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Chapter 4

  • We spent two days upon the cliff-top, resting and recuperating. There was som_mall game which gave us meat, and the little pools of rainwater wer_ufficient to quench our thirst. The sun came out a few hours after we emerge_rom the cave, and in its warmth we soon cast off the gloom which our recen_xperiences had saddled upon us.
  • Upon the morning of the third day we set out to search for a path down to th_alley. Below us, to the north, we saw a large pool lying at the foot of th_liffs, and in it we could discern the women of the Band-lu lying in th_hallow waters, while beyond and close to the base of the mighty barrier- cliffs there was a large party of Band-lu warriors going north to hunt. We ha_ splendid view from our lofty cliff-top. Dimly, to the west, we could see th_arther shore of the inland sea, and southwest the large southern islan_oomed distinctly before us. A little east of north was the northern island, which Ajor, shuddering, whispered was the home of the Wieroo—the land of Oo- oh. It lay at the far end of the lake and was barely visible to us, bein_ully sixty miles away.
  • From our elevation, and in a clearer atmosphere, it would have stood ou_istinctly; but the air of Caspak is heavy with moisture, with the result tha_istant objects are blurred and indistinct. Ajor also told me that th_ainland east of Oo-oh was her land—the land of the Galu. She pointed out th_liffs at its southern boundary, which mark the frontier, south of which lie_he country of Kro-lu—the archers. We now had but to pass through the balanc_f the Band-lu territory and that of the Kro-lu to be within the confines o_er own land; but that meant traversing thirty-five miles of hostile countr_illed with every imaginable terror, and possibly many beyond the powers o_magination. I would certainly have given a lot for my plane at that moment, for with it, twenty minutes would have landed us within the confines of Ajor'_ountry.
  • We finally found a place where we could slip over the edge of the cliff onto _arrow ledge which seemed to give evidence of being something of a game-pat_o the valley, though it apparently had not been used for some time. I lowere_jor at the end of my rifle and then slid over myself, and I am free to admi_hat my hair stood on end during the process, for the drop was considerabl_nd the ledge appallingly narrow, with a frightful drop sheer below down t_he rocks at the base of the cliff; but with Ajor there to catch and stead_e, I made it all right, and then we set off down the trail toward the valley.
  • There were two or three more bad places, but for the most part it was an eas_escent, and we came to the highest of the Band-lu caves without furthe_rouble. Here we went more slowly, lest we should be set upon by some membe_f the tribe.
  • We must have passed about half the Band-lu cave-levels before we wer_ccosted, and then a huge fellow stepped out in front of me, barring ou_urther progress.
  • "Who are you?" he asked; and he recognized me and I him, for he had been on_f those who had led me back into the cave and bound me the night that I ha_een captured. From me his gaze went to Ajor. He was a fine-looking man wit_lear, intelligent eyes, a good forehead and superb physique—by far th_ighest type of Caspakian I had yet seen, barring Ajor, of course.
  • "You are a true Galu," he said to Ajor, "but this man is of a different mold.
  • He has the face of a Galu, but his weapons and the strange skins he wears upo_is body are not of the Galus nor of Caspak. Who is he?"
  • "He is Tom," replied Ajor succinctly.
  • "There is no such people," asserted the Band-lu quite truthfully, toying wit_is spear in a most suggestive manner.
  • "My name is Tom," I explained, "and I am from a country beyond Caspak." _hought it best to propitiate him if possible, because of the necessity o_onserving ammunition as well as to avoid the loud alarm of a shot which migh_ring other Band-lu warriors upon us. "I am from America, a land of which yo_ever heard, and I am seeking others of my countrymen who are in Caspak an_rom whom I am lost. I have no quarrel with you or your people. Let us go ou_ay in peace."
  • "You are going there?" he asked, and pointed toward the north.
  • "I am," I replied.
  • He was silent for several minutes, apparently weighing some thought in hi_ind. At last he spoke. "What is that?" he asked. "And what is that?" H_ointed first at my rifle and then to my pistol.
  • "They are weapons," I replied, "weapons which kill at a great distance." _ointed to the women in the pool beneath us. "With this," I said, tapping m_istol, "I could kill as many of those women as I cared to, without moving _tep from where we now stand."
  • He looked his incredulity, but I went on. "And with this"—I weighed my rifl_t the balance in the palm of my right hand—"I could slay one of those distan_arriors." And I waved my left hand toward the tiny figures of the hunters fa_o the north.
  • The fellow laughed. "Do it," he cried derisively, "and then it may be that _hall believe the balance of your strange story."
  • "But I do not wish to kill any of them," I replied. "Why should I?"
  • "Why not?" he insisted. "They would have killed you when they had yo_risoner. They would kill you now if they could get their hands on you, an_hey would eat you into the bargain. But I know why you do not try it—it i_ecause you have spoken lies; your weapon will not kill at a great distance.
  • It is only a queerly wrought club. For all I know, you are nothing more than _owly Bo-lu."
  • "Why should you wish me to kill your own people?" I asked.
  • "They are no longer my people," he replied proudly. "Last night, in the ver_iddle of the night, the call came to me. Like that it came into my head"—an_e struck his hands together smartly once—"that I had risen. I have bee_aiting for it and expecting it for a long time; today I am a Krolu. Today _o into the coslupak" (unpeopled country, or literally, no man's land)
  • "between the Band-lu and the Kro-lu, and there I fashion my bow and my arrow_nd my shield; there I hunt the red deer for the leathern jerkin which is th_adge of my new estate. When these things are done, I can go to the chief o_he Kro-lu, and he dare not refuse me. That is why you may kill those lo_and-lu if you wish to live, for I am in a hurry.
  • "But why do you wish to kill me?" I asked.
  • He looked puzzled and finally gave it up. "I do not know," he admitted. "It i_he way in Caspak. If we do not kill, we shall be killed, therefore it is wis_o kill first whomever does not belong to one's own people. This morning I hi_n my cave till the others were gone upon the hunt, for I knew that they woul_now at once that I had become a Kro-lu and would kill me. They will kill m_f they find me in the coslupak; so will the Kro-lu if they come upon m_efore I have won my Kro-lu weapons and jerkin. You would kill me if yo_ould, and that is the reason I know that you speak lies when you say tha_our weapons will kill at a great distance. Would they, you would long sinc_ave killed me. Come! I have no more time to waste in words. I will spare th_oman and take her with me to the Kro-lu, for she is comely." And with that h_dvanced upon me with raised spear.
  • My rifle was at my hip at the ready. He was so close that I did not need t_aise it to my shoulder, having but to pull the trigger to send him int_ingdom Come whenever I chose; but yet I hesitated. It was difficult to brin_yself to take a human life. I could feel no enmity toward this savag_arbarian who acted almost as wholly upon instinct as might a wild beast, an_o the last moment I was determined to seek some way to avoid what now seeme_nevitable. Ajor stood at my shoulder, her knife ready in her hand and a snee_n her lips at his suggestion that he would take her with him.
  • Just as I thought I should have to fire, a chorus of screams broke from th_omen beneath us. I saw the man halt and glance downward, and following hi_xample my eyes took in the panic and its cause. The women had, evidently, been quitting the pool and slowly returning toward the caves, when they wer_onfronted by a monstrous cave-lion which stood directly between them an_heir cliffs in the center of the narrow path that led down to the pool amon_he tumbled rocks. Screaming, the women were rushing madly back to the pool.
  • "It will do them no good," remarked the man, a trace of excitement in hi_oice. "It will do them no good, for the lion will wait until they come ou_nd take as many as he can carry away; and there is one there," he added, _race of sadness in his tone, "whom I hoped would soon follow me to the Kro- lu. Together have we come up from the beginning." He raised his spear abov_is head and poised it ready to hurl downward at the lion. "She is nearest t_im," he muttered. "He will get her and she will never come to me among th_ro-lu, or ever thereafter. It is useless! No warrior lives who could hurl _eapon so great a distance."
  • But even as he spoke, I was leveling my rifle upon the great brute below; an_s he ceased speaking, I squeezed the trigger. My bullet must have struck to _air the point at which I had aimed, for it smashed the brute's spine back o_is shoulders and tore on through his heart, dropping him dead in his tracks.
  • For a moment the women were as terrified by the report of the rifle as the_ad been by the menace of the lion; but when they saw that the loud noise ha_vidently destroyed their enemy, they came creeping cautiously back to examin_he carcass.
  • The man, toward whom I had immediately turned after firing, lest he shoul_ursue his threatened attack, stood staring at me in amazement and admiration.
  • "Why," he asked, "if you could do that, did you not kill me long before?"
  • "I told you," I replied, "that I had no quarrel with you. I do not care t_ill men with whom I have no quarrel."
  • But he could not seem to get the idea through his head. "I can believe no_hat you are not of Caspak," he admitted, "for no Caspakian would hav_ermitted such an opportunity to escape him." This, however, I found later t_e an exaggeration, as the tribes of the west coast and even the Kro-lu of th_ast coast are far less bloodthirsty than he would have had me believe. "An_our weapon!" he continued. "You spoke true words when I thought you spok_ies." And then, suddenly: "Let us be friends!"
  • I turned to Ajor. "Can I trust him?" I asked.
  • "Yes," she replied. "Why not? Has he not asked to be friends?"
  • I was not at the time well enough acquainted with Caspakian ways to know tha_ruthfulness and loyalty are two of the strongest characteristics of thes_rimitive people. They are not sufficiently cultured to have become adept i_ypocrisy, treason and dissimulation. There are, of course, a few exceptions.
  • "We can go north together," continued the warrior. "I will fight for you, an_ou can fight for me. Until death will I serve you, for you have saved So-al, whom I had given up as dead." He threw down his spear and covered both hi_yes with the palms of his two hands. I looked inquiringly toward Ajor, wh_xplained as best she could that this was the form of the Caspakian oath o_llegiance. "You need never fear him after this," she concluded.
  • "What should I do?" I asked.
  • "Take his hands down from before his eyes and return his spear to him," sh_xplained.
  • I did as she bade, and the man seemed very pleased. I then asked what I shoul_ave done had I not wished to accept his friendship. They told me that had _alked away, the moment that I was out of sight of the warrior we would hav_ecome deadly enemies again. "But I could so easily have killed him as h_tood there defenseless!" I exclaimed.
  • "Yes," replied the warrior, "but no man with good sense blinds his eyes befor_ne whom he does not trust."
  • It was rather a decent compliment, and it taught me just how much I might rel_n the loyalty of my new friend. I was glad to have him with us, for he kne_he country and was evidently a fearless warrior. I wished that I might hav_ecruited a battalion like him.
  • As the women were now approaching the cliffs, Tomar the warrior suggested tha_e make our way to the valley before they could intercept us, as they migh_ttempt to detain us and were almost certain to set upon Ajor. So we hastene_own the narrow path, reaching the foot of the cliffs but a short distanc_head of the women. They called after us to stop; but we kept on at a rapi_alk, not wishing to have any trouble with them, which could only result i_he death of some of them.
  • We had proceeded about a mile when we heard some one behind us calling To-ma_y name, and when we stopped and looked around, we saw a woman running rapidl_oward us. As she approached nearer I could see that she was a very comel_reature, and like all her sex that I had seen in Caspak, apparently young.
  • "It is So-al!" exclaimed To-mar. "Is she mad that she follows me thus?"
  • In another moment the young woman stopped, panting, before us. She paid no_he slightest attention to Ajor or me; but devouring To-mar with her sparklin_yes, she cried: "I have risen! I have risen!"
  • "So-al!" was all that the man could say.
  • "Yes," she went on, "the call came to me just before I quit the pool; but _id not know that it had come to you. I can see it in your eyes, To-mar, m_o-mar! We shall go on together!" And she threw herself into his arms.
  • It was a very affecting sight, for it was evident that these two had bee_ates for a long time and that they had each thought that they were about t_e separated by that strange law of evolution which holds good in Caspak an_hich was slowly unfolding before my incredulous mind. I did not the_omprehend even a tithe of the wondrous process, which goes on eternall_ithin the confines of Caprona's barrier cliffs nor am I any too sure that _o even now.
  • To-mar explained to So-al that it was I who had killed the cave-lion and save_er life, and that Ajor was my woman and thus entitled to the same loyalt_hich was my due.
  • At first Ajor and So-al were like a couple of stranger cats on a back fenc_ut soon they began to accept each other under something of an armed truce, and later became fast friends. So-al was a mighty fine-looking girl, buil_ike a tigress as to strength and sinuosity, but withal sweet and womanly.
  • Ajor and I came to be very fond of her, and she was, I think, equally fond o_s. To-mar was very much of a man—a savage, if you will, but none the less _an.
  • Finding that traveling in company with To-mar made our journey both easier an_afer, Ajor and I did not continue on our way alone while the novitiate_elayed their approach to the Kro-lu country in order that they might properl_it themselves in the matter of arms and apparel, but remained with them. Thu_e became well acquainted—to such an extent that we looked forward with regre_o the day when they took their places among their new comrades and we shoul_e forced to continue upon our way alone. It was a matter of much concern t_o-mar that the Krolu would undoubtedly not receive Ajor and me in a friendl_anner, and that consequently we should have to avoid these people.
  • It would have been very helpful to us could we have made friends with them, a_heir country abutted directly upon that of the Galus. Their friendship woul_ave meant that Ajor's dangers were practically passed, and that I ha_ccomplished fully one-half of my long journey. In view of what I had passe_hrough, I often wondered what chance I had to complete that journey in searc_f my friends. The further south I should travel on the west side of th_sland, the more frightful would the dangers become as I neared the stamping- grounds of the more hideous reptilia and the haunts of the Alus and the Ho-lu, all of which were at the southern half of the island; and then if I should no_ind the members of my party, what was to become of me? I could not live fo_ong in any portion of Caspak with which I was familiar; the moment m_mmunition was exhausted, I should be as good as dead.
  • There was a chance that the Galus would receive me; but even Ajor could no_ay definitely whether they would or not, and even provided that they would, could I retrace my steps from the beginning, after failing to find my ow_eople, and return to the far northern land of Galus? I doubted it. However, _as learning from Ajor, who was more or less of a fatalist, a philosophy whic_as as necessary in Caspak to peace of mind as is faith to the devou_hristian of the outer world.