Savage Pellucidar

Part III: Tiger Girl


Edgar Rice Burroughs

DIAN THE BEAUTIFUL and Gamba, paddling through the nameless strait toward the Korsar Az, did not see the great balloon that passed in the air high behind them. Only a few thousand yards separated Dian the Beautiful and David at that moment; and it was a cruel fate that had prevented them from knowing how close they had been to a reunion; for David could have brought the balloon down on the shore, and Dian could have returned to it.

Dian had seen to it that the canoe was stocked with food and water before they embarked upon their perilous journey. They took turns sleeping as they let the current carry them along. Time and again they were attacked by fearful creatures of the deep, for this strange thing upon the surface of the water attracted many to them. Some were motivated only by curiosity, but voracious appetites actuated the majority of them; and it was a constant source of surprise to Gamba that they emerged from each encounter victorious.

“I didn’t think that we would live to sleep once after we set out from shore,” he said.

“I was not so sure myself,” replied Dian, “but now I think that we shall get through to the Korsar Az, and then go up the coast to a point opposite Amoz. We can cut across country there; but I believe that greater dangers lie ahead of us on land than on the sea.”

“Is it a savage country?” asked Gamba.

“For a long way back from the shores of the Korsar Az it is a very savage country,” replied Dian. “I have never been there, but our men who have ventured into it to hunt say that it is infested with savage beasts, and even more savage men.”

“I wish,” said Gamba, “that I had never seen you. If you had not come to Lolo-lolo, I should still be go-sha and safe behind the walls of my city.”

“I wish you would stop harping on that,” said Dian, “but I may say that if you had been a better go-sha you would still have been there; and if you want to go back, we can paddle to shore, and I will let you out.” After many sleeps they reached the end of the nameless strait, which narrowed right at the entrance to the Korsar Az; so that the waters rushed through with terrific velocity, and the little canoe was almost swamped many times before it floated out on the comparatively smooth surface of the Korsar Az. Now they turned in a northeasterly direction hugging the coast; and it was then that the storm that had held Hodon off the mouth of the nameless strait in the Sojar Az, struck them and carried them far from shore.

Driving rain blinded them, and great seas constantly threatened to swamp them; so that while one paddled in an effort to keep the canoe from turning broadside into the trough of the seas, the other bailed with one of the gourds that Dian had thoughtfully brought along for that purpose.

They were both exhausted when a shoreline suddenly rose before them, dimly visible through the rain, Now Dian could see a wide, white beach up which enormous rollers raced, to break thunderously upon the shore; and toward this the storm was carrying them, nor could any puny efforts which they might put forth avert the inevitable end.

It did not seem possible to the girl that they could live that terrific surf; but she determined to try to ride it in, and so she told Gamba to paddle with all his strength; and she did likewise.

On and on the little canoe raced; and then, riding just below the crest of an enormous roller, it shot with terrific speed towards the shore; and, like a surfboard, it was carried far up on the beach.

Surprised that they still lived, they leaped out and held it as the water receded; then they dragged it farther up on the shore, out of reach of the breakers.

“I think,” said Gamba, “that you must really be a Noada; for no mortal being could come through what we have come through, and live.”

Dian smiled. “I have never said that I wasn’t,” she replied.

Gamba thought this over, but he made no comment. Instead, he said presently, “As soon as the storm is over we can start for Amoz. It is good to be on land again and to know that we shall not have to face the dangers of the sea any more.”

“We have a lot more sea to cross,” said Dian, “before we reach Amoz.”

“What do you mean?” demanded Gamba. “Have we not been driven ashore; are we not on land?”

“Yes, we are on land,” replied Dian, “but that storm blew us away from that land where Amoz lies; and as it certainly did not blow us all the way across the enormous Korsar Az, it must have blown us onto an island.”

Gamba appeared stunned. “Now there is no hope for us,” he said. “This is indeed the end. You are no true Noada, or you would not have permitted this to happen.”

Dian laughed. “You give up too easily,” she said. “You must have been a very poor go-sha indeed.”

“I was a good go-sha until you came along,” snapped Gamba, “but now, great Noada,” he said sarcastically, “what do we do next?”

“As soon as the storm dies down,” replied Dian, “we launch the canoe and set out for shore.”

“I do not want to go on the water again,” said Gamba.

“Very well, then,” replied Dian, “you may remain here; but I am going.”

Beyond the beach rose cliffs to the height of a hundred feet or more, topping them Dian could see green, jungle-like verdure; and not far away a waterfall leaped over the cliff into the sea, which lashed the face of the cliff itself at this point, throwing spray so high into the air that at these times the waterfall was hidden. In the other direction the sea again broke against the face of the cliff. They stood upon a narrow, crescent-shaped bit of land that the sea had never as yet claimed. To Gamba, as to you and me, the cliffs looked unscalable; but to Dian the cave girl they appeared merely difficult. However, as she had no intention of scaling them, it made no difference.

They were very uncomfortable for a long while, as they sat drenched by the heavy downpour. There was no cave into which they could crawl, and sleep was out of the question. They just sat and endured; Dian stoically, Gamba grumblingly.

At last, however, they saw the sun shining far out upon the sea, and they knew that the storm was passing over them and that it would soon be gone. Often it is a relief to have that eternal noonday sun hidden by a cloud; but now when the cloud passed they were glad of the sun’s warmth again.

“Let us sleep,” said Dian, “and if the sea has gone down when we awaken I shall set out again in search of the big land. I think you would be wise if you came with me, but do as you please. It makes no difference to me.”

“You have a heart of stone,” said the man. “How can you talk like that to a man who loves you?”

“I am going to sleep now,” said Dian, “and you had better do likewise;” and she curled up in the wet grass with the hot sun beating down upon her beautiful body.

Dian dreamed that she was back in Sari, and that her people were gathered around her; and that David was there and she was very happy, happier than she had been for a long time.

Presently one of the people standing around her kicked her lightly in the ribs, and Dian awakened. She opened her eyes to see that there really were people surrounding her, but they were not the people of Sari. They were big men, who carried long, heavy spears and great bows; and their loincloths were made of the skins of tarags, and the heads of tarags had been cleverly fashioned to form helmets that covered their heads, with the great tusks pointing downward on either side of their heads at an angle of forty-five degrees, and the quivers which held their arrows at their backs were of the skin of the great carnivores—of the black and yellow hide of the tarag, the huge, sabre-tooth tiger that has been so long extinct upon the outer crust.

“Get up,” said one of the men; and Dian and Gamba both came to their feet.

“What do you want of us?” demanded Dian. “We were leaving as soon as the sea went down.”

“What were you doing here?” asked the man.

“The storm drove us onto this shore,” replied Dian. “We were trying to reach the mainland.”

“Who are you?”

“I am Dian, the mate of David Innes, the Emperor of Pellucidar.”

“We never heard of you, or him, and I do not know what an emperor is.”

“He is what you might call the chief of chiefs,” explained Dian. “He has an army and a navy and many guns. He would be your friend if you would protect me and this man.”

“What is a navy? What are guns?” demanded this man. “And why should we be kind to you? We are not afraid of this David Innes; we are not afraid of anyone in Pellucidar. We are the men of Tandar.”

“What is Tandar?” demanded Dian.

“You mean to say you have never heard of Tandar?” exclaimed the warrior.

“Never,” said Dian.

“Neither have I,” said Gamba.

The warrior looked at them disgustedly. “This is the Island of Tandar that you are on,” he said; “and I am Hamlar, the Chief.”

“The sea is going down,” said Dian, “and we shall soon be leaving.”

Hamlar laughed; it was a nasty sort of a laugh. “You mill never leave Tandar,” he said; “no one who comes here ever does.”

Dian shrugged. She knew her world, and she knew that the man meant what he said.

“Come,” said Hamlar; and there was nothing to do but follow him.

Warriors surrounded them as Hamlar led the way toward the waterfall. Dian was barefooted, as she had left her sandals on the thwart of the canoe to dry. She would not ask Hamlar if she might get them, for she was too proud to ask favors of an enemy. She kept looking up at the face of the cliff to see where these men had come down, but she saw no sign of a place here that even she could scale; and then Hamlar reached the waterfall and disappeared beneath it, and a moment later Dian found herself on a narrow ledge that ran beneath the falls; and then she followed the warrior ahead of her into the mouth of a cavern that was as dark as pitch and damp with dripping water.

She climbed through the darkness, feeling her way, until presently she saw a little light ahead. The light came from above down a shaft that inclined slightly from the vertical, and leaning against its wall was a crude ladder. Dian had delayed those behind her in the darkness of the cavern, but now she clambered up the ladder like a monkey, soon overtaking those ahead of her. She could hear the warriors behind her growling at Gamba for climbing so slowly; and she could hear his grunts and cries as they prodded him with their spears.

From the top of the shaft a winding trail led through the jungle. Occasionally Dian caught glimpses of large animals slinking along other paths that paralleled or crossed the one they were on; and she saw the yellow and black of the tarag’s hide.

A mile inland from the coast they came to a clearing at the foot of a towering cliff, in the sandstone face of which eaves and ledges had been laboriously excavated and cut. She looked with amazement upon these cliff dwellings, which must have required many generations to construct. At the foot of the cliff, warriors lolled in the shade of the trees, while women worked and children played.

At least a score of great tarags slept, or wandered about among the people. She saw a child pull the tail of one, and the great carnivore turned upon it with an ugly snarl. The child jumped back, and the tarag continued its prowling. Aside from that one child, no one seemed to pay any attention to the brutes at all.

Attracted by the sight of Dian and Gamba, warriors, women and children clustered about; and it was evident from their remarks that they seldom saw strangers upon their island. The women wore loincloths and sandals of the skins of tarags. Like the men, the women were rather handsome, with well-shaped heads, and intelligent eyes.

Hamlar motioned to one of the women. “Manai,” he said, “this one is yours,” and he pointed to Dian. “Does anyone want the man?” he asked, looking around. “If not, we will kill him and feed him to the tarags.”

Gamba looked around then, too, hopefully; but at first no one indicated any desire to possess him, Finally, however, a woman spoke up and said, “I will take him. He can fetch wood and water for me and beat the skins of the tarags to soften them”; and Gamba breathed a sigh of relief.

“Come,” said Manai to Dian, and led the way up a series of ladders to a cave far up in the face of the cliff.

“This,” she said, stopping upon a ledge before sit opening, “is the cave of Hamlar, the chief, who is my mate.” Then she went in and came back with a bundle of twigs tied tightly together with strips of rawhide. “Clean out the cave of Hamlar and Manai,” she said, “and see that none of the dirt falls over the edge of the cliff. You will find a big gourd in the cave. Put the dirt into it and carry it down to the foot of the cliff and dump it in the stream.”

So Dian the Beautiful, Empress of Pellucidar, went to work as a slave for Manai, the mate of Hamlar, chief of Tandar; and she thought that she was fortunate not to have been killed. After she had cleaned the cave and carried the dirt down and dumped it in the stream, Manai, who had returned to the women at the foot of the cliff, called to her. “’What is your name?” she asked.

“Dian,” replied the girl.

“There is meat in the cave,” said Manai. “Go and get it and bring it down here and make a fire and cook it for Hamlar and Manai, and for Bovar, their son.”

While Dian was broiling the meat she saw Gamba pounding a tarag skin with two big sticks; and she smiled when she thought that not many sleeps ago he had been a king, with slaves to wait upon him.

Hamlar came and sat down beside Manai. “Does your slave work, or is she lazy?” he asked.

“She works,” said Manai.

“She had better,” said Hamlar, “for if she doesn’t work, we will have to kill her and feed her to the tarags. We cannot afford to feed a lazy slave. Where is Bovar?”

“He is asleep in his cave,” replied Manai. “He told me to awaken him when we ate.”

“Send the slave for him,” said Hamlar. “The meat is almost ready.”

“Bovar’s cave is next to ours, just to the right of it,” Manai told Dian. “Go there and awaken him.”

So again Dian the Beautiful clambered up the long series of ladders to the ledge far up on the face of the cliff; and she went to the opening next to that of Hamlar’s cave and called Bovar by name. She called several times before a sleepy voice answered.

“What do you want?” it demanded.

“Manai, your mother, has sent me to tell you that the meat is ready and that they are about to eat.”

A tall young warrior crawled out of the cave and stood erect. “Who are you?” he demanded.

“I am Manai’s new slave,” replied Dian.

“What is your name?” asked Bovar.

“Dian,” replied the girl.

“That is a pretty name,” he said; “and you are a pretty girl. I think you are the prettiest girl I ever saw. Where do you come from?”

“I come from Amoz, which lies beside the Darel Az,” replied Dian.

“I never heard of either one of them,” said Bovar; “but no matter where you come from, you are certainly the prettiest girl I ever saw,” repeated Bovar.

“Come down to your meat,” said Dian as she turned to the ladder and started to descend.

Bovar followed her, and they joined Hamlar and Manai beside the leg of meat that was roasting over the fire on a pointed stick that Dian had driven through it, which was supported by forked sticks at either end.

“The meat is cooked,” said Manai who had been turning it during Dian’s absence. Dian took it from the fire then and laid it upon some leaves that were spread upon the ground, and Hamlar took his knife of stone and cut off a large piece and held it on a pointed stick to cool a little; and then Manai cut off a piece, and then Bovar.

“May I eat?” asked Dian.

“Eat,” said Hamlar.

Dian drew her bronze knife from its sheath and cut off a piece of meat. The knife cut slickly and smoothly, not like the crude stone weapons of the Tandars.

“Let me see that,” said Bovar; and Dian handed him the knife.

“No one ever saw anything like this,” said Bovar; and handed it to his father. Both Hamlar and Manai examined it closely.

“What is it?” demanded Hamlar.

“It is a knife,” said Dian.

“I don’t mean that,” said Hamlar. “I mean, what is it made of?”

“It is a metal which the Xexots call ‘androde’,” replied the girl.

Bovar held out his hand for the knife and Manai gave it to him.

“Who are the Xexots?” said Hamlar.

“They are people who live a long way from here at the other end of the nameless strait.”

“Do these people all have knives made of this metal?’ asked Hamlar.

“Knives and swords, too.” She did not tell him that her sword and Gamba’s were in the canoe; for she hoped some day to be able to run away and put to sea again.

Dian held her hand out towards Bovar for the knife. “I shall keep it,” he said. “I like it.”

“Give it back to her,” said Manai. “It is hers. We are not thieves.” So Bovar handed the knife back to Dian; but he made up his mind then and there to possess it, and he knew just how to go about it. All that he would have to do would be to push Dian off the ledge that ran in front of this cave; and he was sure that Manai would let him have the knife; provided, of course, that no one saw him push Dian.

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

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