Part 2 out of 2
that he might examine at least one end of the room all the way
to the ceiling.
In the center of the wall close to the top, an area about three
feet square gave forth a hollow sound when he rapped upon it.
Bradley felt over every square inch of that area with the tips of
his fingers. Near the top he found a small round hole a trifle
larger in diameter than his forefinger, which he immediately
stuck into it. The panel, if such it was, seemed about an
inch thick, and beyond it his finger encountered nothing.
Bradley crooked his finger upon the opposite side of the panel
and pulled toward him, steadily but with considerable force.
Suddenly the panel flew inward, nearly precipitating the man to
the floor. It was hinged at the bottom, and when lowered the
outer edge rested upon the perch, making a little platform
parallel with the floor of the room.
Beyond the opening was an utterly dark void. The Englishman
leaned through it and reached his arm as far as possible into the
blackness but touched nothing. Then he fumbled in his haversack
for a match, a few of which remained to him. When he struck it,
An-Tak gave a cry of terror. Bradley held the light far into the
opening before him and in its flickering rays saw the top of a
ladder descending into a black abyss below. How far down it
extended he could not guess; but that he should soon know
definitely he was positive.
"You have found it! You have found the way out!" screamed An-Tak.
"Oh, Luata! And now I am too weak to go. Take me with you!
Take me with you!"
"Shut up!" admonished Bradley. "You will have the whole flock of
birds around our heads in a minute, and neither of us will escape.
Be quiet, and I'll go ahead. If I find a way out, I'll come back
and help you, if you'll promise not to try to eat me up again."
"I promise," cried An-Tak. "Oh, Luata! How could you blame me?
I am half crazed of hunger and long confinement and the horror of
the lizards and the rats and the constant waiting for death."
"I know," said Bradley simply. "I'm sorry for you, old top.
Keep a stiff upper lip." And he slipped through the opening,
found the ladder with his feet, closed the panel behind him, and
started downward into the darkness.
Below him rose more and more distinctly the sound of running water.
The air felt damp and cool. He could see nothing of his
surroundings and felt nothing but the smooth, worn sides and
rungs of the ladder down which he felt his way cautiously lest a
broken rung or a misstep should hurl him downward.
As he descended thus slowly, the ladder seemed interminable and
the pit bottomless, yet he realized when at last he reached the
bottom that he could not have descended more than fifty feet.
The bottom of the ladder rested on a narrow ledge paved with what
felt like large round stones, but what he knew from experience to
be human skulls. He could not but marvel as to where so many
countless thousands of the things had come from, until he paused
to consider that the infancy of Caspak dated doubtlessly back
into remote ages, far beyond what the outer world considered the
beginning of earthly time. For all these eons the Wieroos might
have been collecting human skulls from their enemies and their
own dead--enough to have built an entire city of them.
Feeling his way along the narrow ledge, Bradley came presently to
a blank wall that stretched out over the water swirling beneath
him, as far as he could reach. Stooping, he groped about with
one hand, reaching down toward the surface of the water, and
discovered that the bottom of the wall arched above the stream.
How much space there was between the water and the arch he could
not tell, nor how deep the former. There was only one way in
which he might learn these things, and that was to lower himself
into the stream. For only an instant he hesitated weighing
his chances. Behind him lay almost certainly the horrid fate of
An-Tak; before him nothing worse than a comparatively painless
death by drowning. Holding his haversack above his head with one
hand he lowered his feet slowly over the edge of the narrow platform.
Almost immediately he felt the swirling of cold water about his
ankles, and then with a silent prayer he let himself drop gently
into the stream.
Great was Bradley's relief when he found the water no more
than waist deep and beneath his feet a firm, gravel bottom.
Feeling his way cautiously he moved downward with the current,
which was not so strong as he had imagined from the noise of
the running water.
Beneath the first arch he made his way, following the winding
curvatures of the right-hand wall. After a few yards of progress
his hand came suddenly in contact with a slimy thing clinging to
the wall--a thing that hissed and scuttled out of reach. What it
was, the man could not know; but almost instantly there was a
splash in the water just ahead of him and then another.
On he went, passing beneath other arches at varying distances,
and always in utter darkness. Unseen denizens of this great
sewer, disturbed by the intruder, splashed into the water ahead
of him and wriggled away. Time and again his hand touched them
and never for an instant could he be sure that at the next step
some gruesome thing might not attack him. He had strapped his
haversack about his neck, well above the surface of the water,
and in his left hand he carried his knife. Other precautions
there were none to take.
The monotony of the blind trail was increased by the fact that
from the moment he had started from the foot of the ladder he had
counted his every step. He had promised to return for An-Tak if
it proved humanly possible to do so, and he knew that in the
blackness of the tunnel he could locate the foot of the ladder in
no other way.
He had taken two hundred and sixty-nine steps--afterward he knew
that he should never forget that number--when something bumped
gently against him from behind. Instantly he wheeled about and
with knife ready to defend himself stretched forth his right hand
to push away the object that now had lodged against his body.
His fingers feeling through the darkness came in contact with
something cold and clammy--they passed to and fro over the thing
until Bradley knew that it was the face of a dead man floating
upon the surface of the stream. With an oath he pushed his
gruesome companion out into mid-stream to float on down toward
the great pool and the awaiting scavengers of the deep.
At his four hundred and thirteenth step another corpse bumped
against him--how many had passed him without touching he could
not guess; but suddenly he experienced the sensation of being
surrounded by dead faces floating along with him, all set in
hideous grimaces, their dead eyes glaring at this profaning alien
who dared intrude upon the waters of this river of the dead--a
horrid escort, pregnant with dire forebodings and with menace.
Though he advanced very slowly, he tried always to take steps of
about the same length; so that he knew that though considerable
time had elapsed, yet he had really advanced no more than four
hundred yards when ahead he saw a lessening of the pitch-darkness,
and at the next turn of the stream his surroundings became
vaguelydiscernible. Above him was an arched roof and on either
hand walls pierced at intervals by apertures covered with
wooden doors. Just ahead of him in the roof of the aqueduct
was a round, black hole about thirty inches in diameter.
His eyes still rested upon the opening when there shot downward
from it to the water below the naked body of a human being which
almost immediately rose to the surface again and floated off down
the stream. In the dim light Bradley saw that it was a dead
Wieroo from which the wings and head had been removed. A moment
later another headless body floated past, recalling what An-Tak
had told him of the skull-collecting customs of the Wieroo.
Bradley wondered how it happened that the first corpse he had
encountered in the stream had not been similarly mutilated.
The farther he advanced now, the lighter it became. The number
of corpses was much smaller than he had imagined, only two more
passing him before, at six hundred steps, or about five hundred
yards, from the point he had taken to the stream, he came to the
end of the tunnel and looked out upon sunlit water, running
between grassy banks.
One of the last corpses to pass him was still clothed in the
white robe of a Wieroo, blood-stained over the headless neck that
Drawing closer to the opening leading into the bright daylight,
Bradley surveyed what lay beyond. A short distance before him a
large building stood in the center of several acres of grass and
tree-covered ground, spanning the stream which disappeared
through an opening in its foundation wall. From the large
saucer-shaped roof and the vivid colorings of the various
heterogeneous parts of the structure he recognized it as the
temple past which he had been borne to the Blue Place of
To and fro flew Wieroos, going to and from the temple.
Others passed on foot across the open grounds, assisting
themselves with their great wings, so that they barely skimmed
the earth. To leave the mouth of the tunnel would have been
to court instant discovery and capture; but by what other
avenue he might escape, Bradley could not guess, unless he
retraced his steps up the stream and sought egress from the
other end of the city. The thought of traversing that dark
and horror-ridden tunnel for perhaps miles he could not
entertain--there must be some other way. Perhaps after dark
he could steal through the temple grounds and continue on
downstream until he had come beyond the city; and so he stood
and waited until his limbs became almost paralyzed with cold,
and he knew that he must find some other plan for escape.
A half-formed decision to risk an attempt to swim under water to
the temple was crystallizing in spite of the fact that any chance
Wieroo flying above the stream might easily see him, when again
a floating object bumped against him from behind and lodged
across his back. Turning quickly he saw that the thing was what
he had immediately guessed it to be--a headless and wingless
Wieroo corpse. With a grunt of disgust he was about to push it
from him when the white garment enshrouding it suggested a bold
plan to his resourceful brain. Grasping the corpse by an arm he
tore the garment from it and then let the body float downward
toward the temple. With great care he draped the robe about him;
the bloody blotch that had covered the severed neck he arranged
about his own head. His haversack he rolled as tightly as
possible and stuffed beneath his coat over his breast. Then he
fell gently to the surface of the stream and lying upon his back
floated downward with the current and out into the open sunlight.
Through the weave of the cloth he could distinguish large objects.
He saw a Wieroo flap dismally above him; he saw the banks of the
stream float slowly past; he heard a sudden wail upon the right-
hand shore, and his heart stood still lest his ruse had been
discovered; but never by a move of a muscle did he betray that
aught but a cold lump of clay floated there upon the bosom of the
water, and soon, though it seemed an eternity to him, the direct
sunlight was blotted out, and he knew that he had entered beneath
Quickly he felt for bottom with his feet and as quickly stood
erect, snatching the bloody, clammy cloth from his face. On both
sides were blank walls and before him the river turned a sharp
corner and disappeared. Feeling his way cautiously forward he
approached the turn and looked around the corner. To his left
was a low platform about a foot above the level of the stream,
and onto this he lost no time in climbing, for he was soaked from
head to foot, cold and almost exhausted.
As he lay resting on the skull-paved shelf, he saw in the center
of the vault above the river another of those sinister round
holes through which he momentarily expected to see a headless
corpse shoot downward in its last plunge to a watery grave.
A few feet along the platform a closed door broke the blankness of
the wall. As he lay looking at it and wondering what lay behind,
his mind filled with fragments of many wild schemes of escape, it
opened and a white robed Wieroo stepped out upon the platform.
The creature carried a large wooden basin filled with rubbish.
Its eyes were not upon Bradley, who drew himself to a squatting
position and crouched as far back in the corner of the niche in
which the platform was set as he could force himself. The Wieroo
stepped to the edge of the platform and dumped the rubbish into
the stream. If it turned away from him as it started to retrace
its steps to the doorway, there was a small chance that it might
not see him; but if it turned toward him there was none at all.
Bradley held his breath.
The Wieroo paused a moment, gazing down into the water, then it
straightened up and turned toward the Englishman. Bradley did
not move. The Wieroo stopped and stared intently at him.
It approached him questioningly. Still Bradley remained as
though carved of stone. The creature was directly in front
of him. It stopped. There was no chance on earth that it would
not discover what he was.
With the quickness of a cat, Bradley sprang to his feet and with
all his great strength, backed by his heavy weight, struck the
Wieroo upon the point of the chin. Without a sound the thing
crumpled to the platform, while Bradley, acting almost
instinctively to the urge of the first law of nature, rolled the
inanimate body over the edge into the river.
Then he looked at the open doorway, crossed the platform and
peered within the apartment beyond. What he saw was a large
room, dimly lighted, and about the side rows of wooden vessels
stacked one upon another. There was no Wieroo in sight, so the
Englishman entered. At the far end of the room was another door,
and as he crossed toward it, he glanced into some of the vessels,
which he found were filled with dried fruits, vegetables and fish.
Without more ado he stuffed his pockets and his haversack full,
thinking of the poor creature awaiting his return in the gloom
of the Place of Seven Skulls.
When night came, he would return and fetch An-Tak this far at
least; but in the meantime it was his intention to reconnoiter in
the hope that he might discover some easier way out of the city
than that offered by the chill, black channel of the ghastly
river of corpses.
Beyond the farther door stretched a long passageway from
which closed doorways led into other parts of the cellars of
the temple. A few yards from the storeroom a ladder rose from
the corridor through an aperture in the ceiling. Bradley paused
at the foot of it, debating the wisdom of further investigation
against a return to the river; but strong within him was the
spirit of exploration that has scattered his race to the four
corners of the earth. What new mysteries lay hidden in the
chambers above? The urge to know was strong upon him though his
better judgment warned him that the safer course lay in retreat.
For a moment he stood thus, running his fingers through his hair;
then he cast discretion to the winds and began the ascent.
In conformity with such Wieroo architecture as he had already
observed, the well through which the ladder rose continually
canted at an angle from the perpendicular. At more or less
regular stages it was pierced by apertures closed by doors, none
of which he could open until he had climbed fully fifty feet from
the river level. Here he discovered a door already ajar opening
into a large, circular chamber, the walls and floors of which
were covered with the skins of wild beasts and with rugs of many
colors; but what interested him most was the occupants of the
room--a Wieroo, and a girl of human proportions. She was
standing with her back against a column which rose from the
center of the apartment from floor to ceiling--a hollow column
about forty inches in diameter in which he could see an opening
some thirty inches across. The girl's side was toward Bradley,
and her face averted, for she was watching the Wieroo, who was
now advancing slowly toward her, talking as he came.
Bradley could distinctly hear the words of the creature, who was
urging the girl to accompany him to another Wieroo city. "Come with
me," he said, "and you shall have your life; remain here and He Who
Speaks for Luata will claim you for his own; and when he is done
with you, your skull will bleach at the top of a tall staff while
your body feeds the reptiles at the mouth of the River of Death.
Even though you bring into the world a female Wieroo, your fate
will be the same if you do not escape him, while with me you shall
have life and food and none shall harm you."
He was quite close to the girl when she replied by striking him
in the face with all her strength. "Until I am slain," she cried,
"I shall fight against you all." From the throat of the Wieroo
issued that dismal wail that Bradley had heard so often in the
past--it was like a scream of pain smothered to a groan--and then
the thing leaped upon the girl, its face working in hideous
grimaces as it clawed and beat at her to force her to the floor.
The Englishman was upon the point of entering to defend her when
a door at the opposite side of the chamber opened to admit a huge
Wieroo clothed entirely in red. At sight of the two struggling
upon the floor the newcomer raised his voice in a shriek of rage.
Instantly the Wieroo who was attacking the girl leaped to his
feet and faced the other.
"I heard," screamed he who had just entered the room. "I heard,
and when He Who Speaks for Lu-ata shall have heard--" He paused
and made a suggestive movement of a finger across his throat.
"He shall not hear," returned the first Wieroo as, with a
powerful motion of his great wings, he launched himself upon the
red-robed figure. The latter dodged the first charge, drew a
wicked-looking curved blade from beneath its red robe, spread its
wings and dived for its antagonist. Beating their wings, wailing
and groaning, the two hideous things sparred for position.
The white-robed one being unarmed sought to grasp the other by
the wrist of its knife-hand and by the throat, while the latter
hopped around on its dainty white feet, seeking an opening for a
mortal blow. Once it struck and missed, and then the other
rushed in and clinched, at the same time securing both the holds
it sought. Immediately the two commenced beating at each other's
heads with the joints of their wings, kicking with their soft,
puny feet and biting, each at the other's face.
In the meantime the girl moved about the room, keeping out of the
way of the duelists, and as she did so, Bradley caught a glimpse
of her full face and immediately recognized her as the girl of
the place of the yellow door. He did not dare intervene now
until one of the Wieroo had overcome the other, lest the two
should turn upon him at once, when the chances were fair that he
would be defeated in so unequal a battle as the curved blade of
the red Wieroo would render it, and so he waited, watching the
white-robed figure slowly choking the life from him of the red robe.
The protruding tongue and the popping eyes proclaimed that the
end was near and a moment later the red robe sank to the floor
of the room, the curved blade slipping from nerveless fingers.
For an instant longer the victor clung to the throat of his
defeated antagonist and then he rose, dragging the body after
him, and approached the central column. Here he raised the body
and thrust it into the aperture where Bradley saw it drop
suddenly from sight. Instantly there flashed into his memory the
circular openings in the roof of the river vault and the corpses
he had seen drop from them to the water beneath.
As the body disappeared, the Wieroo turned and cast about the
room for the girl. For a moment he stood eying her. "You saw,"
he muttered, "and if you tell them, He Who Speaks for Luata will
have my wings severed while still I live and my head will be
severed and I shall be cast into the River of Death, for thus it
happens even to the highest who slay one of the red robe. You saw,
and you must die!" he ended with a scream as he rushed upon the girl.
Bradley waited no longer. Leaping into the room he ran for the
Wieroo, who had already seized the girl, and as he ran, he
stooped and picked up the curved blade. The creature's back was
toward him as, with his left hand, he seized it by the neck.
Like a flash the great wings beat backward as the creature
turned, and Bradley was swept from his feet, though he still
retained his hold upon the blade. Instantly the Wieroo was
upon him. Bradley lay slightly raised upon his left elbow, his
right arm free, and as the thing came close, he cut at the hideous
face with all the strength that lay within him. The blade struck
at the junction of the neck and torso and with such force as to
completely decapitate the Wieroo, the hideous head dropping to
the floor and the body falling forward upon the Englishman.
Pushing it from him he rose to his feet and faced the wide-eyed girl.
"Luata!" she exclaimed. "How came you here?"
Bradley shrugged. "Here I am," he said; "but the thing now is to
get out of here--both of us."
The girl shook her head. "It cannot be," she stated sadly.
"That is what I thought when they dropped me into the Blue Place
of Seven Skulls," replied Bradley. "Can't be done. I did it.--
Here! You're mussing up the floor something awful, you." This last
to the dead Wieroo as he stooped and dragged the corpse to the
central shaft, where he raised it to the aperture and let it
slip into the tube. Then he picked up the head and tossed it
after the body. "Don't be so glum," he admonished the former as
he carried it toward the well; "smile!"
"But how can he smile?" questioned the girl, a half-puzzled,
half-frightened look upon her face. "He is dead."
"That's so," admitted Bradley, "and I suppose he does feel a bit
cut up about it."
The girl shook her head and edged away from the man--toward the door.
"Come!" said the Englishman. "We've got to get out of here.
If you don't know a better way than the river, it's the river then."
The girl still eyed him askance. "But how could he smile when he
Bradley laughed aloud. "I thought we English were supposed to
have the least sense of humor of any people in the world," he
cried; "but now I've found one human being who hasn't any.
Of course you don't know half I'm saying; but don't worry, little
girl; I'm not going to hurt you, and if I can get you out of
here, I'll do it."
Even if she did not understand all he said, she at least read
something in his smiling, countenance--something which reassured her.
"I do not fear you," she said; "though I do not understand all
that you say even though you speak my own tongue and use words
that I know. But as for escaping"--she sighed--"alas, how can
it be done?"
"I escaped from the Blue Place of Seven Skulls," Bradley
reminded her. "Come!" And he turned toward the shaft and
the ladder that he had ascended from the river. "We cannot
waste time here."
The girl followed him; but at the doorway both drew back, for
from below came the sound of some one ascending.
Bradley tiptoed to the door and peered cautiously into the well;
then he stepped back beside the girl. "There are half a dozen of
them coming up; but possibly they will pass this room."
"No," she said, "they will pass directly through this room--they
are on their way to Him Who Speaks for Luata. We may be able to
hide in the next room--there are skins there beneath which we
may crawl. They will not stop in that room; but they may stop in
this one for a short time--the other room is blue."
"What's that go to do with it?" demanded the Englishman.
"They fear blue," she replied. "In every room where murder has
been done you will find blue--a certain amount for each murder.
When the room is all blue, they shun it. This room has much
blue; but evidently they kill mostly in the next room, which is
now all blue."
"But there is blue on the outside of every house I have seen,"
"Yes, " assented the girl, "and there are blue rooms in each of
those houses--when all the rooms are blue then the whole outside
of the house will be blue as is the Blue Place of Seven Skulls.
There are many such here."
"And the skulls with blue upon them?" inquired Bradley.
"Did they belong to murderers?"
"They were murdered--some of them; those with only a small amount
of blue were murderers--known murderers. All Wieroos are murderers.
When they have committed a certain number of murders without being
caught at it, they confess to Him Who Speaks for Luata and are
advanced, after which they wear robes with a slash of some color--
I think yellow comes first. When they reach a point where the
entire robe is of yellow, they discard it for a white robe with a
red slash; and when one wins a complete red robe, he carries such
a long, curved knife as you have in your hand; after that comes
the blue slash on a white robe, and then, I suppose, an all blue robe.
I have never seen such a one."
As they talked in low tones they had moved from the room of the
death shaft into an all blue room adjoining, where they sat down
together in a corner with their backs against a wall and drew a
pile of hides over themselves. A moment later they heard a
number of Wieroos enter the chamber. They were talking together
as they crossed the floor, or the two could not have heard them.
Halfway across the chamber they halted as the door toward which
they were advancing opened and a dozen others of their kind
entered the apartment.
Bradley could guess all this by the increased volume of sound and
the dismal greetings; but the sudden silence that almost
immediately ensued he could not fathom, for he could not know
that from beneath one of the hides that covered him protruded one
of his heavy army shoes, or that some eighteen large Wieroos with
robes either solid red or slashed with red or blue were standing
gazing at it. Nor could he hear their stealthy approach.
The first intimation he had that he had been discovered was when
his foot was suddenly seized, and he was yanked violently from
beneath the hides to find himself surrounded by menacing blades.
They would have slain him on the spot had not one clothed all in
red held them back, saying that He Who Speaks for Luata desired
to see this strange creature.
As they led Bradley away, he caught an opportunity to glance back
toward the hides to see what had become of the girl, and, to his
gratification, he discovered that she still lay concealed beneath
the hides. He wondered if she would have the nerve to attempt
the river trip alone and regretted that now he could not
accompany her. He felt rather all in, himself, more so than
he had at any time since he had been captured by the Wieroo,
for there appeared not the slightest cause for hope in his
present predicament. He had dropped the curved blade beneath the
hides when he had been jerked so violently from their fancied security.
It was almost in a spirit of resigned hopelessness that he quietly
accompanied his captors through various chambers and corridors
toward the heart of the temple.
The farther the group progressed, the more barbaric and the more
sumptuous became the decorations. Hides of leopard and tiger
predominated, apparently because of their more beautiful
markings, and decorative skulls became more and more numerous.
Many of the latter were mounted in precious metals and set with
colored stones and priceless gems, while thick upon the hides
that covered the walls were golden ornaments similar to those
worn by the girl and those which had filled the chests he had
examined in the storeroom of Fosh-bal-soj, leading the Englishman
to the conviction that all such were spoils of war or theft,
since each piece seemed made for personal adornment, while in so
far as he had seen, no Wieroo wore ornaments of any sort.
And also as they advanced the more numerous became the Wieroos
moving hither and thither within the temple. Many now were the
solid red robes and those that were slashed with blue--a
veritable hive of murderers.
At last the party halted in a room in which were many Wieroos who
gathered about Bradley questioning his captors and examining him
and his apparel. One of the party accompanying the Englishman
spoke to a Wieroo that stood beside a door leading from the room.
"Tell Him Who Speaks for Luata," he said, "that Fosh-bal-soj we
could not find; but that in returning we found this creature
within the temple, hiding. It must be the same that Fosh-bal-soj
captured in the Sto-lu country during the last darkness.
Doubtless He Who Speaks for Luata would wish to see and question
this strange thing."
The creature addressed turned and slipped through the doorway,
closing the door after it, but first depositing its curved blade
upon the floor without. Its post was immediately taken by
another and Bradley now saw that at least twenty such guards
loitered in the immediate vicinity. The doorkeeper was gone but
for a moment, and when he returned, he signified that Bradley's
party was to enter the next chamber; but first each of the
Wieroos removed his curved weapon and laid it upon the floor.
The door was swung open, and the party, now reduced to Bradley
and five Wieroos, was ushered across the threshold into a large,
irregularly shaped room in which a single, giant Wieroo whose
robe was solid blue sat upon a raised dais.
The creature's face was white with the whiteness of a corpse, its
dead eyes entirely expressionless, its cruel, thin lips tight-drawn
against yellow teeth in a perpetual grimace. Upon either side of
it lay an enormous, curved sword, similar to those with which some
of the other Wieroos had been armed, but larger and heavier.
Constantly its clawlike fingers played with one or the other of
The walls of the chamber as well as the floor were entirely
hidden by skins and woven fabrics. Blue predominated in all
the colorations. Fastened against the hides were many pairs of
Wieroo wings, mounted so that they resembled long, black shields.
Upon the ceiling were painted in blue characters a bewildering
series of hieroglyphics and upon pedestals set against the walls
or standing out well within the room were many human skulls.
As the Wieroos approached the figure upon the dais, they leaned
far forward, raising their wings above their heads and stretching
their necks as though offering them to the sharp swords of the
grim and hideous creature.
"O Thou Who Speakest for Luata!" exclaimed one of the party.
"We bring you the strange creature that Fosh-bal-soj captured
and brought thither at thy command."
So this then was the godlike figure that spoke for divinity!
This arch-murderer was the Caspakian representative of God on Earth!
His blue robe announced him the one and the seeming humility of his
minions the other. For a long minute he glared at Bradley. Then he
began to question him--from whence he came and how, the name and
description of his native country, and a hundred other queries.
"Are you cos-ata-lu?" the creature asked.
Bradley replied that he was and that all his kind were, as well
as every living thing in his part of the world.
"Can you tell me the secret?" asked the creature.
Bradley hesitated and then, thinking to gain time, replied in
"What is it?" demanded the Wieroo, leaning far forward and
exhibiting every evidence of excited interest.
Bradley leaned forward and whispered: "It is for your ears alone;
I will not divulge it to others, and then only on condition that
you carry me and the girl I saw in the place of the yellow door
near to that of Fosh-bal-soj back to her own country."
The thing rose in wrath, holding one of its swords above its head.
"Who are you to make terms for Him Who Speaks for Luata?"
it shrilled. "Tell me the secret or die where you stand!"
"And if I die now, the secret goes with me," Bradley reminded him.
"Never again will you get the opportunity to question another of
my kind who knows the secret." Anything to gain time, to get the
rest of the Wieroos from the room, that he might plan some scheme
for escape and put it into effect.
The creature turned upon the leader of the party that had
"Is the thing with weapons?" it asked.
"No," was the response.
"Then go; but tell the guard to remain close by," commanded the
The Wieroos salaamed and withdrew, closing the door behind them.
He Who Speaks for Luata grasped a sword nervously in his right hand.
At his left side lay the second weapon. It was evident that he
lived in constant dread of being assassinated. The fact that he
permitted none with weapons within his presence and that he
always kept two swords at his side pointed to this.
Bradley was racking his brain to find some suggestion of a plan
whereby he might turn the situation to his own account. His eyes
wandered past the weird figure before him; they played about the
walls of the apartment as though hoping to draw inspiration from
the dead skulls and the hides and the wings, and then they came
back to the face of the Wieroo god, now working in anger.
"Quick!" screamed the thing. "The secret!"
"Will you give me and the girl our freedom?" insisted Bradley.
For an instant the thing hesitated, and then it grumbled "Yes."
At the same instant Bradley saw two hides upon the wall directly
back of the dais separate and a face appear in the opening.
No change of expression upon the Englishman's countenance betrayed
that he had seen aught to surprise him, though surprised he was
for the face in the aperture was that of the girl he had but just
left hidden beneath the hides in another chamber. A white and
shapely arm now pushed past the face into the room, and in the
hand, tightly clutched, was the curved blade, smeared with blood,
that Bradley had dropped beneath the hides at the moment he had
been discovered and drawn from his concealment.
"Listen, then," said Bradley in a low voice to the Wieroo.
"You shall know the secret of cos-ata-lu as well as do
I; but none other may hear it. Lean close--I will whisper
it into your ear."
He moved forward and stepped upon the dais. The creature raised
its sword ready to strike at the first indication of treachery,
and Bradley stooped beneath the blade and put his ear close to
the gruesome face. As he did so, he rested his weight upon his
hands, one upon either side of the Wieroo's body, his right hand
upon the hilt of the spare sword lying at the left of Him Who
Speaks for Luata.
"This then is the secret of both life and death," he whispered,
and at the same instant he grasped the Wieroo by the right wrist
and with his own right hand swung the extra blade in a sudden
vicious blow against the creature's neck before the thing could
give even a single cry of alarm; then without waiting an instant
Bradley leaped past the dead god and vanished behind the hides
that had hidden the girl.
Wide-eyed and panting the girl seized his arm. "Oh, what have
you done?" she cried. "He Who Speaks for Luata will be avenged
by Luata. Now indeed must you die. There is no escape, for even
though we reached my own country Luata can find you out."
"Bosh!" exclaimed Bradley, and then: "But you were going to knife
"Then I alone should have died," she replied.
Bradley scratched his head. "Neither of us is going to die," he
said; "at least not at the hands of any god. If we don't get out
of here though, we'll die right enough. Can you find your way
back to the room where I first came upon you in the temple?"
"I know the way," replied the girl; "but I doubt if we can go
back without being seen. I came hither because I only met
Wieroos who knew that I am supposed now to be in the temple;
but you could go elsewhere without being discovered."
Bradley's ingenuity had come up against a stone wall.
There seemed no possibility of escape. He looked about him.
They were in a small room where lay a litter of rubbish--torn
bits of cloth, old hides, pieces of fiber rope. In the center
of the room was a cylindrical shaft with an opening in its face.
Bradley knew it for what it was. Here the arch-fiend dragged his
victims and cast their bodies into the river of death far below.
The floor about the opening in the shaft and the sides of the
shaft were clotted thick with a dried, dark brown substance that
the Englishman knew had once been blood. The place had the
appearance of having been a veritable shambles. An odor of
decaying flesh permeated the air.
The Englishman crossed to the shaft and peered into the opening.
All below was dark as pitch; but at the bottom he knew was
the river. Suddenly an inspiration and a bold scheme leaped to
his mind. Turning quickly he hunted about the room until he
found what he sought--a quantity of the rope that lay strewn here
and there. With rapid fingers he unsnarled the different lengths,
the girl helping him, and then he tied the ends together until he
had three ropes about seventy-five feet in length. He fastened
these together at each end and without a word secured one of the
ends about the girl's body beneath her arms.
"Don't be frightened," he said at length, as he led her toward
the opening in the shaft. "I'm going to lower you to the river,
and then I'm coming down after you. When you are safe below,
give two quick jerks upon the rope. If there is danger there and
you want me to draw you up into the shaft, jerk once. Don't be
afraid--it is the only way."
"I am not afraid," replied the girl, rather haughtily Bradley
thought, and herself climbed through the aperture and hung by her
hands waiting for Bradley to lower her.
As rapidly as was consistent with safety, the man paid out the rope.
When it was about half out, he heard loud cries and wails suddenly
arise within the room they had just quitted. The slaying of their
god had been discovered by the Wieroos. A search for the slayer
would begin at once.
Lord! Would the girl never reach the river? At last, just as he
was positive that searchers were already entering the room behind
him, there came two quick tugs at the rope. Instantly Bradley
made the rest of the strands fast about the shaft, slipped into
the black tube and began a hurried descent toward the river.
An instant later he stood waist deep in water beside the girl.
Impulsively she reached toward him and grasped his arm.
A strange thrill ran through him at the contact; but he only cut
the rope from about her body and lifted her to the little shelf
at the river's side.
"How can we leave here?" she asked.
"By the river," he replied; "but first I must go back to the
Blue Place of Seven Skulls and get the poor devil I left there.
I'll have to wait until after dark, though, as I cannot pass
through the open stretch of river in the temple gardens by day."
"There is another way," said the girl. "I have never seen
it; but often I have heard them speak of it--a corridor that
runs beside the river from one end of the city to the other.
Through the gardens it is below ground. If we could find an
entrance to it, we could leave here at once. It is not safe here,
for they will search every inch of the temple and the grounds."
"Come," said Bradley. "We'll have a look for it, anyway." And so
saying he approached one of the doors that opened onto the
They found the corridor easily, for it paralleled the river,
separated from it only by a single wall. It took them beneath the
gardens and the city, always through inky darkness. After they
had reached the other side of the gardens, Bradley counted his
steps until he had retraced as many as he had taken coming down
the stream; but though they had to grope their way along, it was
a much more rapid trip than the former.
When he thought he was about opposite the point at which he had
descended from the Blue Place of Seven Skulls, he sought and
found a doorway leading out onto the river; and then, still in
the blackest darkness, he lowered himself into the stream and
felt up and down upon the opposite side for the little shelf and
the ladder. Ten yards from where he had emerged he found them,
while the girl waited upon the opposite side.
To ascend to the secret panel was the work of but a minute.
Here he paused and listened lest a Wieroo might be visiting the
prison in search of him or the other inmate; but no sound came from
the gloomy interior. Bradley could not but muse upon the joy of
the man on the opposite side when he should drop down to him with
food and a new hope for escape. Then he opened the panel and
looked into the room. The faint light from the grating above
revealed the pile of rags in one corner; but the man lay beneath
them, he made no response to Bradley's low greeting.
The Englishman lowered himself to the floor of the room and
approached the rags. Stooping he lifted a corner of them.
Yes, there was the man asleep. Bradley shook him--there was
no response. He stooped lower and in the dim light examined
An-Tak; then he stood up with a sigh. A rat leaped from beneath
the coverings and scurried away. "Poor devil!" muttered Bradley.
He crossed the room to swing himself to the perch preparatory to
quitting the Blue Place of Seven Skulls forever. Beneath the
perch he paused. "I'll not give them the satisfaction," he growled.
"Let them believe that he escaped."
Returning to the pile of rags he gathered the man into his arms.
It was difficult work raising him to the high perch and dragging
him through the small opening and thus down the ladder; but
presently it was done, and Bradley had lowered the body into the
river and cast it off. "Good-bye, old top!" he whispered.
A moment later he had rejoined the girl and hand in hand they
were following the dark corridor upstream toward the farther end
of the city. She told him that the Wieroos seldom frequented
these lower passages, as the air here was too chill for them; but
occasionally they came, and as they could see quite as well by
night as by day, they would be sure to discover Bradley and the girl.
"If they come close enough," she said, "we can see their eyes
shining in the dark--they resemble dull splotches of light.
They glow, but do not blaze like the eyes of the tiger or the lion."
The man could not but note the very evident horror with which she
mentioned the creatures. To him they were uncanny; but she had
been used to them for a year almost, and probably all her life
she had either seen or heard of them constantly.
"Why do you fear them so?" he asked. "It seems more than any
ordinary fear of the harm they can do you."
She tried to explain; but the nearest he could gather was that
she looked upon the Wieroo almost as supernatural beings.
"There is a legend current among my people that once the Wieroo
were unlike us only in that they possessed rudimentary wings.
They lived in villages in the Galu country, and while the two peoples
often warred, they held no hatred for one another. In those days
each race came up from the beginning and there was great rivalry
as to which was the higher in the scale of evolution. The Wieroo
developed the first cos-ata-lu but they were always male--
never could they reproduce woman. Slowly they commenced to
develop certain attributes of the mind which, they considered,
placed them upon a still higher level and which gave them many
advantages over us, seeing which they thought only of mental
development--their minds became like stars and the rivers, moving
always in the same manner, never varying. They called this
tas-ad, which means doing everything the right way, or, in
other words, the Wieroo way. If foe or friend, right or wrong,
stood in the way of tas-ad, then it must be crushed.
"Soon the Galus and the lesser races of men came to hate and
fear them. It was then that the Wieroos decided to carry
tas-ad into every part of the world. They were very
warlike and very numerous, although they had long since adopted
the policy of slaying all those among them whose wings did not
show advanced development.
"It took ages for all this to happen--very slowly came the
different changes; but at last the Wieroos had wings they
could use. But by reason of always making war upon their neighbors
they were hated by every creature of Caspak, for no one wanted
their tas-ad, and so they used their wings to fly to this
island when the other races turned against them and threatened to
kill them all. So cruel had they become and so bloodthirsty that
they no longer had hearts that beat with love or sympathy; but
their very cruelty and wickedness kept them from conquering the
other races, since they were also cruel and wicked to one
another, so that no Wieroo trusted another.
"Always were they slaying those above them that they might rise
in power and possessions, until at last came the more powerful
than the others with a tas-ad all his own. He gathered
about him a few of the most terrible Wieroos, and among them they
made laws which took from all but these few Wieroos every weapon
"Now their tas-ad has reached a high plane among them.
They make many wonderful things that we cannot make. They think
great thoughts, no doubt, and still dream of greatness to come,
but their thoughts and their acts are regulated by ages of
custom--they are all alike--and they are most unhappy."
As the girl talked, the two moved steadily along the dark
passageway beside the river. They had advanced a considerable
distance when there sounded faintly from far ahead the muffled
roar of falling water, which increased in volume as they moved
forward until at last it filled the corridor with a deafening sound.
Then the corridor ended in a blank wall; but in a niche to the
right was a ladder leading aloft, and to the left was a door
opening onto the river. Bradley tried the latter first and
as he opened it, felt a heavy spray against his face. The little
shelf outside the doorway was wet and slippery, the roaring of
the water tremendous. There could be but one explanation--they
had reached a waterfall in the river, and if the corridor
actually terminated here, their escape was effectually cut off,
since it was quite evidently impossible to follow the bed of the
river and ascend the falls.
As the ladder was the only alternative, the two turned toward
it and, the man first, began the ascent, which was through a
well similar to that which had led him to the upper floors of
the temple. As he climbed, Bradley felt for openings in the sides
of the shaft; but he discovered none below fifty feet. The first
he came to was ajar, letting a faint light into the well. As he
paused, the girl climbed to his side, and together they looked
through the crack into a low-ceiled chamber in which were several
Galu women and an equal number of hideous little replicas of the
full-grown Wieroos with which Bradley was not quite familiar.
He could feel the body of the girl pressed close to his tremble
as her eyes rested upon the inmates of the room, and involuntarily
his arm encircled her shoulders as though to protect her from some
danger which he sensed without recognizing.
"Poor things," she whispered. "This is their horrible fate--to
be imprisoned here beneath the surface of the city with their
hideous offspring whom they hate as they hate their fathers.
A Wieroo keeps his children thus hidden until they are full-grown
lest they be murdered by their fellows. The lower rooms of the
city are filled with many such as these."
Several feet above was a second door beyond which they found a
small room stored with food in wooden vessels. A grated window
in one wall opened above an alley, and through it they could see
that they were just below the roof of the building. Darkness was
coming, and at Bradley's suggestion they decided to remain hidden
here until after dark and then to ascend to the roof and reconnoiter.
Shortly after they had settled themselves they heard something
descending the ladder from above. They hoped that it would
continue on down the well and fairly held their breath as the
sound approached the door to the storeroom. Their hearts sank as
they heard the door open and from between cracks in the vessels
behind which they hid saw a yellow-slashed Wieroo enter the room.
Each recognized him immediately, the girl indicating the fact of
her own recognition by a sudden pressure of her fingers on
Bradley's arm. It was the Wieroo of the yellow slashing whose
abode was the place of the yellow door in which Bradley had first
seen the girl.
The creature carried a wooden bowl which it filled with dried
food from several of the vessels; then it turned and quit the room.
Bradley could see through the partially open doorway that it
descended the ladder. The girl told him that it was taking the
food to the women and the young below, and that while it might
return immediately, the chances were that it would remain for
"We are just below the place of the yellow door," she said.
"It is far from the edge of the city; so far that we may not
hope to escape if we ascend to the roofs here."
"I think," replied the man, "that of all the places in Oo-oh this
will be the easiest to escape from. Anyway, I want to return to
the place of the yellow door and get my pistol if it is there."
"It is still there," replied, the girl. "I saw it placed in a chest
where he keeps the things he takes from his prisoners and victims."
"Good!" exclaimed Bradley. "Now come, quickly. "And the two
crossed the room to the well and ascended the ladder a short
distance to its top where they found another door that opened
into a vacant room--the same in which Bradley had first met
the girl. To find the pistol was a matter of but a moment's
search on the part of Bradley's companion; and then, at the
Englishman's signal, she followed him to the yellow door.
It was quite dark without as the two entered the narrow passage
between two buildings. A few steps brought them undiscovered to
the doorway of the storeroom where lay the body of Fosh-bal-soj.
In the distance, toward the temple, they could hear sounds as of
a great gathering of Wieroos--the peculiar, uncanny wailing
rising above the dismal flapping of countless wings.
"They have heard of the killing of Him Who Speaks for Luata,"
whispered the girl. "Soon they will spread in all directions
searching for us."
"And will they find us?"
"As surely as Lua gives light by day," she replied; "and when
they find us, they will tear us to pieces, for only the Wieroos
may murder--only they may practice tas-ad."
"But they will not kill you," said Bradley. "You did not slay him."
"It will make no difference," she insisted. "If they find us
together they will slay us both."
"Then they won't find us together," announced Bradley decisively.
"You stay right here--you won't be any worse off than before I
came--and I'll get as far as I can and account for as many of the
beggars as possible before they get me. Good-bye! You're a mighty
decent little girl. I wish that I might have helped you."
"No," she cried. "Do not leave me. I would rather die. I had
hoped and hoped to find some way to return to my own country.
I wanted to go back to An-Tak, who must be very lonely without me;
but I know that it can never be. It is difficult to kill hope,
though mine is nearly dead. Do not leave me."
"An-Tak!" Bradley repeated. "You loved a man called An-Tak?"
"Yes," replied the girl. "An-Tak was away, hunting, when the
Wieroo caught me. How he must have grieved for me! He also was
cos-ata-lu, twelve moons older than I, and all our lives we
have been together."
Bradley remained silent. So she loved An-Tak. He hadn't the
heart to tell her that An-Tak had died, or how.
At the door of Fosh-bal-soj's storeroom they halted to listen.
No sound came from within, and gently Bradley pushed open the door.
All was inky darkness as they entered; but presently their eyes
became accustomed to the gloom that was partially relieved by the
soft starlight without. The Englishman searched and found those
things for which he had come--two robes, two pairs of dead wings
and several lengths of fiber rope. One pair of the wings he
adjusted to the girl's shoulders by means of the rope. Then he
draped the robe about her, carrying the cowl over her head.
He heard her gasp of astonishment when she realized the ingenuity
and boldness of his plan; then he directed her to adjust the other
pair of wings and the robe upon him. Working with strong, deft
fingers she soon had the work completed, and the two stepped out
upon the roof, to all intent and purpose genuine Wieroos. Besides his
pistol Bradley carried the sword of the slain Wieroo prophet, while
the girl was armed with the small blade of the red Wieroo.
Side by side they walked slowly across the roofs toward the north
edge of the city. Wieroos flapped above them and several times
they passed others walking or sitting upon the roofs. From the
temple still rose the sounds of commotion, now pierced by
occasional shrill screams.
"The murderers are abroad," whispered the girl. "Thus will
another become the tongue of Luata. It is well for us, since it
keeps them too busy to give the time for searching for us.
They think that we cannot escape the city, and they know that
we cannot leave the island--and so do I."
Bradley shook his head. "If there is any way, we will find it,"
"There is no way," replied the girl.
Bradley made no response, and in silence they continued until the
outer edge of roofs was visible before them. "We are almost
there," he whispered.
The girl felt for his fingers and pressed them. He could feel
hers trembling as he returned the pressure, nor did he relinquish
her hand; and thus they came to the edge of the last roof.
Here they halted and looked about them. To be seen attempting to
descend to the ground below would be to betray the fact that they
were not Wieroos. Bradley wished that their wings were attached
to their bodies by sinew and muscle rather than by ropes of fiber.
A Wieroo was flapping far overhead. Two more stood near a door a
few yards distant. Standing between these and one of the outer
pedestals that supported one of the numerous skulls Bradley made
one end of a piece of rope fast about the pedestal and dropped
the other end to the ground outside the city. Then they waited.
It was an hour before the coast was entirely clear and then a
moment came when no Wieroo was in sight. "Now!" whispered
Bradley; and the girl grasped the rope and slid over the edge of
the roof into the darkness below. A moment later Bradley felt
two quick pulls upon the rope and immediately followed to the
Across a narrow clearing they made their way and into a wood beyond.
All night they walked, following the river upward toward its source,
and at dawn they took shelter in a thicket beside the stream. At no
time did they hear the cry of a carnivore, and though many startled
animals fled as they approached, they were not once menaced by a
wild beast. When Bradley expressed surprise at the absence of the
fiercest beasts that are so numerous upon the mainland of Caprona,
the girl explained the reason that is contained in one of their
"When the Wieroos first developed wings upon which they could
fly, they found this island devoid of any life other than a
few reptiles that live either upon land or in the water and
these only close to the coast. Requiring meat for food the
Wieroos carried to the island such animals as they wished for
that purpose. They still occasionally bring them, and this
with the natural increase keeps them provided with flesh."
"As it will us," suggested Bradley.
The first day they remained in hiding, eating only the dried food
that Bradley had brought with him from the temple storeroom, and
the next night they set out again up the river, continuing
steadily on until almost dawn, when they came to low hills where
the river wound through a gorge--it was little more than rivulet
now, the water clear and cold and filled with fish similar to
brook trout though much larger. Not wishing to leave the stream
the two waded along its bed to a spot where the gorge widened
between perpendicular bluffs to a wooded acre of level land.
Here they stopped, for here also the stream ended. They had
reached its source--many cold springs bubbling up from the center
of a little natural amphitheater in the hills and forming a clear
and beautiful pool overshadowed by trees upon one side and
bounded by a little clearing upon the other.
With the coming of the sun they saw they had stumbled upon a
place where they might remain hidden from the Wieroos for a long
time and also one that they could defend against these winged
creatures, since the trees would shield them from an attack from
above and also hamper the movements of the creatures should they
attempt to follow them into the wood.
For three days they rested here before trying to explore the
neighboring country. On the fourth, Bradley stated that he was
going to scale the bluffs and learn what lay beyond. He told the
girl that she should remain in hiding; but she refused to be
left, saying that whatever fate was to be his, she intended to
share it, so that he was at last forced to permit her to come
with him. Through woods at the summit of the bluff they made
their way toward the north and had gone but a short distance when
the wood ended and before them they saw the waters of the inland
sea and dimly in the distance the coveted shore.
The beach lay some two hundred yards from the foot of the hill
on which they stood, nor was there a tree nor any other form of
shelter between them and the water as far up and down the coast
as they could see. Among other plans Bradley had thought of
constructing a covered raft upon which they might drift to the
mainland; but as such a contrivance would necessarily be of
considerable weight, it must be built in the water of the sea,
since they could not hope to move it even a short distance overland.
"If this wood was only at the edge of the water," he sighed.
"But it is not," the girl reminded him, and then: "Let us make
the best of it. We have escaped from death for a time at least.
We have food and good water and peace and each other. What more
could we have upon the mainland?"
"But I thought you wanted to get back to your own country!"
She cast her eyes upon the ground and half turned away. "I do,"
she said, "yet I am happy here. I could be little happier there."
Bradley stood in silent thought. "`We have food and good water
and peace and each other!'" he repeated to himself. He turned
then and looked at the girl, and it was as though in the days
that they had been together this was the first time that he
had really seen her. The circumstances that had thrown them
together, the dangers through which they had passed, all the
weird and horrible surroundings that had formed the background of
his knowledge of her had had their effect--she had been but the
companion of an adventure; her self-reliance, her endurance, her
loyalty, had been only what one man might expect of another, and
he saw that he had unconsciously assumed an attitude toward her
that he might have assumed toward a man. Yet there had been a
difference--he recalled now the strange sensation of elation that
had thrilled him upon the occasions when the girl had pressed his
hand in hers, and the depression that had followed her announcement
of her love for An-Tak.
He took a step toward her. A fierce yearning to seize her and
crush her in his arms, swept over him, and then there flashed
upon the screen of recollection the picture of a stately hall set
amidst broad gardens and ancient trees and of a proud old man
with beetling brows--an old man who held his head very high--and
Bradley shook his head and turned away again.
They went back then to their little acre, and the days came
and went, and the man fashioned spear and bow and arrows and
hunted with them that they might have meat, and he made hooks
of fishbone and caught fishes with wondrous flies of his own
invention; and the girl gathered fruits and cooked the flesh
and the fish and made beds of branches and soft grasses.
She cured the hides of the animals he killed and made them
soft by much pounding. She made sandals for herself and for
the man and fashioned a hide after the manner of those worn
by the warriors of her tribe and made the man wear it, for his
own garments were in rags.
She was always the same--sweet and kind and helpful--but always
there was about her manner and her expression just a trace of
wistfulness, and often she sat and looked at the man when he did
not know it, her brows puckered in thought as though she were
trying to fathom and to understand him.
In the face of the cliff, Bradley scooped a cave from the rotted
granite of which the hill was composed, making a shelter for them
against the rains. He brought wood for their cook-fire which
they used only in the middle of the day--a time when there was
little likelihood of Wieroos being in the air so far from their
city--and then he learned to bank it with earth in such a way that
the embers held until the following noon without giving off smoke.
Always he was planning on reaching the mainland, and never a day
passed that he did not go to the top of the hill and look out
across the sea toward the dark, distant line that meant for
him comparative freedom and possibly reunion with his comrades.
The girl always went with him, standing at his side and watching the
stern expression on his face with just a tinge of sadness on her own.
"You are not happy," she said once.
"I should be over there with my men," he replied. "I do not know
what may have happened to them."
"I want you to be happy," she said quite simply; "but I should
be very lonely if you went away and left me here."
He put his hand on her shoulder. "I would not do that, little
girl," he said gently. "If you cannot go with me, I shall not go.
If either of us must go alone, it will be you."
Her face lighted to a wondrous smile. "Then we shall not be
separated," she said, "for I shall never leave you as long as we
He looked down into her face for a moment and then: "Who was
An-Tak? " he asked.
"My brother," she replied. "Why?"
And then, even less than before, could he tell her. It was then
that he did something he had never done before--he put his arms
about her and stooping, kissed her forehead. "Until you find
An-Tak," he said, "I will be your brother."
She drew away. "I already have a brother," she said, "and I do
not want another."
Days became weeks, and weeks became months, and the months
followed one another in a lazy procession of hot, humid days and
warm, humid nights. The fugitives saw never a Wieroo by day
though often at night they heard the melancholy flapping of giant
wings far above them.
Each day was much like its predecessor. Bradley splashed about
for a few minutes in the cold pool early each morning and after
a time the girl tried it and liked it. Toward the center it was
deep enough for swimming, and so he taught her to swim--she was
probably the first human being in all Caspak's long ages who had
done this thing. And then while she prepared breakfast, the man
shaved--this he never neglected. At first it was a source of
wonderment to the girl, for the Galu men are beardless.
When they needed meat, he hunted, otherwise he busied himself
in improving their shelter, making new and better weapons,
perfecting his knowledge of the girl's language and teaching her
to speak and to write English--anything that would keep them
both occupied. He still sought new plans for escape, but with
ever-lessening enthusiasm, since each new scheme presented some
And then one day as a bolt out of a clear sky came that which
blasted the peace and security of their sanctuary forever.
Bradley was just emerging from the water after his morning
plunge when from overhead came the sound of flapping wings.
Glancing quickly up the man saw a white-robed Wieroo circling
slowly above him. That he had been discovered he could not
doubt since the creature even dropped to a lower altitude as
though to assure itself that what it saw was a man. Then it
rose rapidly and winged away toward the city.
For two days Bradley and the girl lived in a constant state of
apprehension, awaiting the moment when the hunters would come for
them; but nothing happened until just after dawn of the third
day, when the flapping of wings apprised them of the approach
of Wieroos. Together they went to the edge of the wood and
looked up to see five red-robed creatures dropping slowly in
ever-lessening spirals toward their little amphitheater. With no
attempt at concealment they came, sure of their ability to
overwhelm these two fugitives, and with the fullest measure of
self-confidence they landed in the clearing but a few yards from
the man and the girl.
Following a plan already discussed Bradley and the girl retreated
slowly into the woods. The Wieroos advanced, calling upon them
to give themselves up; but the quarry made no reply. Farther and
farther into the little wood Bradley led the hunters, permitting
them to approach ever closer; then he circled back again toward
the clearing, evidently to the great delight of the Wieroos, who
now followed more leisurely, awaiting the moment when they should
be beyond the trees and able to use their wings. They had opened
into semicircular formation now with the evident intention of
cutting the two off from returning into the wood. Each Wieroo
advanced with his curved blade ready in his hand, each hideous
face blank and expressionless.
It was then that Bradley opened fire with his pistol--three
shots, aimed with careful deliberation, for it had been long
since he had used the weapon, and he could not afford to chance
wasting ammunition on misses. At each shot a Wieroo dropped; and
then the remaining two sought escape by flight, screaming and
wailing after the manner of their kind. When a Wieroo runs, his
wings spread almost without any volition upon his part, since
from time immemorial he has always used them to balance himself
and accelerate his running speed so that in the open they appear
to skim the surface of the ground when in the act of running.
But here in the woods, among the close-set boles, the spreading
of their wings proved their undoing--it hindered and stopped them
and threw them to the ground, and then Bradley was upon them
threatening them with instant death if they did not surrender--
promising them their freedom if they did his bidding.
"As you have seen," he cried, "I can kill you when I wish and at
a distance. You cannot escape me. Your only hope of life lies
in obedience. Quick, or I kill!"
The Wieroos stopped and faced him. "What do you want of us?"
"Throw aside your weapons," Bradley commanded. After a moment's
hesitation they obeyed.
"Now approach!" A great plan--the only plan--had suddenly come
to him like an inspiration.
The Wieroos came closer and halted at his command. Bradley turned
to the girl. "There is rope in the shelter," he said. "Fetch it!"
She did as he bid, and then he directed her to fasten one end of
a fifty-foot length to the ankle of one of the Wieroos and the
opposite end to the second. The creatures gave evidence of great
fear, but they dared not attempt to prevent the act.
"Now go out into the clearing," said Bradley, "and remember that
I am walking close behind and that I will shoot the nearer one
should either attempt to escape--that will hold the other until
I can kill him as well."
In the open he halted them. "The girl will get upon the back
of the one in front," announced the Englishman. "I will mount
the other. She carries a sharp blade, and I carry this weapon
that you know kills easily at a distance. If you disobey in
the slightest, the instructions that I am about to give you, you
shall both die. That we must die with you, will not deter us.
If you obey, I promise to set you free without harming you.
"You will carry us due west, depositing us upon the shore of the
mainland--that is all. It is the price of your lives. Do you agree?"
Sullenly the Wieroos acquiesced. Bradley examined the knots that
held the rope to their ankles, and feeling them secure directed
the girl to mount the back of the leading Wieroo, himself upon
the other. Then he gave the signal for the two to rise together.
With loud flapping of the powerful wings the creatures took to
the air, circling once before they topped the trees upon the hill
and then taking a course due west out over the waters of the sea.
Nowhere about them could Bradley see signs of other Wieroos, nor
of those other menaces which he had feared might bring disaster
to his plans for escape--the huge, winged reptilia that are so
numerous above the southern areas of Caspak and which are often
seen, though in lesser numbers, farther north.
Nearer and nearer loomed the mainland--a broad, parklike expanse
stretching inland to the foot of a low plateau spread out before them.
The little dots in the foreground became grazing herds of deer
and antelope and bos; a huge woolly rhinoceros wallowed in a
mudhole to the right, and beyond, a mighty mammoth culled the
tender shoots from a tall tree. The roars and screams and growls
of giant carnivora came faintly to their ears. Ah, this was Caspak.
With all of its dangers and its primal savagery it brought a
fullness to the throat of the Englishman as to one who sees and
hears the familiar sights and sounds of home after a long absence.
Then the Wieroos dropped swiftly downward to the flower-starred
turf that grew almost to the water's edge, the fugitives slipped
from their backs, and Bradley told the red-robed creatures they
were free to go.
When he had cut the ropes from their ankles they rose with that
uncanny wailing upon their lips that always brought a shudder to
the Englishman, and upon dismal wings they flapped away toward
When the creatures had gone, the girl turned toward Bradley.
"Why did you have them bring us here?" she asked. "Now we are
far from my country. We may never live to reach it, as we are
among enemies who, while not so horrible will kill us just as
surely as would the Wieroos should they capture us, and we have
before us many marches through lands filled with savage beasts."
"There were two reasons," replied Bradley. "You told me that
there are two Wieroo cities at the eastern end of the island.
To have passed near either of them might have been to have brought
about our heads hundreds of the creatures from whom we could not
possibly have escaped. Again, my friends must be near this spot--
it cannot be over two marches to the fort of which I have told you.
It is my duty to return to them. If they still live we shall find
a way to return you to your people."
"And you?" asked the girl.
"I escaped from Oo-oh," replied Bradley. "I have accomplished
the impossible once, and so I shall accomplish it again--I shall
escape from Caspak."
He was not looking at her face as he answered her, and so he
did not see the shadow of sorrow that crossed her countenance.
When he raised his eyes again, she was smiling.
"What you wish, I wish," said the girl.
Southward along the coast they made their way following the
beach, where the walking was best, but always keeping close
enough to trees to insure sanctuary from the beasts and reptiles
that so often menaced them. It was late in the afternoon when
the girl suddenly seized Bradley's arm and pointed straight ahead
along the shore. "What is that?" she whispered. "What strange
reptile is it?"
Bradley looked in the direction her slim forefinger indicated.
He rubbed his eyes and looked again, and then he seized her wrist
and drew her quickly behind a clump of bushes.
"What is it?" she asked.
"It is the most frightful reptile that the waters of the world
have ever known," he replied. "It is a German U-boat!"
An expression of amazement and understanding lighted her features.
"It is the thing of which you told me," she exclaimed, "--the
thing that swims under the water and carries men in its belly!"
"It is," replied Bradley.
"Then why do you hide from it?" asked the girl. "You said that
now it belonged to your friends."
"Many months have passed since I knew what was going on among my
friends," he replied. "I cannot know what has befallen them.
They should have been gone from here in this vessel long since,
and so I cannot understand why it is still here. I am going to
investigate first before I show myself. When I left, there were
more Germans on the U-33 than there were men of my own party at
the fort, and I have had sufficient experience of Germans to know
that they will bear watching--if they have not been properly
watched since I left."
Making their way through a fringe of wood that grew a few yards
inland the two crept unseen toward the U-boat which lay moored to
the shore at a point which Bradley now recognized as being near
the oil-pool north of Dinosaur. As close as possible to the
vessel they halted, crouching low among the dense vegetation, and
watched the boat for signs of human life about it. The hatches
were closed--no one could be seen or heard. For five minutes
Bradley watched, and then he determined to board the submarine
and investigate. He had risen to carry his decision into effect
when there suddenly broke upon his ear, uttered in loud and
menacing tones, a volley of German oaths and expletives among
which he heard Englische schweinhunde repeated several times.
The voice did not come from the direction of the U-boat; but
from inland. Creeping forward Bradley reached a spot where,
through the creepers hanging from the trees, he could see a party
of men coming down toward the shore.
He saw Baron Friedrich von Schoenvorts and six of his men--all
armed--while marching in a little knot among them were Olson,
Brady, Sinclair, Wilson, and Whitely.
Bradley knew nothing of the disappearance of Bowen Tyler and Miss
La Rue, nor of the perfidy of the Germans in shelling the fort
and attempting to escape in the U-33; but he was in no way
surprised at what he saw before him.
The little party came slowly onward, the prisoners staggering
beneath heavy cans of oil, while Schwartz, one of the German
noncommissioned officers cursed and beat them with a stick of
wood, impartially. Von Schoenvorts walked in the rear of the
column, encouraging Schwartz and laughing at the discomfiture of
the Britishers. Dietz, Heinz, and Klatz also seemed to enjoy the
entertainment immensely; but two of the men--Plesser and Hindle--
marched with eyes straight to the front and with scowling faces.
Bradley felt his blood boil at sight of the cowardly indignities
being heaped upon his men, and in the brief span of time occupied
by the column to come abreast of where he lay hidden he made his
plans, foolhardy though he knew them. Then he drew the girl
close to him. "Stay here," he whispered. "I am going out to
fight those beasts; but I shall be killed. Do not let them
see you. Do not let them take you alive. They are more cruel,
more cowardly, more bestial than the Wieroos."
The girl pressed close to him, her face very white. "Go, if that
is right," she whispered; "but if you die, I shall die, for I
cannot live without you." He looked sharply into her eyes.
"Oh!" he ejaculated. "What an idiot I have been! Nor could I
live without you, little girl." And he drew her very close and
kissed her lips. "Good-bye." He disengaged himself from her
arms and looked again in time to see that the rear of the column
had just passed him. Then he rose and leaped quickly and
silently from the jungle.
Suddenly von Schoenvorts felt an arm thrown about his neck and
his pistol jerked from its holster. He gave a cry of fright and
warning, and his men turned to see a half-naked white man holding
their leader securely from behind and aiming a pistol at them
over his shoulder.
"Drop those guns!" came in short, sharp syllables and perfect
German from the lips of the newcomer. "Drop them or I'll put a
bullet through the back of von Schoenvorts' head."
The Germans hesitated for a moment, looking first toward von
Schoenvorts and then to Schwartz, who was evidently second in
command, for orders.
"It's the English pig, Bradley," shouted the latter, "and he's
alone--go and get him!"
"Go yourself," growled Plesser. Hindle moved close to the side
of Plesser and whispered something to him. The latter nodded.
Suddenly von Schoenvorts wheeled about and seized Bradley's
pistol arm with both hands, "Now!" he shouted. "Come and take
Schwartz and three others leaped forward; but Plesser and Hindle
held back, looking questioningly toward the English prisoners.
Then Plesser spoke. "Now is your chance, Englander," he
called in low tones. "Seize Hindle and me and take our guns from
us--we will not fight hard."
Olson and Brady were not long in acting upon the suggestion.
They had seen enough of the brutal treatment von Schoenvorts
accorded his men and the especially venomous attentions he
had taken great enjoyment in according Plesser and Hindle
to understand that these two might be sincere in a desire
for revenge. In another moment the two Germans were unarmed
and Olson and Brady were running to the support of Bradley;
but already it seemed too late.
Von Schoenvorts had managed to drag the Englishman around so that
his back was toward Schwartz and the other advancing Germans.
Schwartz was almost upon Bradley with gun clubbed and ready to
smash down upon the Englishman's skull. Brady and Olson were
charging the Germans in the rear with Wilson, Whitely, and
Sinclair supporting them with bare fists. It seemed that Bradley
was doomed when, apparently out of space, an arrow whizzed,
striking Schwartz in the side, passing half-way through his body
to crumple him to earth. With a shriek the man fell, and at the
same time Olson and Brady saw the slim figure of a young girl
standing at the edge of the jungle coolly fitting another arrow
to her bow.
Bradley had now succeeded in wrestling his arm free from von
Schoenvorts' grip and in dropping the latter with a blow from the
butt of his pistol. The rest of the English and Germans were
engaged in a hand-to-hand encounter. Plesser and Hindle standing
aside from the melee and urging their comrades to surrender and
join with the English against the tyranny of von Schoenvorts.
Heinz and Klatz, possibly influenced by their exhortation, were
putting up but a half-hearted resistance; but Dietz, a huge,
bearded, bull-necked Prussian, yelling like a maniac, sought to
exterminate the Englische schweinhunde with his bayonet,
fearing to fire his piece lest he kill some of his comrades.
It was Olson who engaged him, and though unused to the long
German rifle and bayonet, he met the bull-rush of the Hun with
the cold, cruel precision and science of English bayonet-fighting.
There was no feinting, no retiring and no parrying that was not
also an attack. Bayonet-fighting today is not a pretty thing to
see--it is not an artistic fencing-match in which men give and
take--it is slaughter inevitable and quickly over.
Dietz lunged once madly at Olson's throat. A short point, with
just a twist of the bayonet to the left sent the sharp blade over
the Englishman's left shoulder. Instantly he stepped close in,
dropped his rifle through his hands and grasped it with both
hands close below the muzzle and with a short, sharp jab sent his
blade up beneath Dietz's chin to the brain. So quickly was the
thing done and so quick the withdrawal that Olson had wheeled to
take on another adversary before the German's corpse had toppled
to the ground.
But there were no more adversaries to take on. Heinz and Klatz
had thrown down their rifles and with hands above their heads
were crying "Kamerad! Kamerad!" at the tops of their voices.
Von Schoenvorts still lay where he had fallen. Plesser and
Hindle were explaining to Bradley that they were glad of the
outcome of the fight, as they could no longer endure the
brutality of the U-boat commander.
The remainder of the men were looking at the girl who now
advanced slowly, her bow ready, when Bradley turned toward her
and held out his hand.
"Co-Tan," he said, "unstring your bow--these are my friends,
and yours." And to the Englishmen: "This is Co-Tan. You who
saw her save me from Schwartz know a part of what I owe her."
The rough men gathered about the girl, and when she spoke to them
in broken English, with a smile upon her lips enhancing the charm
of her irresistible accent, each and every one of them promptly
fell in love with her and constituted himself henceforth her
guardian and her slave.
A moment later the attention of each was called to Plesser by a
volley of invective. They turned in time to see the man running
toward von Schoenvorts who was just rising from the ground.
Plesser carried a rifle with bayonet fixed, that he had snatched
from the side of Dietz's corpse. Von Schoenvorts' face was livid
with fear, his jaws working as though he would call for help; but
no sound came from his blue lips.
"You struck me," shrieked Plesser. "Once, twice, three times,
you struck me, pig. You murdered Schwerke--you drove him insane
by your cruelty until he took his own life. You are only one of
your kind--they are all like you from the Kaiser down. I wish
that you were the Kaiser. Thus would I do!" And he lunged his
bayonet through von Schoenvorts' chest. Then he let his rifle
fall with the dying man and wheeled toward Bradley. "Here I am,"
he said. "Do with me as you like. All my life I have been
kicked and cuffed by such as that, and yet always have I gone out
when they commanded, singing, to give up my life if need be to
keep them in power. Only lately have I come to know what a fool
I have been. But now I am no longer a fool, and besides, I am
avenged and Schwerke is avenged, so you can kill me if you wish.
Here I am."
"If I was after bein' the king," said Olson, "I'd pin the V.C. on
your noble chist; but bein' only an Irishman with a Swede name,
for which God forgive me, the bist I can do is shake your hand."
"You will not be punished," said Bradley. "There are four of you
left--if you four want to come along and work with us, we will
take you; but you will come as prisoners."
"It suits me," said Plesser. "Now that the captain-lieutenant is
dead you need not fear us. All our lives we have known nothing
but to obey his class. If I had not killed him, I suppose I
would be fool enough to obey him again; but he is dead. Now we
will obey you--we must obey some one."
"And you?" Bradley turned to the other survivors of the original
crew of the U-33. Each promised obedience.
The two dead Germans were buried in a single grave, and then the
party boarded the submarine and stowed away the oil.
Here Bradley told the men what had befallen him since the night
of September 14th when he had disappeared so mysteriously from
the camp upon the plateau. Now he learned for the first time
that Bowen J. Tyler, Jr., and Miss La Rue had been missing even
longer than he and that no faintest trace of them had been discovered.
Olson told him of how the Germans had returned and waited in
ambush for them outside the fort, capturing them that they might
be used to assist in the work of refining the oil and later in
manning the U-33, and Plesser told briefly of the experiences of
the German crew under von Schoenvorts since they had escaped from
Caspak months before--of how they lost their bearings after
having been shelled by ships they had attempted to sneak farther
north and how at last with provisions gone and fuel almost
exhausted they had sought and at last found, more by accident
than design, the mysterious island they had once been so glad to
"Now," announced Bradley, "we'll plan for the future. The boat
has fuel, provisions and water for a month, I believe you said,
Plesser; there are ten of us to man it. We have a last sad duty
here--we must search for Miss La Rue and Mr. Tyler. I say a sad
duty because we know that we shall not find them; but it is none
the less our duty to comb the shoreline, firing signal shells at
intervals, that we at least may leave at last with full knowledge
that we have done all that men might do to locate them."
None dissented from this conviction, nor was there a voice raised
in protest against the plan to at least make assurance doubly
sure before quitting Caspak forever.
And so they started, cruising slowly up the coast and firing an
occasional shot from the gun. Often the vessel was brought to a
stop, and always there were anxious eyes scanning the shore for
an answering signal. Late in the afternoon they caught sight of
a number of Band-lu warriors; but when the vessel approached the
shore and the natives realized that human beings stood upon the
back of the strange monster of the sea, they fled in terror
before Bradley could come within hailing distance.
That night they dropped anchor at the mouth of a sluggish stream
whose warm waters swarmed with millions of tiny tadpolelike
organisms--minute human spawn starting on their precarious
journey from some inland pool toward "the beginning"--a journey
which one in millions, perhaps, might survive to complete.
Already almost at the inception of life they were being greeted
by thousands of voracious mouths as fish and reptiles of many
kinds fought to devour them, the while other and larger creatures
pursued the devourers, to be, in turn, preyed upon by some other
of the countless forms that inhabit the deeps of Caprona's
The second day was practically a repetition of the first.
They moved very slowly with frequent stops and once they landed
in the Kro-lu country to hunt. Here they were attacked by the
bow-and-arrow men, whom they could not persuade to palaver
with them. So belligerent were the natives that it became
necessary to fire into them in order to escape their persistent
and ferocious attentions.
"What chance," asked Bradley, as they were returning to the boat
with their game, "could Tyler and Miss La Rue have had among such
But they continued on their fruitless quest, and the third day,
after cruising along the shore of a deep inlet, they passed a
line of lofty cliffs that formed the southern shore of the inlet
and rounded a sharp promontory about noon. Co-Tan and Bradley
were on deck alone, and as the new shoreline appeared beyond the
point, the girl gave an exclamation of joy and seized the man's
hand in hers.
"Oh, look!" she cried. "The Galu country! The Galu country!
It is my country that I never thought to see again."
"You are glad to come again, Co-Tan?" asked Bradley.
"Oh, so glad!" she cried. "And you will come with me to my people?
We may live here among them, and you will be a great warrior--oh,
when Jor dies you may even be chief, for there is none so mighty
as my warrior. You will come?"
Bradley shook his head. "I cannot, little Co-Tan," he answered.
"My country needs me, and I must go back. Maybe someday I
shall return. You will not forget me, Co-Tan?"
She looked at him in wide-eyed wonder. "You are going away from
me?" she asked in a very small voice. "You are going away from Co-Tan?"
Bradley looked down upon the little bowed head. He felt the soft
cheek against his bare arm; and he felt something else there too--
hot drops of moisture that ran down to his very finger-tips and
splashed, but each one wrung from a woman's heart.
He bent low and raised the tear-stained face to his own.
"No, Co-Tan," he said, "I am not going away from you--for you
are going with me. You are going back to my own country to be
my wife. Tell me that you will, Co-Tan." And he bent still lower
yet from his height and kissed her lips. Nor did he need more
than the wonderful new light in her eyes to tell him that she
would go to the end of the world with him if he would but take her.
And then the gun-crew came up from below again to fire a signal
shot, and the two were brought down from the high heaven of their
new happiness to the scarred and weather-beaten deck of the U-33.
An hour later the vessel was running close in by a shore of
wondrous beauty beside a parklike meadow that stretched back a
mile inland to the foot of a plateau when Whitely called
attention to a score of figures clambering downward from the
elevation to the lowland below. The engines were reversed and
the boat brought to a stop while all hands gathered on deck to
watch the little party coming toward them across the meadow.
"They are Galus," cried Co-Tan; "they are my own people. Let me
speak to them lest they think we come to fight them. Put me
ashore, my man, and I will go meet them."
The nose of the U-boat was run close in to the steep bank; but
when Co-Tan would have run forward alone, Bradley seized her hand
and held her back. "I will go with you, Co-Tan," he said; and
together they advanced to meet the oncoming party.
There were about twenty warriors moving forward in a thin line,
as our infantry advance as skirmishers. Bradley could not but
notice the marked difference between this formation and the
moblike methods of the lower tribes he had come in contact with,
and he commented upon it to Co-Tan.
"Galu warriors always advance into battle thus," she said.
"The lesser people remain in a huddled group where they can scarce
use their weapons the while they present so big a mark to us that
our spears and arrows cannot miss them; but when they hurl theirs
at our warriors, if they miss the first man, there is no chance that
they will kill some one behind him.
"Stand still now," she cautioned, "and fold your arms. They will
not harm us then."
Bradley did as he was bid, and the two stood with arms folded as
the line of warriors approached. When they had come within some
fifty yards, they halted and one spoke. "Who are you and from
whence do you come?" he asked; and then Co-Tan gave a little,
glad cry and sprang forward with out-stretched arms.
"Oh, Tan!" she exclaimed. "Do you not know your little Co-Tan?"
The warrior stared, incredulous, for a moment, and then he, too,
ran forward and when they met, took the girl in his arms. It was
then that Bradley experienced to the full a sensation that was
new to him--a sudden hatred for the strange warrior before him
and a desire to kill without knowing why he would kill. He moved
quickly to the girl's side and grasped her wrist.
"Who is this man?" he demanded in cold tones.
Co-Tan turned a surprised face toward the Englishman and then of
a sudden broke forth into a merry peal of laughter. "This is my
father, Brad-lee," she cried.
"And who is Brad-lee?" demanded the warrior.
"He is my man," replied Co-Tan simply.
"By what right?" insisted Tan.
And then she told him briefly of all that she had passed through
since the Wieroos had stolen her and of how Bradley had rescued
her and sought to rescue An-Tak, her brother.
"You are satisfied with him?" asked Tan.
"Yes," replied the girl proudly.
It was then that Bradley's attention was attracted to the edge of
the plateau by a movement there, and looking closely he saw a
horse bearing two figures sliding down the steep declivity.
Once at the bottom, the animal came charging across the meadowland
at a rapid run. It was a magnificent animal--a great bay stallion
with a white-blazed face and white forelegs to the knees, its
barrel encircled by a broad surcingle of white; and as it came to
a sudden stop beside Tan, the Englishman saw that it bore a man
and a girl--a tall man and a girl as beautiful as Co-Tan. When the
girl espied the latter, she slid from the horse and ran toward her,
fairly screaming for joy.
The man dismounted and stood beside Tan. Like Bradley he was
garbed after the fashion of the surrounding warriors; but
there was a subtle difference between him and his companion.
Possibly he detected a similar difference in Bradley, for his
first question was, "From what country?" and though he spoke in
Galu Bradley thought he detected an accent.
"England," replied Bradley.
A broad smile lighted the newcomer's face as he held out his hand.
"I am Tom Billings of Santa Monica, California," he said. "I know
all about you, and I'm mighty glad to find you alive."
"How did you get here?" asked Bradley. "I thought ours was the
only party of men from the outer world ever to enter Caprona."
"It was, until we came in search of Bowen J. Tyler, Jr.,"
replied Billings. "We found him and sent him home with his
bride; but I was kept a prisoner here."
Bradley's face darkened--then they were not among friends
after all. "There are ten of us down there on a German sub
with small-arms and a gun," he said quickly in English.
"It will be no trick to get away from these people."
"You don't know my jailer," replied Billings, "or you'd not be
so sure. Wait, I'll introduce you." And then turning to the girl
who had accompanied him he called her by name. "Ajor," he said,
"permit me to introduce Lieutenant Bradley; Lieutenant, Mrs.
The Englishman laughed as he shook hands with the girl. "You are
not as good a soldier as I," he said to Billings. "Instead of
being taken prisoner myself I have taken one--Mrs. Bradley, this
is Mr. Billings."
Ajor, quick to understand, turned toward Co-Tan. "You are going
back with him to his country?" she asked. Co-Tan admitted it.
"You dare?" asked Ajor. "But your father will not permit it--
Jor, my father, High Chief of the Galus, will not permit it, for
like me you are cos-ata-lo. Oh, Co-Tan, if we but could!
How I would love to see all the strange and wonderful things of
which my Tom tells me!"
Bradley bent and whispered in her ear. "Say the word and you may
both go with us."
Billings heard and speaking in English, asked Ajor if she would go.
"Yes," she answered, "If you wish it; but you know, my Tom, that
if Jor captures us, both you and Co-Tan's man will pay the
penalty with your lives--not even his love for me nor his
admiration for you can save you."
Bradley noticed that she spoke in English--broken English like
Co-Tan's but equally appealing. "We can easily get you aboard
the ship," he said, "on some pretext or other, and then we can
steam away. They can neither harm nor detain us, nor will we
have to fire a shot at them."
And so it was done, Bradley and Co-Tan taking Ajor and Billings
aboard to "show" them the vessel, which almost immediately raised
anchor and moved slowly out into the sea.
"I hate to do it," said Billings. "They have been fine to me.
Jor and Tan are splendid men and they will think me an ingrate;
but I can't waste my life here when there is so much to be done
in the outer world."
As they steamed down the inland sea past the island of Oo-oh, the
stories of their adventures were retold, and Bradley learned that
Bowen Tyler and his bride had left the Galu country but a
fortnight before and that there was every reason to believe that
the Toreador might still be lying in the Pacific not far off
the subterranean mouth of the river which emitted Caprona's
heated waters into the ocean.
Late in the second day, after running through swarms of hideous
reptiles, they submerged at the point where the river entered
beneath the cliffs and shortly after rose to the sunlit surface
of the Pacific; but nowhere as far as they could see was sign of
another craft. Down the coast they steamed toward the beach
where Billings had made his crossing in the hydro-aeroplane and
just at dusk the lookout announced a light dead ahead. It proved
to be aboard the Toreador, and a half-hour later there was
such a reunion on the deck of the trig little yacht as no one
there had ever dreamed might be possible. Of the Allies there
were only Tippet and James to be mourned, and no one mourned any
of the Germans dead nor Benson, the traitor, whose ugly story was
first told in Bowen Tyler's manuscript.
Tyler and the rescue party had but just reached the yacht
that afternoon. They had heard, faintly, the signal shots fired
by the U-33 but had been unable to locate their direction and so
had assumed that they had come from the guns of the Toreador.
It was a happy party that sailed north toward sunny, southern
California, the old U-33 trailing in the wake of the Toreador
and flying with the latter the glorious Stars and Stripes
beneath which she had been born in the shipyard at Santa Monica.
Three newly married couples, their bonds now duly solemnized by
the master of the ship, joyed in the peace and security of the
untracked waters of the south Pacific and the unique honeymoon
which, had it not been for stern duty ahead, they could have
wished protracted till the end of time.
And so they came one day to dock at the shipyard which Bowen
Tyler now controlled, and here the U-33 still lies while those
who passed so many eventful days within and because of her, have
gone their various ways.
I have made the following changes to the text:
PAGE LINE ORIGINAL CHANGED TO
10 12 of or
14 19 of animals life of animals
31 26 is arms his arms
37 14 above this above his
37 23 Bradley, Bradley
54 18 man man
57 14 and of Oo-oh of Oo-oh
62 18 spend spent
63 31 and mumbled the mumbled
64 9 things thing
80 30 east cast
104 16 proaching proached
106 30 cos-at-lu cos-ata-lu
126 17 not artistic not an artistic
126 25 close below hands close below
130 1 internals intervals
132 9 than that
132 10 splashes splashed
134 3 know know not know