately he is rather in favor of it," replied the man, "since he
has about come to the conclusion that he is batu. He has been chief
ever since, before I came up from the Band-lu, and I can see no change
in him in all those years. In fact, he still appears to be more
Band-lu than Kro-lu. However, he is a good chief and a mighty warrior,
and if Du-seen persuades him to his cause, the Galus may find
themselves under a Kro-lu chieftain before long - Du-seen as well as the
others, for Al-tan would never consent to occupy a subordinate
position, and once he plants a victorious foot in Galu, he will not
withdraw it without a struggle."

I asked them what batu meant, as I had not before heard the word.
Literally translated, it is equivalent to through, finished, done-for,
as applied to an individual's evolutionary progress in Caspak, and with
this information was developed the interesting fact that not every
individual is capable of rising through every stage to that of Galu.
Some never progress beyond the Alu stage; others stop as Bo-lu, as
Sto-lu, as Band-lu or as Kro-lu. The Ho-lu of the first generation may
rise to become Alus; the Alus of the second generation may become
Bo-lu, while it requires three generations of Bo-lu to become Band-lu,
and so on until Kro-lu's parent on one side must be of the sixth

It was not entirely plain to me even with this explanation, since I
couldn't understand how there could be different generations of peoples
who apparently had no offspring. Yet I was commencing to get a slight
glimmer of the strange laws which govern propagation and evolution in
this weird land. Already I knew that the warm pools which always lie
close to every tribal abiding-place were closely linked with the
Caspakian scheme of evolution, and that the daily immersion of the
females in the greenish slimy water was in response to some natural
law, since neither pleasure nor cleanliness could be derived from what
seemed almost a religious rite. Yet I was still at sea; nor,
seemingly, could Ajor enlighten me, since she was compelled to use
words which I could not understand and which it was impossible for her
to explain the meanings of.

As we stood talking, we were suddenly startled by a commotion in the
bushes and among the boles of the trees surrounding us, and
simultaneously a hundred Kro-lu warriors appeared in a rough circle
about us. They greeted Chal-az with a volley of questions as they
approached slowly from all sides, their heavy bows fitted with long,
sharp arrows. Upon Ajor and me they looked with covetousness in the
one instance and suspicion in the other; but after they had heard
Chal-az's story, their attitude was more friendly. A huge savage did
all the talking. He was a mountain of a man, yet perfectly

"This is Al-tan the chief," said Chal-az by way of introduction. Then
he told something of my story, and Al-tan asked me many questions of
the land from which I came. The warriors crowded around close to hear
my replies, and there were many expressions of incredulity as I spoke
of what was to them another world, of the yacht which had brought me
over vast waters, and of the plane that had borne me Jo-oo-like over
the summit of the barrier-cliffs. It was the mention of the
hydroaeroplane which precipitated the first outspoken skepticism, and
then Ajor came to my defense.

"I saw it with my own eyes!" she exclaimed. "I saw him flying through
the air in battle with a Jo-oo. The Alus were chasing me, and they saw
and ran away."

"Whose is this she?" demanded Al-tan suddenly, his eyes fixed fiercely
upon Ajor.

For a moment there was silence. Ajor looked up at me, a hurt and
questioning expression on her face. "Whose she is this?" repeated

"She is mine," I replied, though what force it was that impelled me to
say it I could not have told; but an instant later I was glad that I
had spoken the words, for the reward of Ajor's proud and happy face was
reward indeed.

Al-tan eyed her for several minutes and then turned to me. "Can you
keep her?" he asked, just the tinge of a sneer upon his face.

I laid my palm upon the grip of my pistol and answered that I could.
He saw the move, glanced at the butt of the automatic where it
protruded from its holster, and smiled. Then he turned and raising his
great bow, fitted an arrow and drew the shaft far back. His warriors,
supercilious smiles upon their faces, stood silently watching him. His
bow was the longest and the heaviest among them all. A mighty man
indeed must he be to bend it; yet Al-tan drew the shaft back until the
stone point touched his left forefinger, and he did it with consummate
ease. Then he raised the shaft to the level of his right eye, held it
there for an instant and released it. When the arrow stopped, half its
length protruded from the opposite side of a six-inch tree fifty feet
away. Al-tan and his warriors turned toward me with expressions of
immense satisfaction upon their faces, and then, apparently for Ajor's
benefit, the chieftain swaggered to and fro a couple of times, swinging
his great arms and his bulky shoulders for all the world like a drunken
prize-fighter at a beach dancehall.

I saw that some reply was necessary, and so in a single motion, I drew
my gun, dropped it on the still quivering arrow and pulled the trigger.
At the sound of the report, the Kro-lu leaped back and raised their
weapons; but as I was smiling, they took heart and lowered them again,
following my eyes to the tree; the shaft of their chief was gone, and
through the bole was a little round hole marking the path of my bullet.
It was a good shot if I do say it myself, "as shouldn't" but necessity
must have guided that bullet; I simply had to make a good shot, that I
might immediately establish my position among those savage and warlike
Caspakians of the sixth sphere. That it had its effect was immediately
noticeable, but I am none too sure that it helped my cause with Al-tan.
Whereas he might have condescended to tolerate me as a harmless and
interesting curiosity, he now, by the change in his expression,
appeared to consider me in a new and unfavorable light. Nor can I
wonder, knowing this type as I did, for had I not made him ridiculous
in the eyes of his warriors, beating him at his own game? What king,
savage or civilized, could condone such impudence? Seeing his black
scowls, I deemed it expedient, especially on Ajor's account, to
terminate the interview and continue upon our way; but when I would
have done so, Al-tan detained us with a gesture, and his warriors
pressed around us.

"What is the meaning of this?" I demanded, and before Al-tan could
reply, Chal-az raised his voice in our behalf.

"Is this the gratitude of a Kro-lu chieftain, Al-tan," he asked, "to
one who has served you by saving one of your warriors from the
enemy - saving him from the death dance of the Band-lu?"

Al-tan was silent for a moment, and then his brow cleared, and the
faint imitation of a pleasant expression struggled for existence as he
said: "The stranger will not be harmed. I wished only to detain him
that he may be feasted tonight in the village of Al-tan the Kro-lu. In
the morning he may go his way. Al-tan will not hinder him."

I was not entirely reassured; but I wanted to see the interior of the
Kro-lu village, and anyway I knew that if Al-tan intended treachery I
would be no more in his power in the morning than I now was - in fact,
during the night I might find opportunity to escape with Ajor, while at
the instant neither of us could hope to escape unscathed from the
encircling warriors. Therefore, in order to disarm him of any thought
that I might entertain suspicion as to his sincerity, I promptly and
courteously accepted his invitation. His satisfaction was evident, and
as we set off toward his village, he walked beside me, asking many
questions as to the country from which I came, its peoples and their
customs. He seemed much mystified by the fact that we could walk
abroad by day or night without fear of being devoured by wild beasts or
savage reptiles, and when I told him of the great armies which we
maintained, his simple mind could not grasp the fact that they existed
solely for the slaughtering of human beings.

"I am glad," he said, "that I do not dwell in your country among such
savage peoples. Here, in Caspak, men fight with men when they
meet - men of different races - but their weapons are first for the
slaying of beasts in the chase and in defense. We do not fashion
weapons solely for the killing of man as do your peoples. Your country
must indeed be a savage country, from which you are fortunate to have
escaped to the peace and security of Caspak."

Here was a new and refreshing viewpoint; nor could I take exception to
it after what I had told Al-tan of the great war which had been raging
in Europe for over two years before I left home.

On the march to the Kro-lu village we were continually stalked by
innumerable beasts of prey, and three times we were attacked by
frightful creatures; but Al-tan took it all as a matter of course,
rushing forward with raised spear or sending a heavy shaft into the
body of the attacker and then returning to our conversation as though
no interruption had occurred. Twice were members of his band mauled,
and one was killed by a huge and bellicose rhinoceros; but the instant
the action was over, it was as though it never had occurred. The dead
man was stripped of his belongings and left where he had died; the
carnivora would take care of his burial. The trophies that these
Kro-lu left to the meat-eaters would have turned an English big-game
hunter green with envy. They did, it is true, cut all the edible parts
from the rhino and carry them home; but already they were pretty well
weighted down with the spoils of the chase, and only the fact that they
are particularly fond of rhino-meat caused them to do so.

They left the hide on the pieces they selected, as they use it for
sandals, shield-covers, the hilts of their knives and various other
purposes where tough hide is desirable. I was much interested in their
shields, especially after I saw one used in defense against the attack
of a saber-tooth tiger. The huge creature had charged us without
warning from a clump of dense bushes where it was lying up after
eating. It was met with an avalanche of spears, some of which passed
entirely through its body, with such force were they hurled. The
charge was from a very short distance, requiring the use of the spear
rather than the bow and arrow; but after the launching of the spears,
the men not directly in the path of the charge sent bolt after bolt
into the great carcass with almost incredible rapidity. The beast,
screaming with pain and rage, bore down upon Chal-az while I stood
helpless with my rifle for fear of hitting one of the warriors who were
closing in upon it. But Chal-az was ready. Throwing aside his bow, he
crouched behind his large oval shield, in the center of which was a
hole about six inches in diameter. The shield was held by tight loops
to his left arm, while in his right hand he grasped his heavy knife.
Bristling with spears and arrows, the great cat hurled itself upon the
shield, and down went Chal-az upon his back with the shield entirely
covering him. The tiger clawed and bit at the heavy rhinoceros hide
with which the shield was faced, while Chal-az, through the round hole
in the shield's center, plunged his blade repeatedly into the vitals of
the savage animal. Doubtless the battle would have gone to Chal-az
even though I had not interfered; but the moment that I saw a clean
opening, with no Kro-lu beyond, I raised my rifle and killed the beast.

When Chal-az arose, he glanced at the sky and remarked that it looked
like rain. The others already had resumed the march toward the
village. The incident was closed. For some unaccountable reason the
whole thing reminded me of a friend who once shot a cat in his
backyard. For three weeks he talked of nothing else.

It was almost dark when we reached the village - a large palisaded
enclosure of several hundred leaf-thatched huts set in groups of from
two to seven. The huts were hexagonal in form, and where grouped were
joined so that they resembled the cells of a bee-hive. One hut meant a
warrior and his mate, and each additional hut in a group indicated an
additional female. The palisade which surrounded the village was of
logs set close together and woven into a solid wall with tough creepers
which were planted at their base and trained to weave in and out to
bind the logs together. The logs slanted outward at an angle of about
thirty degrees, in which position they were held by shorter logs
embedded in the ground at right angles to them and with their upper
ends supporting the longer pieces a trifle above their centers of
equilibrium. Along the top of the palisade sharpened stakes had been
driven at all sorts of angles.

The only opening into the inclosure was through a small aperture three
feet wide and three feet high, which was closed from the inside by logs
about six feet long laid horizontally, one upon another, between the
inside face of the palisade and two other braced logs which paralleled
the face of the wall upon the inside.

As we entered the village, we were greeted by a not unfriendly crowd of
curious warriors and women, to whom Chal-az generously explained the
service we had rendered him, whereupon they showered us with the most

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Online LibraryEdgar Rice BurroughsThe People That Time Forgot → online text (page 6 of 9)