The ground between O-aa and the ridge was carpeted with Bermuda grass and stunted shrubs, with here and there a windblown tree. The trees reminded O-aa that she was courting death to lie here thus in the open, an invitation to the first winged reptile that might discover her.
She arose and returned to the canoe, where she threw the carcass of the deer across one shoulder and gathered up her weapons. Then she looked down at the jalok and said, “Come, Rahna!” and walked to the nearest tree.
A man coming down out of the rolling hills paused at the edge of the low ridge which O-aa had seen a few hundred yards inland. At the man’s side was a jalok. The man was naked but for a G-string. He carried a stone tipped spear, a stone knife, a bow and arrows. When he saw the girl, he dropped to the ground, where he was hidden by low bushes. He spoke to the jalok, and it lay down beside him.
The man noted the canoe pulled up on the beach. He noted the jalok which accompanied the girl. He saw the carcass of the deer. At first he had thought the girl a man, but closer inspection revealed that he had been mistaken. He was also mystified, for he knew that here there should be no girl with a jalok and a canoe. This was the man’s country, and the men of the stone age knew all that went on in their own little neck-of-the-woods.
O-aa cut a generous hindquarter from the carcass and gave it to Rahna. She used the tomahawk and her steel knife. Then she gathered dry grasses and bits of dead wood, made fire, and cooked her own meal. O-aa, a slender little blonde, tore at the meat with firm, white teeth; and devoured enough for a couple of farm hands. Pellucidarians store up energy through food, for oftentimes they may have to go for long periods without food. Similarly, they store up rest by long sleeps.
Having stored up all the energy she could hold, O-aa lay down to store up rest. She was awakened by the growling of Rahna. He was standing beside her, his hair bristling along his spine.
O-aa saw a man approaching. A jalok paced at his side. The girl seized her bow and arrows and stood up. Both jaloks were growling now. O-aa fitted an arrow to her bow. “Go away!” she said.
“I am not going to hurt you,” said the man, who had seen that O-aa was very lovely and very desirable.
“I could have told you that myself,” replied the girl. “If you tried to, I could kill you. Rahna could kill you. My mate, my father, or my seven brothers could kill you.” It had occurred to O-aa that possibly thirteen brothers were too many to sound plausible.
The man grinned and sat down. “Who are you?” he asked.
“I am O-aa, daughter of Oose, King of Kali. My mate is Hodon the Fleet One. My seven brothers are very large, fierce men. My three sisters are the most beautiful women in Pellucidar, and I am more beautiful than they.”
The man continued to grin. “I never heard of Kali,” he said. “Where is it?”
“There,” said O-aa, pointing. “You must be a very ignorant person,” she added, “for Kali is the largest country in the world. It requires the caves of a whole mountain range to house her warriors who are as many as the grasses that you can see as far as you can see.”
“You are very beautiful,” said the man, “but you are a great liar. If you were not so beautiful, I would beat you for lying so much. Maybe I shall anyway.”
“Try it,” challenged O-aa. “I have not killed anyone since I last slept.”
“Ah,” said the man, “so that is it? You killed my brother.”
“I did not kill your brother. I never saw your brother.”
“Then how did you get his canoe, his jalok, and his weapons? I recognize them all.”
It was then that O-aa realized that she had lied a little too much for her own health; so she decided to tell the truth. “I will tell you,” she said.
“And see that you tell the truth,” said the man.
“You see that mountain that sticks up out of the sea?” she asked, pointing at the island. The man nodded. “I leaped into the sea,” continued O-aa, “on the other side of that mountain from a big canoe to escape an old man whose name is not Dolly Dorcas. Then I crossed to this side of the mountain where I saw Rahna.”
“His name is not Rahna,” said the man.
“Maybe it wasn’t but it is now. And don’t interrupt me any more. Rahna saved me from a codon, and we became friends. We came down to the edge of the water and found a canoe with these weapons and a man’s loincloth in it. If it was your brother’s canoe, I think he must have gone in the water and been eaten by a tandoraz, or possibly a thipdar flew down and got him. I did not kill your brother. How could I have killed a warrior when I was armed only with a knife? As you can see, all my other weapons are those I found in the canoe.”
The man thought this over. “I believe that you are telling the truth at last,” he said; “because had you killed my brother, his jalok would have killed you.”
“Now will you go away and leave me alone?” demanded O-aa.
“Then what will you do?”
“I shall return to Kali.”
“Do you know how far it is to Kali?”
“No. Kali is not far from the shore of the Lural Az. Do you know how far it is to the Lural Az?”
“I never heard of the Lural Az,” said the man.
“You are a very ignorant person,” said O-aa.
“Not as ignorant as you, if you think you can reach Kali by going in the direction you pointed. In that direction there is a range of mountains that you cannot cross.”
“I can go around it,” said O-aa.
“You are a very brave girl,” said the man. “Let us be friends. Come with me to my village. Perhaps we can help you on your way to Kali. At least, warriors can go with you as far as the mountains, beyond which none of our people have ever gone.”
“How do I know that you will not harm me?” asked O-aa.
The man threw down all his weapons and came toward her with his hands raised. Then she knew that he would not harm her. “We will be friends,” she said. “What is your name?”
“I am Utan of the tribe of Zurts.” He turned and spoke to his jalok, saying, “Padang.”
“Tell your jalok that we are friends,” he said to O-aa.
“Padang, Rahna,” said O-aa. Padang is Pellucidarian for friend or friends.
The two jaloks approached one another a little stiff-legged; but when they had sniffed about each other, they relaxed and wagged their tails, for they had been raised together in the village of Zurts. But there was no playful bouncing, as there might have been between domesticated beasts dogs. These were savage wild beasts with all the majesty and dignity that is inherent in their kind. Adult wild beasts have far more dignity than man. When people say in disgust that a person acts like a beast, they really mean that he acts like a man.
“You can handle a paddle?” Utan asked O-aa.
“I have paddled all over the seas of Pellucidar,” said O-aa.
“There you go again! Well, I suppose that I shall have to get used to it. Anyway, you can help me paddle my brother’s canoe to a safe place.”
“It is my canoe,” said O-aa.
Utan grinned. “And I suppose that you are going to paddle it across the mountains to Kali?”
“I could if I wanted to,” said O-aa.
“The better I know you,” said Utan, “the less I doubt it. If there are other girls like you in Kali, I think I shall go with you and take one of them for my mate.”
“They wouldn’t have you,” said O-aa. “You are too short. You can’t be much more than six feet tall. All our men are seven feet—except those who are eight feet.”
“Come on, little liar,” said Utan, “and we will get the canoe.”
Together they dragged the outrigger into the water. O-aa climbed into the bow, the two jaloks leaped in, and just at the right moment Utan gave the craft a shove and jumped in himself.
“Paddle now!” he said. “And paddle hard.”
The canoe rose to the crest of a roller and slid down the other side. The two paddled furiously until, they were beyond the heavy rollers; then they paralleled the shore until they came to the mouth of a small river, up which Utan turned.
It was a pretty little river overhung by trees and full of crocodiles. They paddled up it for about a mile until they came to rapids. Here, Utan turned in to the bank on their right; and together, they dragged the canoe up among the lush verdure, where it was well hidden.
“Your canoe will be quite safe here,” said Utan, “until you are ready to paddle it over the mountains to Kali. Now we will go to my village.”