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Chapter 6

  • After dinner I rolled a cigaret and stretched myself at ease upon a pile o_urs before the doorway, with Ajor's head pillowed in my lap and a feeling o_reat content pervading me. It was the first time since my plane had toppe_he barrier- cliffs of Caspak that I had felt any sense of peace or security.
  • My hand wandered to the velvet cheek of the girl I had claimed as mine, and t_er luxuriant hair and the golden fillet which bound it close to her shapel_ead. Her slender fingers groping upward sought mine and drew them to he_ips, and then I gathered her in my arms and crushed her to me, smothering he_outh with a long, long kiss. It was the first time that passion had tinged m_ntercourse with Ajor. We were alone, and the hut was ours until morning.
  • But now from beyond the palisade in the direction of the main gate came th_allooing of men and the answering calls and queries of the guard. W_istened. Returning hunters, no doubt. We heard them enter the village amids_he barking dogs. I have forgotten to mention the dogs of Kro-lu. The villag_warmed with them, gaunt, wolflike creatures that guarded the herd by day whe_t grazed without the palisade, ten dogs to a cow. By night the cows wer_erded in an outer inclosure roofed against the onslaughts of the carnivorou_ats; and the dogs, with the exception of a few, were brought into th_illage; these few well-tested brutes remained with the herd. During the da_hey fed plentifully upon the beasts of prey which they killed in protectio_f the herd, so that their keep amounted to nothing at all.
  • Shortly after the commotion at the gate had subsided, Ajor and I arose t_nter the hut, and at the same time a warrior appeared from one of the twiste_lleys which, lying between the irregularly placed huts and groups of huts, form the streets of the Kro-lu village. The fellow halted before us an_ddressed me, saying that Al-tan desired my presence at his hut. The wordin_f the invitation and the manner of the messenger threw me entirely off m_uard, so cordial was the one and respectful the other, and the result wa_hat I went willingly, telling Ajor that I would return presently. I had lai_y arms and ammunition aside as soon as we had taken over the hut, and I lef_hem with Ajor now, as I had noticed that aside from their hunting-knives th_en of Kro-lu bore no weapons about the village streets. There was a_tmosphere of peace and security within that village that I had not hoped t_xperience within Caspak, and after what I had passed through, it must hav_ast a numbing spell over my faculties of judgment and reason. I had eaten o_he lotus-flower of safety; dangers no longer threatened for they had cease_o be.
  • The messenger led me through the labyrinthine alleys to an open plaza near th_enter of the village. At one end of this plaza was a long hut, much th_argest that I had yet seen, before the door of which were many warriors. _ould see that the interior was lighted and that a great number of men wer_athered within. The dogs about the plaza were as thick as fleas, and those _pproached closely evinced a strong desire to devour me, their noses evidentl_pprising them of the fact that I was of an alien race, since they paid n_ttention whatever to my companion. Once inside the council-hut, for such i_ppeared to be, I found a large concourse of warriors seated, or rathe_quatted, around the floor. At one end of the oval space which the warrior_eft down the center of the room stood Al-tan and another warrior whom _mmediately recognized as a Galu, and then I saw that there were many Galu_resent. About the walls were a number of flaming torches stuck in holes in _lay plaster which evidently served the purpose of preventing the inflammabl_ood and grasses of which the hut was composed from being ignited by th_lames. Lying about among the warriors or wandering restlessly to and fro wer_ number of savage dogs.
  • The warriors eyed me curiously as I entered, especially the Galus, and then _as conducted into the center of the group and led forward toward Al-tan. As _dvanced I felt one of the dogs sniffing at my heels, and of a sudden a grea_rute leaped upon my back. As I turned to thrust it aside before its fang_ound a hold upon me, I beheld a huge Airedale leaping frantically about me.
  • The grinning jaws, the half-closed eyes, the back-laid ears spoke to me loude_han might the words of man that here was no savage enemy but a joyous friend, and then I recognized him, and fell to one knee and put my arms about his nec_hile he whined and cried with joy. It was Nobs, dear old Nobs. Bowen Tyler'_obs, who had loved me next to his master.
  • "Where is the master of this dog?" I asked, turning toward Al-tan.
  • The chieftain inclined his head toward the Galu standing at his side. "H_elongs to Du-seen the Galu," he replied.
  • "He belongs to Bowen J. Tyler, Jr., of Santa Monica," I retorted, "and I wan_o know where his master is."
  • The Galu shrugged. "The dog is mine," he said. "He came to me cor-sva-jo, an_e is unlike any dog in Caspak, being kind and docile and yet a killer whe_roused. I would not part with him. I do not know the man of whom you speak."
  • So this was Du-seen! This was the man from whom Ajor had fled. I wondered i_e knew that she was here. I wondered if they had sent for me because of her; but after they had commenced to question me, my mind was relieved; they di_ot mention Ajor. Their interest seemed centered upon the strange world fro_hich I had come, my journey to Caspak and my intentions now that I ha_rrived. I answered them frankly as I had nothing to conceal and assured the_hat my only wish was to find my friends and return to my own country. In th_alu Du-seen and his warriors I saw something of the explanation of the term
  • "golden race" which is applied to them, for their ornaments and weapons wer_ither wholly of beaten gold or heavily decorated with the precious metal.
  • They were a very imposing set of men—tall and straight and handsome. Abou_heir heads were bands of gold like that which Ajor wore, and from their lef_houlders depended the leopard-tails of the Galus. In addition to the deer- skin tunic which constituted the major portion of their apparel, each carrie_ light blanket of barbaric yet beautiful design—the first evidence of weavin_ had seen in Caspak. Ajor had had no blanket, having lost it during he_light from the attentions of Du-seen; nor was she so heavily incrusted wit_old as these male members of her tribe.
  • The audience must have lasted fully an hour when Al-tan signified that I migh_eturn to my hut. All the time Nobs had lain quietly at my feet; but th_nstant that I turned to leave, he was up and after me. Duseen called to him; but the terrier never even so much as looked in his direction. I had almos_eached the doorway leading from the council-hall when Al-tan rose and calle_fter me. "Stop!" he shouted. "Stop, stranger! The beast of Du-seen the Gal_ollows you."
  • "The dog is not Du-seen's," I replied. "He belongs to my friend, as I tol_ou, and he prefers to stay with me until his master is found." And I turne_gain to resume my way. I had taken but a few steps when I heard a commotio_ehind me, and at the same moment a man leaned close and whispered "Kazar!"
  • close to my ear—kazar, the Caspakian equivalent of beware. It was To-mar. A_e spoke, he turned quickly away as though loath to have others see that h_new me, and at the same instant I wheeled to discover Du-seen stridin_apidly after me. Al-tan followed him, and it was evident that both wer_ngry.
  • Du-seen, a weapon half drawn, approached truculently. "The beast is mine," h_eiterated. "Would you steal him?"
  • "He is not yours nor mine," I replied, "and I am not stealing him. If h_ishes to follow you, he may; I will not interfere; but if he wishes to follo_e, he shall; nor shall you prevent." I turned to Al-tan. "Is not that fair?"
  • I demanded. "Let the dog choose his master."
  • Du-seen, without waiting for Al-tan's reply, reached for Nobs and grasped hi_y the scruff of the neck. I did not interfere, for I guessed what woul_appen; and it did. With a savage growl Nobs turned like lightning upon th_alu, wrenched loose from his hold and leaped for his throat. The man steppe_ack and warded off the first attack with a heavy blow of his fist, immediately drawing his knife with which to meet the Airedale's return. An_obs would have returned, all right, had not I spoken to him. In a low voice _alled him to heel. For just an instant he hesitated, standing there tremblin_nd with bared fangs, glaring at his foe; but he was well trained and had bee_ut with me quite as much as he had with Bowen—in fact, I had had most to d_ith his early training; then he walked slowly and very stiff-legged to hi_lace behind me.
  • Du-seen, red with rage, would have had it out with the two of us had not Al- tan drawn him to one side and whispered in his ear—upon which, with a grunt, the Galu walked straight back to the opposite end of the hall, while Nobs an_ continued upon our way toward the hut and Ajor. As we passed out into th_illage plaza, I saw Chal-az—we were so close to one another that I could hav_eached out and touched him—and our eyes met; but though I greeted hi_leasantly and paused to speak to him, he brushed past me without a sign o_ecognition. I was puzzled at his behavior, and then I recalled that To-mar, though he had warned me, had appeared not to wish to seem friendly with me. _ould not understand their attitude, and was trying to puzzle out some sort o_xplanation, when the matter was suddenly driven from my mind by the report o_ firearm. Instantly I broke into a run, my brain in a whirl of forebodings, for the only firearms in the Kro-lu country were those I had left in the hu_ith Ajor.
  • That she was in danger I could not but fear, as she was now something of a_dept in the handling of both the pistol and rifle, a fact which largel_liminated the chance that the shot had come from an accidentally discharge_irearm. When I left the hut, I had felt that she and I were safe amon_riends; no thought of danger was in my mind; but since my audience with Al- tan, the presence and bearing of Duseen and the strange attitude of both To- mar and Chal-az had each contributed toward arousing my suspicions, and now _an along the narrow, winding alleys of the Kro-lu village with my hear_airly in my mouth.
  • I am endowed with an excellent sense of direction, which has been greatl_erfected by the years I have spent in the mountains and upon the plains an_eserts of my native state, so that it was with little or no difficulty that _ound my way back to the hut in which I had left Ajor. As I entered th_oorway, I called her name aloud. There was no response. I drew a box o_atches from my pocket and struck a light and as the flame flared up, a half- dozen brawny warriors leaped upon me from as many directions; but even in th_rief instant that the flare lasted, I saw that Ajor was not within the hut, and that my arms and ammunition had been removed.
  • As the six men leaped upon me, an angry growl burst from behind them. I ha_orgotten Nobs. Like a demon of hate he sprang among those Kro-lu fighting- men, tearing, rending, ripping with his long tusks and his mighty jaws. The_ad me down in an instant, and it goes without saying that the six of the_ould have kept me there had it not been for Nobs; but while I was strugglin_o throw them off, Nobs was springing first upon one and then upon another o_hem until they were so put to it to preserve their hides and their lives fro_im that they could give me only a small part of their attention. One of the_as assiduously attempting to strike me on the head with his stone hatchet; but I caught his arm and at the same time turned over upon my belly, afte_hich it took but an instant to get my feet under me and rise suddenly.
  • As I did so, I kept a grip upon the man's arm, carrying it over one shoulder.
  • Then I leaned suddenly forward and hurled my antagonist over my head to _asty fall at the opposite side of the hut. In the dim light of the interior _aw that Nobs had already accounted for one of the others—one who lay ver_uiet upon the floor—while the four remaining upon their feet were striking a_im with knives and hatchets.
  • Running to one side of the man I had just put out of the fighting, I seize_is hatchet and knife, and in another moment was in the thick of the argument.
  • I was no match for these savage warriors with their own weapons and would soo_ave gone down to ignominious defeat and death had it not been for Nobs, wh_lone was a match for the four of them. I never saw any creature so quick upo_ts feet as was that great Airedale, nor such frightful ferocity as h_anifested in his attacks. It was as much the latter as the former whic_ontributed to the undoing of our enemies, who, accustomed though they were t_he ferocity of terrible creatures, seemed awed by the sight of this strang_east from another world battling at the side of his equally strange master.
  • Yet they were no cowards, and only by teamwork did Nobs and I overcome them a_ast. We would rush for a man, simultaneously, and as Nobs leaped for him upo_ne side, I would strike at his head with the stone hatchet from the other.
  • As the last man went down, I heard the running of many feet approaching u_rom the direction of the plaza. To be captured now would mean death; yet _ould not attempt to leave the village without first ascertaining th_hereabouts of Ajor and releasing her if she were held a captive. That I coul_scape the village I was not at all sure; but of one thing I was positive; that it would do neither Ajor nor myself any service to remain where I was an_e captured; so with Nobs, bloody but happy, following at heel, I turned dow_he first alley and slunk away in the direction of the northern end of th_illage.
  • Friendless and alone, hunted through the dark labyrinths of this savag_ommunity, I seldom have felt more helpless than at that moment; yet fa_ranscending any fear which I may have felt for my own safety was my concer_or that of Ajor. What fate had befallen her? Where was she, and in whos_ower? That I should live to learn the answers to these queries I doubted; bu_hat I should face death gladly in the attempt—of that I was certain. And why?
  • With all my concern for the welfare of my friends who had accompanied me t_aprona, and of my best friend of all, Bowen J. Tyler, Jr., I never yet ha_xperienced the almost paralyzing fear for the safety of any other creatur_hich now threw me alternately into a fever of despair and into a cold swea_f apprehension as my mind dwelt upon the fate on one bit of half-savag_emininity of whose very existence even I had not dreamed a few short week_efore.
  • What was this hold she had upon me? Was I bewitched, that my mind refused t_unction sanely, and that judgment and reason were dethroned by some ma_entiment which I steadfastly refused to believe was love? I had never been i_ove. I was not in love now—the very thought was preposterous. How could I, Thomas Billings, the right-hand man of the late Bowen J. Tyler, Sr., one o_merica's foremost captains of industry and the greatest man in California, b_n love with a—a—the word stuck in my throat; yet by my own American standard_jor could be nothing else; at home, for all her beauty, for all he_elicately tinted skin, little Ajor by her apparel, by the habits and custom_nd manners of her people, by her life, would have been classed a squaw. To_illings in love with a squaw! I shuddered at the thought.
  • And then there came to my mind, in a sudden, brilliant flash upon the scree_f recollection the picture of Ajor as I had last seen her, and I lived agai_he delicious moment in which we had clung to one another, lips smotherin_ips, as I left her to go to the council hall of Al-tan; and I could hav_icked myself for the snob and the cad that my thoughts had proven me—me, wh_ad always prided myself that I was neither the one nor the other!
  • These things ran through my mind as Nobs and I made our way through the dar_illage, the voices and footsteps of those who sought us still in our ears.
  • These and many other things, nor could I escape the incontrovertible fact tha_he little figure round which my recollections and my hopes entwine_hemselves was that of Ajor—beloved barbarian! My reveries were broken in upo_y a hoarse whisper from the black interior of a hut past which we were makin_ur way. My name was called in a low voice, and a man stepped out beside me a_ halted with raised knife. It was Chal-az.
  • "Quick!" he warned. "In here! It is my hut, and they will not search it."
  • I hesitated, recalled his attitude of a few minutes before; and as though h_ad read my thoughts, he said quickly: "I could not speak to you in the plaz_ithout danger of arousing suspicions which would prevent me aiding you later, for word had gone out that Al-tan had turned against you and would destro_ou—this was after Du-seen the Galu arrived."
  • I followed him into the hut, and with Nobs at our heels we passed throug_everal chambers into a remote and windowless apartment where a small lam_puttered in its unequal battle with the inky darkness. A hole in the roo_ermitted the smoke from burning oil egress; yet the atmosphere was far fro_ucid. Here Chal-az motioned me to a seat upon a furry hide spread upon th_arthen floor.
  • "I am your friend," he said. "You saved my life; and I am no ingrate as is th_atu Al-tan. I will serve you, and there are others here who will serve yo_gainst Al-tan and this renegade Galu, Du-seen."
  • "But where is Ajor?" I asked, for I cared little for my own safety while sh_as in danger.
  • "Ajor is safe, too," he answered. "We learned the designs of Al-tan and Du- seen. The latter, learning that Ajor was here, demanded her; and Al-ta_romised that he should have her; but when the warriors went to get her To-ma_ent with them. Ajor tried to defend herself. She killed one of the warriors, and then To-mar picked her up in his arms when the others had taken he_eapons from her. He told the others to look after the wounded man, who wa_eally already dead, and to seize you upon your return, and that he, To-mar, would bear Ajor to Al-tan; but instead of bearing her to Al-tan, he took he_o his own hut, where she now is with So-al, To-mar's she. It all happene_ery quickly. To-mar and I were in the council-hut when Du-seen attempted t_ake the dog from you. I was seeking To-mar for this work. He ran ou_mmediately and accompanied the warriors to your hut while I remained to watc_hat went on within the council-hut and to aid you if you needed aid. What ha_appened since you know."
  • I thanked him for his loyalty and then asked him to take me to Ajor; but h_aid that it could not be done, as the village streets were filled wit_earchers. In fact, we could hear them passing to and fro among the huts, making inquiries, and at last Chal-az thought it best to go to the doorway o_is dwelling, which consisted of many huts joined together, lest they ente_nd search.
  • Chal-az was absent for a long time—several hours which seemed an eternity t_e. All sounds of pursuit had long since ceased, and I was becoming uneas_ecause of his protracted absence when I heard him returning through the othe_partments of his dwelling. He was perturbed when he entered that in which _waited him, and I saw a worried expression upon his face.
  • "What is wrong?" I asked. "Have they found Ajor?"
  • "No," he replied; "but Ajor has gone. She learned that you had escaped the_nd was told that you had left the village, believing that she had escape_oo. So-al could not detain her. She made her way out over the top of th_alisade, armed with only her knife."
  • "Then I must go," I said, rising. Nobs rose and shook himself. He had bee_ead asleep when I spoke.
  • "Yes," agreed Chal-az, "you must go at once. It is almost dawn. Du-seen leave_t daylight to search for her." He leaned close to my ear and whispered:
  • "There are many to follow and help you. Al-tan has agreed to aid Du-see_gainst the Galus of Jor; but there are many of us who have combined to ris_gainst Al-tan and prevent this ruthless desecration of the laws and custom_f the Kro-lu and of Caspak. We will rise as Luata has ordained that we shal_ise, and only thus. No batu may win to the estate of a Galu by treachery an_orce of arms while Chal-az lives and may wield a heavy blow and a sharp spea_ith true Kro-lus at his back!"
  • "I hope that I may live to aid you," I replied. "If I had my weapons and m_mmunition, I could do much. Do you know where they are?" "No," he said, "the_ave disappeared." And then: "Wait! You cannot go forth half armed, and garbe_s you are. You are going into the Galu country, and you must go as a Galu.
  • Come!" And without waiting for a reply, he led me into another apartment, o_o be more explicit, another of the several huts which formed his cellula_welling.
  • Here was a pile of skins, weapons, and ornaments. "Remove your strang_pparel," said Chal-az, "and I will fit you out as a true Galu. I have slai_everal of them in the raids of my early days as a Kro-lu, and here are thei_rappings."
  • I saw the wisdom of his suggestion, and as my clothes were by now so ragged a_o but half conceal my nakedness, I had no regrets in laying them aside.
  • Stripped to the skin, I donned the red-deerskin tunic, the leopard-tail, th_olden fillet, armlets and leg-ornaments of a Galu, with the belt, scabbar_nd knife, the shield, spear, bow and arrow and the long rope which I learne_ow for the first time is the distinctive weapon of the Galu warrior. It is _awhide rope, not dissimilar to those of the Western plains and cow-camps o_y youth. The honda is a golden oval and accurate weight for the throwing o_he noose. This heavy honda, Chal-az explained, is used as a weapon, bein_hrown with great force and accuracy at an enemy and then coiled in fo_nother cast. In hunting and in battle, they use both the noose and the honda.
  • If several warriors surround a single foeman or quarry, they rope it with th_oose from several sides; but a single warrior against a lone antagonist wil_ttempt to brain his foe with the metal oval.
  • I could not have been more pleased with any weapon, short of a rifle, which h_ould have found for me, since I have been adept with the rope from earl_hildhood; but I must confess that I was less favorably inclined toward m_pparel. In so far as the sensation was concerned, I might as well have bee_ntirely naked, so short and light was the tunic. When I asked Chal-az for th_aspakian name for rope, he told me ga, and for the first time I understoo_he derivation of the word Galu, which means ropeman.
  • Entirely outfitted I would not have known myself, so strange was my garb an_y armament. Upon my back were slung my bow, arrows, shield, and short spear; from the center of my girdle depended my knife; at my right hip was my ston_atchet; and at my left hung the coils of my long rope. By reaching my righ_and over my left shoulder, I could seize the spear or arrows; my left han_ould find my bow over my right shoulder, while a veritable contortionist-ac_as necessary to place my shield in front of me and upon my left arm. Th_hield, long and oval, is utilized more as back-armor than as a defens_gainst frontal attack, for the close-set armlets of gold upon the lef_orearm are principally depended upon to ward off knife, spear, hatchet, o_rrow from in front; but against the greater carnivora and the attacks o_everal human antagonists, the shield is utilized to its best advantage an_arried by loops upon the left arm.
  • Fully equipped, except for a blanket, I followed Chal-az from his domicil_nto the dark and deserted alleys of Kro-lu. Silently we crept along, Nob_ilent at heel, toward the nearest portion of the palisade. Here Chal-az bad_e farewell, telling me that he hoped to see me soon among the Galus, as h_elt that "the call soon would come" to him. I thanked him for his loya_ssistance and promised that whether I reached the Galu country or not, _hould always stand ready to repay his kindness to me, and that he could coun_n me in the revolution against Al-tan.