Escape on Venus

Chapter XIX

Edgar Rice Burroughs

AS dawn approached, we took off and headed up the lake toward Japal. Kandar thought that we had better set the ship down outside the city, when he and Artol could go to one of the gates and make themselves known.

“I’m afraid,” he said, “that if they saw this thing flying low over the city, they might fire on it.”

“With what?” I asked. “I thought you told me that you had no fire arms.”

“We haven’t,” he replied, “but we have engines that throw rocks or lighted torches for hundreds of feet into the air. They are upon the walls of the city and the decks of the ships anchored off shore. If one hit your propeller, you would be brought down.”

“We shall land outside the city,” I said, and this we did.

Japal is a very much better looking city than Mypos, and larger. There is a level plain stretching inland from it, and on this plain we landed about a hundred yards from one of the city gates. We could see the consternation our appearance caused the guard at the gate. Several warriors who had been standing outside, rushed in and slammed the gates closed. Others jammed the barbican, pointing and gesticulating.

Kandar and Artol dropped to the ground and walked toward the gate. Presently we could see them talking to the men in the barbican; then they turned and started back toward us. Immediately afterward the gates opened and several warriors rushed out; then Kandar and Artol commenced to run, the warriors pursuing them.

I realized that something was radically wrong. The crown prince of a country doesn’t run away from his country’s soldiers unless there is something radically wrong. I saw that the warriors were going to overtake Kandar and Artol before they could board the anotar, or at least bring them down with the spears they carried.

Of course I didn’t know what the trouble was, but I saw that Kandar and Artol seemed to be in plenty. I had commenced to feel responsible for them. I think we always feel responsible for our friends. I know I do. So I decided to do something about it. My best weapon, under the circumstances, was the anotar. I gave her the gun and started toward the running men, and then I lifted her off the ground a little—just enough to clear Kandar’s and Artol’s heads—and dove straight for the warriors. I hadn’t retracted my landing gear, and it and the pontoons simply mowed ’em down; then I rose, banked, and landed close to Kandar and Artol. They clambered into the after cockpit, and we were off. “What happened?” I asked Kandar.

“There has been a revolution, led by a fellow named Gangor,” he replied. “My father escaped. That is all I know. One of the warriors at the gate told me that much. He would have told me more if one of Gangor’s officers hadn’t come out and tried to arrest us.”

“Wasn’t it Gangor who arranged for your capture by the Myposans, Artol?” I asked.

“Yes,” he replied. “Now I owe him double vengeance. I wish that I might have gotten into the city, even though I may never avenge what he did to me.”

“You may some day,” said Kandar.

“No,” said Artol sadly; “he has but one life, and I must avenge my jong first.”

“Where to now?” I asked Kandar. “We’ll take you any place you’d like to go before we set out in search of Korva.”

“I can think of only one place that my father may have escaped to,” said Kandar. “Far back in the mountains lives a tribe of savage aborigines called Timals. My father once befriended Yat, their chief, and they are extremely loyal to him and to all other lapalians; though they refuse to own allegiance to any sovereign other than their own savage chieftain. I should like very much to go to the Timal country and see if my father is there.”

The flight was uneventful. We passed over some wonderful game country and several mountain ranges, until we finally came to the Timal country, a high plateau surrounded by jagged peaks—a most inaccessible country and one easily defended against invasion.

Kandar pointed out a village in a canyon which opened out onto the plateau, and I dropped down and circled above it. The people stood in the single street looking up at us. They showed neither panic nor fear. There was something peculiar in their appearance, yet they seemed to be human beings. At first I couldn’t make out what it was; but as we dropped lower, I saw that they had short tails and horns. They were armed with spears and knives, and some of the males were menacing us with the former when Kandar caught sight of his father and called to him.

“My brother, Doran, is here, too,” Kandar told me. “He is standing beside my father.”

“Ask your father if it’s safe to land,” I said.

He did so and received a negative answer. “Yat says you may come into the village, but not the strangers,” Jantor shouted up to us.

“But I can’t come in unless we are permitted to land the anotar,” said Kandar. “Tell Yat that these people are friendly. One is Artol, a former member of your Guard; the others are Carson of Venus and his mate, Duare of Vepaja. They rescued me from Gangor. Persuade Yat to let them land.”

We saw Jantor turn then and speak to a large savage, but the latter kept shaking his head; then Jantor called to us again as we circled low above the village. “Yat says that strangers are not allowed in Timal—only I and the members of my family—and he doesn’t like the looks of that ship that sails in the air. He says that it is not natural and that the people who ride in it cannot be natural—they might bring misfortune to his people. I can understand how he feels, for this is the first time that I ever saw human beings flying. Are you sure this Carson of Venus and his mate are human?”

“They are just as human as you or I,” said Kandar. “Tell Yat that he really ought to let the ship land so that he can examine it. No one in Amtor ever saw such a thing before.”

Well, eventually Yat gave permission for us to land; and I came down close to the village and taxied up to the end of the single street. I know that those ignorant savages must have been frightened as the anotar rolled toward them, but not one of them turned a hair or moved away a step. I stopped a few yards from Jantor and Yat, and immediately we were surrounded by bucks with couched spears. For a moment it looked serious. The Timals are a ferocious looking people. Their faces are hideously tattooed in many colors, and their horns only add to the ferocity of their appearance.

Yat strode boldly to the side of the ship and looked up at Duare and me. Jantor and Doran accompanied him. Kandar introduced us, and the old Timal chief examined us most carefully. Finally he turned to Jantor. “He is a man, even as you,” he said, indicating me. “Do you wish us to be friends with him and his woman?”

“It would please me,” said Jantor; “because they are the friends of my son.”

Yat looked up at me. “Do you wish to be friends of the Timals and come among us in peace?” he asked.

“Yes,” I replied.

“Then you may descend from that strange creature,” he said. “You may remain here as long as you wish, the friends of Yat and his people. I have spoken, and my people have heard.”

We climbed down, glad to stretch our legs again. The Timals gathered around, but at a respectful distance, and inspected us and the ship. They had much better manners than civilized people of the great cities of Earth, who, under like circumstances, would probably have torn our ship to pieces for souvenirs and stripped our clothes from us.

“They have received you in friendship,” said Jantor, “and now you will find them kind and hospitable. They are a proud people who hold their honor most sacred. As long as you merit their friendship, they will be loyal to you; should you not merit it, they will destroy you.”

“We shall try to merit it,” I assured him.

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