Ah-gilak, the little old man from Cape Cod who could not recall his name but knew that it was not Dolly Dorcas, didn’t care where he sailed the ship he had designed and now skippered. He was just content to sail it, a small version of the great clipper ship he had dreamed of building nearly a hundred years before as soon as he got back to Cape Cod.
Of course Abner Perry was more than anxious to prosecute the search for Dian, since it had been through his carelessness that the balloon had escaped and borne her away. Ja and Jav and Ko and the other Mezops of the crew, being borne to the sea, were happy in this, to them, wonderful ship. Ghak the Hairy One, king of Sari, who commanded the two hundred warriors aboard, would have gone to the fiery sea of Molop Az for either David or Dian. The two hundred warriors, while loyal and valiant, were mostly unhappy. They are hill people, the sea is not their element, and most of them were often sick.
On the Lo-har, Hodon and Dian decided to cruise about the Korsar Az for a while before giving up the search for O-aa, whom they had about given up for lost. Then they would return to Sari.
The Korsar Az is a great ocean extending, roughly, two thousand miles from north to south. It is an unchartered wilderness of unknown waters, and all but a short distance of its enormous shoreline a terra incognita to the crews of the Lo-har and the John Tyler, most of whom thought that its waters extended to the ends of the world and were bordered by lands inhabited by fierce enemies and roved by terrifying beasts, in all but the first of which conceits they were eminently correct.
Leaving Tandar, the island upon which he had found Dian, Hodon cruised to the south, while the John Tyler, entering the great sea from the nameless strait, turned her prow toward the north. Thus, fate separated them farther and farther.
Usually within sight of land, the John Tyler cruised in a north-easterly direction along the great peninsula upon the opposite side of which lie most of the kingdoms of the Empire of Pellucidar. For thirteen or fourteen hundred miles the ship held this course, while Ghak’s two hundred sturdy warriors, sick and hating the sea, became more and more unhappy and discontented until they were close upon the verge of mutiny.
They were at heart loyal to Ghak and David; but they were men of the stone age, rugged individualists unaccustomed to discipline. Finally they came to Ghak in a body and demanded that the ship turn back and head for home.
Ghak and David listened to them, Ghak with deep sympathy, for he, too, was sick of the sea and longed to feel the solid earth beneath his feet once more. And David listened with understanding and a plan. He spread a crude map before them.
“We are here,” he said, pointing, “opposite the narrowest part of the peninsula.” He moved his finger in a southeasterly direction. “Here is Sari. Between us and Sari lie seven hundred miles of probably rugged country inhabited by savage tribes and overrun by fierce beasts. You would have to fight your way for all the seven hundred miles.” He ran his finger back along the coast and through the nameless strait and then up along the opposite shore of the peninsula to Sari. “The John Tyler is a safe and seaworthy ship,” he said. “If you remain aboard her, you may be sick and uncomfortable at times, but you will reach Sari in safety. If you wish, we will land you here; or you may remain aboard. If you stay with the ship, there must be no more grumbling, and you must obey orders. Which do you wish to do?”
“How far is it back to Sari by sea?” asked one of the warriors.
“This is, of course, a crude map,” said David, “and we may only approximate correct distances; but I should say that by sea the distance to Sari is around five thousand miles.”
“And only seven hundred miles by land,” said the man.
“About that. It may be more, it may be less.”
“If it were seven hundred miles by sea and five thousand by land,” spoke up another warrior, “and I had to fight for every mile, I’d choose to go by land.”
As one man, the two hundred cheered and that settled the matter.
“Well, dod-burn my hide!” grumbled Ah-gilak. “Of all the gol-durned idjits I almost nearly ever seen! ’Druther hoof it fer seven hundred miles than ride home in style an’ comfort on the sweetest ship ever sailed these do blasted seas. Ain’t got no more sense ’n a white pine dog with a poplar tail. Howsumever, good riddance says I. There’ll be more victuals for the rest of us, an’ plenty water.”
“Then everybody’s happy,” said David, smiling.
At the point they chose to land the Sarian warriors, there was a narrow beach at the foot of cliffs which extended in both directions as far as they could see. The lead showed no bottom at sixteen fathoms four hundred yards off shore. Closer than that Ah-gilak would not take his ship.
“Too gol-durned close now,” he said, “but what wind there is is right.”
Standing on and off a light breeze and a calm sea, the boats were lowered and the first contingent was put ashore. David, Abner Perry, Ghak, and O-aa were standing together watching the warriors disembark.
“You will accompany them, Ghak?” asked David.
“I will do whatever you wish,” replied the king of Sari.
“Your place is with them,” said David; “and if you go with them, you’ll be back in Sari much sooner than we shall by sea.”
“Why don’t we all go with them, then?” suggested Perry.
“I have been thinking the same thing,” said David, “but for myself. Not you. It would be too tough a trek for you, Abner. Don’t forget that you must be well over ninety by this time.”
Perry bridled. “Stuff and nonsense!” he exclaimed. “I can keep up with the best of you. And don’t you forget, David, that if I am over ninety, you are over fifty. I’m going along, and that settles it. I must get back to Sari. I have important things to do.”
“You will be much more comfortable aboard the John Tyler,” coaxed David. “And what have you so important to do, that can’t wait in a world where time stands eternally still?”
“I have in mind to invent a steam locomotive and build a railway,” said Perry. “I also wish to invent a camera. There is much to be done, David.”
“Why a camera?” asked David. “You can’t kill anyone with a camera.”
Perry looked hurt. The man who had brought gunpowder, muskets, cannon, and steel for swords and spears and knives to this stone age world was inherently the sweetest and kindest of men. But he just couldn’t help “inventing.”
“Be that as it may, David,” he said with dignity, “I am going with Ghak,” and David knew that that was that.
“How about you, O-aa?” asked David. “With two hundred warriors fully armed with Perry’s appurtenances of civilization, I am sure that we can make the journey with safety; and you can be back in Kali with your own people far sooner than by making the long trip by sea.”
“Hodon is somewhere on the Korsar Az searching for me, I am sure,” replied O-aa; “so I shall stay with the John Tyler. I should much rather go with you than remain with the little old man whose name is not Dolly Dorcas and whom I do not like, but by so doing I might miss Hodon.”
“Why do you call him the little man whose name is not Dolly Dorcas, and why do you dislike him?” asked Perry.
“He has forgotten his own name. He had none. So I called him Dolly Dorcas. I thought that was his name, but it was the name of the ship he was on that was wrecked. So he was always saying, ‘my name is not Dolly Dorcas’, until we gave him the name Ah-gilak. And I do not like him, because he eats people. He wanted to eat me. He ate the men who were ship-wrecked with him. He was even going to start eating himself. He has told us these things. He is an evil old man. But I shall go with him, because I wish to find my Hodon.”
“Gracious me!” exclaimed Perry. “I had no idea Ah-gilak was such a terrible person.”
“He is,” said O-aa, “but he had better leave me alone, or my thirteen brothers will kill him.”