Escape on Venus

Chapter XXII

Edgar Rice Burroughs

MY first thought, when I saw that my ship had been hit, was of Duare. Here I was, over a battle between two peoples who were my enemies. What chance had I of ever returning to Timal? What was to become of Duare? I cursed myself for my crass stupidity as I glided to a landing. I just had altitude enough to permit me to land about a mile along the shore from Japal. I hoped that in the heat and excitement of battle no one on the walls of the city had seen the accident or noticed where I had gone.

I had come down close beside a forest, and I immediately got Kandar and Doran to help me push the anotar into concealment among the trees. As I looked back toward the city, I saw that smoke from burning ships hid much of it from my view; and I hoped that it had also hidden my landing from the city.

Kandar and Doran were most sympathetic. They said that the fault was all theirs. That if I had not been trying to help them, the accident would never have happened.

I told them that there was no use crying over spilled milk, and that what we had to do now was find some tools and some wood to make a new propeller. I removed what was left of the old one—one blade and the stub of the other.

As I was explaining to Kandar the tools I should need and the kind of wood, he became very much interested; and asked me many questions about the construction of a propeller, how to determine the correct pitch, and so forth. You would have thought that he was going to make one himself.

Getting the right wood was a simple matter. The same kind of trees from the wood of which I had made this propeller grew in the forest where we were, but getting tools was an entirely different matter.

“There are plenty in Japal,” said Kandar. “We must find some way to get them. Doran and I have hundreds of friends in the city, if we could only reach them.”

They racked their brains for some plan, but the whole thing looked utterly hopeless. Finally Doran hit upon something which at least contained the kernel of success—but a very small kernel.

“I know a man who makes knives,” he said. “I know him very well, for he has done a lot of work for me. I also know that he is honest and loyal. He lives close to the wall, not far from the inland gate. if we could reach his house, we could get knives.”

“But how can we reach his house?” demanded Kandar.

“By climbing the wall,” said Doran.

Kandar laughed. “At its lowest point the wall is one ted high,” he said. “I can’t jump that high.” A ted is 13.2 Earth feet.

“No one has to jump,” explained Doran. “You stand on Carson’s shoulders; I climb up and stand on yours—I am already over the wall.”

“Suppose you got caught,” I said. “Gangor would have you killed—no, I won’t let you take that risk.”

“There’s practically no risk,” said Doran. “We will do it after dark. Everyone will be tired after the battle; and anyway, the watch is never very good.”

“How will you get back?” asked Kandar.

“My friend’s house stands against the wall. The roof is only a vulat below the top of the wall. I shall go down through the door in his roof, get tools, come up, and—there you are!”

“It sounds simple,” said Kandar.

“I think the risk is too great,” I said.

“We shall do it,” said Doran.

That night we approached the city after dark, Doran leading us to a point which he was sure was just outside the knife-maker’s house. It was not far from the inland gate—too close, I thought, if the sentries kept any kind of watch at all.

Everything went splendidly. Kandar climbed on to my shoulders, and Doran scrambled up on to his. There we were, just like that, when a gruff voice behind us said, “Come down. You are prisoners. We are the guard.”

I was holding onto Kandar’s legs to support him, and before I could draw my pistol I was seized from behind. Kandar and Doran lost their balance and fell on top of me and half a dozen warriors. Most of us went down, but the fellow who had seized me never lost his hold.

When we had disentangled ourselves and gotten to our feet, I found that I had been disarmed. One of the warriors was displaying my pistol proudly.

“I saw him use this this morning,” he said. “If I hadn’t recognized him when I did and gotten it away from him he’d have killed us all.”

“Be careful of it,” I cautioned him; “it is apt to kill you.”

“I shall be careful of it,” he said, “and I shall keep it always. I shall be proud to show it to my children.”

“Your children will never see it,” said another. “Gangor will take it away from you.”

We had been walking toward the inland gate while they were talking, and now we were admitted. Again I was a prisoner, but I thanked Heaven that Duare was not one also.

They shoved us into a room off the guardroom in the barbican, and let us there until morning. None of the warriors seemed to have recognized either Kandar or Doran, and I was hopeful that no one would.

Doran, who was quick witted, had told a cock-and-bull story about our having been out hunting; and, not getting back before the gates closed, we were trying to get into the city and go to our homes.

One member of the guard asked, “Why were you hunting when there was a battle?”

“A battle!” exclaimed Doran. “What battle? We have been gone for two days.”

“The Myposans came in many ships,” explained the fellow; “and there was a great battle, but we drove them off. We took many prisoners, but they got none.”

“Fine,” said Kandar. “I am sorry that we were not here.”

About the middle of the morning an officer came and said that Gangor wanted to see the man who flew around in the air—the one who had killed so many of his warriors.

“That is I,” I said, stepping forward.

“Who are these others?” he demanded.

“I don’t know,” I said. “They were returning from a hunting trip when I met them last night, and they asked me to help them get over the wall and into the city.”

It seemed strange to me that an officer should not know either Kandar or Doran; but the former explained to me later that Gangor had evidently commissioned a lot of low born fellows, mostly sailors from ships he had sailed on; so it was not strange that they were not recognized.

“Well,” said the officer, “I might as well take you all along; Gangor would probably like to see your friends, too.”

The moment that we were ushered into Gangor’s presence he recognized Kandar and Doran. “Ah!” he exclaimed, “the traitors. I saw you fighting against my ships yesterday.”

“You saw nothing of the kind,” I said.

“Shut up!” snapped Gangor.” You were fools to try to come into Japal. Why were you coming in? A-ha! I know. You were coming to assassinate me. For that you shall die. I condemn you all to death. Take them away. Later I shall decide how they shall die.”

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