Savage Pellucidar

Part II: Men of the Bronze Age


Edgar Rice Burroughs

OPE, THE HIGH PRIEST of the temple at Tanga-tanga, had acquired a Noada; but she was not at all what he had imagined Noada should be. At first she had been docile and tractable, amenable to suggestion; that was while O-aa was learning the ropes, before she learned that she was supposed to be all-wise and all-powerful, deriving her omniscience and omnipotence from some one they called Pu who dwelt in a place called Karana.

Later on, she became somewhat of a trial to Ope. In the first place, she had no sense of the value of pieces of bronze. When they were brought as offerings to her, she would wait until she had a goodly collection in a large bowl which stood beside her throne; then, when the temple was filled with people, she would scoop handfuls of the pieces from the bowl and throw them to the crowd, laughing as she watched them scramble for them.

This made O-aa very popular with the people, but it made Ope sad. He had never had such large congregation’s in the temple before, but the net profits had never been so small. Ope spoke to the Noada about this—timidly, because, unlike Hor of Lolo-lolo, he was a simple soul and guileless; he believed in the divinity of the Noada.

Furp, the go-sha of Tanga-tanga, was not quite so simple; but, like many an agnostic, he believed in playing safe. However, he talked this matter over with Ope, because it had long been the custom for Ope to split the temple take with him, and now his share was approaching the vanishing point, so he suggested to Ope that it might be well to suggest to the Noada that, while charity was a sweet thing, it really should begin at home. So Ope spoke to the Noada, and Furp listened.

“Why,” he asked, “does the Noada throw away the offerings that are brought to the temple?”

“Because the people like them,” replied O-aa. “Haven’t you noticed how they scramble for them?”

“They belong to the temple.”

“They are brought to me,” contradicted O-aa. “Anyway, I don’t see why you should make a fuss over some little pieces of metal. I do not want them. What good are they?”

“Without them we could not pay the priests, or buy food, or keep the temple in repair,” explained Ope.

“Bosh!” exclaimed O-aa, or an expletive with the same general connotation. “The people bring food, which we can eat; and the priests could keep the temple in repair in payment for their food; they are a lazy lot, anyway. I have tried to find out what they do besides going around frightening people into bringing gifts, and wearing silly masks, and dancing. Where I come from, they would either hunt or work.”

Ope was aghast. “But you come from Karana, Noada!” he exclaimed. “No one works in Karana.”

O-aa realized that she had pulled a boner, and that she would have to do a little quick thinking. She did.

“How do you know?” she demanded. “Were you ever in Karana?”

“No, Noada,” admitted Ope.

Furp was becoming more and more confused, but he was sure of one point, and he brought it out. “Pu would be angry,” he said, “if he knew that you were throwing away the offerings that the people brought to his temple, and Pu can punish even a Noada.”

“Pu had better not interfere,” said O-aa; “my father is a king, and my eleven brothers are very strong men.”

“What?” screamed Ope. “Do you know what you are saying? Pu is all-powerful, and anyway a Noada has no father and no brothers.”

“Were you ever a Noada?” asked O-aa. “No, of course you never were. It is time you learned something about Noadas. Noadas have a lot of everything. I have not one father only, but three, and besides my eleven brothers, I have four sisters, and they are all Noadas. Pu is my son, he does what I tell him to. Is there anything more you would like to know about Noadas?”

Ope and Furp discussed this conversation in private later on. “I never before knew all those things about Noadas,” said Ope.

“Our Noada seems to know what she’s talking about,” observed Furp.

“She is evidently more powerful than Pu,” argued Ope, “as otherwise he would have struck her dead for the things she said about him.”

“Perhaps we had better worship our Noada instead of Pu,” suggested Furp.

“You took the words out of my mouth,” said Ope.

Thus, O-aa was sitting pretty in Tanga-tanga, as Hodon the Fleet One set sail from Amoz on his hopeless quest and David Innes drifted toward the end of the world in the Dinosaur II, as Perry christened his second balloon.

Savage Pellucidar - Contents    |     Part III: Tiger Girl - I

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