Copyright
Edgar Rice Burroughs.

The People That Time Forgot online

. (page 9 of 9)
Online LibraryEdgar Rice BurroughsThe People That Time Forgot → online text (page 9 of 9)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


an arm and up on the withers of my glorious Ace. We had snatched her
from the very clutches of Du-seen, who halted, mystified and raging.
Ajor, too, was mystified, as we had come up from diagonally behind her
so that she had no idea that we were near until she was swung to Ace's
back. The little savage turned with drawn knife to stab me, thinking
that I was some new enemy, when her eyes found my face and she
recognized me. With a little sob she threw her arms about my neck,
gasping: "My Tom! My Tom!"

And then Ace sank suddenly into thick mud to his belly, and Ajor and I
were thrown far over his head. He had run into one of those numerous
springs which cover Caspak. Sometimes they are little lakes, again but
tiny pools, and often mere quagmires of mud, as was this one overgrown
with lush grasses which effectually hid its treacherous identity. It
is a wonder that Ace did not break a leg, so fast he was going when he
fell; but he didn't, though with four good legs he was unable to wallow
from the mire. Ajor and I had sprawled face down in the covering
grasses and so had not sunk deeply; but when we tried to rise, we found
that there was not footing, and presently we saw that Du-seen and his
followers were coming down upon us. There was no escape. It was
evident that we were doomed.

"Slay me!" begged Ajor. "Let me die at thy loved hands rather than
beneath the knife of this hateful thing, for he will kill me. He has
sworn to kill me. Last night he captured me, and when later he would
have his way with me, I struck him with my fists and with my knife I
stabbed him, and then I escaped, leaving him raging in pain and
thwarted desire. Today they searched for me and found me; and as I
fled, Du-seen ran after me crying that he would slay me. Kill me, my
Tom, and then fall upon thine own spear, for they will kill you
horribly if they take you alive."

I couldn't kill her - not at least until the last moment; and I told her
so, and that I loved her, and that until death came, I would live and
fight for her.

Nobs had followed us into the bog and had done fairly well at first,
but when he neared us he too sank to his belly and could only flounder
about. We were in this predicament when Du-seen and his followers
approached the edge of the horrible swamp. I saw that Al-tan was with
him and many other Kro-lu warriors. The alliance against Jor the chief
had, therefore, been consummated, and this horde was already marching
upon the Galu city. I sighed as I thought how close I had been to
saving not only Ajor but her father and his people from defeat and
death.

Beyond the swamp was a dense wood. Could we have reached this, we
would have been safe; but it might as well have been a hundred miles
away as a hundred yards across that hidden lake of sticky mud. Upon
the edge of the swamp Du-seen and his horde halted to revile us. They
could not reach us with their hands; but at a command from Du-seen they
fitted arrows to their bows, and I saw that the end had come. Ajor
huddled close to me, and I took her in my arms. "I love you, Tom," she
said, "only you." Tears came to my eyes then, not tears of self-pity
for my predicament, but tears from a heart filled with a great love - a
heart that sees the sun of its life and its love setting even as it
rises.

The renegade Galus and their Kro-lu allies stood waiting for the word
from Du-seen that would launch that barbed avalanche of death upon us,
when there broke from the wood beyond the swamp the sweetest music that
ever fell upon the ears of man - the sharp staccato of at least two
score rifles fired rapidly at will. Down went the Galu and Kro-lu
warriors like tenpins before that deadly fusillade.

What could it mean? To me it meant but one thing, and that was that
Hollis and Short and the others had scaled the cliffs and made their
way north to the Galu country upon the opposite side of the island in
time to save Ajor and me from almost certain death. I didn't have to
have an introduction to them to know that the men who held those rifles
were the men of my own party; and when, a few minutes later, they came
forth from their concealment, my eyes verified my hopes. There they
were, every man-jack of them; and with them were a thousand straight,
sleek warriors of the Galu race; and ahead of the others came two men
in the garb of Galus. Each was tall and straight and wonderfully
muscled; yet they differed as Ace might differ from a perfect specimen
of another species. As they approached the mire, Ajor held forth her
arms and cried, "Jor, my chief! My father!" and the elder of the two
rushed in knee-deep to rescue her, and then the other came close and
looked into my face, and his eyes went wide, and mine too, and I cried:
"Bowen! For heaven's sake, Bowen Tyler!"

It was he. My search was ended. Around me were all my company and the
man we had searched a new world to find. They cut saplings from the
forest and laid a road into the swamp before they could get us all out,
and then we marched back to the city of Jor the Galu chief, and there
was great rejoicing when Ajor came home again mounted upon the glossy
back of the stallion Ace.

Tyler and Hollis and Short and all the rest of us Americans nearly
worked our jaws loose on the march back to the village, and for days
afterward we kept it up. They told me how they had crossed the barrier
cliffs in five days, working twenty-four hours a day in three
eight-hour shifts with two reliefs to each shift alternating
half-hourly. Two men with electric drills driven from the dynamos
aboard the _Toreador_ drilled two holes four feet apart in the face of
the cliff and in the same horizontal planes. The holes slanted
slightly downward. Into these holes the iron rods brought as a part of
our equipment and for just this purpose were inserted, extending about
a foot beyond the face of the rock, across these two rods a plank was
laid, and then the next shift, mounting to the new level, bored two
more holes five feet above the new platform, and so on.

During the nights the searchlights from the _Toreador_ were kept playing
upon the cliff at the point where the drills were working, and at the
rate of ten feet an hour the summit was reached upon the fifth day.
Ropes were lowered, blocks lashed to trees at the top, and crude
elevators rigged, so that by the night of the fifth day the entire
party, with the exception of the few men needed to man the _Toreador_,
were within Caspak with an abundance of arms, ammunition and equipment.

From then on, they fought their way north in search of me, after a vain
and perilous effort to enter the hideous reptile-infested country to
the south. Owing to the number of guns among them, they had not lost a
man; but their path was strewn with the dead creatures they had been
forced to slay to win their way to the north end of the island, where
they had found Bowen and his bride among the Galus of Jor.

The reunion between Bowen and Nobs was marked by a frantic display upon
Nobs' part, which almost stripped Bowen of the scanty attire that the
Galu custom had vouchsafed him. When we arrived at the Galu city, Lys
La Rue was waiting to welcome us. She was Mrs. Tyler now, as the
master of the _Toreador_ had married them the very day that the
search-party had found them, though neither Lys nor Bowen would admit
that any civil or religious ceremony could have rendered more sacred
the bonds with which God had united them.

Neither Bowen nor the party from the _Toreador_ had seen any sign of
Bradley and his party. They had been so long lost now that any hopes
for them must be definitely abandoned. The Galus had heard rumors of
them, as had the Western Kro-lu and Band-lu; but none had seen aught of
them since they had left Fort Dinosaur months since.

We rested in Jor's village for a fortnight while we prepared for the
southward journey to the point where the _Toreador_ was to lie off shore
in wait for us. During these two weeks Chal-az came up from the Kro-lu
country, now a full-fledged Galu. He told us that the remnants of
Al-tan's party had been slain when they attempted to re-enter Kro-lu.
Chal-az had been made chief, and when he rose, had left the tribe under
a new leader whom all respected.

Nobs stuck close to Bowen; but Ace and Ajor and I went out upon many
long rides through the beautiful north Galu country. Chal-az had
brought my arms and ammunition up from Kro-lu with him; but my clothes
were gone; nor did I miss them once I became accustomed to the free
attire of the Galu.

At last came the time for our departure; upon the following morning we
were to set out toward the south and the _Toreador_ and dear old
California. I had asked Ajor to go with us; but Jor her father had
refused to listen to the suggestion. No pleas could swerve him from
his decision: Ajor, the cos-ata-lo, from whom might spring a new and
greater Caspakian race, could not be spared. I might have any other
she among the Galus; but Ajor - no!

The poor child was heartbroken; and as for me, I was slowly realizing
the hold that Ajor had upon my heart and wondered how I should get
along without her. As I held her in my arms that last night, I tried
to imagine what life would be like without her, for at last there had
come to me the realization that I loved her - loved my little barbarian;
and as I finally tore myself away and went to my own hut to snatch a
few hours' sleep before we set off upon our long journey on the morrow,
I consoled myself with the thought that time would heal the wound and
that back in my native land I should find a mate who would be all and
more to me than little Ajor could ever be - a woman of my own race and
my own culture.

Morning came more quickly than I could have wished. I rose and
breakfasted, but saw nothing of Ajor. It was best, I thought, that I
go thus without the harrowing pangs of a last farewell. The party
formed for the march, an escort of Galu warriors ready to accompany us.
I could not even bear to go to Ace's corral and bid him farewell. The
night before, I had given him to Ajor, and now in my mind the two
seemed inseparable.

And so we marched away, down the street flanked with its stone houses
and out through the wide gateway in the stone wall which surrounds the
city and on across the clearing toward the forest through which we must
pass to reach the northern boundary of Galu, beyond which we would turn
south. At the edge of the forest I cast a backward glance at the city
which held my heart, and beside the massive gateway I saw that which
brought me to a sudden halt. It was a little figure leaning against
one of the great upright posts upon which the gates swing - a crumpled
little figure; and even at this distance I could see its shoulders
heave to the sobs that racked it. It was the last straw.

Bowen was near me. "Good-bye old man," I said. "I'm going back."

He looked at me in surprise. "Good-bye, old man," he said, and grasped
my hand. "I thought you'd do it in the end."

And then I went back and took Ajor in my arms and kissed the tears from
her eyes and a smile to her lips while together we watched the last of
the Americans disappear into the forest.





[Transcriber's note: I have made the following changes to the text:

PAGE LINE ORIGINAL CHANGED TO

75 15 later latter
108 14 in is
123 24 the he
131 13 plans planes
131 28 new few
132 24 Donosaur Dinosaur]











1 2 3 4 5 6 7 9

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