Escape on Venus

Chapter VI

Edgar Rice Burroughs

WHEN we got back to the slaves’ compound Kandar told Duare what had happened. I would have stopped him could I have done so, for the poor girl had enough to worry about as it was.

“I knew that you had made an enemy of Vomer,” she said, “the very first time he came out to speak to you. This thing had to come. It is just as well that it is over, so that we may know where we stand.”

“If I could get an audience with Tyros,” I said, “it is possible that we might receive better treatment—even our release.”

“What makes you think so?” inquired Kandar.

“He is a jong, and it seems reasonable to believe that he would accord to people of our station in life the ordinary amenities of decent and civilized society. My mate is the daughter of a jong, and I am the son of one.” I referred to my adoption by Taman, Jong of Korva.

Kandar smiled and shook his head. “You do not know Tyros,” he said, “nor the psychology of the Myposans. They consider themselves a superior race and the rest of us on a par with the beasts. I have even heard them voice their wonder that we are endowed with speech. It is Tyros’ ambition to conquer the world, carrying the Myposan culture to all benighted races and at the same time enslaving or destroying them. He is well aware of the fact that I am the eldest son of the Jong of Japal, yet I receive no better treatment than the meanest slave. No, my friend, it would do you no good to have an audience with Tyros, even if you could obtain one, which, of course, you cannot. The best that you can do is hope for the impossible.”

“And what is that?” asked Duare.


“You think that that is impossible?” I asked.

“Well, let us say improbable,” Kandar replied; “for after all nothing is impossible to the man of imagination and initiative, such as I assume you to be.”

“And may we count on your co-operation?” I asked.

“Absolutely. I do not intend remaining a slave here indefinitely. Death would be far preferable.”

“You have been here longer than we,” I said. “You must have given much thought to escape. Perhaps you already have a plan.”

“I wish I had,” he replied, “but you will find it difficult to plan, where one is not the master of one’s simplest acts and where one is constantly under the watchful eyes of armed warriors and traitorous spies.”

“Spies?” asked Duare. “What do you mean?”

“I mean that among the slaves there are always those who will inform against their fellows in the hope of currying favor with their masters. You cannot be too careful with whom you discuss even your hopes. You do not even know that I am not a spy,” he added with a smile.

“I’ll take a chance on that,” I told him. “I think I am a sufficiently good judge of human nature to know a man of honor even upon only short acquaintance.”

“Thank you, but don’t be too sure,” he laughed; which made me all the surer of him.

I liked Kandar, and so did Duare. He was quite genuine—the sort of fellow you might meet in the officers’ club at Schofield or San Diego. Had he not been captured by the Myposans he would one day have been jong of Japal; and he probably had a family tree the roots of which reached way back into antiquity, as did those of most of the royal families of Amtor with which I am acquainted.

Unlike the Polynesians, whose genealogies were handed down by word of mouth for hundreds of years and are all mixed up with myth and legend, these people had a written language; and the records were true and exact for ages. On my mother’s side, I can trace my ancestry back to Deacon Edmund Rice, who came to Sudbury, Massachusetts about 1639; and from him to Cole Codoveg, who was King of Briton in the third century; yet, by comparison with Duare or Kandar or Taman, I am a parvenu.

These people are extremely proud of their ancestry, yet they can still accept others at their face value, regardless of their background.

About mid-forenoon of the day following my encounter with Volmer, he came swaggering into the compound with a number of warriors—his bodyguard, I called them; for I was quite sure that, hated as he was, he dared not come alone among the slaves.

In a loud voice he summoned Duare to step forward. Instantly I was alert and antagonistic. I didn’t know what he wanted of Duare; but whatever it was, I was against it; so I stepped up beside her.

“I didn’t call your name, slave,” growled Vomer in the most insulting tone of voice he could conjure. I said nothing. “Back to your kennel, slave!” he shouted.

“Not until I know what you want of my mate,” I told him.

His gills flapped, and he pursed his hideous lips and blew out air like a spouting whale. The flapping of the gills by these Myposans has an almost obscene sound, and the blowing of air when they are angry is equally disgusting. But, disgusting or not, it was quite evident that Vomer was angry; and I could endure his obnoxious manifestion of anger for the pleasure that it gave me to have made him angry. As you may have gathered, I did not like Vomer.

He took a step toward me, and then hesitated; then he looked at his warriors; but they were looking the other way. Evidently they had heard of or seen the lethal possibilities of the r-ray.

Between his flapping gills and his blowing, he had difficulty in controlling his voice; but he managed to scream, “Carson of Venus, step forward!”

“I am already here,” I said. This he ignored.

“Kandar of Japal, step forward!” he wheezed. He would probably have liked to bellow; but his gills were still flapping, and he was still blowing spasmodically, which would, naturally, interfere with bellowing. I had to laugh.

“What are you laughing at, slave?” It was only a gurgle.

Duare laid a hand upon my arm before I could reply. She has far more sense than I. I wanted very much to say that I had seen moon fish seined off the Florida Keys; but that I had never before seen moon fish with whiskers; and that I thought them very amusing.

Vomer called a couple of more names, and the slaves stepped forward and took their places beside us; then he told us to fall in and follow him. The warriors formed before and after us, and we left the slaves’ compound and marched out into the narrow streets of the city. Where were we going! To what new scenes, what new adventures, what new dangers were we being conducted?

Escape on Venus - Contents    |     Chapter VII

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