Tanar of Pellucidar

Chapter XII

“I Hate You!”

Edgar Rice Burroughs

THE COMPANIONS of Bohar the Bloody had not waited long for him after he had set out in pursuit of Stellara and had not returned. They hastened the work upon their boat to early completion, and, storing provisions and water, sailed out of the coves on the shores of which they had constructed their craft and bore away for Korsar with no regret for Bohar, whom they all cordially hated.

The very storm that had come near to driving Tanar past the island of Hime bore the Korsars down upon the opposite end, carried away their rude sail and finally dashed their craft, a total wreck, upon the rocks at the upper end of Hime.

The loss of their boat, their provisions and one of their number, who was smashed against a rock and drowned, left the remaining Korsars in even a more savage mood than was customary among them, and the fact that the part of the island upon which they were wrecked afforded no timber suitable for the construction of a boat made it necessary for them to cross over land to the opposite shore.

They were faced now with the necessity of entering a land filled with enemies in search of food and material for a new craft, and, to cap the climax of their misfortune, they found themselves with wet powder and forced to defend themselves, if necessity arose, with daggers and cutlasses alone.

The majority of them being old sailors they were well aware of where they were and even knew a great deal concerning the geography of Hime and the manners and customs of its people, for most of them had accompanied raiding parties into the interior on many occasions when the Korsar ships had fallen upon the island to steal furs and hides, in the perfect curing and tanning of which the Himean women were adept with the result that Himean furs and skins brought high prices in Korsar.

A council of the older sailors decided then to set off across country toward a harbor on the far side of the island, where the timber of an adjoining forest would afford them the material for building another craft with the added possibility of the arrival of a Korsar raider.

As these disgruntled men plodded wearily across the island of Hime, Jude led the reluctant Stellara toward his village, and Gura guided Tanar in the same direction.

Jude had been compelled to make wide detours to avoid unfriendly villagers; nor had Stellara’s unwilling feet greatly accelerated his pace, for she constantly hung back, and, though he no longer had to carry her, he had found it necessary to make a leather thong fast about her neck and lead her along in this fashion to prevent the numerous, sudden breaks for liberty that she had made before he had devised this scheme.

Often she pulled back, refusing to go further, saying that she was tired and insisting upon lying down to rest, for in her heart she knew that wherever Jude or another took her, Tanar would seek her out.

Already in her mind’s eyes she could see him upon the trail behind them and she hoped to delay Jude’s march sufficiently so that the Sarian would overtake them before they reached his village and the protection of his tribe.

.     .     .     .     .

Gura was happy. Never before in all her life had she been so happy, and she saw in the end of their journey a possible end to this happiness and so she did not lead Tanar in a direct line to Carn, the village of Jude, but led him hither and thither upon various excuses so that she might have him to herself for as long as possible. She found in his companionship a gentleness and an understanding that she had never known in all her life before.

It was not love that Gura felt for Tanar, but something that might have easily been translated into love had the Sarian’s own passion been aroused toward the girl, but his love for Stellara precluded such a possibility and while he found pleasure in the company of Gura he was yet madly impatient to continue directly upon the trail of Jude that he might rescue Stellara and have her for himself once more.

The village of Carn is not a cliff village, as is Garb, the village of Scurv. It consists of houses built of stone and clay and, entirely surrounded by a high wall, it stands upon the top of a lofty mesa protected upon all sides by steep cliffs, and overlooking upon one hand the forests and hills of Hime, and upon the other the broad expanse of the Korsar Az, or Sea of Korsar.

Up the steep cliffs toward Carn climbed Jude, dragging Stellara behind him. It was a long and arduous climb and when they reach the summit Jude was glad to stop and rest. He also had some planning to do, since in the village upon the mesa Jude had left a mate, and now he was thinking of some plan whereby he might rid himself of her, but the only plan that Jude could devise was to sneak into the city and murder her. But what was he to do with Stellara in the meantime? And then a happy thought occurred to him.

He knew a cave that lay just below the summit of the cliff and not far distant and toward this he took Stellara, and when they had arrived at it he bound her ankles and her wrists.

“I shall not leave you here long,” he said. “Presently I shall return and take you into the village of Carn as my mate. Do not be afraid. There are few wild beasts upon the mesa, and I shall return long before anyone can find you. “

“Do not hurry,” said Stellara. “I shall welcome the wild beast that reaches me before you return.”

“You will think differently after you have been the mate of Jude for a while,” said the man, and then he left her and hurried toward the walled village of Carn.

Struggling to a sitting posture Stellara could look out across the country that lay at the foot of the cliff and presently, below her, she saw a man and a woman emerge from the forest.

For a moment her heart stood still, for the instant that her eyes alighted upon him she recognized the man as Tanar. A cry of welcome was upon her lips when a new thought stilled her tongue.

Who was the girl with Tanar? Stellara saw how close she walked to him and she saw her look up into his face and though she was too far away to see the girl’s eyes or her expression, there was something in the attitude of the slim body that denoted worship, and Stellara turned her face and buried it against the cold wall of the cave and burst into tears.

Gura pointed upward toward the high mesa. “There,” she said, “just beyond the summit of that cliff lies Carn, the village where Jude lives, but if we enter it you will be killed and perhaps I, too, if the women get me first.”

Tanar, who was examining the ground at his feet, seemed not to hear the girl’s words. “Someone has passed just ahead of us,” he said; “a man and a woman. I can see the imprints of their feet. The grasses that were crushed beneath their sandals are still rising slowly—a man and a woman—and one of them was Stellara and the other Jude.”

“Who is Stellara?” asked the girl.

“My mate,” replied Tanar.

The habitual expression of sadness that had marked Gura’s face since childhood, but which had been supplanted by a radiant happiness since she had left the village of Garb with Tanar, returned as with tear-filled eyes she choked back a sob, which went unnoticed by the Sarian as he eagerly searched the ground ahead of them.

And in the cave above them warm tears bathed the unhappy cheeks of Stellara, but the urge of love soon drew her eyes back to Tanar just at the moment that he turned and called Gura’s attention to the well marked spoor he was following.

The eyes of the Sarian noted the despair in the face of his companion and the tears in her eyes.

“Gura!” he cried. “What is the matter? Why do you cry?” and impulsively he stepped close to her and put a friendly arm about her shoulders, and Gura, unnerved by kindness, buried her face upon his breast and wept. And this was what Stellara saw—this scene was what love and jealousy put their own interpretation upon—and the eyes of the Amiocapian maiden flashed with hurt pride and anger.

“Why do you cry, Gura?” demanded Tanar.

“Do not ask me,” begged the girl. “It is nothing. Perhaps I am tired; perhaps I am afraid. But now we may not think of either fatigue or fear, for if Jude is taking your mate toward the village of Carn we must hasten to rescue her before it is too late.”

“You are right,” exclaimed Tanar. “We must not delay,” and, followed by Gura, he ran swiftly toward the base of the cliff, tracing the spoor of Jude and Stellara where it led to the precarious ascent of the cliffside. And as they hastened on, brutal eyes watched them from the edge of the jungle from which they had themselves so recently emerged.

Where the steep ascent topped the summit of the cliff bare rock gave back no clue to the direction that Jude had taken, but twenty yards further on where the soft ground commenced again Tanar picked up the tracks of the man to which he called Gura’s attention.

“Jude’s footprints are here alone,” he said.

“Perhaps the woman refused to go further and he was forced to carry her,” suggested Gura.

“That is doubtless the fact,” said Tanar, and he hastened onward along the plain trail left by the Himean.

The way led now along a well marked trail, which ran through a considerable area of bushes that grew considerably higher than a man’s head, so that nothing was visible upon either side and only for short distances ahead of them and behind them along the winding trail. But Tanar did not slacken his speed, his sole aim being to overhaul the Himean before he reached his village.

As Tanar and Gura had capped the summit of the cliff and disappeared from view, eighteen hairy men came into view from the forest and followed their trail toward the foot of the cliff.

They were bushy whiskered fellows with gay sashes around their waists and equally brilliant cloths about their heads. Huge pistols and knives bristled from their waist cloths, and cutlasses dangled from their hips—fate had brought these survivors of The Cid’s ship to the foot of the cliffs below the village of Carn at almost the same moment that Tanar had arrived. With sensations of surprise, not unmingled with awe, they had recognized the Sarian who had been a prisoner upon the ship and whom they thought they had seen killed by their musket fire at the edge of the natural well upon the island of Amiocap.”

The Korsars, prompted by the pernicious stubbornness of ignorance, were moved by a common impulse to recapture Tanar. And with this end in view they waited until Gura and the Sarian had disappeared beyond the summit of the cliff, when they started in pursuit.

The walls of Carn lie no great distance from the edge of the table-land upon which it stands. In timeless Pellucidar events, which are in reality far separated, seem to follow closely, one upon the heels of another, and for this reason one may not say how long Jude was in the village of Carn, or whether he had had time to carry out the horrid purpose which had taken him thither, but the fact remained that as Tanar and Gura reached the edge of the bushes and looked across the clearing toward the walls of Carn they saw Jude sneaking from the city. Could they have seen his face they might have noticed a malicious leer of triumph and could they have known the purpose that had taken him thus stealthily to his native village they might have reconstructed the scenes of the bloody episode which had just been enacted within the house of the Himean. But Tanar only saw that Jude, whom he sought, was coming toward him, and that Stellara was not with him.

The Sarian drew Gura back into the concealment of the bushes that lined the trail which Jude was approaching. On came the Himean and while Tanar awaited his coming, the Korsars were making their clumsy ascent of the cliff, while Stellara, sick from jealousy and unhappiness, leaned disconsolately against the cold stone of her prison cave.

Jude, unconscious of danger, hastened back toward the spot where he had left Stellara and as he came opposite Tanar, the Sarian leaped upon him.

The Himean reached for his knife, but he was helpless in the grasp of Tanar, whose steel fingers closed about his wrists with such strength that Jude dropped his weapon with a cry of pain as he felt both of his arms crushed beneath the pressure of the Sarian’s grip.

“What do you want?” he cried. “Why do you attack me?”

“Where is Stellara?” demanded Tanar.

“I do not know,” replied Jude, “I have not seen her.”

“You lie,” said Tanar. “I have followed her tracks and yours to the summit of the cliff. Where is she?” He drew his knife. “Tell me, or die.”

“I left her at the edge of the cliff while I went to Carn to arrange to have her received in a friendly manner. I did it all for her protection, Tanar. She wanted to go back to Korsar and I was but helping her.”

“Again you lie,” said the Sarian; “but lead me to her and we shall hear her version of the story.”

The Himean held back until the point of Tanar’s knife pressed against his ribs; then he gave in. “If I lead you to her will you promise not to kill me?” asked Jude. “Will you let me return in peace to my village?”

“I shall make no promises until I learn from her own lips how you have treated her,” replied the Sarian.

“She bas not been harmed,” said Jude. “I swear it.”

“Then lead me to her,” insisted Tanar. .

Sullenly the Himean guided them back along the path toward the cave where he had left Stellara, while at the other edge of the bushes eighteen Korsars, warned by the noise of their approach, halted, listening, and presently melted silently from view in the surrounding shrubbery.

They saw Jude and Gura and Tanar emerge from the bushes, but they did not attack them; they waited to see for what purpose they had returned. They saw them disappear over the edge of the cliff at a short distance from the summit of the trail that led down into the valley. And then they emerged from their hiding places and followed cautiously after them.

Jude led Tanar and Gura to the cave where Stellara lay and when Tanar saw her, her dear wrists and ankles bound with thongs and her cheeks still wet with tears, he sprang forward and gathered her into his arms.

“Stellara!” he cried. “My darling!” But the girl turned her face away from him.

“Do not touch me,” she cried. “I hate you.”

“Stellara!” he exclaimed in amazement. “What has happened?” But before she could reply they were startled by a hoarse command from behind them, and, turning, found themselves looking into the muzzles of the pistols of eighteen Korsars.

“Surrender, Sarian!” cried the leader of the Korsars.

Gazing into the muzzles of about thirty-six huge pistols, which equally menaced the lives of Stellara and Gura, Tanar saw no immediate alternative but to surrender.

“What do you intend to do with us if we do surrender?” he demanded.

“That we shall decide later,” growled the spokesman for the Korsars.

“Do you expect ever to return to Korsar?” asked Tanar.

“What is that to you, Sarian?” demanded the Korsar.

“It has a considerable bearing upon whether or not we surrender,” replied Tanar. “You have tried to kill me before and you have found that I am hard to kill. I know something about your weapons and your powder and I know that even at such close quarters I may be able to kill some of you before you can kill me. But if you answer my question fairly and honestly and if your answer is satisfactory I shall surrender.”

At Tanar’s mention of his knowledge of their powder the Korsars immediately assumed that he knew that it was wet, whereas he was only alluding to its uniformly poor quality and so the spokesman decided that it would be better to temporize for the time being at least. “As soon as we can build a boat we shall return to Korsar,” he said, “unless in the meantime a Korsar ship anchors in the bay of Carn.”

“Good,” commented the Sarian. “If you will promise to return the daughter of The Cid safe and unharmed to her people in Korsar I will surrender. And you must also promise that no harm shall befall this other girl and that she shall be permitted to go with you in safety to Korsar or to remain here among her own people as she desires.”

“How about the other man?” demanded the Korsar.

“You may kill him when you kill me,” replied Tanar.

Stellara’s eyes widened in fearful apprehension as she heard the words of the Sarian and she found that jealousy was no match for true love.

“Very well,” said the Korsar. “We accept the condition. The women shall return to Korsar with us, and you two men shall die.”

“Oh, no,” begged Jude. “I do not wish to die. I am a Himean. Carn is my home. You Korsars come there often to trade. Spare me and I shall see that you are furnished with more hides than you can pack in your boat, after you have built it.”

The leader of the band laughed in his face. “Eighteen of us can take what we choose from the village of Carn,” he said. “We are not such fools as to spare you that you may go and warn your people.”

“Then take me along as a prisoner,” wailed Jude.

“And have to feed you and watch you all the time? No, you are worth more to us dead than alive.”

As Jude spoke he had edged over into the mouth of the cave, where he stood half behind Stellara as though taking shelter at the expense of the girl.

With a gesture of disgust, Tanar turned toward the Korsars. “Come,” he said, impatiently. “If the bargain is satisfactory there is no use in discussing it further. Kill us, and take the women in safety to Korsar. You have given your word.”

At the instant that Tanar concluded his appeal to the Korsars, Jude turned before anyone could prevent him and disappeared into the cave behind him. Instantly Korsars leaped in pursuit, while the others awaited impatiently their return with Jude. But when they emerged they were empty handed.

“He escaped us,” said one of those who had gone after the Himean. “This cave is the mouth of a dark, long tunnel with many branches. We could see nothing and fearful that we should become lost, we returned to the opening. It would be useless to try to find the man within unless one was familiar with the tunnel which honeycombs the cliff beyond this cave. We had better kill this one immediately before he has an opportunity to escape too,” and the fellow raised his pistol and aimed it at Tanar, possibly hoping that his powder had dried since they had set out from the beach upon the opposite side of the island.

“Stop!” cried Stellara, jumping in front of the man. “As you all know I am the daughter of The Cid. If you return me to him in safety you will be well rewarded. I will see to that. You all knew that The Cid was taking this man to Korsar, but possibly you did not know why.”

“No,” said one of the Korsars, who, being only common sailors, had had no knowledge of the plans of their commander.

“He knows how to make firearms and powder far superior to ours and The Cid was taking him back to Korsar that he might teach the Korsars the secrets of powder making and the manufacture of weapons, that we do not know. If you kill him The Cid will be furious with you, and you all know what it means to anger The Cid. But if you return him, also, to Korsar your reward will be much larger.”

“How do we know that The Cid is alive?” demanded one of the Korsars; “and if he is not, who is there who will pay reward for your return, or for the return of this man?”

“The Cid is a better sailor than Bohar the Bloody—that you all know. And if Bohar the Bloody brought his boat safely through to Amiocap there is little doubt but that The Cid took his safely to Korsar. But even if he did not, even if The Cid perished, still will you receive your reward if you return me to Korsar.”

“Who will pay it?” demanded one of the sailors.

“Bulf,” replied Stellara.

“Why should Bulf pay a reward for your return?” asked the Korsar.

“Because I am to be his mate. It was The Cid’s wish and his.”

By no change of expression did the Sarian reveal the pain that these words inflicted like a knife thrust through his heart. He merely stood with his arms folded, looking straight ahead. Gura’s eyes were wide in surprise as she looked, first at Stellara and then at Tanar, for she recalled that the latter had told her that Stellara was his mate, and she had known, with woman’s intuition, how much the man loved this woman. Gura was mystified and, too, she was saddened because she guessed the pain that Stellara’s words had inflicted upon Tanar, and so her kind heart prompted her to move close to Tanar’s side and to lay her hand gently upon his arm in mute expression of sympathy.

For a time the Korsars discussed Stellara’s proposition in low whispers and then the spokesman addressed her. “But if The Cid is dead there will be no one to reward us for returning the Sarian; therefore, we might as well kill him for there will be enough mouths to feed during the long journey to Korsar.”

“You do not know that The Cid is dead,” insisted Stellara; “but if he is, who is there better fitted to be chief of the Korsars than Bulf? And if he is chief he will reward you for returning this man when I explain to him the purpose for which he was brought back to Korsar.”

“Well,” said the Korsar, scratching his head, “perhaps you are right. He may be more valuable to us alive than dead. If he will promise to help us work the boat and not try to escape we shall take him with us. But how about the girl here?”

“Keep her until we are ready to sail,” growled one of the other Korsars, “and then turn her loose.”

“If you wish to receive any reward for my return you will do nothing of the sort,” said Stellara with finality, and then to Gura, “What do you wish to do?” Her voice was cold and haughty.

“Where Tanar goes there I wish to go,” replied Gura.

Stellara’s eyes narrowed and for an instant they flashed fire, but immediately they resumed their natural, kindly expression, though tinged with sadness. “Very well, then,” she said, turning sadly away, “the girl must return with us to Korsar.”

The sailors discussed this question at some length and most of them were opposed to it, but when Stellara insisted and assured them of a still greater reward they finally consented, though with much grumbling.

The Korsars marched boldly across the mesa, past the walls of Carn, their harquebuses ready in their hands, knowing full well the fear of them that past raids had implanted in the breasts of the Himeans. But they did not seek to plunder or demand tribute for they still feared that their powder was useless.

As they reached the opposite side of the mesa, where they could look out across the bay of Carn, a hoarse shout of pleasure arose from the throats of the Korsars, for there, at anchor in the bay, lay a Korsar ship. Not knowing how soon the vessel might weigh anchor and depart, the Korsars fairly tumbled down the precipitous trail to the beach, while in their rear the puzzled villagers watched them over the top of the wall of Carn until the last man had disappeared beyond the summit of the cliff.

Rushing to the edge of the water the Korsars tried to discharge their harquebuses to attract attention from the vessel. A few of the charges had dried and the resulting explosion awakened signs of life upon the anchored ship. The sailors on the shore tore off sashes and handkerchiefs, which they waved frantically as signals of distress, and presently they were rewarded by the sight of the lowering of a boat from the vessel.

Within speaking distance of the shore the boat came to a stop and an officer hailed the men on shore.

“Who are you,” he demanded, “and what do you want?”

“We are part of the crew of the ship of The Cid,” replied the sailors’ spokesman. “Our ship was wrecked in mid-ocean and we made our way to Amiocap and then to Hime, but here we lost the boat that we built upon Amiocap.”

Assured that the men were Korsars the officer commanded that the boat move in closer to the shore and finally it was beached close to where the party stood awaiting its coming.

The brief greetings and explanations over, the officer took them all aboard and shortly afterward Tanar of Pellucidar found himself again upon a Korsar ship of war.

The commander of the ship knew Stellara, and after questioning them carefully he approved her plan and agreed to take Tanar and Gura back to Korsar with them.

Following their interview with the officer, Tanar found himself momentarily alone with Stellara.

“Stellara!” he said. “What change has come over you?”

She turned and looked at him coldly. “In Amiocap you were well enough,” she said, “but in Korsar you would be only a naked barbarian,” and, turning, she walked away from him without another word.

Tanar of Pellucidar - Contents    |     Chapter XIII - Prisoners

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