At a distance, and when there is a haze upon the waters, it looks like two islands, rather than one, so low and narrow it is at one point, where coves run in on either side and the sea almost meets.
Thus it appeared to the two survivors from the deck of the Korsar derelict drifting helplessly with the sluggish run of an ocean current and at the whim of vagrant winds.
Time is not even a word to the people of Pellucidar, so Tanar had given no thought to that. They had eaten many times, but as there was still an ample supply of provisions, even for a large ship’s company, he felt no concern upon that score, but he had been worried by the depletion of their supply of good water, for the contents of many casks that he had broached had been undrinkable.
They had slept much, which is the way of Pellucidarians when there is naught else to do, storing energy for possible future periods of long drawn exertion.,
They had been sleeping thus, for how long who may say in the measureless present of Pellucidar. Stellara was the first to come on deck from the cabin she had occupied next to that of The Cid. She looked about for Tanar, but not seeing him she let her eyes wander out over the upcurving expanse of water that merged in every direction with the blue domed vault of the brilliant sky, in the exact center of which hung the great noonday sun.
But suddenly her gaze was caught and held by something beside the illimitable waters and the ceaseless sun. She voiced a surprised and joyous cry and, turning, ran across the deck toward the cabin in which Tanar slept.
“Tanar! Tanar!” she cried, pounding upon the paneled door. “Land, Tanar, land!”
The door swung open and the Sarian stepped out upon the deck where Stellara stood pointing across the starboard rail of the drifting derelict.
Close by rose the green hills of a long shore line that stretched away in both directions for many miles, but whether it was the mainland or an island they could not tell.
“Land!” breathed Tanar. “How good it looks!”
“The pleasant green of the soft foliage often hides terrible beasts and savage men,” Stellara reminded him.
“But they are the dangers that I know—it is the unknown dangers of the sea that I do not like. I am not of the sea.”
“You hate the sea?”
“No,” he replied, “I do not hate it; I do not understand it—that is all. But there is something that I do understand,” and he pointed toward the land.
There was that in Tanar’s tone that caused Stellara to look quickly in the direction that he indicated.
“Men!” she exclaimed.
“Warriors,” said Tanar.
“There must be twenty of them in that canoe,” she said.
“And here comes another canoeful behind them.”
From the mouth of a narrow cove the canoes were paddling out into the open sea.
“Look!” cried Stellara. “There are many more coming.”
One after another twenty canoes moved in a long column out upon the quiet waters and as they drew steadily toward the ship the survivors saw that each was filled with almost naked warriors. Short, heavy spears, bone-tipped, bristled menacingly; stone knives protruded from every G-string and stone hatchets swung at every hip.
As the flotilla approached, Tanar went to a cabin and returned with two of the heavy pistols left behind by a fleeing Korsar when the ship had been abandoned.
“Do you expect to repulse four hundred warriors with those?” asked the girl.
Tanar shrugged. “If they have never heard the report of a firearm a few shots may suffice to frighten them away, for a time at least,” he explained, “and if we do not go on the shore the current will carry us away from them in time.”
“But suppose they do not frighten so easily?” she demanded.
“Then I can do no more than my best with the crude weapons and the inferior powder of the Korsars,” he said with the conscious superiority of one who had, with his people, so recently emerged from the stone age that he often instinctively grasped a pistol by the muzzle and used it as a war club in sudden emergencies when at close quarters.
“Perhaps they will not be unfriendly,” suggested Stellara.
Tanar laughed. “Then they are not of Pellucidar,” he said, “but of some wondrous country inhabited by what Perry calls angels.”
“Who is Perry?” she demanded. “I never heard of him.”
“He is a madman who says that Pellucidar is the inside of a hollow stone that is as round as the strange world that hangs forever above the Land of Awful Shadow, and that upon the outside are seas and mountains and plains and countless people and a great country from which he comes.”
“He must be quite mad,” said the girl.
“Yet he and David, our Emperor, have brought us many advantages that were before unknown in Pellucidar, so that now we can kill more warriors in a single battle than was possible before during the course of a whole war. Perry calls this civilization and it is indeed a very wonderful thing.”
“Perhaps he came from the frozen world from which the ancestors of the Korsars came,” suggested the girl. “They say that the country lies outside of Pellucidar.”
“Here is the enemy,” said Tanar. “Shall I fire at that big fellow standing in the bow of the first canoe?” Tanar raised one of the heavy pistols and took aim, but the girl laid a hand upon his arm.
“Wait,” she begged. “They may be friendly. Do not fire unless you must—I hate killing.”
“I can well believe that you are no Korsar,” he said, lowering the muzzle of his weapon.
There came a hail from the leading canoe. “We are prepared for you, Korsars,” shouted the tall warrior standing in the bow. “You are few in numbers. We are many. Your great canoe is a useless wreck; ours are manned by twenty warriors each. You are helpless. We are strong. It is not always thus and this time it is not we who shall be taken prisoners, but you, if you attempt to land.
“But we are not like you, Korsars. We do not want to kill or capture. Go away and we shall not harm you.”
“We cannot go away,” replied Tanar. “Our ship is helpless. We are only two and our food and water are nearly exhausted. Let us land and remain until we can prepare to return to our own countries.”
The warrior turned and conversed with the others in his canoe. Presently be faced Tanar again.
“No,” he said; “my people will not permit Korsars to come among us. They do not trust you. Neither do I. If you do not go away we shall take you as prisoners and your fate will be in the hands of the Council of the Chiefs.”
“But we are not Korsars,” explained Tanar.
The warrior laughed. “You speak a lie,” be said. “Do you think that we do not know the ships of Korsar?”
“This is a Korsar ship,” replied Tanar; “but we are not Korsars. We were prisoners and when they abandoned their ship in a great storm they left us aboard.”
Again the warriors conferred and those in other canoes that had drawn alongside the first joined in the discussion.
“Who are you then?” demanded the spokesman.
“I am Tanar of Pellucidar. My father is King of Sari.”
“We are all of Pellucidar,” replied the warrior; “but we never heard of a country called Sari. And the woman—she is your mate?”
“No!” cried Stellara, haughtily. “I am not his mate.”
“Who are you? Are you a Sarian, also?”
“I am no Sarian. My father and mother were of Amiocap.” Again the warriors talked among themselves, some seeming to favor one idea, some another.
“Do you know the name of this country?” finally demanded the leading warrior, addressing Stellara.
“No,” she replied.
“We were about to ask you that very question,” said Tanar.
“And the woman is from Amiocap?” demanded the warrior.
“No other blood flows in my veins,” said Stellara, proudly.
“Then it is strange that you do not recognize your own land and your own people,” cried the warrior. “This is the island of Amiocap!”
Stellara voiced a low cry of pleased astonishment.
“Amiocap!” she breathed softly, as to herself. The tone was a caress, but the warriors in the canoes were too far away to hear her. They thought she was silent and embarrassed because they had discovered her deception.
“Go away!” they cried again.
“You will not send me away from the land of my parents!” cried Stellara, in astonishment.
“You have lied to us,” replied the tall warrior. “You are not of Amiocap. You do not know us, nor do we know you.”
“Listen!” cried Tanar. “I was a prisoner aboard this ship and, being no Korsar, the girl told me her story long before we sighted this land. She could not have known that we were near your island. I do not know that she even knew its location, but nevertheless I believe that her story is true.
“She has never said that she was from Amiocap, but that her parents were. She has never seen the island before now. Her mother was stolen by the Korsars before she was born.”
Again the warriors spoke together in low tones for a moment and then, once more, the spokesman addressed Stellara. “What was your mother’s name?” he demanded. “Who was your father?”
“My mother was called Allara,” replied the girl. “I never saw my father, but my mother said that he was a chief and a great tandor hunter, called Fedol.” At a word from the tall warrior in the bow of the leading canoe from the warriors paddled slowly nearer the drifting hulk, and as they approached the ship’s waist Tanar and Stellara descended to the main deck, which was now almost awash, so deep the ship rode because of the water in her hold, and as the canoe drifted alongside, the warriors, with the exception of a couple, laid down their paddles and stood ready with their bone-tipped spears.
Now the two upon the ship’s deck and the tall warrior in the canoe stood almost upon the same level and face to face. The latter was a smooth-faced man with finely molded features and clear, gray eyes that bespoke intelligence and courage. He was gazing intently at Stellara, as though he would search her very soul for proof of the veracity or falsity of her statements. Presently he spoke.
“You might well be her daughter,” he said; “the resemblance is apparent.”
“You knew my mother?” exclaimed Stellara.
“I am Vulhan. You have heard her speak of me?”
“My mother’s brother!” exclaimed Stellara, with deep emotion, but there was no answering emotion in the manner of the Amiocap warrior. “My father, where is he? Is he alive?”
“That is the question,” said Vulhan, seriously. “Who is your father! Your mother was stolen by a Korsar. If the Korsar is your father, you are a Korsar.”
“But he is not my father. Take me to my own father—although he has never seen me he will know me and I shall know him.”
“It will do no harm,” said a warrior who stood close to Vulhan. “If the girl is a Korsar we shall know what to do with her.”
“If she is the spawn of the Korsar who stole Allara, Vulhan and Fedol will know how to treat her,” said Vulhan savagely.
“I am not afraid,” said Stellara.
“And this other,” said Vulhan, nodding toward Tanar.
“What of him?”
“He was a prisoner of war that the Korsars were taking back to Korsar. Let him come with you. His people are not sea people. He could not survive by the sea alone.”
“You are sure that he is no Korsar?” demanded Vulhan.
“Look at him!” exclaimed the girl. “The men of Amiocap must know the people of Korsar well by sight. Does this one look like a Korsar?”
Vulhan was forced to admit that he did not. “Very well,” he said, “he may come with us, but whatever your fate, he must share it.”
“Gladly,” agreed Tanar.
The two quit the deck of the derelict as places were made for them in the canoe and as the little craft was paddled rapidly toward shore neither felt any sorrow at parting from the drifting hulk that had been their home for so long. The last they saw of her, just as they were entering the cove, from which they had first seen the canoes emerge, she was drifting slowly with the ocean current parallel with the green shore of Amiocap.
At the upper end of the cove the canoes were beached and dragged beneath the concealing foliage of the luxuriant vegetation. Here they were turned bottom side up and left until occasion should again demand their use.
The warriors of Amiocap conducted their two prisoners into the jungle that grew almost to the water’s edge. At first there was no sign of trail and the leading warriors forced their way through the lush vegetation, which fortunately was free from thorns and briers, but presently they came upon a little path which opened into a broad, well beaten trail along which the party moved in silence.
During the march Tanar had an opportunity to study the men of Amiocap more closely and he saw that almost without exception they were symmetrically built, with rounded, flowing muscles that suggested a combination of agility and strength. Their features were regular, and there was not among them one who might be termed ugly. On the whole their expressions were open rather than cunning and kindly rather than ferocious; yet the scars upon the bodies of many of them and their well worn and efficient looking, though crude, weapons suggested that they might be bold hunters and fierce warriors. There was a marked dignity in their carriage and demeanor which appealed to Tanar as did their taciturnity, for the Sarians themselves are not given to useless talk.
Stellara walking at his side, appeared unusually happy and there was an expression of contentment upon her face that the Sarian had never seen there before. She had been watching him as well as the Amiocapians, and now she addressed him in a whisper.
“What do you think of my people?” she asked, proudly. “Are they not wonderful?”
“They are a fine race,” he replied, “and I hope for your sake that they will believe that you are one of them.”
“It is all just as I have dreamed it so many times,” said the girl, with a happy sigh. “I have always known that some day I should come to Amiocap and that it would be just as my mother told me that it was—the great trees, the giant ferns, the gorgeous, flowering vines and bushes. There are fewer savage beasts here than in other parts of Pellucidar and the people seldom war among themselves, so that for the most part they live in peace and contentment, broken only by the raids of the Korsars or an occasional raid upon their fields and villages by the great tandors. Do you know what tandors are, Tanar? Do you have them in your country?”
Tanar nodded. “I have heard of them in Amoz,” he said, “though they are rare in Sari.”
“There are thousands of them upon the island of Amiocap,” said the girl, “and my people are the greatest tandor hunters in Pellucidar.”
Again they walked on in silence, Tanar wondering what the attitude of the Amiocapians would be towards them, and if friendly whether they would be able to assist him in making his way back to the distant mainland, where Sari lay. To this primitive mountaineer it seemed little short of hopeless even to dream of returning to his native land, for the sea appalled him, nor did he have any conception as to how he might set a course across its savage bosom, or navigate any craft that he might later find at his disposal; yet so powerful is the homing instinct in the Pellucidarians that there was no doubt in his mind that so long as he lived he would always be searching for a way back to Sari.
He was glad that he did not have to worry about Stellara, for if it was true that she was among her own people she could remain upon Amiocap and there would rest upon him no sense of responsibility for her return to Korsar; but if they did not accept her—that was another matter; then Tanar would have to seek for means of escape from an island peopled by enemies and he would have to take Stellara with him.
But this train of thought was interrupted by a sudden exclamation from Stellara. “Look!” she cried. “Here is a village; perhaps it is the very village of my mother.”
“What did you say?” inquired a warrior, walking near them.
“I said that perhaps this is the village where my mother lived before she was stolen by the Korsars.”
“And you say that your mother was Allara?” inquired the warrior.
“This was indeed the village in which Allara lived,” and the warrior; “but do not hope, girl, that you will be received as one of them, for unless your father also was of Amiocap, you are not an Amiocapian. It will be hard to convince anyone that you are not the daughter of a Korsar father, and as such you are a Korsar and no Amiocapian.”
“But how can you know that my father was a Korsar?” demanded Stellara.
“We do not have to know,” replied the warrior; “it is merely a matter of what we believe, but that is a question that will have to be settled by Zural, the chief of the village of Lar.”
“Lar,” repeated Stellara. “That is the village of my mother! I have heard her speak of it many times. This, then, must be Lar.”
“It is,” replied the warrior, “and presently you shall see Zural.”
The village of Lar consisted of perhaps a hundred thatched huts, each of which was divided into two or more rooms, one of which was invariably an open sitting room without walls, in the center of which was a stone fireplace. The other rooms were ordinarily tightly walled and windowless, affording the necessary darkness for the Amiocapians when they wished to sleep.
The entire clearing was encircled by the most remarkable fence that Tanar had ever seen. The posts, instead of being set in the ground, were suspended from a heavy fiber rope that ran from tree to tree, the lower ends of the posts hanging at least four feet above the ground. Holes had been bored through the posts at intervals of twelve or eighteen inches and into these were inserted hardwood stakes, four or five feet in length and sharpened at either end. These stakes protruded from the posts in all directions, parallel with the ground, and the posts were hung at such a distance from one another that the points of the stakes, protruding from contiguous posts, left intervals of from two to four feet between. As a safeguard against an attacking enemy they seemed futile to Tanar, for in entering the village the party had passed through the open spaces between the posts without being hindered by the barrier.
But conjecture as to the purpose of this strange barrier was crowded from his thoughts by other more interesting occurrences, for no sooner had they entered the village than they were surrounded by a horde of men, women and children.
“Who are these?” demanded some.
“They say that they are friends,” replied Vulhan, “but we believe that they are from Korsar.”
“Korsars!” cried the villagers.
“I am no Korsar,” cried Stellara, angrily. “I am the daughter of Allara, the sister of Vulhan.”
“Let her tell that to Zural. It is his business to listen, not ours,” cried one. “Zural will know what to do with Korsars. Did they not steal his daughter and kill his son?”
“Yes, take them to Zural,” cried another.
“It is to Zural that I am taking them,” replied Vulhan.
The villagers made way for the warriors and their prisoners and as the latter passed through the aisles thus formed many were the ugly looks cast upon them and many the expressions of hatred that they overheard, but no violence was offered them and presently they were conducted to a large hut near the center of the village.
Like the other dwellings of the village of Lar, the floors of the chief’s house were raised a foot or eighteen inches above the ground. The thatched roof of the great, open living room, into which they were conducted, was supported by enormous ivory tusks of the giant tandors. The floor, which appeared to be constructed of unglazed tile, was almost entirely covered by the hides of wild animals. There were a number of low, wooden stools standing about the room, and one higher one that might almost have been said to have attained the dignity of a chair.
Upon this larger stool was seated a stern faced man, who scrutinized them closely and silently as they were halted before him. For several seconds no one spoke, and then the man upon the chair turned to Vulhan.
“Who are these,” he demanded, “and what do they in the village of Lar?”
“We took them from a Korsar ship that was drifting helplessly with the ocean current,” said Vulhan, “and we have brought them to Zural, chief of the village of Lar, that he may hear their story and judge whether they be the friends they claim to be, or the Korsar enemies that we believe them to be. This one,” and Vulhan pointed to Stellara, “says that she is the daughter of Allara.”
“I am the daughter of Allara,” said Stellara.
“And who was your father?” demanded Zural.
“My father’s name is Fedol,” replied Stellara.
“How do you know?” asked Zural.
“My mother told me.”
“Where were you born?” demanded Zural.
“In the Korsar city of Allaban,” replied Stellara.
“Then you are a Korsar,” stated Zural with finality.
“And this one, what has he to say for himself?” asked Zural, indicating Tanar with a nod.
“He claims that he was a prisoner of the Korsars and that he comes from a distant kingdom called Sari.’”
“I have never heard of such a kingdom,” said Zural. “Is there any warrior here who has ever heard of it?” he demanded.
“If there is, let him in justice to the prisoner, speak.” But the Amiocapians only shook their heads for there was none who had ever heard of the kingdom of Sari. “It is quite plain,” continued Zural, “that they are enemies and that they are seeking by falsehood to gain our confidence. If there is a drop of Amiocapian blood in one of them, we are sorry for that drop. Take them away, Vulhan. Keep them under guard until we decide how they shall be destroyed.”
“My mother told me that the Amiocapians were a just and kindly people,” said Stellara; “but it is neither just nor kindly to destroy this man who is not an enemy simply because you have never heard of the country from which he comes. I tell you that he is no Korsar. I was on one of the ships of the fleet when the prisoners were brought aboard. I heard The Cid and Bohar the Bloody when they were questioning this man, and I know that he is no Korsar and that he comes from a kingdom known as Sari. They did not doubt his word, so why should you? If you are a just and kindly people how can you destroy me without giving me an opportunity to talk with Fedol, my father. He will believe me; he will know that I am his daughter.”
“The gods frown upon us if we harbor enemies in our village,” replied Zural. “We should have bad luck, as all Amiocapians know. Wild beasts would kill our hunters and the tandors would trample our fields and destroy our villages. But worst of all the Korsars would come and rescue you from us. As for Fedol, no man knows where he is. He is not of this village and the people of his own village have slept and eaten many times since they saw Fedol. They have slept and eaten many times since Fedol set forth upon his last tandor hunt. Perhaps the tandors have avenged the killing of many of their fellows, or perhaps Fedol fell into the clutches of the Buried People. These things we do not know, but we do know that Fedol went away to hunt tandors and that he never came back and that we do not know where to find him. Take them away, Vulhan, and we shall hold a council of the chiefs and then we shall decide what shall be done with them.”
“You are a cruel and wicked man, Zural,” cried Stellara, “and no better than the Korsars themselves.”
“It is useless, Stellara,” said Tanar, laying a hand upon the girl’s ann. “Let us go quietly with Vulhan;” and then in a low whisper, “Do not anger them, for there is yet hope for us in the council of the chiefs if we do not antagonize them.” And so without further word Stellara and Tanar were led from the house of Zural the chief surrounded by a dozen stalwart warriors.