Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

´╗┐Title: Out of Time's Abyss
Author: Burroughs, Edgar Rice, 1875-1950
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Out of Time's Abyss" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



Out of Time's Abyss


By

Edgar Rice Burroughs


JTABLE 5 5 1


Chapter I

This is the tale of Bradley after he left Fort Dinosaur upon the west
coast of the great lake that is in the center of the island.

Upon the fourth day of September, 1916, he set out with four
companions, Sinclair, Brady, James, and Tippet, to search along the
base of the barrier cliffs for a point at which they might be scaled.

Through the heavy Caspakian air, beneath the swollen sun, the five men
marched northwest from Fort Dinosaur, now waist-deep in lush, jungle
grasses starred with myriad gorgeous blooms, now across open
meadow-land and parklike expanses and again plunging into dense forests
of eucalyptus and acacia and giant arboreous ferns with feathered
fronds waving gently a hundred feet above their heads.

About them upon the ground, among the trees and in the air over them
moved and swung and soared the countless forms of Caspak's teeming
life.  Always were they menaced by some frightful thing and seldom were
their rifles cool, yet even in the brief time they had dwelt upon
Caprona they had become callous to danger, so that they swung along
laughing and chatting like soldiers on a summer hike.

"This reminds me of South Clark Street," remarked Brady, who had once
served on the traffic squad in Chicago; and as no one asked him why, he
volunteered that it was "because it's no place for an Irishman."

"South Clark Street and heaven have something in common, then,"
suggested Sinclair.  James and Tippet laughed, and then a hideous growl
broke from a dense thicket ahead and diverted their attention to other
matters.

"One of them behemoths of 'Oly Writ," muttered Tippet as they came to a
halt and with guns ready awaited the almost inevitable charge.

"Hungry lot o' beggars, these," said Bradley; "always trying to eat
everything they see."

For a moment no further sound came from the thicket.  "He may be
feeding now," suggested Bradley.  "We'll try to go around him.  Can't
waste ammunition.  Won't last forever.  Follow me."  And he set off at
right angles to their former course, hoping to avert a charge.  They
had taken a dozen steps, perhaps, when the thicket moved to the advance
of the thing within it, the leafy branches parted, and the hideous head
of a gigantic bear emerged.

"Pick your trees," whispered Bradley.  "Can't waste ammunition."

The men looked about them.  The bear took a couple of steps forward,
still growling menacingly.  He was exposed to the shoulders now.
Tippet took one look at the monster and bolted for the nearest tree;
and then the bear charged.  He charged straight for Tippet.  The other
men scattered for the various trees they had selected--all except
Bradley.  He stood watching Tippet and the bear.  The man had a good
start and the tree was not far away; but the speed of the enormous
creature behind him was something to marvel at, yet Tippet was in a
fair way to make his sanctuary when his foot caught in a tangle of
roots and down he went, his rifle flying from his hand and falling
several yards away.  Instantly Bradley's piece was at his shoulder,
there was a sharp report answered by a roar of mingled rage and pain
from the carnivore.  Tippet attempted to scramble to his feet.

"Lie still!" shouted Bradley.  "Can't waste ammunition."

The bear halted in its tracks, wheeled toward Bradley and then back
again toward Tippet.  Again the former's rifle spit angrily, and the
bear turned again in his direction.  Bradley shouted loudly.  "Come on,
you behemoth of Holy Writ!" he cried.  "Come on, you duffer!  Can't
waste ammunition."  And as he saw the bear apparently upon the verge of
deciding to charge him, he encouraged the idea by backing rapidly away,
knowing that an angry beast will more often charge one who moves than
one who lies still.

And the bear did charge.  Like a bolt of lightning he flashed down upon
the Englishman.  "Now run!"  Bradley called to Tippet and himself
turned in flight toward a nearby tree.  The other men, now safely
ensconced upon various branches, watched the race with breathless
interest.  Would Bradley make it?  It seemed scarce possible.  And if
he didn't!  James gasped at the thought.  Six feet at the shoulder
stood the frightful mountain of blood-mad flesh and bone and sinew that
was bearing down with the speed of an express train upon the seemingly
slow-moving man.

It all happened in a few seconds; but they were seconds that seemed
like hours to the men who watched.  They saw Tippet leap to his feet at
Bradley's shouted warning.  They saw him run, stooping to recover his
rifle as he passed the spot where it had fallen.  They saw him glance
back toward Bradley, and then they saw him stop short of the tree that
might have given him safety and turn back in the direction of the bear.
Firing as he ran, Tippet raced after the great cave bear--the monstrous
thing that should have been extinct ages before--ran for it and fired
even as the beast was almost upon Bradley.  The men in the trees
scarcely breathed.  It seemed to them such a futile thing for Tippet to
do, and Tippet of all men!  They had never looked upon Tippet as a
coward--there seemed to be no cowards among that strangely assorted
company that Fate had gathered together from the four corners of the
earth--but Tippet was considered a cautious man.  Overcautious, some
thought him.  How futile he and his little pop-gun appeared as he
dashed after that living engine of destruction!  But, oh, how glorious!
It was some such thought as this that ran through Brady's mind, though
articulated it might have been expressed otherwise, albeit more
forcefully.

Just then it occurred to Brady to fire and he, too, opened upon the
bear, but at the same instant the animal stumbled and fell forward,
though still growling most fearsomely.  Tippet never stopped running or
firing until he stood within a foot of the brute, which lay almost
touching Bradley and was already struggling to regain its feet.
Placing the muzzle of his gun against the bear's ear, Tippet pulled the
trigger.  The creature sank limply to the ground and Bradley scrambled
to his feet.

"Good work, Tippet," he said.  "Mightily obliged to you--awful waste of
ammunition, really."

And then they resumed the march and in fifteen minutes the encounter
had ceased even to be a topic of conversation.

For two days they continued upon their perilous way.  Already the
cliffs loomed high and forbidding close ahead without sign of break to
encourage hope that somewhere they might be scaled.  Late in the
afternoon the party crossed a small stream of warm water upon the
sluggishly moving surface of which floated countless millions of tiny
green eggs surrounded by a light scum of the same color, though of a
darker shade.  Their past experience of Caspak had taught them that
they might expect to come upon a stagnant pool of warm water if they
followed the stream to its source; but there they were almost certain
to find some of Caspak's grotesque, manlike creatures.  Already since
they had disembarked from the U-33 after its perilous trip through the
subterranean channel beneath the barrier cliffs had brought them into
the inland sea of Caspak, had they encountered what had appeared to be
three distinct types of these creatures.  There had been the pure
apes--huge, gorillalike beasts--and those who walked, a trifle more
erect and had features with just a shade more of the human cast about
them.  Then there were men like Ahm, whom they had captured and
confined at the fort--Ahm, the club-man.  "Well-known club-man," Tyler
had called him.  Ahm and his people had knowledge of a speech.  They
had a language, in which they were unlike the race just inferior to
them, and they walked much more erect and were less hairy: but it was
principally the fact that they possessed a spoken language and carried
a weapon that differentiated them from the others.

All of these peoples had proven belligerent in the extreme.  In common
with the rest of the fauna of Caprona the first law of nature as they
seemed to understand it was to kill--kill--kill.  And so it was that
Bradley had no desire to follow up the little stream toward the pool
near which were sure to be the caves of some savage tribe, but fortune
played him an unkind trick, for the pool was much closer than he
imagined, its southern end reaching fully a mile south of the point at
which they crossed the stream, and so it was that after forcing their
way through a tangle of jungle vegetation they came out upon the edge
of the pool which they had wished to avoid.

Almost simultaneously there appeared south of them a party of naked men
armed with clubs and hatchets.  Both parties halted as they caught
sight of one another.  The men from the fort saw before them a hunting
party evidently returning to its caves or village laden with meat.
They were large men with features closely resembling those of the
African Negro though their skins were white.  Short hair grew upon a
large portion of their limbs and bodies, which still retained a
considerable trace of apish progenitors.  They were, however, a
distinctly higher type than the Bo-lu, or club-men.

Bradley would have been glad to have averted a meeting; but as he
desired to lead his party south around the end of the pool, and as it
was hemmed in by the jungle on one side and the water on the other,
there seemed no escape from an encounter.

On the chance that he might avoid a clash, Bradley stepped forward with
upraised hand.  "We are friends," he called in the tongue of Ahm, the
Bolu, who had been held a prisoner at the fort; "permit us to pass in
peace.  We will not harm you."

At this the hatchet-men set up a great jabbering with much laughter,
loud and boisterous.  "No," shouted one, "you will not harm us, for we
shall kill you.  Come!  We kill!  We kill!" And with hideous shouts
they charged down upon the Europeans.

"Sinclair, you may fire," said Bradley quietly.  "Pick off the leader.
Can't waste ammunition."

The Englishman raised his piece to his shoulder and took quick aim at
the breast of the yelling savage leaping toward them.  Directly behind
the leader came another hatchet-man, and with the report of Sinclair's
rifle both warriors lunged forward in the tall grass, pierced by the
same bullet.  The effect upon the rest of the band was electrical.  As
one man they came to a sudden halt, wheeled to the east and dashed into
the jungle, where the men could hear them forcing their way in an
effort to put as much distance as possible between themselves and the
authors of this new and frightful noise that killed warriors at a great
distance.

Both the savages were dead when Bradley approached to examine them, and
as the Europeans gathered around, other eyes were bent upon them with
greater curiosity than they displayed for the victim of Sinclair's
bullet.  When the party again took up the march around the southern end
of the pool the owner of the eyes followed them--large, round eyes,
almost expressionless except for a certain cold cruelty which glinted
malignly from under their pale gray irises.

All unconscious of the stalker, the men came, late in the afternoon, to
a spot which seemed favorable as a campsite.  A cold spring bubbled
from the base of a rocky formation which overhung and partially
encircled a small inclosure.  At Bradley's command, the men took up the
duties assigned them--gathering wood, building a cook-fire and
preparing the evening meal.  It was while they were thus engaged that
Brady's attention was attracted by the dismal flapping of huge wings.
He glanced up, expecting to see one of the great flying reptiles of a
bygone age, his rifle ready in his hand.  Brady was a brave man.  He
had groped his way up narrow tenement stairs and taken an armed maniac
from a dark room without turning a hair; but now as he looked up, he
went white and staggered back.

"Gawd!" he almost screamed.  "What is it?"

Attracted by Brady's cry the others seized their rifles as they
followed his wide-eyed, frozen gaze, nor was there one of them that was
not moved by some species of terror or awe.  Then Brady spoke again in
an almost inaudible voice.  "Holy Mother protect us--it's a banshee!"

Bradley, always cool almost to indifference in the face of danger, felt
a strange, creeping sensation run over his flesh, as slowly, not a
hundred feet above them, the thing flapped itself across the sky, its
huge, round eyes glaring down upon them.  And until it disappeared over
the tops of the trees of a near-by wood the five men stood as though
paralyzed, their eyes never leaving the weird shape; nor never one of
them appearing to recall that he grasped a loaded rifle in his hands.

With the passing of the thing, came the reaction.  Tippet sank to the
ground and buried his face in his hands.  "Oh, Gord," he moaned.  "Tyke
me awy from this orful plice."  Brady, recovered from the first shock,
swore loud and luridly.  He called upon all the saints to witness that
he was unafraid and that anybody with half an eye could have seen that
the creature was nothing more than "one av thim flyin' alligators" that
they all were familiar with.

"Yes," said Sinclair with fine sarcasm, "we've saw so many of them with
white shrouds on 'em."

"Shut up, you fool!" growled Brady.  "If you know so much, tell us what
it was after bein' then."

Then he turned toward Bradley.  "What was it, sor, do you think?" he
asked.

Bradley shook his head.  "I don't know," he said.  "It looked like a
winged human being clothed in a flowing white robe.  Its face was more
human than otherwise.  That is the way it looked to me; but what it
really was I can't even guess, for such a creature is as far beyond my
experience or knowledge as it is beyond yours.  All that I am sure of
is that whatever else it may have been, it was quite material--it was
no ghost; rather just another of the strange forms of life which we
have met here and with which we should be accustomed by this time."

Tippet looked up.  His face was still ashy.  "Yer cawn't tell me," he
cried.  "Hi seen hit.  Blime, Hi seen hit.  Hit was ha dead man flyin'
through the hair.  Didn't Hi see 'is heyes?  Oh, Gord! Didn't Hi see
'em?"

"It didn't look like any beast or reptile to me," spoke up Sinclair.
"It was lookin' right down at me when I looked up and I saw its face
plain as I see yours.  It had big round eyes that looked all cold and
dead, and its cheeks were sunken in deep, and I could see its yellow
teeth behind thin, tight-drawn lips--like a man who had been dead a
long while, sir," he added, turning toward Bradley.

"Yes!" James had not spoken since the apparition had passed over them,
and now it was scarce speech which he uttered--rather a series of
articulate gasps.  "Yes--dead--a--long--while.  It--means something.
It--come--for some--one.  For one--of us.  One--of us is goin'--to die.
I'm goin' to die!" he ended in a wail.

"Come!  Come!" snapped Bradley.  "Won't do.  Won't do at all.  Get to
work, all of you.  Waste of time.  Can't waste time."

His authoritative tones brought them all up standing, and presently
each was occupied with his own duties; but each worked in silence and
there was no singing and no bantering such as had marked the making of
previous camps.  Not until they had eaten and to each had been issued
the little ration of smoking tobacco allowed after each evening meal
did any sign of a relaxation of taut nerves appear.  It was Brady who
showed the first signs of returning good spirits.  He commenced humming
"It's a Long Way to Tipperary" and presently to voice the words, but he
was well into his third song before anyone joined him, and even then
there seemed a dismal note in even the gayest of tunes.

A huge fire blazed in the opening of their rocky shelter that the
prowling carnivora might be kept at bay; and always one man stood on
guard, watchfully alert against a sudden rush by some maddened beast of
the jungle.  Beyond the fire, yellow-green spots of flame appeared,
moved restlessly about, disappeared and reappeared, accompanied by a
hideous chorus of screams and growls and roars as the hungry
meat-eaters hunting through the night were attracted by the light or
the scent of possible prey.

But to such sights and sounds as these the five men had become callous.
They sang or talked as unconcernedly as they might have done in the
bar-room of some publichouse at home.

Sinclair was standing guard.  The others were listening to Brady's
description of traffic congestion at the Rush Street bridge during the
rush hour at night.  The fire crackled cheerily.  The owners of the
yellow-green eyes raised their frightful chorus to the heavens.
Conditions seemed again to have returned to normal.  And then, as
though the hand of Death had reached out and touched them all, the five
men tensed into sudden rigidity.

Above the nocturnal diapason of the teeming jungle sounded a dismal
flapping of wings and over head, through the thick night, a shadowy
form passed across the diffused light of the flaring camp-fire.
Sinclair raised his rifle and fired.  An eerie wail floated down from
above and the apparition, whatever it might have been, was swallowed by
the darkness.  For several seconds the listening men heard the sound of
those dismally flapping wings lessening in the distance until they
could no longer be heard.

Bradley was the first to speak.  "Shouldn't have fired, Sinclair," he
said; "can't waste ammunition."  But there was no note of censure in
his tone.  It was as though he understood the nervous reaction that had
compelled the other's act.

"I couldn't help it, sir," said Sinclair.  "Lord, it would take an iron
man to keep from shootin' at that awful thing.  Do you believe in
ghosts, sir?"

"No," replied Bradley.  "No such things."

"I don't know about that," said Brady.  "There was a woman murdered
over on the prairie near Brighton--her throat was cut from ear to ear,
and--"

"Shut up," snapped Bradley.

"My grandaddy used to live down Coppington wy," said Tippet.  "They
were a hold ruined castle on a 'ill near by, hand at midnight they used
to see pale blue lights through the windows an 'ear--"

"Will you close your hatch!" demanded Bradley.  "You fools will have
yourselves scared to death in a minute.  Now go to sleep."

But there was little sleep in camp that night until utter exhaustion
overtook the harassed men toward morning; nor was there any return of
the weird creature that had set the nerves of each of them on edge.

The following forenoon the party reached the base of the barrier cliffs
and for two days marched northward in an effort to discover a break in
the frowning abutment that raised its rocky face almost perpendicularly
above them, yet nowhere was there the slightest indication that the
cliffs were scalable.

Disheartened, Bradley determined to turn back toward the fort, as he
already had exceeded the time decided upon by Bowen Tyler and himself
for the expedition.  The cliffs for many miles had been trending in a
northeasterly direction, indicating to Bradley that they were
approaching the northern extremity of the island.  According to the
best of his calculations they had made sufficient easting during the
past two days to have brought them to a point almost directly north of
Fort Dinosaur and as nothing could be gained by retracing their steps
along the base of the cliffs he decided to strike due south through the
unexplored country between them and the fort.

That night (September 9, 1916), they made camp a short distance from
the cliffs beside one of the numerous cool springs that are to be found
within Caspak, oftentimes close beside the still more numerous warm and
hot springs which feed the many pools.  After supper the men lay
smoking and chatting among themselves.  Tippet was on guard.  Fewer
night prowlers threatened them, and the men were commenting upon the
fact that the farther north they had traveled the smaller the number of
all species of animals became, though it was still present in what
would have seemed appalling plenitude in any other part of the world.
The diminution in reptilian life was the most noticeable change in the
fauna of northern Caspak.  Here, however, were forms they had not met
elsewhere, several of which were of gigantic proportions.

According to their custom all, with the exception of the man on guard,
sought sleep early, nor, once disposed upon the ground for slumber,
were they long in finding it.  It seemed to Bradley that he had
scarcely closed his eyes when he was brought to his feet, wide awake,
by a piercing scream which was punctuated by the sharp report of a
rifle from the direction of the fire where Tippet stood guard.  As he
ran toward the man, Bradley heard above him the same uncanny wail that
had set every nerve on edge several nights before, and the dismal
flapping of huge wings.  He did not need to look up at the
white-shrouded figure winging slowly away into the night to know that
their grim visitor had returned.

The muscles of his arm, reacting to the sight and sound of the menacing
form, carried his hand to the butt of his pistol; but after he had
drawn the weapon, he immediately returned it to its holster with a
shrug.

"What for?" he muttered.  "Can't waste ammunition."  Then he walked
quickly to where Tippet lay sprawled upon his face.  By this time
James, Brady and Sinclair were at his heels, each with his rifle in
readiness.

"Is he dead, sir?" whispered James as Bradley kneeled beside the
prostrate form.

Bradley turned Tippet over on his back and pressed an ear close to the
other's heart.  In a moment he raised his head.  "Fainted," he
announced.  "Get water.  Hurry!"  Then he loosened Tippet's shirt at
the throat and when the water was brought, threw a cupful in the man's
face.  Slowly Tippet regained consciousness and sat up.  At first he
looked curiously into the faces of the men about him; then an
expression of terror overspread his features.  He shot a startled
glance up into the black void above and then burying his face in his
arms began to sob like a child.

"What's wrong, man?" demanded Bradley.  "Buck up!  Can't play cry-baby.
Waste of energy.  What happened?"

"Wot 'appened, sir!" wailed Tippet.  "Oh, Gord, sir!   Hit came back.
Hit came for me, sir.  Right hit did, sir; strite hat me, sir; hand
with long w'ite 'ands it clawed for me.  Oh, Gord!  Hit almost caught
me, sir.  Hi'm has good as dead; Hi'm a marked man; that's wot Hi ham.
Hit was a-goin' for to carry me horf, sir."

"Stuff and nonsense," snapped Bradley.  "Did you get a good look at it?"

Tippet said that he did--a much better look than he wanted.  The thing
had almost clutched him, and he had looked straight into its
eyes--"dead heyes in a dead face," he had described them.

"Wot was it after bein', do you think?" inquired Brady.

"Hit was Death," moaned Tippet, shuddering, and again a pall of gloom
fell upon the little party.

The following day Tippet walked as one in a trance.  He never spoke
except in reply to a direct question, which more often than not had to
be repeated before it could attract his attention.  He insisted that he
was already a dead man, for if the thing didn't come for him during the
day he would never live through another night of agonized apprehension,
waiting for the frightful end that he was positive was in store for
him.  "I'll see to that," he said, and they all knew that Tippet meant
to take his own life before darkness set in.

Bradley tried to reason with him, in his short, crisp way, but soon saw
the futility of it; nor could he take the man's weapons from him
without subjecting him to almost certain death from any of the
numberless dangers that beset their way.

The entire party was moody and glum.  There was none of the bantering
that had marked their intercourse before, even in the face of blighting
hardships and hideous danger.  This was a new menace that threatened
them, something that they couldn't explain; and so, naturally, it
aroused within them superstitious fear which Tippet's attitude only
tended to augment.  To add further to their gloom, their way led
through a dense forest, where, on account of the underbrush, it was
difficult to make even a mile an hour.  Constant watchfulness was
required to avoid the many snakes of various degrees of repulsiveness
and enormity that infested the wood; and the only ray of hope they had
to cling to was that the forest would, like the majority of Caspakian
forests, prove to be of no considerable extent.

Bradley was in the lead when he came suddenly upon a grotesque creature
of Titanic proportions.  Crouching among the trees, which here
commenced to thin out slightly, Bradley saw what appeared to be an
enormous dragon devouring the carcass of a mammoth.  From frightful
jaws to the tip of its long tail it was fully forty feet in length.
Its body was covered with plates of thick skin which bore a striking
resemblance to armor-plate.  The creature saw Bradley almost at the
same instant that he saw it and reared up on its enormous hind legs
until its head towered a full twenty-five feet above the ground.  From
the cavernous jaws issued a hissing sound of a volume equal to the
escaping steam from the safety-valves of half a dozen locomotives, and
then the creature came for the man.

"Scatter!" shouted Bradley to those behind him; and all but Tippet
heeded the warning.  The man stood as though dazed, and when Bradley
saw the other's danger, he too stopped and wheeling about sent a bullet
into the massive body forcing its way through the trees toward him.
The shot struck the creature in the belly where there was no protecting
armor, eliciting a new note which rose in a shrill whistle and ended in
a wail.  It was then that Tippet appeared to come out of his trance,
for with a cry of terror he turned and fled to the left.  Bradley,
seeing that he had as good an opportunity as the others to escape, now
turned his attention to extricating himself; and as the woods seemed
dense on the right, he ran in that direction, hoping that the close-set
boles would prevent pursuit on the part of the great reptile.  The
dragon paid no further attention to him, however, for Tippet's sudden
break for liberty had attracted its attention; and after Tippet it
went, bowling over small trees, uprooting underbrush and leaving a wake
behind it like that of a small tornado.

Bradley, the moment he had discovered the thing was pursuing Tippet,
had followed it.  He was afraid to fire for fear of hitting the man,
and so it was that he came upon them at the very moment that the
monster lunged its great weight forward upon the doomed man.  The
sharp, three-toed talons of the forelimbs seized poor Tippet, and
Bradley saw the unfortunate fellow lifted high above the ground as the
creature again reared up on its hind legs, immediately transferring
Tippet's body to its gaping jaws, which closed with a sickening,
crunching sound as Tippet's bones cracked beneath the great teeth.

Bradley half raised his rifle to fire again and then lowered it with a
shake of his head.  Tippet was beyond succor--why waste a bullet that
Caspak could never replace?  If he could now escape the further notice
of the monster it would be a wiser act than to throw his life away in
futile revenge.  He saw that the reptile was not looking in his
direction, and so he slipped noiselessly behind the bole of a large
tree and thence quietly faded away in the direction he believed the
others to have taken.  At what he considered a safe distance he halted
and looked back.  Half hidden by the intervening trees he still could
see the huge head and the massive jaws from which protrude the limp
legs of the dead man.  Then, as though struck by the hammer of Thor,
the creature collapsed and crumpled to the ground.  Bradley's single
bullet, penetrating the body through the soft skin of the belly, had
slain the Titan.

A few minutes later, Bradley found the others of the party.  The four
returned cautiously to the spot where the creature lay and after
convincing themselves that it was quite dead, came close to it.  It was
an arduous and gruesome job extricating Tippet's mangled remains from
the powerful jaws, the men working for the most part silently.

"It was the work of the banshee all right," muttered Brady.  "It warned
poor Tippet, it did."

"Hit killed him, that's wot hit did, hand hit'll kill some more of us,"
said James, his lower lip trembling.

"If it was a ghost," interjected Sinclair, "and I don't say as it was;
but if it was, why, it could take on any form it wanted to.  It might
have turned itself into this thing, which ain't no natural thing at
all, just to get poor Tippet.  If it had of been a lion or something
else humanlike it wouldn't look so strange; but this here thing ain't
humanlike.  There ain't no such thing an' never was."

"Bullets don't kill ghosts," said Bradley, "so this couldn't have been
a ghost.  Furthermore, there are no such things.  I've been trying to
place this creature.  Just succeeded.  It's a tyrannosaurus.  Saw
picture of skeleton in magazine.  There's one in New York Natural
History Museum.  Seems to me it said it was found in place called Hell
Creek somewhere in western North America.  Supposed to have lived about
six million years ago."

"Hell Creek's in Montana," said Sinclair.  "I used to punch cows in
Wyoming, an' I've heard of Hell Creek.  Do you s'pose that there
thing's six million years old?"  His tone was skeptical.

"No," replied Bradley; "But it would indicate that the island of
Caprona has stood almost without change for more than six million
years."

The conversation and Bradley's assurance that the creature was not of
supernatural origin helped to raise a trifle the spirits of the men;
and then came another diversion in the form of ravenous meat-eaters
attracted to the spot by the uncanny sense of smell which had apprised
them of the presence of flesh, killed and ready for the eating.

It was a constant battle while they dug a grave and consigned all that
was mortal of John Tippet to his last, lonely resting-place.  Nor would
they leave then; but remained to fashion a rude headstone from a
crumbling out-cropping of sandstone and to gather a mass of the
gorgeous flowers growing in such great profusion around them and heap
the new-made grave with bright blooms.  Upon the headstone Sinclair
scratched in rude characters the words:

  HERE LIES JOHN TIPPET
       ENGLISHMAN
  KILLED BY TYRANNOSAURUS
    10 SEPT. A.D. 1916
         R.I.P.

and Bradley repeated a short prayer before they left their comrade
forever.

For three days the party marched due south through forests and
meadow-land and great park-like areas where countless herbivorous
animals grazed--deer and antelope and bos and the little ecca, the
smallest species of Caspakian horse, about the size of a rabbit.  There
were other horses too; but all were small, the largest being not above
eight hands in height.  Preying continually upon the herbivora were the
meat-eaters, large and small--wolves, hyaenadons, panthers, lions,
tigers, and bear as well as several large and ferocious species of
reptilian life.

On September twelfth the party scaled a line of sandstone cliffs which
crossed their route toward the south; but they crossed them only after
an encounter with the tribe that inhabited the numerous caves which
pitted the face of the escarpment.  That night they camped upon a rocky
plateau which was sparsely wooded with jarrah, and here once again they
were visited by the weird, nocturnal apparition that had already filled
them with a nameless terror.

As on the night of September ninth the first warning came from the
sentinel standing guard over his sleeping companions.  A
terror-stricken cry punctuated by the crack of a rifle brought Bradley,
Sinclair and Brady to their feet in time to see James, with clubbed
rifle, battling with a white-robed figure that hovered on widespread
wings on a level with the Englishman's head.  As they ran, shouting,
forward, it was obvious to them that the weird and terrible apparition
was attempting to seize James; but when it saw the others coming to his
rescue, it desisted, flapping rapidly upward and away, its long, ragged
wings giving forth the peculiarly dismal notes which always
characterized the sound of its flying.

Bradley fired at the vanishing menacer of their peace and safety; but
whether he scored a hit or not, none could tell, though, following the
shot, there was wafted back to them the same piercing wail that had on
other occasions frozen their marrow.

Then they turned toward James, who lay face downward upon the ground,
trembling as with ague.  For a time he could not even speak, but at
last regained sufficient composure to tell them how the thing must have
swooped silently upon him from above and behind as the first
premonition of danger he had received was when the long, clawlike
fingers had clutched him beneath either arm.  In the melee his rifle
had been discharged and he had broken away at the same instant and
turned to defend himself with the butt.  The rest they had seen.

From that instant James was an absolutely broken man.  He maintained
with shaking lips that his doom was sealed, that the thing had marked
him for its own, and that he was as good as dead, nor could any amount
of argument or raillery convince him to the contrary.  He had seen
Tippet marked and claimed and now he had been marked.  Nor were his
constant reiterations of this belief without effect upon the rest of
the party.  Even Bradley felt depressed, though for the sake of the
others he managed to hide it beneath a show of confidence he was far
from feeling.

And on the following day William James was killed by a saber-tooth
tiger--September 13, 1916.  Beneath a jarrah tree on the stony plateau
on the northern edge of the Sto-lu country in the land that Time
forgot, he lies in a lonely grave marked by a rough headstone.

Southward from his grave marched three grim and silent men.  To the
best of Bradley's reckoning they were some twenty-five miles north of
Fort Dinosaur, and that they might reach the fort on the following day,
they plodded on until darkness overtook them.  With comparative safety
fifteen miles away, they made camp at last; but there was no singing
now and no joking.  In the bottom of his heart each prayed that they
might come safely through just this night, for they knew that during
the morrow they would make the final stretch, yet the nerves of each
were taut with strained anticipation of what gruesome thing might flap
down upon them from the black sky, marking another for its own.  Who
would be the next?

As was their custom, they took turns at guard, each man doing two hours
and then arousing the next.  Brady had gone on from eight to ten,
followed by Sinclair from ten to twelve, then Bradley had been
awakened.  Brady would stand the last guard from two to four, as they
had determined to start the moment that it became light enough to
insure comparative safety upon the trail.

The snapping of a twig aroused Brady out of a dead sleep, and as he
opened his eyes, he saw that it was broad daylight and that at twenty
paces from him stood a huge lion.  As the man sprang to his feet, his
rifle ready in his hand, Sinclair awoke and took in the scene in a
single swift glance.  The fire was out and Bradley was nowhere in
sight.  For a long moment the lion and the men eyed one another.  The
latter had no mind to fire if the beast minded its own affairs--they
were only too glad to let it go its way if it would; but the lion was
of a different mind.

Suddenly the long tail snapped stiffly erect, and as though it had been
attached to two trigger fingers the two rifles spoke in unison, for
both men knew this signal only too well--the immediate forerunner of a
deadly charge.  As the brute's head had been raised, his spine had not
been visible; and so they did what they had learned by long experience
was best to do.  Each covered a front leg, and as the tail snapped
aloft, fired.  With a hideous roar the mighty flesh-eater lurched
forward to the ground with both front legs broken.  It was an easy
accomplishment in the instant before the beast charged--after, it would
have been well-nigh an impossible feat.  Brady stepped close in and
finished him with a shot in the base of the brain lest his terrific
roarings should attract his mate or others of their kind.

Then the two men turned and looked at one another.  "Where is
Lieutenant Bradley?" asked Sinclair.  They walked to the fire.  Only a
few smoking embers remained.  A few feet away lay Bradley's rifle.
There was no evidence of a struggle.  The two men circled about the
camp twice and on the last lap Brady stooped and picked up an object
which had lain about ten yards beyond the fire--it was Bradley's cap.
Again the two looked questioningly at one another, and then,
simultaneously, both pairs of eyes swung upward and searched the sky.
A moment later Brady was examining the ground about the spot where
Bradley's cap had lain.  It was one of those little barren, sandy
stretches that they had found only upon this stony plateau.  Brady's
own footsteps showed as plainly as black ink upon white paper; but his
was the only foot that had marred the smooth, windswept surface--there
was no sign that Bradley had crossed the spot upon the surface of the
ground, and yet his cap lay well toward the center of it.

Breakfastless and with shaken nerves the two survivors plunged madly
into the long day's march.  Both were strong, courageous, resourceful
men; but each had reached the limit of human nerve endurance and each
felt that he would rather die than spend another night in the hideous
open of that frightful land.  Vivid in the mind of each was a picture
of Bradley's end, for though neither had witnessed the tragedy, both
could imagine almost precisely what had occurred.  They did not discuss
it--they did not even mention it--yet all day long the thing was
uppermost in the mind of each and mingled with it a similar picture
with himself as victim should they fail to make Fort Dinosaur before
dark.

And so they plunged forward at reckless speed, their clothes, their
hands, their faces torn by the retarding underbrush that reached forth
to hinder them.  Again and again they fell; but be it to their credit
that the one always waited and helped the other and that into the mind
of neither entered the thought or the temptation to desert his
companion--they would reach the fort together if both survived, or
neither would reach it.

They encountered the usual number of savage beasts and reptiles; but
they met them with a courageous recklessness born of desperation, and
by virtue of the very madness of the chances they took, they came
through unscathed and with the minimum of delay.

Shortly after noon they reached the end of the plateau.  Before them
was a drop of two hundred feet to the valley beneath.  To the left, in
the distance, they could see the waters of the great inland sea that
covers a considerable portion of the area of the crater island of
Caprona and at a little lesser distance to the south of the cliffs they
saw a thin spiral of smoke arising above the tree-tops.

The landscape was familiar--each recognized it immediately and knew
that that smoky column marked the spot where Dinosaur had stood.  Was
the fort still there, or did the smoke arise from the smoldering embers
of the building they had helped to fashion for the housing of their
party?  Who could say!

Thirty precious minutes that seemed as many hours to the impatient men
were consumed in locating a precarious way from the summit to the base
of the cliffs that bounded the plateau upon the south, and then once
again they struck off upon level ground toward their goal.  The closer
they approached the fort the greater became their apprehension that all
would not be well.  They pictured the barracks deserted or the small
company massacred and the buildings in ashes.  It was almost in a
frenzy of fear that they broke through the final fringe of jungle and
stood at last upon the verge of the open meadow a half-mile from Fort
Dinosaur.

"Lord!" ejaculated Sinclair.  "They are still there!"  And he fell to
his knees, sobbing.

Brady trembled like a leaf as he crossed himself and gave silent
thanks, for there before them stood the sturdy ramparts of Dinosaur and
from inside the inclosure rose a thin spiral of smoke that marked the
location of the cook-house.  All was well, then, and their comrades
were preparing the evening meal!

Across the clearing they raced as though they had not already covered
in a single day a trackless, primeval country that might easily have
required two days by fresh and untired men.  Within hailing distance
they set up such a loud shouting that presently heads appeared above
the top of the parapet and soon answering shouts were rising from
within Fort Dinosaur.  A moment later three men issued from the
inclosure and came forward to meet the survivors and listen to the
hurried story of the eleven eventful days since they had set out upon
their expedition to the barrier cliffs.  They heard of the deaths of
Tippet and James and of the disappearance of Lieutenant Bradley, and a
new terror settled upon Dinosaur.

Olson, the Irish engineer, with Whitely and Wilson constituted the
remnants of Dinosaur's defenders, and to Brady and Sinclair they
narrated the salient events that had transpired since Bradley and his
party had marched away on September 4th.  They told them of the
infamous act of Baron Friedrich von Schoenvorts and his German crew who
had stolen the U-33, breaking their parole, and steaming away toward
the subterranean opening through the barrier cliffs that carried the
waters of the inland sea into the open Pacific beyond; and of the
cowardly shelling of the fort.

They told of the disappearance of Miss La Rue in the night of September
11th, and of the departure of Bowen Tyler in search of her, accompanied
only by his Airedale, Nobs.  Thus of the original party of eleven
Allies and nine Germans that had constituted the company of the U-33
when she left English waters after her capture by the crew of the
English tug there were but five now to be accounted for at Fort
Dinosaur.  Benson, Tippet, James, and one of the Germans were known to
be dead.  It was assumed that Bradley, Tyler and the girl had already
succumbed to some of the savage denizens of Caspak, while the fate of
the Germans was equally unknown, though it might readily be believed
that they had made good their escape.  They had had ample time to
provision the ship and the refining of the crude oil they had
discovered north of the fort could have insured them an ample supply to
carry them back to Germany.



Chapter 2

When bradley went on guard at midnight, September 14th, his thoughts
were largely occupied with rejoicing that the night was almost spent
without serious mishap and that the morrow would doubtless see them all
safely returned to Fort Dinosaur.  The hopefulness of his mood was
tinged with sorrow by recollection of the two members of his party who
lay back there in the savage wilderness and for whom there would never
again be a homecoming.

No premonition of impending ill cast gloom over his anticipations for
the coming day, for Bradley was a man who, while taking every
precaution against possible danger, permitted no gloomy forebodings to
weigh down his spirit.  When danger threatened, he was prepared; but he
was not forever courting disaster, and so it was that when about one
o'clock in the morning of the fifteenth, he heard the dismal flapping
of giant wings overhead, he was neither surprised nor frightened but
idly prepared for an attack he had known might reasonably be expected.

The sound seemed to come from the south, and presently, low above the
trees in that direction, the man made out a dim, shadowy form circling
slowly about.  Bradley was a brave man, yet so keen was the feeling of
revulsion engendered by the sight and sound of that grim, uncanny shape
that he distinctly felt the gooseflesh rise over the surface of his
body, and it was with difficulty that he refrained from following an
instinctive urge to fire upon the nocturnal intruder.  Better, far
better would it have been had he given in to the insistent demand of
his subconscious mentor; but his almost fanatical obsession to save
ammunition proved now his undoing, for while his attention was riveted
upon the thing circling before him and while his ears were filled with
the beating of its wings, there swooped silently out of the black night
behind him another weird and ghostly shape.  With its huge wings partly
closed for the dive and its white robe fluttering in its wake, the
apparition swooped down upon the Englishman.

So great was the force of the impact when the thing struck Bradley
between the shoulders that the man was half stunned.  His rifle flew
from his grasp; he felt clawlike talons of great strength seize him
beneath his arms and sweep him off his feet; and then the thing rose
swiftly with him, so swiftly that his cap was blown from his head by
the rush of air as he was borne rapidly upward into the inky sky and
the cry of warning to his companions was forced back into his lungs.

The creature wheeled immediately toward the east and was at once joined
by its fellow, who circled them once and then fell in behind them.
Bradley now realized the strategy that the pair had used to capture him
and at once concluded that he was in the power of reasoning beings
closely related to the human race if not actually of it.

Past experience suggested that the great wings were a part of some
ingenious mechanical device, for the limitations of the human mind,
which is always loath to accept aught beyond its own little experience,
would not permit him to entertain the idea that the creatures might be
naturally winged and at the same time of human origin.  From his
position Bradley could not see the wings of his captor, nor in the
darkness had he been able to examine those of the second creature
closely when it circled before him.  He listened for the puff of a
motor or some other telltale sound that would prove the correctness of
his theory.  However, he was rewarded with nothing more than the
constant flap-flap.

Presently, far below and ahead, he saw the waters of the inland sea,
and a moment later he was borne over them.  Then his captor did that
which proved beyond doubt to Bradley that he was in the hands of human
beings who had devised an almost perfect scheme of duplicating,
mechanically, the wings of a bird--the thing spoke to its companion and
in a language that Bradley partially understood, since he recognized
words that he had learned from the savage races of Caspak.  From this
he judged that they were human, and being human, he knew that they
could have no natural wings--for who had ever seen a human being so
adorned!  Therefore their wings must be mechanical.  Thus Bradley
reasoned--thus most of us reason; not by what might be possible; but by
what has fallen within the range of our experience.

What he heard them say was to the effect that having covered half the
distance the burden would now be transferred from one to the other.
Bradley wondered how the exchange was to be accomplished.  He knew that
those giant wings would not permit the creatures to approach one
another closely enough to effect the transfer in this manner; but he
was soon to discover that they had other means of doing it.

He felt the thing that carried him rise to a greater altitude, and
below he glimpsed momentarily the second white-robed figure; then the
creature above sounded a low call, it was answered from below, and
instantly Bradley felt the clutching talons release him; gasping for
breath, he hurtled downward through space.

For a terrifying instant, pregnant with horror, Bradley fell; then
something swooped for him from behind, another pair of talons clutched
him beneath the arms, his downward rush was checked, within another
hundred feet, and close to the surface of the sea he was again borne
upward.  As a hawk dives for a songbird on the wing, so this great,
human bird dived for Bradley.  It was a harrowing experience, but soon
over, and once again the captive was being carried swiftly toward the
east and what fate he could not even guess.

It was immediately following his transfer in mid-air that Bradley made
out the shadowy form of a large island far ahead, and not long after,
he realized that this must be the intended destination of his captors.
Nor was he mistaken.  Three quarters of an hour from the time of his
seizure his captors dropped gently to earth in the strangest city that
human eye had ever rested upon.  Just a brief glimpse of his immediate
surroundings vouchsafed Bradley before he was whisked into the interior
of one of the buildings; but in that momentary glance he saw strange
piles of stone and wood and mud fashioned into buildings of all
conceivable sizes and shapes, sometimes piled high on top of one
another, sometimes standing alone in an open court-way, but usually
crowded and jammed together, so that there were no streets or alleys
between them other than a few which ended almost as soon as they began.
The principal doorways appeared to be in the roofs, and it was through
one of these that Bradley was inducted into the dark interior of a
low-ceiled room.  Here he was pushed roughly into a corner where he
tripped over a thick mat, and there his captors left him.  He heard
them moving about in the darkness for a moment, and several times he
saw their large luminous eyes glowing in the dark.  Finally, these
disappeared and silence reigned, broken only by the breathing of the
creature which indicated to the Englishman that they were sleeping
somewhere in the same apartment.

It was now evident that the mat upon the floor was intended for
sleeping purposes and that the rough shove that had sent him to it had
been a rude invitation to repose.  After taking stock of himself and
finding that he still had his pistol and ammunition, some matches, a
little tobacco, a canteen full of water and a razor, Bradley made
himself comfortable upon the mat and was soon asleep, knowing that an
attempted escape in the darkness without knowledge of his surroundings
would be predoomed to failure.

When he awoke, it was broad daylight, and the sight that met his eyes
made him rub them again and again to assure himself that they were
really open and that he was not dreaming.  A broad shaft of morning
light poured through the open doorway in the ceiling of the room which
was about thirty feet square, or roughly square, being irregular in
shape, one side curving outward, another being indented by what might
have been the corner of another building jutting into it, another
alcoved by three sides of an octagon, while the fourth was serpentine
in contour.  Two windows let in more daylight, while two doors
evidently gave ingress to other rooms.  The walls were partially ceiled
with thin strips of wood, nicely fitted and finished, partially
plastered and the rest covered with a fine, woven cloth.  Figures of
reptiles and beasts were painted without regard to any uniform scheme
here and there upon the walls.  A striking feature of the decorations
consisted of several engaged columns set into the walls at no regular
intervals, the capitals of each supporting a human skull the cranium of
which touched the ceiling, as though the latter was supported by these
grim reminders either of departed relatives or of some hideous tribal
rite--Bradley could not but wonder which.

Yet it was none of these things that filled him with greatest
wonder--no, it was the figures of the two creatures that had captured
him and brought him hither.  At one end of the room a stout pole about
two inches in diameter ran horizontally from wall to wall some six or
seven feet from the floor, its ends securely set in two of the columns.
Hanging by their knees from this perch, their heads downward and their
bodies wrapped in their huge wings, slept the creatures of the night
before--like two great, horrid bats they hung, asleep.

As Bradley gazed upon them in wide-eyed astonishment, he saw plainly
that all his intelligence, all his acquired knowledge through years of
observation and experience were set at naught by the simple evidence of
the fact that stood out glaringly before his eyes--the creatures' wings
were not mechanical devices but as natural appendages, growing from
their shoulderblades, as were their arms and legs.  He saw, too, that
except for their wings the pair bore a strong resemblance to human
beings, though fashioned in a most grotesque mold.

As he sat gazing at them, one of the two awoke, separated his wings to
release his arms that had been folded across his breast, placed his
hands upon the floor, dropped his feet and stood erect.  For a moment
he stretched his great wings slowly, solemnly blinking his large round
eyes.  Then his gaze fell upon Bradley.  The thin lips drew back
tightly against yellow teeth in a grimace that was nothing but hideous.
It could not have been termed a smile, and what emotion it registered
the Englishman was at a loss to guess.  No expression whatever altered
the steady gaze of those large, round eyes; there was no color upon the
pasty, sunken cheeks.  A death's head grimaced as though a man long
dead raised his parchment-covered skull from an old grave.

The creature stood about the height of an average man but appeared much
taller from the fact that the joints of his long wings rose fully a
foot above his hairless head.  The bare arms were long and sinewy,
ending in strong, bony hands with clawlike fingers--almost talonlike in
their suggestiveness.  The white robe was separated in front, revealing
skinny legs and the further fact that the thing wore but the single
garment, which was of fine, woven cloth.  From crown to sole the
portions of the body exposed were entirely hairless, and as he noted
this, Bradley also noted for the first time the cause of much of the
seeming expressionlessness of the creature's countenance--it had
neither eye-brows or lashes.  The ears were small and rested flat
against the skull, which was noticeably round, though the face was
quite flat.  The creature had small feet, beautifully arched and plump,
but so out of keeping with every other physical attribute it possessed
as to appear ridiculous.

After eyeing Bradley for a moment the thing approached him.  "Where
from?" it asked.

"England," replied Bradley, as briefly.

"Where is England and what?" pursued the questioner.

"It is a country far from here," answered the Englishman.

"Are your people cor-sva-jo or cos-ata-lu?"

"I do not understand you," said Bradley; "and now suppose you answer a
few questions.  Who are you?  What country is this?  Why did you bring
me here?"

Again the sepulchral grimace.  "We are Wieroos--Luata is our father.
Caspak is ours.  This, our country, is called Oo-oh.  We brought you
here for (literally) Him Who Speaks for Luata to gaze upon and
question.  He would know from whence you came and why; but principally
if you be cos-ata-lu."

"And if I am not cos--whatever you call the bloomin' beast--what of it?"

The Wieroo raised his wings in a very human shrug and waved his bony
claws toward the human skulls supporting the ceiling.  His gesture was
eloquent; but he embellished it by remarking, "And possibly if you are."

"I'm hungry," snapped Bradley.

The Wieroo motioned him to one of the doors which he threw open,
permitting Bradley to pass out onto another roof on a level lower than
that upon which they had landed earlier in the morning.  By daylight
the city appeared even more remarkable than in the moonlight, though
less weird and unreal.  The houses of all shapes and sizes were piled
about as a child might pile blocks of various forms and colors.  He saw
now that there were what might be called streets or alleys, but they
ran in baffling turns and twists, nor ever reached a destination,
always ending in a dead wall where some Wieroo had built a house across
them.

Upon each house was a slender column supporting a human skull.
Sometimes the columns were at one corner of the roof, sometimes at
another, or again they rose from the center or near the center, and the
columns were of varying heights, from that of a man to those which rose
twenty feet above their roofs.  The skulls were, as a rule,
painted--blue or white, or in combinations of both colors.  The most
effective were painted blue with the teeth white and the eye-sockets
rimmed with white.

There were other skulls--thousands of them--tens, hundreds of
thousands.  They rimmed the eaves of every house, they were set in the
plaster of the outer walls and at no great distance from where Bradley
stood rose a round tower built entirely of human skulls.  And the city
extended in every direction as far as the Englishman could see.

All about him Wieroos were moving across the roofs or winging through
the air.  The sad sound of their flapping wings rose and fell like a
solemn dirge.  Most of them were appareled all in white, like his
captors; but others had markings of red or blue or yellow slashed
across the front of their robes.

His guide pointed toward a doorway in an alley below them.  "Go there
and eat," he commanded, "and then come back.  You cannot escape.  If
any question you, say that you belong to Fosh-bal-soj.  There is the
way."  And this time he pointed to the top of a ladder which protruded
above the eaves of the roof near-by.  Then he turned and reentered the
house.

Bradley looked about him.  No, he could not escape--that seemed
evident.  The city appeared interminable, and beyond the city, if not a
savage wilderness filled with wild beasts, there was the broad inland
sea infested with horrid monsters.  No wonder his captor felt safe in
turning him loose in Oo-oh--he wondered if that was the name of the
country or the city and if there were other cities like this upon the
island.

Slowly he descended the ladder to the seemingly deserted alley which
was paved with what appeared to be large, round cobblestones.  He
looked again at the smooth, worn pavement, and a rueful grin crossed
his features--the alley was paved with skulls.  "The City of Human
Skulls," mused Bradley.  "They must have been collectin' 'em since
Adam," he thought, and then he crossed and entered the building through
the doorway that had been pointed out to him.

Inside he found a large room in which were many Wieroos seated before
pedestals the tops of which were hollowed out so that they resembled
the ordinary bird drinking- and bathing-fonts so commonly seen on
suburban lawns.  A seat protruded from each of the four sides of the
pedestals--just a flat board with a support running from its outer end
diagonally to the base of the pedestal.

As Bradley entered, some of the Wieroos espied him, and a dismal wail
arose.  Whether it was a greeting or a threat, Bradley did not know.
Suddenly from a dark alcove another Wieroo rushed out toward him.  "Who
are you?" he cried.  "What do you want?"

"Fosh-bal-soj sent me here to eat," replied Bradley.

"Do you belong to Fosh-bal-soj?" asked the other.

"That appears to be what he thinks," answered the Englishman.

"Are you cos-ata-lu?" demanded the Wieroo.

"Give me something to eat or I'll be all of that," replied Bradley.

The Wieroo looked puzzled.  "Sit here, jaal-lu," he snapped, and
Bradley sat down unconscious of the fact that he had been insulted by
being called a hyena-man, an appellation of contempt in Caspak.

The Wieroo had seated him at a pedestal by himself, and as he sat
waiting for what was next to transpire, he looked about him at the
Wieroo in his immediate vicinity.  He saw that in each font was a
quantity of food, and that each Wieroo was armed with a wooden skewer,
sharpened at one end; with which they carried solid portions of food to
their mouths.  At the other end of the skewer was fastened a small
clam-shell.  This was used to scoop up the smaller and softer portions
of the repast into which all four of the occupants of each table dipped
impartially.  The Wieroo leaned far over their food, scooping it up
rapidly and with much noise, and so great was their haste that a part
of each mouthful always fell back into the common dish; and when they
choked, by reason of the rapidity with which they attempted to bolt
their food, they often lost it all.  Bradley was glad that he had a
pedestal all to himself.

Soon the keeper of the place returned with a wooden bowl filled with
food.  This he dumped into Bradley's "trough," as he already thought of
it.  The Englishman was glad that he could not see into the dark alcove
or know what were all the ingredients that constituted the mess before
him, for he was very hungry.

After the first mouthful he cared even less to investigate the
antecedents of the dish, for he found it peculiarly palatable.  It
seemed to consist of a combination of meat, fruits, vegetables, small
fish and other undistinguishable articles of food all seasoned to
produce a gastronomic effect that was at once baffling and delicious.

When he had finished, his trough was empty, and then he commenced to
wonder who was to settle for his meal.  As he waited for the proprietor
to return, he fell to examining the dish from which he had eaten and
the pedestal upon which it rested.  The font was of stone worn smooth
by long-continued use, the four outer edges hollowed and polished by
the contact of the countless Wieroo bodies that had leaned against them
for how long a period of time Bradley could not even guess.  Everything
about the place carried the impression of hoary age.  The carved
pedestals were black with use, the wooden seats were worn hollow, the
floor of stone slabs was polished by the contact of possibly millions
of naked feet and worn away in the aisles between the pedestals so that
the latter rested upon little mounds of stone several inches above the
general level of the floor.

Finally, seeing that no one came to collect, Bradley arose and started
for the doorway.  He had covered half the distance when he heard the
voice of mine host calling to him:  "Come back, jaal-lu," screamed the
Wieroo; and Bradley did as he was bid.  As he approached the creature
which stood now behind a large, flat-topped pedestal beside the alcove,
he saw lying upon the smooth surface something that almost elicited a
gasp of astonishment from him--a simple, common thing it was, or would
have been almost anywhere in the world but Caspak--a square bit of
paper!

And on it, in a fine hand, written compactly, were many strange
hieroglyphics!  These remarkable creatures, then, had a written as well
as a spoken language and besides the art of weaving cloth possessed
that of paper-making.  Could it be that such grotesque beings
represented the high culture of the human race within the boundaries of
Caspak?  Had natural selection produced during the countless ages of
Caspakian life a winged monstrosity that represented the earthly
pinnacle of man's evolution?

Bradley had noted something of the obvious indications of a gradual
evolution from ape to spearman as exemplified by the several
overlapping races of Alalus, club-men and hatchet-men that formed the
connecting links between the two extremes with which he, had come in
contact.  He had heard of the Krolus and the Galus--reputed to be still
higher in the plane of evolution--and now he had indisputable evidence
of a race possessing refinements of civilization eons in advance of the
spear-men.  The conjectures awakened by even a momentary consideration
of the possibilities involved became at once as wildly bizarre as the
insane imagings of a drug addict.

As these thoughts flashed through his mind, the Wieroo held out a pen
of bone fixed to a wooden holder and at the same time made a sign that
Bradley was to write upon the paper.  It was difficult to judge from
the expressionless features of the Wieroo what was passing in the
creature's mind, but Bradley could not but feel that the thing cast a
supercilious glance upon him as much as to say, "Of course you do not
know how to write, you poor, low creature; but you can make your mark."

Bradley seized the pen and in a clear, bold hand wrote:  "John Bradley,
England."  The Wieroo showed evidences of consternation as it seized
the piece of paper and examined the writing with every mark of
incredulity and surprise.  Of course it could make nothing of the
strange characters; but it evidently accepted them as proof that
Bradley possessed knowledge of a written language of his own, for
following the Englishman's entry it made a few characters of its own.

"You will come here again just before Lua hides his face behind the
great cliff," announced the creature, "unless before that you are
summoned by Him Who Speaks for Luata, in which case you will not have
to eat any more."

"Reassuring cuss," thought Bradley as he turned and left the building.

Outside were several Wieroos that had been eating at the pedestals
within.  They immediately surrounded him, asking all sorts of
questions, plucking at his garments, his ammunition-belt and his
pistol.  Their demeanor was entirely different from what it had been
within the eating-place and Bradley was to learn that a house of food
was sanctuary for him, since the stern laws of the Wieroos forbade
altercations within such walls.  Now they were rough and threatening,
as with wings half spread they hovered about him in menacing attitudes,
barring his way to the ladder leading to the roof from whence he had
descended; but the Englishman was not one to brook interference for
long.  He attempted at first to push his way past them, and then when
one seized his arm and jerked him roughly back, Bradley swung upon the
creature and with a heavy blow to the jaw felled it.

Instantly pandemonium reigned.  Loud wails arose, great wings opened
and closed with a loud, beating noise and many clawlike hands reached
forth to clutch him.  Bradley struck to right and left.  He dared not
use his pistol for fear that once they discovered its power he would be
overcome by weight of numbers and relieved of possession of what he
considered his trump card, to be reserved until the last moment that it
might be used to aid in his escape, for already the Englishman was
planning, though almost hopelessly, such an attempt.

A few blows convinced Bradley that the Wieroos were arrant cowards and
that they bore no weapons, for after two or three had fallen beneath
his fists the others formed a circle about him, but at a safe distance
and contented themselves with threatening and blustering, while those
whom he had felled lay upon the pavement without trying to arise, the
while they moaned and wailed in lugubrious chorus.

Again Bradley strode toward the ladder, and this time the circle parted
before him; but no sooner had he ascended a few rungs than he was
seized by one foot and an effort made to drag him down.  With a quick
backward glance the Englishman, clinging firmly to the ladder with both
hands, drew up his free foot and with all the strength of a powerful
leg, planted a heavy shoe squarely in the flat face of the Wieroo that
held him.  Shrieking horribly, the creature clapped both hands to its
face and sank to the ground while Bradley clambered quickly the
remaining distance to the roof, though no sooner did he reach the top
of the ladder than a great flapping of wings beneath him warned him
that the Wieroos were rising after him.  A moment later they swarmed
about his head as he ran for the apartment in which he had spent the
early hours of the morning after his arrival.

It was but a short distance from the top of the ladder to the doorway,
and Bradley had almost reached his goal when the door flew open and
Fosh-bal-soj stepped out.  Immediately the pursuing Wieroos demanded
punishment of the jaal-lu who had so grievously maltreated them.
Fosh-bal-soj listened to their complaints and then with a sudden sweep
of his right hand seized Bradley by the scruff of the neck and hurled
him sprawling through the doorway upon the floor of the chamber.

So sudden was the assault and so surprising the strength of the Wieroo
that the Englishman was taken completely off his guard.  When he arose,
the door was closed, and Fosh-bal-soj was standing over him, his
hideous face contorted into an expression of rage and hatred.

"Hyena, snake, lizard!" he screamed.  "You would dare lay your low,
vile, profaning hands upon even the lowliest of the Wieroos--the sacred
chosen of Luata!"

Bradley was mad, and so he spoke in a very low, calm voice while a
half-smile played across his lips but his cold, gray eyes were
unsmiling.

"What you did to me just now," he said, "--I am going to kill you for
that," and even as he spoke, he launched himself at the throat of
Fosh-bal-soj.  The other Wieroo that had been asleep when Bradley left
the chamber had departed, and the two were alone.  Fosh-bal-soj
displayed little of the cowardice of those that had attacked Bradley in
the alleyway, but that may have been because he had so slight
opportunity, for Bradley had him by the throat before he could utter a
cry and with his right hand struck him heavily and repeatedly upon his
face and over his heart--ugly, smashing, short-arm jabs of the sort
that take the fight out of a man in quick time.

But Fosh-bal-soj was of no mind to die passively.  He clawed and struck
at Bradley while with his great wings he attempted to shield himself
from the merciless rain of blows, at the same time searching for a hold
upon his antagonist's throat.  Presently he succeeded in tripping the
Englishman, and together the two fell heavily to the floor, Bradley
underneath, and at the same instant the Wieroo fastened his long talons
about the other's windpipe.

Fosh-bal-soj was possessed of enormous strength and he was fighting for
his life.  The Englishman soon realized that the battle was going
against him.  Already his lungs were pounding painfully for air as he
reached for his pistol.  It was with difficulty that he drew it from
its holster, and even then, with death staring him in the face, he
thought of his precious ammunition.  "Can't waste it," he thought; and
slipping his fingers to the barrel he raised the weapon and struck
Fosh-bal-soj a terrific blow between the eyes.  Instantly the clawlike
fingers released their hold, and the creature sank limply to the floor
beside Bradley, who lay for several minutes gasping painfully in an
effort to regain his breath.

When he was able, he rose, and leaned close over the Wieroo, lying
silent and motionless, his wings dropping limply and his great, round
eyes staring blankly toward the ceiling.  A brief examination convinced
Bradley that the thing was dead, and with the conviction came an
overwhelming sense of the dangers which must now confront him; but how
was he to escape?

His first thought was to find some means for concealing the evidence of
his deed and then to make a bold effort to escape.  Stepping to the
second door he pushed it gently open and peered in upon what seemed to
be a store room.  In it was a litter of cloth such as the Wieroos'
robes were fashioned from, a number of chests painted blue and white,
with white hieroglyphics painted in bold strokes upon the blue and blue
hieroglyphics upon the white.  In one corner was a pile of human skulls
reaching almost to the ceiling and in another a stack of dried Wieroo
wings.  The chamber was as irregularly shaped as the other and had but
a single window and a second door at the further end, but was without
the exit through the roof and, most important of all, there was no
creature of any sort in it.

As quickly as possible Bradley dragged the dead Wieroo through the
doorway and closed the door; then he looked about for a place to
conceal the corpse.  One of the chests was large enough to hold the
body if the knees were bent well up, and with this idea in view Bradley
approached the chest to open it.  The lid was made in two pieces, each
being hinged at an opposite end of the chest and joining nicely where
they met in the center of the chest, making a snug, well-fitting joint.
There was no lock.  Bradley raised one half the cover and looked in.
With a smothered "By Jove!" he bent closer to examine the contents--the
chest was about half filled with an assortment of golden trinkets.
There were what appeared to be bracelets, anklets and brooches of
virgin gold.

Realizing that there was no room in the chest for the body of the
Wieroo, Bradley turned to seek another means of concealing the evidence
of his crime.  There was a space between the chests and the wall, and
into this he forced the corpse, piling the discarded robes upon it
until it was entirely hidden from sight; but now how was he to make
good his escape in the bright glare of that early Spring day?

He walked to the door at the far end of the apartment and cautiously
opened it an inch.  Before him and about two feet away was the blank
wall of another building.  Bradley opened the door a little farther and
looked in both directions.  There was no one in sight to the left over
a considerable expanse of roof-top, and to the right another building
shut off his line of vision at about twenty feet.  Slipping out, he
turned to the right and in a few steps found a narrow passageway
between two buildings.  Turning into this he passed about half its
length when he saw a Wieroo appear at the opposite end and halt.  The
creature was not looking down the passageway; but at any moment it
might turn its eyes toward him, when he would be immediately discovered.

To Bradley's left was a triangular niche in the wall of one of the
houses and into this he dodged, thus concealing himself from the sight
of the Wieroo.  Beside him was a door painted a vivid yellow and
constructed after the same fashion as the other Wieroo doors he had
seen, being made up of countless narrow strips of wood from four to six
inches in length laid on in patches of about the same width, the strips
in adjacent patches never running in the same direction.  The result
bore some resemblance to a crazy patchwork quilt, which was heightened
when, as in one of the doors he had seen, contiguous patches were
painted different colors.  The strips appeared to have been bound
together and to the underlying framework of the door with gut or fiber
and also glued, after which a thick coating of paint had been applied.
One edge of the door was formed of a straight, round pole about two
inches in diameter that protruded at top and bottom, the projections
setting in round holes in both lintel and sill forming the axis upon
which the door swung.  An eccentric disk upon the inside face of the
door engaged a slot in the frame when it was desired to secure the door
against intruders.

As Bradley stood flattened against the wall waiting for the Wieroo to
move on, he heard the creature's wings brushing against the sides of
the buildings as it made its way down the narrow passage in his
direction.  As the yellow door offered the only means of escape without
detection, the Englishman decided to risk whatever might lie beyond it,
and so, boldly pushing it in, he crossed the threshold and entered a
small apartment.

As he did so, he heard a muffled ejaculation of surprise, and turning
his eyes in the direction from whence the sound had come, he beheld a
wide-eyed girl standing flattened against the opposite wall, an
expression of incredulity upon her face.  At a glance he saw that she
was of no race of humans that he had come in contact with since his
arrival upon Caprona--there was no trace about her form or features of
any relationship to those low orders of men, nor was she appareled as
they--or, rather, she did not entirely lack apparel as did most of them.

A soft hide fell from her left shoulder to just below her left hip on
one side and almost to her right knee on the other, a loose girdle was
about her waist, and golden ornaments such as he had seen in the
blue-and-white chest encircled her arms and legs, while a golden fillet
with a triangular diadem bound her heavy hair above her brows.  Her
skin was white as from long confinement within doors; but it was clear
and fine.  Her figure, but partially concealed by the soft deerskin,
was all curves of symmetry and youthful grace, while her features might
easily have been the envy of the most feted of Continental beauties.

If the girl was surprised by the sudden appearance of Bradley, the
latter was absolutely astounded to discover so wondrous a creature
among the hideous inhabitants of the City of Human Skulls.  For a
moment the two looked at one another in unconcealed consternation, and
then Bradley spoke, using to the best of his poor ability, the common
tongue of Caspak.

"Who are you," he asked, "and from where do you come?  Do not tell me
that you are a Wieroo."

"No," she replied, "I am no Wieroo."  And she shuddered slightly as she
pronounced the word.  "I am a Galu; but who and what are you?  I am
sure that you are no Galu, from your garments; but you are like the
Galus in other respects.  I know that you are not of this frightful
city, for I have been here for almost ten moons, and never have I seen
a male Galu brought hither before, nor are there such as you and I,
other than prisoners in the land of Oo-oh, and these are all females.
Are you a prisoner, then?"

He told her briefly who and what he was, though he doubted if she
understood, and from her he learned that she had been a prisoner there
for many months; but for what purpose he did not then learn, as in the
midst of their conversation the yellow door swung open and a Wieroo
with a robe slashed with yellow entered.

At sight of Bradley the creature became furious.  "Whence came this
reptile?" it demanded of the girl.  "How long has it been here with
you?"

"It came through the doorway just ahead of you," Bradley answered for
the girl.

The Wieroo looked relieved.  "It is well for the girl that this is so,"
it said, "for now only you will have to die." And stepping to the door
the creature raised its voice in one of those uncanny, depressing wails.

The Englishman looked toward the girl.  "Shall I kill it?" he asked,
half drawing his pistol.  "What is best to do?--I do not wish to
endanger you."

The Wieroo backed toward the door.  "Defiler!" it screamed.  "You dare
to threaten one of the sacred chosen of Luata!"

"Do not kill him," cried the girl, "for then there could be no hope for
you.  That you are here, alive, shows that they may not intend to kill
you at all, and so there is a chance for you if you do not anger them;
but touch him in violence and your bleached skull will top the loftiest
pedestal of Oo-oh."

"And what of you?" asked Bradley.

"I am already doomed," replied the girl; "I am cos-ata-lo."

"Cos-ata-lo! cos-ata-lu!"  What did these phrases mean that they were
so oft repeated by the denizens of Oo-oh?  Lu and lo, Bradley knew to
mean man and woman; ata; was employed variously to indicate life, eggs,
young, reproduction and kindred subject; cos was a negative; but in
combination they were meaningless to the European.

"Do you mean they will kill you?" asked Bradley.

"I but wish that they would," replied the girl.  "My fate is to be
worse than death--in just a few nights more, with the coming of the new
moon."

"Poor she-snake!" snapped the Wieroo.  "You are to become sacred above
all other shes.  He Who Speaks for Luata has chosen you for himself.
Today you go to his temple--" the Wieroo used a phrase meaning
literally High Place--"where you will receive the sacred commands."

The girl shuddered and cast a sorrowful glance toward Bradley.  "Ah,"
she sighed, "if I could but see my beloved country once again!"

The man stepped suddenly close to her side before the Wieroo could
interpose and in a low voice asked her if there was no way by which he
might encompass her escape.  She shook her head sorrowfully.  "Even if
we escaped the city," she replied, "there is the big water between the
island of Oo-oh and the Galu shore."

"And what is beyond the city, if we could leave it?" pursued Bradley.

"I  may only guess from what I have heard since I was brought here,"
she answered; "but by reports and chance remarks I take it to be a
beautiful land in which there are but few wild beasts and no men, for
only the Wieroos live upon this island and they dwell always in cities
of which there are three, this being the largest.  The others are at
the far end of the island, which is about three marches from end to end
and at its widest point about one march."

From his own experience and from what the natives on the mainland had
told him, Bradley knew that ten miles was a good day's march in Caspak,
owing to the fact that at most points it was a trackless wilderness and
at all times travelers were beset by hideous beasts and reptiles that
greatly impeded rapid progress.

The two had spoken rapidly but were now interrupted by the advent
through the opening in the roof of several Wieroos who had come in
answer to the alarm it of the yellow slashing had uttered.

"This jaal-lu,"  cried the offended one, "has threatened me.  Take its
hatchet from it and make it fast where it can do no harm until He Who
Speaks for Luata has said what shall be done with it.  It is one of
those strange creatures that Fosh-bal-soj discovered first above the
Band-lu country and followed back toward the beginning.  He Who Speaks
for Luata sent Fosh-bal-soj to fetch him one of the creatures, and here
it is.  It is hoped that it may be from another world and hold the
secret of the cos-ata-lus."

The Wieroos approached boldly to take Bradley's "hatchet" from him,
their leader having indicated the pistol hanging in its holster at the
Englishman's hip, but the first one went reeling backward against his
fellows from the blow to the chin which Bradley followed up with a rush
and the intention to clean up the room in record time; but he had
reckoned without the opening in the roof.  Two were down and a great
wailing and moaning was arising when reinforcements appeared from
above.  Bradley did not see them; but the girl did, and though she
cried out a warning, it came too late for him to avoid a large Wieroo
who dived headforemost for him, striking him between the shoulders and
bearing him to the floor.  Instantly a dozen more were piling on top of
him.  His pistol was wrenched from its holster and he was securely
pinioned down by the weight of numbers.

At a word from the Wieroo of the yellow slashing who evidently was a
person of authority, one left and presently returned with fiber ropes
with which Bradley was tightly bound.

"Now bear him to the Blue Place of Seven Skulls," directed the chief
Wieroo, "and one take the word of all that has passed to Him Who Speaks
for Luata."

Each of the creatures raised a hand, the back against its face, as
though in salute.  One seized Bradley and carried him through the
yellow doorway to the roof from whence it rose upon its wide-spread
wings and flapped off across the roof-tops of Oo-oh with its heavy
burden clutched in its long talons.

Below him Bradley could see the city stretching away to a distance on
every hand.  It was not as large as he had imagined, though he judged
that it was at least three miles square.  The houses were piled in
indescribable heaps, sometimes to a height of a hundred feet.  The
streets and alleys were short and crooked and there were many areas
where buildings had been wedged in so closely that no light could
possibly reach the lowest tiers, the entire surface of the ground being
packed solidly with them.

The colors were varied and startling, the architecture amazing.  Many
roofs were cup or saucer-shaped with a small hole in the center of
each, as though they had been constructed to catch rain-water and
conduct it to a reservoir beneath; but nearly all the others had the
large opening in the top that Bradley had seen used by these flying men
in lieu of doorways.  At all levels were the myriad poles surmounted by
grinning skulls; but the two most prominent features of the city were
the round tower of human skulls that Bradley had noted earlier in the
day and another and much larger edifice near the center of the city.
As they approached it, Bradley saw that it was a huge building rising a
hundred feet in height from the ground and that it stood alone in the
center of what might have been called a plaza in some other part of the
world.  Its various parts, however, were set together with the same
strange irregularity that marked the architecture of the city as a
whole; and it was capped by an enormous saucer-shaped roof which
projected far beyond the eaves, having the appearance of a colossal
Chinese coolie hat, inverted.

The Wieroo bearing Bradley passed over one corner of the open space
about the large building, revealing to the Englishman grass and trees
and running water beneath.  They passed the building and about five
hundred yards beyond the creature alighted on the roof of a square,
blue building surmounted by seven poles bearing seven skulls.  This
then, thought Bradley, is the Blue Place of Seven Skulls.

Over the opening in the roof was a grated covering, and this the Wieroo
removed.  The thing then tied a piece of fiber rope to one of Bradley's
ankles and rolled him over the edge of the opening.  All was dark below
and for an instant the Englishman came as near to experiencing real
terror as he had ever come in his life before.  As he rolled off into
the black abyss he felt the rope tighten about his ankle and an instant
later he was stopped with a sudden jerk to swing pendulumlike, head
downward.  Then the creature lowered away until Bradley's head came in
sudden and painful contact with the floor below, after which the Wieroo
let loose of the rope entirely and the Englishman's body crashed to the
wooden planking.  He felt the free end of the rope dropped upon him and
heard the grating being slid into place above him.



Chapter 3

Half-stunned, Bradley lay for a minute as he had fallen and then slowly
and painfully wriggled into a less uncomfortable position.  He could
see nothing of his surroundings in the gloom about him until after a
few minutes his eyes became accustomed to the dark interior when he
rolled them from side to side in survey of his prison.

He discovered himself to be in a bare room which was windowless, nor
could he see any other opening than that through which he had been
lowered.  In one corner was a huddled mass that might have been almost
anything from a bundle of rags to a dead body.

Almost immediately after he had taken his bearings Bradley commenced
working with his bonds.  He was a man of powerful physique, and as from
the first he had been imbued with a belief that the fiber ropes were
too weak to hold him, he worked on with a firm conviction that sooner
or later they would part to his strainings.  After a matter of five
minutes he was positive that the strands about his wrists were
beginning to give; but he was compelled to rest then from exhaustion.

As he lay, his eyes rested upon the bundle in the corner, and presently
he could have sworn that the thing moved.  With eyes straining through
the gloom the man lay watching the grim and sinister thing in the
corner.  Perhaps his overwrought nerves were playing a sorry joke upon
him.  He thought of this and also that his condition of utter
helplessness might still further have stimulated his imagination.  He
closed his eyes and sought to relax his muscles and his nerves; but
when he looked again, he knew that he had not been mistaken--the thing
had moved; now it lay in a slightly altered form and farther from the
wall.  It was nearer him.

With renewed strength Bradley strained at his bonds, his fascinated
gaze still glued upon the shapeless bundle.  No longer was there any
doubt that it moved--he saw it rise in the center several inches and
then creep closer to him.  It sank and arose again--a headless,
hideous, monstrous thing of menace.  Its very silence rendered it the
more terrible.

Bradley was a brave man; ordinarily his nerves were of steel; but to be
at the mercy of some unknown and nameless horror, to be unable to
defend himself--it was these things that almost unstrung him, for at
best he was only human.  To stand in the open, even with the odds all
against him; to be able to use his fists, to put up some sort of
defense, to inflict punishment upon his adversary--then he could face
death with a smile.  It was not death that he feared now--it was that
horror of the unknown that is part of the fiber of every son of woman.

Closer and closer came the shapeless mass.  Bradley lay motionless and
listened.  What was that he heard!  Breathing?  He could not be
mistaken--and then from out of the bundle of rags issued a hollow
groan.  Bradley felt his hair rise upon his head.  He struggled with
the slowly parting strands that held him.  The thing beside him rose up
higher than before and the Englishman could have sworn that he saw a
single eye peering at him from among the tumbled cloth.  For a moment
the bundle remained motionless--only the sound of breathing issued from
it, then there broke from it a maniacal laugh.

Cold sweat stood upon Bradley's brow as he tugged for liberation.  He
saw the rags rise higher and higher above him until at last they
tumbled upon the floor from the body of a naked man--a thin, a bony, a
hideous caricature of man, that mouthed and mummed and, wabbling upon
its weak and shaking legs, crumpled to the floor again, still
laughing--laughing horribly.

It crawled toward Bradley.  "Food!  Food!" it screamed.  "There is a
way out! There is a way out!"

Dragging itself to his side the creature slumped upon the Englishman's
breast.  "Food!" it shrilled as with its bony fingers and its teeth, it
sought the man's bare throat.

"Food!  There is a way out!"  Bradley felt teeth upon his jugular.  He
turned and twisted, shaking himself free for an instant; but once more
with hideous persistence the thing fastened itself upon him.  The weak
jaws were unable to send the dull teeth through the victim's flesh; but
Bradley felt it pawing, pawing, pawing, like a monstrous rat, seeking
his life's blood.

The skinny arms now embraced his neck, holding the teeth to his throat
against all his efforts to dislodge the thing.  Weak as it was it had
strength enough for this in its mad efforts to eat.  Mumbling as it
worked, it repeated again and again, "Food!  Food!  There is a way
out!" until Bradley thought those two expressions alone would drive him
mad.

And all but mad he was as with a final effort backed by almost maniacal
strength he tore his wrists from the confining bonds and grasping the
repulsive thing upon his breast hurled it halfway across the room.
Panting like a spent hound Bradley worked at the thongs about his
ankles while the maniac lay quivering and mumbling where it had fallen.
Presently the Englishman leaped to his feet--freer than he had ever
before felt in all his life, though he was still hopelessly a prisoner
in the Blue Place of Seven Skulls.

With his back against the wall for support, so weak the reaction left
him, Bradley stood watching the creature upon the floor.  He saw it
move and slowly raise itself to its hands and knees, where it swayed to
and fro as its eyes roved about in search of him; and when at last they
found him, there broke from the drawn lips the mumbled words:  "Food!
Food!  There is a way out!" The pitiful supplication in the tones
touched the Englishman's heart.  He knew that this could be no Wieroo,
but possibly once a man like himself who had been cast into this pit of
solitary confinement with this hideous result that might in time be his
fate, also.

And then, too, there was the suggestion of hope held out by the
constant reiteration of the phrase, "There is a way out." Was there a
way out?  What did this poor thing know?

"Who are you and how long have you been here?" Bradley suddenly
demanded.

For a moment the man upon the floor made no response, then mumblingly
came the words:  "Food!  Food!"

"Stop!" commanded the Englishman--the injunction might have been barked
from the muzzle of a pistol.  It brought the man to a sitting posture,
his hands off the ground.  He stopped swaying to and fro and appeared
to be startled into an attempt to master his faculties of concentration
and thought.

Bradley repeated his questions sharply.

"I am An-Tak, the Galu," replied the man.  "Luata alone knows how long
I have been here--maybe ten moons, maybe ten moons three times"--it was
the Caspakian equivalent of thirty.  "I was young and strong when they
brought me here.  Now I am old and very weak.  I am cos-ata-lu--that is
why they have not killed me.  If I tell them the secret of becoming
cos-ata-lu they will take me out; but how can I tell them that which
Luata alone knows?

"What is cos-ata-lu?" demanded Bradley.

"Food!  Food!  There is a way out!" mumbled the Galu.

Bradley strode across the floor, seized the man by his shoulders and
shook him.

"Tell me," he cried, "what is cos-ata-lu?"

"Food!" whimpered An-Tak.

Bradley bethought himself.  His haversack had not been taken from him.
In it besides his razor and knife were odds and ends of equipment and a
small quantity of dried meat.  He tossed a small strip of the latter to
the starving Galu.  An-Tak seized upon it and devoured it ravenously.
It instilled new life in the man.

"What is cos-ata-lu?" insisted Bradley again.

An-Tak tried to explain.  His narrative was often broken by lapses of
concentration during which he reverted to his plaintive mumbling for
food and recurrence to the statement that there was a way out; but by
firmness and patience the Englishman drew out piece-meal a more or less
lucid exposition of the remarkable scheme of evolution that rules in
Caspak.  In it he found explanations of the hitherto inexplicable.  He
discovered why he had seen no babes or children among the Caspakian
tribes with which he had come in contact; why each more northerly tribe
evinced a higher state of development than those south of them; why
each tribe included individuals ranging in physical and mental
characteristics from the highest of the next lower race to the lowest
of the next higher, and why the women of each tribe immersed themselves
morning for an hour or more in the warm pools near which the
habitations of their people always were located; and, too, he
discovered why those pools were almost immune from the attacks of
carnivorous animals and reptiles.

He learned that all but those who were cos-ata-lu came up cor-sva-jo,
or from the beginning.  The egg from which they first developed into
tadpole form was deposited, with millions of others, in one of the warm
pools and with it a poisonous serum that the carnivora instinctively
shunned.  Down the warm stream from the pool floated the countless
billions of eggs and tadpoles, developing as they drifted slowly toward
the sea.  Some became tadpoles in the pool, some in the sluggish stream
and some not until they reached the great inland sea.  In the next
stage they became fishes or reptiles, An-Tak was not positive which,
and in this form, always developing, they swam far to the south, where,
amid the rank and teeming jungles, some of them evolved into
amphibians.  Always there were those whose development stopped at the
first stage, others whose development ceased when they became reptiles,
while by far the greater proportion formed the food supply of the
ravenous creatures of the deep.

Few indeed were those that eventually developed into baboons and then
apes, which was considered by Caspakians the real beginning of
evolution.  From the egg, then, the individual developed slowly into a
higher form, just as the frog's egg develops through various stages
from a fish with gills to a frog with lungs.  With that thought in mind
Bradley discovered that it was not difficult to believe in the
possibility of such a scheme--there was nothing new in it.

From the ape the individual, if it survived, slowly developed into the
lowest order of man--the Alu--and then by degrees to Bo-lu, Sto-lu,
Band-lu, Kro-lu and finally Galu.  And in each stage countless millions
of other eggs were deposited in the warm pools of the various races and
floated down to the great sea to go through a similar process of
evolution outside the womb as develops our own young within; but in
Caspak the scheme is much more inclusive, for it combines not only
individual development but the evolution of species and genera.  If an
egg survives it goes through all the stages of development that man has
passed through during the unthinkable eons since life first moved upon
the earth's face.

The final stage--that which the Galus have almost attained and for
which all hope--is cos-ata-lu, which literally, means no-egg-man, or
one who is born directly as are the young of the outer world of
mammals.  Some of the Galus produce cos-ata-lu and cos-ata-lo both; the
Weiroos only cos-ata-lu--in other words all Wieroos are born male, and
so they prey upon the Galus for their women and sometimes capture and
torture the Galu men who are cos-ata-lu in an endeavor to learn the
secret which they believe will give them unlimited power over all other
denizens of Caspak.

No Wieroos come up from the beginning--all are born of the Wieroo
fathers and Galu mothers who are cos-ata-lo, and there are very few of
the latter owing to the long and precarious stages of development.
Seven generations of the same ancestor must come up from the beginning
before a cos-ata-lu child may be born; and when one considers the
frightful dangers that surround the vital spark from the moment it
leaves the warm pool where it has been deposited to float down to the
sea amid the voracious creatures that swarm the surface and the deeps
and the almost equally unthinkable trials of its effort to survive
after it once becomes a land animal and starts northward through the
horrors of the Caspakian jungles and forests, it is plainly a wonder
that even a single babe has ever been born to a Galu woman.

Seven cycles it requires before the seventh Galu can complete the
seventh danger-infested circle since its first Galu ancestor achieved
the state of Galu.  For ages before, the ancestors of this first Galu
may have developed from a Band-lu or Bo-lu egg without ever once
completing the whole circle--that is from a Galu egg, back to a fully
developed Galu.

Bradley's head was whirling before he even commenced to grasp the
complexities of Caspakian evolution; but as the truth slowly filtered
into his understanding--as gradually it became possible for him to
visualize the scheme, it appeared simpler.  In fact, it seemed even
less difficult of comprehension than that with which he was familiar.

For several minutes after An-Tak ceased speaking, his voice having
trailed off weakly into silence, neither spoke again.  Then the Galu
recommenced his, "Food!  Food!  There is a way out!" Bradley tossed him
another bit of dried meat, waiting patiently until he had eaten it,
this time more slowly.

"What do you mean by saying there is a way out?" he asked.

"He who died here just after I came, told me," replied An-Tak.  "He
said there was a way out, that he had discovered it but was too weak to
use his knowledge.  He was trying to tell me how to find it when he
died.  Oh, Luata, if he had lived but a moment more!"

"They do not feed you here?" asked Bradley.

"No, they give me water once a day--that is all."

"But how have you lived, then?"

"The lizards and the rats," replied An-Tak. "The lizards are not so
bad; but the rats are foul to taste.  However, I must eat them or they
would eat me, and they are better than nothing; but of late they do not
come so often, and I have not had a lizard for a long time.  I shall
eat though," he mumbled.  "I shall eat now, for you cannot remain awake
forever."  He laughed, a cackling, dry laugh.  "When you sleep, An-Tak
will eat."

It was horrible.  Bradley shuddered.  For a long time each sat in
silence.  The Englishman could guess why the other made no sound--he
awaited the moment that sleep should overcome his victim.  In the long
silence there was born upon Bradley's ears a faint, monotonous sound as
of running water.  He listened intently.  It seemed to come from far
beneath the floor.

"What is that noise?" he asked.  "That sounds like water running
through a narrow channel."

"It is the river," replied An-Tak.  "Why do you not go to sleep?  It
passes directly beneath the Blue Place of Seven Skulls.  It runs
through the temple grounds, beneath the temple and under the city.
When we die, they will cut off our heads and throw our bodies into the
river.  At the mouth of the river await many large reptiles.  Thus do
they feed.  The Wieroos do likewise with their own dead, keeping only
the skulls and the wings.  Come, let us sleep."

"Do the reptiles come up the river into the city?" asked Bradley.

"The water is too cold--they never leave the warm water of the great
pool," replied An-Tak.

"Let us search for the way out," suggested Bradley.

An-Tak shook his head.  "I have searched for it all these moons," he
said.  "If I could not find it, how would you?"

Bradley made no reply but commenced a diligent examination of the walls
and floor of the room, pressing over each square foot and tapping with
his knuckles.  About six feet from the floor he discovered a
sleeping-perch near one end of the apartment.  He asked An-Tak about
it, but the Galu said that no Weiroo had occupied the place since he
had been incarcerated there.  Again and again Bradley went over the
floor and walls as high up as he could reach.  Finally he swung himself
to the perch, that he might examine at least one end of the room all
the way to the ceiling.

In the center of the wall close to the top, an area about three feet
square gave forth a hollow sound when he rapped upon it.  Bradley felt
over every square inch of that area with the tips of his fingers.  Near
the top he found a small round hole a trifle larger in diameter than
his forefinger, which he immediately stuck into it.  The panel, if such
it was, seemed about an inch thick, and beyond it his finger
encountered nothing.  Bradley crooked his finger upon the opposite side
of the panel and pulled toward him, steadily but with considerable
force.  Suddenly the panel flew inward, nearly precipitating the man to
the floor.  It was hinged at the bottom, and when lowered the outer
edge rested upon the perch, making a little platform parallel with the
floor of the room.

Beyond the opening was an utterly dark void.  The Englishman leaned
through it and reached his arm as far as possible into the blackness
but touched nothing.  Then he fumbled in his haversack for a match, a
few of which remained to him.  When he struck it, An-Tak gave a cry of
terror.  Bradley held the light far into the opening before him and in
its flickering rays saw the top of a ladder descending into a black
abyss below.  How far down it extended he could not guess; but that he
should soon know definitely he was positive.

"You have found it!  You have found the way out!" screamed An-Tak.
"Oh, Luata!  And now I am too weak to go.  Take me with you!  Take me
with you!"

"Shut up!" admonished Bradley.  "You will have the whole flock of birds
around our heads in a minute, and neither of us will escape.  Be quiet,
and I'll go ahead.  If I find a way out, I'll come back and help you,
if you'll promise not to try to eat me up again."

"I promise," cried An-Tak.  "Oh, Luata!  How could you blame me?  I am
half crazed of hunger and long confinement and the horror of the
lizards and the rats and the constant waiting for death."

"I know," said Bradley simply.  "I'm sorry for you, old top.  Keep a
stiff upper lip."  And he slipped through the opening, found the ladder
with his feet, closed the panel behind him, and started downward into
the darkness.

Below him rose more and more distinctly the sound of running water.
The air felt damp and cool.  He could see nothing of his surroundings
and felt nothing but the smooth, worn sides and rungs of the ladder
down which he felt his way cautiously lest a broken rung or a misstep
should hurl him downward.

As he descended thus slowly, the ladder seemed interminable and the pit
bottomless, yet he realized when at last he reached the bottom that he
could not have descended more than fifty feet.  The bottom of the
ladder rested on a narrow ledge paved with what felt like large round
stones, but what he knew from experience to be human skulls.  He could
not but marvel as to where so many countless thousands of the things
had come from, until he paused to consider that the infancy of Caspak
dated doubtlessly back into remote ages, far beyond what the outer
world considered the beginning of earthly time.  For all these eons the
Wieroos might have been collecting human skulls from their enemies and
their own dead--enough to have built an entire city of them.

Feeling his way along the narrow ledge, Bradley came presently to a
blank wall that stretched out over the water swirling beneath him, as
far as he could reach.  Stooping, he groped about with one hand,
reaching down toward the surface of the water, and discovered that the
bottom of the wall arched above the stream.  How much space there was
between the water and the arch he could not tell, nor how deep the
former.  There was only one way in which he might learn these things,
and that was to lower himself into the stream.  For only an instant he
hesitated weighing his chances.  Behind him lay almost certainly the
horrid fate of An-Tak; before him nothing worse than a comparatively
painless death by drowning.  Holding his haversack above his head with
one hand he lowered his feet slowly over the edge of the narrow
platform.  Almost immediately he felt the swirling of cold water about
his ankles, and then with a silent prayer he let himself drop gently
into the stream.

Great was Bradley's relief when he found the water no more than waist
deep and beneath his feet a firm, gravel bottom.  Feeling his way
cautiously he moved downward with the current, which was not so strong
as he had imagined from the noise of the running water.

Beneath the first arch he made his way, following the winding
curvatures of the right-hand wall.  After a few yards of progress his
hand came suddenly in contact with a slimy thing clinging to the
wall--a thing that hissed and scuttled out of reach.  What it was, the
man could not know; but almost instantly there was a splash in the
water just ahead of him and then another.

On he went, passing beneath other arches at varying distances, and
always in utter darkness.  Unseen denizens of this great sewer,
disturbed by the intruder, splashed into the water ahead of him and
wriggled away.  Time and again his hand touched them and never for an
instant could he be sure that at the next step some gruesome thing
might not attack him.  He had strapped his haversack about his neck,
well above the surface of the water, and in his left hand he carried
his knife.  Other precautions there were none to take.

The monotony of the blind trail was increased by the fact that from the
moment he had started from the foot of the ladder he had counted his
every step.  He had promised to return for An-Tak if it proved humanly
possible to do so, and he knew that in the blackness of the tunnel he
could locate the foot of the ladder in no other way.

He had taken two hundred and sixty-nine steps--afterward he knew that
he should never forget that number--when something bumped gently
against him from behind.  Instantly he wheeled about and with knife
ready to defend himself stretched forth his right hand to push away the
object that now had lodged against his body.  His fingers feeling
through the darkness came in contact with something cold and
clammy--they passed to and fro over the thing until Bradley knew that
it was the face of a dead man floating upon the surface of the stream.
With an oath he pushed his gruesome companion out into mid-stream to
float on down toward the great pool and the awaiting scavengers of the
deep.

At his four hundred and thirteenth step another corpse bumped against
him--how many had passed him without touching he could not guess; but
suddenly he experienced the sensation of being surrounded by dead faces
floating along with him, all set in hideous grimaces, their dead eyes
glaring at this profaning alien who dared intrude upon the waters of
this river of the dead--a horrid escort, pregnant with dire forebodings
and with menace.

Though he advanced very slowly, he tried always to take steps of about
the same length; so that he knew that though considerable time had
elapsed, yet he had really advanced no more than four hundred yards
when ahead he saw a lessening of the pitch-darkness, and at the next
turn of the stream his surroundings became vaguely discernible.  Above
him was an arched roof and on either hand walls pierced at intervals by
apertures covered with wooden doors.  Just ahead of him in the roof of
the aqueduct was a round, black hole about thirty inches in diameter.
His eyes still rested upon the opening when there shot downward from it
to the water below the naked body of a human being which almost
immediately rose to the surface again and floated off down the stream.
In the dim light Bradley saw that it was a dead Wieroo from which the
wings and head had been removed.  A moment later another headless body
floated past, recalling what An-Tak had told him of the
skull-collecting customs of the Wieroo.  Bradley wondered how it
happened that the first corpse he had encountered in the stream had not
been similarly mutilated.

The farther he advanced now, the lighter it became.  The number of
corpses was much smaller than he had imagined, only two more passing
him before, at six hundred steps, or about five hundred yards, from the
point he had taken to the stream, he came to the end of the tunnel and
looked out upon sunlit water, running between grassy banks.

One of the last corpses to pass him was still clothed in the white robe
of a Wieroo, blood-stained over the headless neck that it concealed.

Drawing closer to the opening leading into the bright daylight, Bradley
surveyed what lay beyond.  A short distance before him a large building
stood in the center of several acres of grass and tree-covered ground,
spanning the stream which disappeared through an opening in its
foundation wall.  From the large saucer-shaped roof and the vivid
colorings of the various heterogeneous parts of the structure he
recognized it as the temple past which he had been borne to the Blue
Place of Seven Skulls.

To and fro flew Wieroos, going to and from the temple.  Others passed
on foot across the open grounds, assisting themselves with their great
wings, so that they barely skimmed the earth.  To leave the mouth of
the tunnel would have been to court instant discovery and capture; but
by what other avenue he might escape, Bradley could not guess, unless
he retraced his steps up the stream and sought egress from the other
end of the city.  The thought of traversing that dark and horror-ridden
tunnel for perhaps miles he could not entertain--there must be some
other way.  Perhaps after dark he could steal through the temple
grounds and continue on downstream until he had come beyond the city;
and so he stood and waited until his limbs became almost paralyzed with
cold, and he knew that he must find some other plan for escape.

A half-formed decision to risk an attempt to swim under water to the
temple was crystallizing in spite of the fact that any chance Wieroo
flying above the stream might easily see him, when again a floating
object bumped against him from behind and lodged across his back.
Turning quickly he saw that the thing was what he had immediately
guessed it to be--a headless and wingless Wieroo corpse.  With a grunt
of disgust he was about to push it from him when the white garment
enshrouding it suggested a bold plan to his resourceful brain.
Grasping the corpse by an arm he tore the garment from it and then let
the body float downward toward the temple.  With great care he draped
the robe about him; the bloody blotch that had covered the severed neck
he arranged about his own head.  His haversack he rolled as tightly as
possible and stuffed beneath his coat over his breast.  Then he fell
gently to the surface of the stream and lying upon his back floated
downward with the current and out into the open sunlight.

Through the weave of the cloth he could distinguish large objects.  He
saw a Wieroo flap dismally above him; he saw the banks of the stream
float slowly past; he heard a sudden wail upon the right-hand shore,
and his heart stood still lest his ruse had been discovered; but never
by a move of a muscle did he betray that aught but a cold lump of clay
floated there upon the bosom of the water, and soon, though it seemed
an eternity to him, the direct sunlight was blotted out, and he knew
that he had entered beneath the temple.

Quickly he felt for bottom with his feet and as quickly stood erect,
snatching the bloody, clammy cloth from his face.  On both sides were
blank walls and before him the river turned a sharp corner and
disappeared.  Feeling his way cautiously forward he approached the turn
and looked around the corner.  To his left was a low platform about a
foot above the level of the stream, and onto this he lost no time in
climbing, for he was soaked from head to foot, cold and almost
exhausted.

As he lay resting on the skull-paved shelf, he saw in the center of the
vault above the river another of those sinister round holes through
which he momentarily expected to see a headless corpse shoot downward
in its last plunge to a watery grave.  A few feet along the platform a
closed door broke the blankness of the wall.  As he lay looking at it
and wondering what lay behind, his mind filled with fragments of many
wild schemes of escape, it opened and a white robed Wieroo stepped out
upon the platform.  The creature carried a large wooden basin filled
with rubbish.  Its eyes were not upon Bradley, who drew himself to a
squatting position and crouched as far back in the corner of the niche
in which the platform was set as he could force himself.  The Wieroo
stepped to the edge of the platform and dumped the rubbish into the
stream.  If it turned away from him as it started to retrace its steps
to the doorway, there was a small chance that it might not see him; but
if it turned toward him there was none at all.  Bradley held his breath.

The Wieroo paused a moment, gazing down into the water, then it
straightened up and turned toward the Englishman.  Bradley did not
move.  The Wieroo stopped and stared intently at him.  It approached
him questioningly.  Still Bradley remained as though carved of stone.
The creature was directly in front of him.  It stopped.  There was no
chance on earth that it would not discover what he was.

With the quickness of a cat, Bradley sprang to his feet and with all
his great strength, backed by his heavy weight, struck the Wieroo upon
the point of the chin.  Without a sound the thing crumpled to the
platform, while Bradley, acting almost instinctively to the urge of the
first law of nature, rolled the inanimate body over the edge into the
river.

Then he looked at the open doorway, crossed the platform and peered
within the apartment beyond.  What he saw was a large room, dimly
lighted, and about the side rows of wooden vessels stacked one upon
another.  There was no Wieroo in sight, so the Englishman entered.  At
the far end of the room was another door, and as he crossed toward it,
he glanced into some of the vessels, which he found were filled with
dried fruits, vegetables and fish.  Without more ado he stuffed his
pockets and his haversack full, thinking of the poor creature awaiting
his return in the gloom of the Place of Seven Skulls.

When night came, he would return and fetch An-Tak this far at least;
but in the meantime it was his intention to reconnoiter in the hope
that he might discover some easier way out of the city than that
offered by the chill, black channel of the ghastly river of corpses.

Beyond the farther door stretched a long passageway from which closed
doorways led into other parts of the cellars of the temple.  A few
yards from the storeroom a ladder rose from the corridor through an
aperture in the ceiling.  Bradley paused at the foot of it, debating
the wisdom of further investigation against a return to the river; but
strong within him was the spirit of exploration that has scattered his
race to the four corners of the earth.  What new mysteries lay hidden
in the chambers above?  The urge to know was strong upon him though his
better judgment warned him that the safer course lay in retreat.  For a
moment he stood thus, running his fingers through his hair; then he
cast discretion to the winds and began the ascent.

In conformity with such Wieroo architecture as he had already observed,
the well through which the ladder rose continually canted at an angle
from the perpendicular.  At more or less regular stages it was pierced
by apertures closed by doors, none of which he could open until he had
climbed fully fifty feet from the river level.  Here he discovered a
door already ajar opening into a large, circular chamber, the walls and
floors of which were covered with the skins of wild beasts and with
rugs of many colors; but what interested him most was the occupants of
the room--a Wieroo, and a girl of human proportions.  She was standing
with her back against a column which rose from the center of the
apartment from floor to ceiling--a hollow column about forty inches in
diameter in which he could see an opening some thirty inches across.
The girl's side was toward Bradley, and her face averted, for she was
watching the Wieroo, who was now advancing slowly toward her, talking
as he came.

Bradley could distinctly hear the words of the creature, who was urging
the girl to accompany him to another Wieroo city.  "Come with me," he
said, "and you shall have your life; remain here and He Who Speaks for
Luata will claim you for his own; and when he is done with you, your
skull will bleach at the top of a tall staff while your body feeds the
reptiles at the mouth of the River of Death.  Even though you bring
into the world a female Wieroo, your fate will be the same if you do
not escape him, while with me you shall have life and food and none
shall harm you."

He was quite close to the girl when she replied by striking him in the
face with all her strength.  "Until I am slain," she cried, "I shall
fight against you all."  From the throat of the Wieroo issued that
dismal wail that Bradley had heard so often in the past--it was like a
scream of pain smothered to a groan--and then the thing leaped upon the
girl, its face working in hideous grimaces as it clawed and beat at her
to force her to the floor.

The Englishman was upon the point of entering to defend her when a door
at the opposite side of the chamber opened to admit a huge Wieroo
clothed entirely in red.  At sight of the two struggling upon the floor
the newcomer raised his voice in a shriek of rage.  Instantly the
Wieroo who was attacking the girl leaped to his feet and faced the
other.

"I heard," screamed he who had just entered the room.  "I heard, and
when He Who Speaks for Lu-ata shall have heard--" He paused and made a
suggestive movement of a finger across his throat.

"He shall not hear," returned the first Wieroo as, with a powerful
motion of his great wings, he launched himself upon the red-robed
figure.  The latter dodged the first charge, drew a wicked-looking
curved blade from beneath its red robe, spread its wings and dived for
its antagonist.  Beating their wings, wailing and groaning, the two
hideous things sparred for position.  The white-robed one being unarmed
sought to grasp the other by the wrist of its knife-hand and by the
throat, while the latter hopped around on its dainty white feet,
seeking an opening for a mortal blow.  Once it struck and missed, and
then the other rushed in and clinched, at the same time securing both
the holds it sought.  Immediately the two commenced beating at each
other's heads with the joints of their wings, kicking with their soft,
puny feet and biting, each at the other's face.

In the meantime the girl moved about the room, keeping out of the way
of the duelists, and as she did so, Bradley caught a glimpse of her
full face and immediately recognized her as the girl of the place of
the yellow door.  He did not dare intervene now until one of the Wieroo
had overcome the other, lest the two should turn upon him at once, when
the chances were fair that he would be defeated in so unequal a battle
as the curved blade of the red Wieroo would render it, and so he
waited, watching the white-robed figure slowly choking the life from
him of the red robe.  The protruding tongue and the popping eyes
proclaimed that the end was near and a moment later the red robe sank
to the floor of the room, the curved blade slipping from nerveless
fingers.  For an instant longer the victor clung to the throat of his
defeated antagonist and then he rose, dragging the body after him, and
approached the central column.  Here he raised the body and thrust it
into the aperture where Bradley saw it drop suddenly from sight.
Instantly there flashed into his memory the circular openings in the
roof of the river vault and the corpses he had seen drop from them to
the water beneath.

As the body disappeared, the Wieroo turned and cast about the room for
the girl.  For a moment he stood eying her.  "You saw," he muttered,
"and if you tell them, He Who Speaks for Luata will have my wings
severed while still I live and my head will be severed and I shall be
cast into the River of Death, for thus it happens even to the highest
who slay one of the red robe.  You saw, and you must die!" he ended
with a scream as he rushed upon the girl.

Bradley waited no longer.  Leaping into the room he ran for the Wieroo,
who had already seized the girl, and as he ran, he stooped and picked
up the curved blade.  The creature's back was toward him as, with his
left hand, he seized it by the neck.  Like a flash the great wings beat
backward as the creature turned, and Bradley was swept from his feet,
though he still retained his hold upon the blade.  Instantly the Wieroo
was upon him.  Bradley lay slightly raised upon his left elbow, his
right arm free, and as the thing came close, he cut at the hideous face
with all the strength that lay within him.  The blade struck at the
junction of the neck and torso and with such force as to completely
decapitate the Wieroo, the hideous head dropping to the floor and the
body falling forward upon the Englishman.  Pushing it from him he rose
to his feet and faced the wide-eyed girl.

"Luata!" she exclaimed.  "How came you here?"

Bradley shrugged.  "Here I am," he said; "but the thing now is to get
out of here--both of us."

The girl shook her head.  "It cannot be," she stated sadly.

"That is what I thought when they dropped me into the Blue Place of
Seven Skulls," replied Bradley.  "Can't be done.  I did it.--Here!
You're mussing up the floor something awful, you."  This last to the
dead Wieroo as he stooped and dragged the corpse to the central shaft,
where he raised it to the aperture and let it slip into the tube.  Then
he picked up the head and tossed it after the body.  "Don't be so
glum," he admonished the former as he carried it toward the well;
"smile!"

"But how can he smile?" questioned the girl, a half-puzzled,
half-frightened look upon her face.  "He is dead."

"That's so," admitted Bradley, "and I suppose he does feel a bit cut up
about it."

The girl shook her head and edged away from the man--toward the door.

"Come!" said the Englishman.  "We've got to get out of here.  If you
don't know a better way than the river, it's the river then."

The girl still eyed him askance.  "But how could he smile when he was
dead?"

Bradley laughed aloud.  "I thought we English were supposed to have the
least sense of humor of any people in the world," he cried; "but now
I've found one human being who hasn't any.  Of course you don't know
half I'm saying; but don't worry, little girl; I'm not going to hurt
you, and if I can get you out of here, I'll do it."

Even if she did not understand all he said, she at least read something
in his smiling, countenance--something which reassured her.  "I do not
fear you," she said; "though I do not understand all that you say even
though you speak my own tongue and use words that I know.  But as for
escaping"--she sighed--"alas, how can it be done?"

"I escaped from the Blue Place of Seven Skulls," Bradley reminded her.
"Come!"  And he turned toward the shaft and the ladder that he had
ascended from the river.  "We cannot waste time here."

The girl followed him; but at the doorway both drew back, for from
below came the sound of some one ascending.

Bradley tiptoed to the door and peered cautiously into the well; then
he stepped back beside the girl.  "There are half a dozen of them
coming up; but possibly they will pass this room."

"No," she said, "they will pass directly through this room--they are on
their way to Him Who Speaks for Luata.  We may be able to hide in the
next room--there are skins there beneath which we may crawl.  They will
not stop in that room; but they may stop in this one for a short
time--the other room is blue."

"What's that go to do with it?" demanded the Englishman.

"They fear blue," she replied.  "In every room where murder has been
done you will find blue--a certain amount for each murder.  When the
room is all blue, they shun it.  This room has much blue; but evidently
they kill mostly in the next room, which is now all blue."

"But there is blue on the outside of every house I have seen," said
Bradley.

"Yes," assented the girl, "and there are blue rooms in each of those
houses--when all the rooms are blue then the whole outside of the house
will be blue as is the Blue Place of Seven Skulls.  There are many such
here."

"And the skulls with blue upon them?" inquired Bradley.  "Did they
belong to murderers?"

"They were murdered--some of them; those with only a small amount of
blue were murderers--known murderers.  All Wieroos are murderers.  When
they have committed a certain number of murders without being caught at
it, they confess to Him Who Speaks for Luata and are advanced, after
which they wear robes with a slash of some color--I think yellow comes
first.  When they reach a point where the entire robe is of yellow,
they discard it for a white robe with a red slash; and when one wins a
complete red robe, he carries such a long, curved knife as you have in
your hand; after that comes the blue slash on a white robe, and then, I
suppose, an all blue robe.  I have never seen such a one."

As they talked in low tones they had moved from the room of the death
shaft into an all blue room adjoining, where they sat down together in
a corner with their backs against a wall and drew a pile of hides over
themselves.  A moment later they heard a number of Wieroos enter the
chamber.  They were talking together as they crossed the floor, or the
two could not have heard them.  Halfway across the chamber they halted
as the door toward which they were advancing opened and a dozen others
of their kind entered the apartment.

Bradley could guess all this by the increased volume of sound and the
dismal greetings; but the sudden silence that almost immediately ensued
he could not fathom, for he could not know that from beneath one of the
hides that covered him protruded one of his heavy army shoes, or that
some eighteen large Wieroos with robes either solid red or slashed with
red or blue were standing gazing at it.  Nor could he hear their
stealthy approach.

The first intimation he had that he had been discovered was when his
foot was suddenly seized, and he was yanked violently from beneath the
hides to find himself surrounded by menacing blades.  They would have
slain him on the spot had not one clothed all in red held them back,
saying that He Who Speaks for Luata desired to see this strange
creature.

As they led Bradley away, he caught an opportunity to glance back
toward the hides to see what had become of the girl, and, to his
gratification, he discovered that she still lay concealed beneath the
hides.  He wondered if she would have the nerve to attempt the river
trip alone and regretted that now he could not accompany her.  He felt
rather all in, himself, more so than he had at any time since he had
been captured by the Wieroo, for there appeared not the slightest cause
for hope in his present predicament.  He had dropped the curved blade
beneath the hides when he had been jerked so violently from their
fancied security.  It was almost in a spirit of resigned hopelessness
that he quietly accompanied his captors through various chambers and
corridors toward the heart of the temple.



Chapter 4

The farther the group progressed, the more barbaric and the more
sumptuous became the decorations.  Hides of leopard and tiger
predominated, apparently because of their more beautiful markings, and
decorative skulls became more and more numerous.  Many of the latter
were mounted in precious metals and set with colored stones and
priceless gems, while thick upon the hides that covered the walls were
golden ornaments similar to those worn by the girl and those which had
filled the chests he had examined in the storeroom of Fosh-bal-soj,
leading the Englishman to the conviction that all such were spoils of
war or theft, since each piece seemed made for personal adornment,
while in so far as he had seen, no Wieroo wore ornaments of any sort.

And also as they advanced the more numerous became the Wieroos moving
hither and thither within the temple.  Many now were the solid red
robes and those that were slashed with blue--a veritable hive of
murderers.

At last the party halted in a room in which were many Wieroos who
gathered about Bradley questioning his captors and examining him and
his apparel.  One of the party accompanying the Englishman spoke to a
Wieroo that stood beside a door leading from the room.  "Tell Him Who
Speaks for Luata," he said, "that Fosh-bal-soj we could not find; but
that in returning we found this creature within the temple, hiding.  It
must be the same that Fosh-bal-soj captured in the Sto-lu country
during the last darkness.  Doubtless He Who Speaks for Luata would wish
to see and question this strange thing."

The creature addressed turned and slipped through the doorway, closing
the door after it, but first depositing its curved blade upon the floor
without.  Its post was immediately taken by another and Bradley now saw
that at least twenty such guards loitered in the immediate vicinity.
The doorkeeper was gone but for a moment, and when he returned, he
signified that Bradley's party was to enter the next chamber; but first
each of the Wieroos removed his curved weapon and laid it upon the
floor.  The door was swung open, and the party, now reduced to Bradley
and five Wieroos, was ushered across the threshold into a large,
irregularly shaped room in which a single, giant Wieroo whose robe was
solid blue sat upon a raised dais.

The creature's face was white with the whiteness of a corpse, its dead
eyes entirely expressionless, its cruel, thin lips tight-drawn against
yellow teeth in a perpetual grimace.  Upon either side of it lay an
enormous, curved sword, similar to those with which some of the other
Wieroos had been armed, but larger and heavier.  Constantly its
clawlike fingers played with one or the other of these weapons.

The walls of the chamber as well as the floor were entirely hidden by
skins and woven fabrics.  Blue predominated in all the colorations.
Fastened against the hides were many pairs of Wieroo wings, mounted so
that they resembled long, black shields.  Upon the ceiling were painted
in blue characters a bewildering series of hieroglyphics and upon
pedestals set against the walls or standing out well within the room
were many human skulls.

As the Wieroos approached the figure upon the dais, they leaned far
forward, raising their wings above their heads and stretching their
necks as though offering them to the sharp swords of the grim and
hideous creature.

"O Thou Who Speakest for Luata!" exclaimed one of the party.  "We bring
you the strange creature that Fosh-bal-soj captured and brought thither
at thy command."

So this then was the godlike figure that spoke for divinity!  This
arch-murderer was the Caspakian representative of God on Earth!  His
blue robe announced him the one and the seeming humility of his minions
the other.  For a long minute he glared at Bradley.  Then he began to
question him--from whence he came and how, the name and description of
his native country, and a hundred other queries.

"Are you cos-ata-lu?" the creature asked.

Bradley replied that he was and that all his kind were, as well as
every living thing in his part of the world.

"Can you tell me the secret?" asked the creature.

Bradley hesitated and then, thinking to gain time, replied in the
affirmative.

"What is it?" demanded the Wieroo, leaning far forward and exhibiting
every evidence of excited interest.

Bradley leaned forward and whispered:  "It is for your ears alone; I
will not divulge it to others, and then only on condition that you
carry me and the girl I saw in the place of the yellow door near to
that of Fosh-bal-soj back to her own country."

The thing rose in wrath, holding one of its swords above its head.

"Who are you to make terms for Him Who Speaks for Luata?" it shrilled.
"Tell me the secret or die where you stand!"

"And if I die now, the secret goes with me," Bradley reminded him.
"Never again will you get the opportunity to question another of my
kind who knows the secret."  Anything to gain time, to get the rest of
the Wieroos from the room, that he might plan some scheme for escape
and put it into effect.

The creature turned upon the leader of the party that had brought
Bradley.

"Is the thing with weapons?" it asked.

"No," was the response.

"Then go; but tell the guard to remain close by," commanded the high
one.

The Wieroos salaamed and withdrew, closing the door behind them.  He
Who Speaks for Luata grasped a sword nervously in his right hand.  At
his left side lay the second weapon.  It was evident that he lived in
constant dread of being assassinated.  The fact that he permitted none
with weapons within his presence and that he always kept two swords at
his side pointed to this.

Bradley was racking his brain to find some suggestion of a plan whereby
he might turn the situation to his own account.  His eyes wandered past
the weird figure before him; they played about the walls of the
apartment as though hoping to draw inspiration from the dead skulls and
the hides and the wings, and then they came back to the face of the
Wieroo god, now working in anger.

"Quick!" screamed the thing.  "The secret!"

"Will you give me and the girl our freedom?" insisted Bradley.

For an instant the thing hesitated, and then it grumbled "Yes." At the
same instant Bradley saw two hides upon the wall directly back of the
dais separate and a face appear in the opening.  No change of
expression upon the Englishman's countenance betrayed that he had seen
aught to surprise him, though surprised he was for the face in the
aperture was that of the girl he had but just left hidden beneath the
hides in another chamber.  A white and shapely arm now pushed past the
face into the room, and in the hand, tightly clutched, was the curved
blade, smeared with blood, that Bradley had dropped beneath the hides
at the moment he had been discovered and drawn from his concealment.

"Listen, then," said Bradley in a low voice to the Wieroo.  "You shall
know the secret of cos-ata-lu as well as do I; but none other may hear
it.  Lean close--I will whisper it into your ear."

He moved forward and stepped upon the dais.  The creature raised its
sword ready to strike at the first indication of treachery, and Bradley
stooped beneath the blade and put his ear close to the gruesome face.
As he did so, he rested his weight upon his hands, one upon either side
of the Wieroo's body, his right hand upon the hilt of the spare sword
lying at the left of Him Who Speaks for Luata.

"This then is the secret of both life and death," he whispered, and at
the same instant he grasped the Wieroo by the right wrist and with his
own right hand swung the extra blade in a sudden vicious blow against
the creature's neck before the thing could give even a single cry of
alarm; then without waiting an instant Bradley leaped past the dead god
and vanished behind the hides that had hidden the girl.

Wide-eyed and panting the girl seized his arm.  "Oh, what have you
done?" she cried.  "He Who Speaks for Luata will be avenged by Luata.
Now indeed must you die.  There is no escape, for even though we
reached my own country Luata can find you out."

"Bosh!" exclaimed Bradley, and then:  "But you were going to knife him
yourself."

"Then I alone should have died," she replied.

Bradley scratched his head.  "Neither of us is going to die," he said;
"at least not at the hands of any god.  If we don't get out of here
though, we'll die right enough.  Can you find your way back to the room
where I first came upon you in the temple?"

"I know the way," replied the girl; "but I doubt if we can go back
without being seen.  I came hither because I only met Wieroos who knew
that I am supposed now to be in the temple; but you could go elsewhere
without being discovered."

Bradley's ingenuity had come up against a stone wall.  There seemed no
possibility of escape.  He looked about him.  They were in a small room
where lay a litter of rubbish--torn bits of cloth, old hides, pieces of
fiber rope.  In the center of the room was a cylindrical shaft with an
opening in its face.  Bradley knew it for what it was.  Here the
arch-fiend dragged his victims and cast their bodies into the river of
death far below.  The floor about the opening in the shaft and the
sides of the shaft were clotted thick with a dried, dark brown
substance that the Englishman knew had once been blood.  The place had
the appearance of having been a veritable shambles.  An odor of
decaying flesh permeated the air.

The Englishman crossed to the shaft and peered into the opening.  All
below was dark as pitch; but at the bottom he knew was the river.
Suddenly an inspiration and a bold scheme leaped to his mind.  Turning
quickly he hunted about the room until he found what he sought--a
quantity of the rope that lay strewn here and there.  With rapid
fingers he unsnarled the different lengths, the girl helping him, and
then he tied the ends together until he had three ropes about
seventy-five feet in length.  He fastened these together at each end
and without a word secured one of the ends about the girl's body
beneath her arms.

"Don't be frightened," he said at length, as he led her toward the
opening in the shaft.  "I'm going to lower you to the river, and then
I'm coming down after you.  When you are safe below, give two quick
jerks upon the rope.  If there is danger there and you want me to draw
you up into the shaft, jerk once.  Don't be afraid--it is the only way."

"I am not afraid," replied the girl, rather haughtily Bradley thought,
and herself climbed through the aperture and hung by her hands waiting
for Bradley to lower her.

As rapidly as was consistent with safety, the man paid out the rope.
When it was about half out, he heard loud cries and wails suddenly
arise within the room they had just quitted.  The slaying of their god
had been discovered by the Wieroos.  A search for the slayer would
begin at once.

Lord!  Would the girl never reach the river?  At last, just as he was
positive that searchers were already entering the room behind him,
there came two quick tugs at the rope.  Instantly Bradley made the rest
of the strands fast about the shaft, slipped into the black tube and
began a hurried descent toward the river.  An instant later he stood
waist deep in water beside the girl.  Impulsively she reached toward
him and grasped his arm.  A strange thrill ran through him at the
contact; but he only cut the rope from about her body and lifted her to
the little shelf at the river's side.

"How can we leave here?" she asked.

"By the river," he replied; "but first I must go back to the Blue Place
of Seven Skulls and get the poor devil I left there.  I'll have to wait
until after dark, though, as I cannot pass through the open stretch of
river in the temple gardens by day."

"There is another way," said the girl.  "I have never seen it; but
often I have heard them speak of it--a corridor that runs beside the
river from one end of the city to the other.  Through the gardens it is
below ground.  If we could find an entrance to it, we could leave here
at once.  It is not safe here, for they will search every inch of the
temple and the grounds."

"Come," said Bradley.  "We'll have a look for it, anyway." And so
saying he approached one of the doors that opened onto the skull-paved
shelf.

They found the corridor easily, for it paralleled the river, separated
from it only by a single wall.  It took them beneath the gardens and
the city, always through inky darkness.  After they had reached the
other side of the gardens, Bradley counted his steps until he had
retraced as many as he had taken coming down the stream; but though
they had to grope their way along, it was a much more rapid trip than
the former.

When he thought he was about opposite the point at which he had
descended from the Blue Place of Seven Skulls, he sought and found a
doorway leading out onto the river; and then, still in the blackest
darkness, he lowered himself into the stream and felt up and down upon
the opposite side for the little shelf and the ladder.  Ten yards from
where he had emerged he found them, while the girl waited upon the
opposite side.

To ascend to the secret panel was the work of but a minute.  Here he
paused and listened lest a Wieroo might be visiting the prison in
search of him or the other inmate; but no sound came from the gloomy
interior.  Bradley could not but muse upon the joy of the man on the
opposite side when he should drop down to him with food and a new hope
for escape.  Then he opened the panel and looked into the room.  The
faint light from the grating above revealed the pile of rags in one
corner; but the man lay beneath them, he made no response to Bradley's
low greeting.

The Englishman lowered himself to the floor of the room and approached
the rags.  Stooping he lifted a corner of them.  Yes, there was the man
asleep.  Bradley shook him--there was no response.  He stooped lower
and in the dim light examined An-Tak; then he stood up with a sigh.  A
rat leaped from beneath the coverings and scurried away.  "Poor devil!"
muttered Bradley.

He crossed the room to swing himself to the perch preparatory to
quitting the Blue Place of Seven Skulls forever.  Beneath the perch he
paused.  "I'll not give them the satisfaction," he growled.  "Let them
believe that he escaped."

Returning to the pile of rags he gathered the man into his arms.  It
was difficult work raising him to the high perch and dragging him
through the small opening and thus down the ladder; but presently it
was done, and Bradley had lowered the body into the river and cast it
off.  "Good-bye, old top!" he whispered.

A moment later he had rejoined the girl and hand in hand they were
following the dark corridor upstream toward the farther end of the
city.  She told him that the Wieroos seldom frequented these lower
passages, as the air here was too chill for them; but occasionally they
came, and as they could see quite as well by night as by day, they
would be sure to discover Bradley and the girl.

"If they come close enough," she said, "we can see their eyes shining
in the dark--they resemble dull splotches of light.  They glow, but do
not blaze like the eyes of the tiger or the lion."

The man could not but note the very evident horror with which she
mentioned the creatures.  To him they were uncanny; but she had been
used to them for a year almost, and probably all her life she had
either seen or heard of them constantly.

"Why do you fear them so?" he asked.  "It seems more than any ordinary
fear of the harm they can do you."

She tried to explain; but the nearest he could gather was that she
looked upon the Wieroo almost as supernatural beings.  "There is a
legend current among my people that once the Wieroo were unlike us only
in that they possessed rudimentary wings.  They lived in villages in
the Galu country, and while the two peoples often warred, they held no
hatred for one another.  In those days each race came up from the
beginning and there was great rivalry as to which was the higher in the
scale of evolution.  The Wieroo developed the first cos-ata-lu but they
were always male--never could they reproduce woman.  Slowly they
commenced to develop certain attributes of the mind which, they
considered, placed them upon a still higher level and which gave them
many advantages over us, seeing which they thought only of mental
development--their minds became like stars and the rivers, moving
always in the same manner, never varying.  They called this tas-ad,
which means doing everything the right way, or, in other words, the
Wieroo way.  If foe or friend, right or wrong, stood in the way of
tas-ad, then it must be crushed.

"Soon the Galus and the lesser races of men came to hate and fear them.
It was then that the Wieroos decided to carry tas-ad into every part of
the world.  They were very warlike and very numerous, although they had
long since adopted the policy of slaying all those among them whose
wings did not show advanced development.

"It took ages for all this to happen--very slowly came the different
changes; but at last the Wieroos had wings they could use.  But by
reason of always making war upon their neighbors they were hated by
every creature of Caspak, for no one wanted their tas-ad, and so they
used their wings to fly to this island when the other races turned
against them and threatened to kill them all.  So cruel had they become
and so bloodthirsty that they no longer had hearts that beat with love
or sympathy; but their very cruelty and wickedness kept them from
conquering the other races, since they were also cruel and wicked to
one another, so that no Wieroo trusted another.

"Always were they slaying those above them that they might rise in
power and possessions, until at last came the more powerful than the
others with a tas-ad all his own.  He gathered about him a few of the
most terrible Wieroos, and among them they made laws which took from
all but these few Wieroos every weapon they possessed.

"Now their tas-ad has reached a high plane among them.  They make many
wonderful things that we cannot make.  They think great thoughts, no
doubt, and still dream of greatness to come, but their thoughts and
their acts are regulated by ages of custom--they are all alike--and
they are most unhappy."

As the girl talked, the two moved steadily along the dark passageway
beside the river.  They had advanced a considerable distance when there
sounded faintly from far ahead the muffled roar of falling water, which
increased in volume as they moved forward until at last it filled the
corridor with a deafening sound.  Then the corridor ended in a blank
wall; but in a niche to the right was a ladder leading aloft, and to
the left was a door opening onto the river.  Bradley tried the latter
first and as he opened it, felt a heavy spray against his face. The
little shelf outside the doorway was wet and slippery, the roaring of
the water tremendous.  There could be but one explanation--they had
reached a waterfall in the river, and if the corridor actually
terminated here, their escape was effectually cut off, since it was
quite evidently impossible to follow the bed of the river and ascend
the falls.

As the ladder was the only alternative, the two turned toward it and,
the man first, began the ascent, which was through a well similar to
that which had led him to the upper floors of the temple.  As he
climbed, Bradley felt for openings in the sides of the shaft; but he
discovered none below fifty feet.  The first he came to was ajar,
letting a faint light into the well.  As he paused, the girl climbed to
his side, and together they looked through the crack into a low-ceiled
chamber in which were several Galu women and an equal number of hideous
little replicas of the full-grown Wieroos with which Bradley was not
quite familiar.

He could feel the body of the girl pressed close to his tremble as her
eyes rested upon the inmates of the room, and involuntarily his arm
encircled her shoulders as though to protect her from some danger which
he sensed without recognizing.

"Poor things," she whispered.  "This is their horrible fate--to be
imprisoned here beneath the surface of the city with their hideous
offspring whom they hate as they hate their fathers.  A Wieroo keeps
his children thus hidden until they are full-grown lest they be
murdered by their fellows.  The lower rooms of the city are filled with
many such as these."

Several feet above was a second door beyond which they found a small
room stored with food in wooden vessels.  A grated window in one wall
opened above an alley, and through it they could see that they were
just below the roof of the building.  Darkness was coming, and at
Bradley's suggestion they decided to remain hidden here until after
dark and then to ascend to the roof and reconnoiter.

Shortly after they had settled themselves they heard something
descending the ladder from above.  They hoped that it would continue on
down the well and fairly held their breath as the sound approached the
door to the storeroom.  Their hearts sank as they heard the door open
and from between cracks in the vessels behind which they hid saw a
yellow-slashed Wieroo enter the room.  Each recognized him immediately,
the girl indicating the fact of her own recognition by a sudden
pressure of her fingers on Bradley's arm.  It was the Wieroo of the
yellow slashing whose abode was the place of the yellow door in which
Bradley had first seen the girl.

The creature carried a wooden bowl which it filled with dried food from
several of the vessels; then it turned and quit the room.  Bradley
could see through the partially open doorway that it descended the
ladder.  The girl told him that it was taking the food to the women and
the young below, and that while it might return immediately, the
chances were that it would remain for some time.

"We are just below the place of the yellow door," she said.  "It is far
from the edge of the city; so far that we may not hope to escape if we
ascend to the roofs here."

"I think," replied the man, "that of all the places in Oo-oh this will
be the easiest to escape from.  Anyway, I want to return to the place
of the yellow door and get my pistol if it is there."

"It is still there," replied, the girl.  "I saw it placed in a chest
where he keeps the things he takes from his prisoners and victims."

"Good!" exclaimed Bradley.  "Now come, quickly."  And the two crossed
the room to the well and ascended the ladder a short distance to its
top where they found another door that opened into a vacant room--the
same in which Bradley had first met the girl.  To find the pistol was a
matter of but a moment's search on the part of Bradley's companion; and
then, at the Englishman's signal, she followed him to the yellow door.

It was quite dark without as the two entered the narrow passage between
two buildings.  A few steps brought them undiscovered to the doorway of
the storeroom where lay the body of Fosh-bal-soj.  In the distance,
toward the temple, they could hear sounds as of a great gathering of
Wieroos--the peculiar, uncanny wailing rising above the dismal flapping
of countless wings.

"They have heard of the killing of Him Who Speaks for Luata," whispered
the girl.  "Soon they will spread in all directions searching for us."

"And will they find us?"

"As surely as Lua gives light by day," she replied; "and when they find
us, they will tear us to pieces, for only the Wieroos may murder--only
they may practice tas-ad."

"But they will not kill you," said Bradley.  "You did not slay him."

"It will make no difference," she insisted.  "If they find us together
they will slay us both."

"Then they won't find us together," announced Bradley decisively.  "You
stay right here--you won't be any worse off than before I came--and
I'll get as far as I can and account for as many of the beggars as
possible before they get me.  Good-bye!  You're a mighty decent little
girl.  I wish that I might have helped you."

"No," she cried.  "Do not leave me.  I would rather die.  I had hoped
and hoped to find some way to return to my own country.  I wanted to go
back to An-Tak, who must be very lonely without me; but I know that it
can never be.  It is difficult to kill hope, though mine is nearly
dead.  Do not leave me."

"An-Tak!" Bradley repeated.  "You loved a man called An-Tak?"

"Yes," replied the girl.  "An-Tak was away, hunting, when the Wieroo
caught me.  How he must have grieved for me!  He also was cos-ata-lu,
twelve moons older than I, and all our lives we have been together."

Bradley remained silent.  So she loved An-Tak.  He hadn't the heart to
tell her that An-Tak had died, or how.

At the door of Fosh-bal-soj's storeroom they halted to listen.  No
sound came from within, and gently Bradley pushed open the door.  All
was inky darkness as they entered; but presently their eyes became
accustomed to the gloom that was partially relieved by the soft
starlight without.  The Englishman searched and found those things for
which he had come--two robes, two pairs of dead wings and several
lengths of fiber rope.  One pair of the wings he adjusted to the girl's
shoulders by means of the rope.  Then he draped the robe about her,
carrying the cowl over her head.

He heard her gasp of astonishment when she realized the ingenuity and
boldness of his plan; then he directed her to adjust the other pair of
wings and the robe upon him.  Working with strong, deft fingers she
soon had the work completed, and the two stepped out upon the roof, to
all intent and purpose genuine Wieroos.  Besides his pistol Bradley
carried the sword of the slain Wieroo prophet, while the girl was armed
with the small blade of the red Wieroo.

Side by side they walked slowly across the roofs toward the north edge
of the city.  Wieroos flapped above them and several times they passed
others walking or sitting upon the roofs.  From the temple still rose
the sounds of commotion, now pierced by occasional shrill screams.

"The murderers are abroad," whispered the girl.  "Thus will another
become the tongue of Luata.  It is well for us, since it keeps them too
busy to give the time for searching for us.  They think that we cannot
escape the city, and they know that we cannot leave the island--and so
do I."

Bradley shook his head.  "If there is any way, we will find it," he
said.

"There is no way," replied the girl.

Bradley made no response, and in silence they continued until the outer
edge of roofs was visible before them.  "We are almost there," he
whispered.

The girl felt for his fingers and pressed them.  He could feel hers
trembling as he returned the pressure, nor did he relinquish her hand;
and thus they came to the edge of the last roof.

Here they halted and looked about them.  To be seen attempting to
descend to the ground below would be to betray the fact that they were
not Wieroos.  Bradley wished that their wings were attached to their
bodies by sinew and muscle rather than by ropes of fiber.  A Wieroo was
flapping far overhead.  Two more stood near a door a few yards distant.
Standing between these and one of the outer pedestals that supported
one of the numerous skulls Bradley made one end of a piece of rope fast
about the pedestal and dropped the other end to the ground outside the
city.  Then they waited.

It was an hour before the coast was entirely clear and then a moment
came when no Wieroo was in sight.  "Now!" whispered Bradley; and the
girl grasped the rope and slid over the edge of the roof into the
darkness below.  A moment later Bradley felt two quick pulls upon the
rope and immediately followed to the girl's side.

Across a narrow clearing they made their way and into a wood beyond.
All night they walked, following the river upward toward its source,
and at dawn they took shelter in a thicket beside the stream.  At no
time did they hear the cry of a carnivore, and though many startled
animals fled as they approached, they were not once menaced by a wild
beast.  When Bradley expressed surprise at the absence of the fiercest
beasts that are so numerous upon the mainland of Caprona, the girl
explained the reason that is contained in one of their ancient legends.

"When the Wieroos first developed wings upon which they could fly, they
found this island devoid of any life other than a few reptiles that
live either upon land or in the water and these only close to the
coast.  Requiring meat for food the Wieroos carried to the island such
animals as they wished for that purpose.  They still occasionally bring
them, and this with the natural increase keeps them provided with
flesh."

"As it will us," suggested Bradley.

The first day they remained in hiding, eating only the dried food that
Bradley had brought with him from the temple storeroom, and the next
night they set out again up the river, continuing steadily on until
almost dawn, when they came to low hills where the river wound through
a gorge--it was little more than rivulet now, the water clear and cold
and filled with fish similar to brook trout though much larger.  Not
wishing to leave the stream the two waded along its bed to a spot where
the gorge widened between perpendicular bluffs to a wooded acre of
level land.  Here they stopped, for here also the stream ended.  They
had reached its source--many cold springs bubbling up from the center
of a little natural amphitheater in the hills and forming a clear and
beautiful pool overshadowed by trees upon one side and bounded by a
little clearing upon the other.

With the coming of the sun they saw they had stumbled upon a place
where they might remain hidden from the Wieroos for a long time and
also one that they could defend against these winged creatures, since
the trees would shield them from an attack from above and also hamper
the movements of the creatures should they attempt to follow them into
the wood.

For three days they rested here before trying to explore the
neighboring country.  On the fourth, Bradley stated that he was going
to scale the bluffs and learn what lay beyond.  He told the girl that
she should remain in hiding; but she refused to be left, saying that
whatever fate was to be his, she intended to share it, so that he was
at last forced to permit her to come with him.  Through woods at the
summit of the bluff they made their way toward the north and had gone
but a short distance when the wood ended and before them they saw the
waters of the inland sea and dimly in the distance the coveted shore.

The beach lay some two hundred yards from the foot of the hill on which
they stood, nor was there a tree nor any other form of shelter between
them and the water as far up and down the coast as they could see.
Among other plans Bradley had thought of constructing a covered raft
upon which they might drift to the mainland; but as such a contrivance
would necessarily be of considerable weight, it must be built in the
water of the sea, since they could not hope to move it even a short
distance overland.

"If this wood was only at the edge of the water," he sighed.

"But it is not," the girl reminded him, and then:  "Let us make the
best of it.  We have escaped from death for a time at least.  We have
food and good water and peace and each other.  What more could we have
upon the mainland?"

"But I thought you wanted to get back to your own country!" he
exclaimed.

She cast her eyes upon the ground and half turned away.  "I do," she
said, "yet I am happy here.  I could be little happier there."

Bradley stood in silent thought.  "`We have food and good water and
peace and each other!'" he repeated to himself.  He turned then and
looked at the girl, and it was as though in the days that they had been
together this was the first time that he had really seen her.  The
circumstances that had thrown them together, the dangers through which
they had passed, all the weird and horrible surroundings that had
formed the background of his knowledge of her had had their effect--she
had been but the companion of an adventure; her self-reliance, her
endurance, her loyalty, had been only what one man might expect of
another, and he saw that he had unconsciously assumed an attitude
toward her that he might have assumed toward a man.  Yet there had been
a difference--he recalled now the strange sensation of elation that had
thrilled him upon the occasions when the girl had pressed his hand in
hers, and the depression that had followed her announcement of her love
for An-Tak.

He took a step toward her.  A fierce yearning to seize her and crush
her in his arms, swept over him, and then there flashed upon the screen
of recollection the picture of a stately hall set amidst broad gardens
and ancient trees and of a proud old man with beetling brows--an old
man who held his head very high--and Bradley shook his head and turned
away again.

They went back then to their little acre, and the days came and went,
and the man fashioned spear and bow and arrows and hunted with them
that they might have meat, and he made hooks of fishbone and caught
fishes with wondrous flies of his own invention; and the girl gathered
fruits and cooked the flesh and the fish and made beds of branches and
soft grasses.  She cured the hides of the animals he killed and made
them soft by much pounding.  She made sandals for herself and for the
man and fashioned a hide after the manner of those worn by the warriors
of her tribe and made the man wear it, for his own garments were in
rags.

She was always the same--sweet and kind and helpful--but always there
was about her manner and her expression just a trace of wistfulness,
and often she sat and looked at the man when he did not know it, her
brows puckered in thought as though she were trying to fathom and to
understand him.

In the face of the cliff, Bradley scooped a cave from the rotted
granite of which the hill was composed, making a shelter for them
against the rains.  He brought wood for their cook-fire which they used
only in the middle of the day--a time when there was little likelihood
of Wieroos being in the air so far from their city--and then he learned
to bank it with earth in such a way that the embers held until the
following noon without giving off smoke.

Always he was planning on reaching the mainland, and never a day passed
that he did not go to the top of the hill and look out across the sea
toward the dark, distant line that meant for him comparative freedom
and possibly reunion with his comrades.  The girl always went with him,
standing at his side and watching the stern expression on his face with
just a tinge of sadness on her own.

"You are not happy," she said once.

"I should be over there with my men," he replied.  "I do not know what
may have happened to them."

"I  want you to be happy," she said quite simply; "but I should be very
lonely if you went away and left me here."

He put his hand on her shoulder.  "I would not do that, little girl,"
he said gently.  "If you cannot go with me, I shall not go.  If either
of us must go alone, it will be you."

Her face lighted to a wondrous smile.  "Then we shall not be
separated," she said, "for I shall never leave you as long as we both
live."

He looked down into her face for a moment and then:  "Who was An-Tak?"
he asked.

"My brother," she replied.  "Why?"

And then, even less than before, could he tell her.  It was then that
he did something he had never done before--he put his arms about her
and stooping, kissed her forehead.  "Until you find An-Tak," he said,
"I will be your brother."

She drew away.  "I already have a brother," she said, "and I do not
want another."



Chapter 5

Days became weeks, and weeks became months, and the months followed one
another in a lazy procession of hot, humid days and warm, humid nights.
The fugitives saw never a Wieroo by day though often at night they
heard the melancholy flapping of giant wings far above them.

Each day was much like its predecessor.  Bradley splashed about for a
few minutes in the cold pool early each morning and after a time the
girl tried it and liked it.  Toward the center it was deep enough for
swimming, and so he taught her to swim--she was probably the first
human being in all Caspak's long ages who had done this thing.  And
then while she prepared breakfast, the man shaved--this he never
neglected.  At first it was a source of wonderment to the girl, for the
Galu men are beardless.

When they needed meat, he hunted, otherwise he busied himself in
improving their shelter, making new and better weapons, perfecting his
knowledge of the girl's language and teaching her to speak and to write
English--anything that would keep them both occupied.  He still sought
new plans for escape, but with ever-lessening enthusiasm, since each
new scheme presented some insurmountable obstacle.

And then one day as a bolt out of a clear sky came that which blasted
the peace and security of their sanctuary forever.  Bradley was just
emerging from the water after his morning plunge when from overhead
came the sound of flapping wings.  Glancing quickly up the man saw a
white-robed Wieroo circling slowly above him.  That he had been
discovered he could not doubt since the creature even dropped to a
lower altitude as though to assure itself that what it saw was a man.
Then it rose rapidly and winged away toward the city.

For two days Bradley and the girl lived in a constant state of
apprehension, awaiting the moment when the hunters would come for them;
but nothing happened until just after dawn of the third day, when the
flapping of wings apprised them of the approach of Wieroos.  Together
they went to the edge of the wood and looked up to see five red-robed
creatures dropping slowly in ever-lessening spirals toward their little
amphitheater.  With no attempt at concealment they came, sure of their
ability to overwhelm these two fugitives, and with the fullest measure
of self-confidence they landed in the clearing but a few yards from the
man and the girl.

Following a plan already discussed Bradley and the girl retreated
slowly into the woods.  The Wieroos advanced, calling upon them to give
themselves up; but the quarry made no reply.  Farther and farther into
the little wood Bradley led the hunters, permitting them to approach
ever closer; then he circled back again toward the clearing, evidently
to the great delight of the Wieroos, who now followed more leisurely,
awaiting the moment when they should be beyond the trees and able to
use their wings.  They had opened into semicircular formation now with
the evident intention of cutting the two off from returning into the
wood.  Each Wieroo advanced with his curved blade ready in his hand,
each hideous face blank and expressionless.

It was then that Bradley opened fire with his pistol--three shots,
aimed with careful deliberation, for it had been long since he had used
the weapon, and he could not afford to chance wasting ammunition on
misses.  At each shot a Wieroo dropped; and then the remaining two
sought escape by flight, screaming and wailing after the manner of
their kind.  When a Wieroo runs, his wings spread almost without any
volition upon his part, since from time immemorial he has always used
them to balance himself and accelerate his running speed so that in the
open they appear to skim the surface of the ground when in the act of
running.  But here in the woods, among the close-set boles, the
spreading of their wings proved their undoing--it hindered and stopped
them and threw them to the ground, and then Bradley was upon them
threatening them with instant death if they did not
surrender--promising them their freedom if they did his bidding.

"As you have seen," he cried, "I can kill you when I wish and at a
distance.  You cannot escape me.  Your only hope of life lies in
obedience.  Quick, or I kill!"

The Wieroos stopped and faced him.  "What do you want of us?" asked one.

"Throw aside your weapons," Bradley commanded.  After a moment's
hesitation they obeyed.

"Now approach!"  A great plan--the only plan--had suddenly come to him
like an inspiration.

The Wieroos came closer and halted at his command.  Bradley turned to
the girl.  "There is rope in the shelter," he said.  "Fetch it!"

She did as he bid, and then he directed her to fasten one end of a
fifty-foot length to the ankle of one of the Wieroos and the opposite
end to the second.  The creatures gave evidence of great fear, but they
dared not attempt to prevent the act.

"Now go out into the clearing," said Bradley, "and remember that I am
walking close behind and that I will shoot the nearer one should either
attempt to escape--that will hold the other until I can kill him as
well."

In the open he halted them.  "The girl will get upon the back of the
one in front," announced the Englishman.  "I will mount the other.  She
carries a sharp blade, and I carry this weapon that you know kills
easily at a distance.  If you disobey in the slightest, the
instructions that I am about to give you, you shall both die.  That we
must die with you, will not deter us.  If you obey, I promise to set
you free without harming you.

"You will carry us due west, depositing us upon the shore of the
mainland--that is all.  It is the price of your lives.  Do you agree?"

Sullenly the Wieroos acquiesced.  Bradley examined the knots that held
the rope to their ankles, and feeling them secure directed the girl to
mount the back of the leading Wieroo, himself upon the other.  Then he
gave the signal for the two to rise together.  With loud flapping of
the powerful wings the creatures took to the air, circling once before
they topped the trees upon the hill and then taking a course due west
out over the waters of the sea.

Nowhere about them could Bradley see signs of other Wieroos, nor of
those other menaces which he had feared might bring disaster to his
plans for escape--the huge, winged reptilia that are so numerous above
the southern areas of Caspak and which are often seen, though in lesser
numbers, farther north.

Nearer and nearer loomed the mainland--a broad, parklike expanse
stretching inland to the foot of a low plateau spread out before them.
The little dots in the foreground became grazing herds of deer and
antelope and bos; a huge woolly rhinoceros wallowed in a mudhole to the
right, and beyond, a mighty mammoth culled the tender shoots from a
tall tree.  The roars and screams and growls of giant carnivora came
faintly to their ears.  Ah, this was Caspak.  With all of its dangers
and its primal savagery it brought a fullness to the throat of the
Englishman as to one who sees and hears the familiar sights and sounds
of home after a long absence.  Then the Wieroos dropped swiftly
downward to the flower-starred turf that grew almost to the water's
edge, the fugitives slipped from their backs, and Bradley told the
red-robed creatures they were free to go.

When he had cut the ropes from their ankles they rose with that uncanny
wailing upon their lips that always brought a shudder to the
Englishman, and upon dismal wings they flapped away toward frightful
Oo-oh.

When the creatures had gone, the girl turned toward Bradley.  "Why did
you have them bring us here?" she asked.  "Now we are far from my
country.  We may never live to reach it, as we are among enemies who,
while not so horrible will kill us just as surely as would the Wieroos
should they capture us, and we have before us many marches through
lands filled with savage beasts."

"There were two reasons," replied Bradley.  "You told me that there are
two Wieroo cities at the eastern end of the island.  To have passed
near either of them might have been to have brought about our heads
hundreds of the creatures from whom we could not possibly have escaped.
Again, my friends must be near this spot--it cannot be over two marches
to the fort of which I have told you.  It is my duty to return to them.
If they still live we shall find a way to return you to your people."

"And you?" asked the girl.

"I escaped from Oo-oh," replied Bradley.  "I have accomplished the
impossible once, and so I shall accomplish it again--I shall escape
from Caspak."

He was not looking at her face as he answered her, and so he did not
see the shadow of sorrow that crossed her countenance.  When he raised
his eyes again, she was smiling.

"What you wish, I wish," said the girl.

Southward along the coast they made their way following the beach,
where the walking was best, but always keeping close enough to trees to
insure sanctuary from the beasts and reptiles that so often menaced
them.  It was late in the afternoon when the girl suddenly seized
Bradley's arm and pointed straight ahead along the shore.  "What is
that?" she whispered.  "What strange reptile is it?"

Bradley looked in the direction her slim forefinger indicated.  He
rubbed his eyes and looked again, and then he seized her wrist and drew
her quickly behind a clump of bushes.

"What is it?" she asked.

"It is the most frightful reptile that the waters of the world have
ever known," he replied.  "It is a German U-boat!"

An expression of amazement and understanding lighted her features.  "It
is the thing of which you told me," she exclaimed, "--the thing that
swims under the water and carries men in its belly!"

"It is," replied Bradley.

"Then why do you hide from it?" asked the girl.  "You said that now it
belonged to your friends."

"Many months have passed since I knew what was going on among my
friends," he replied.  "I cannot know what has befallen them.  They
should have been gone from here in this vessel long since, and so I
cannot understand why it is still here.  I am going to investigate
first before I show myself.  When I left, there were more Germans on
the U-33 than there were men of my own party at the fort, and I have
had sufficient experience of Germans to know that they will bear
watching--if they have not been properly watched since I left."

Making their way through a fringe of wood that grew a few yards inland
the two crept unseen toward the U-boat which lay moored to the shore at
a point which Bradley now recognized as being near the oil-pool north
of Dinosaur.  As close as possible to the vessel they halted, crouching
low among the dense vegetation, and watched the boat for signs of human
life about it.  The hatches were closed--no one could be seen or heard.
For five minutes Bradley watched, and then he determined to board the
submarine and investigate.  He had risen to carry his decision into
effect when there suddenly broke upon his ear, uttered in loud and
menacing tones, a volley of German oaths and expletives among which he
heard Englische schweinhunde repeated several times.  The voice did not
come from the direction of the U-boat; but from inland.  Creeping
forward Bradley reached a spot where, through the creepers hanging from
the trees, he could see a party of men coming down toward the shore.

He saw Baron Friedrich von Schoenvorts and six of his men--all
armed--while marching in a little knot among them were Olson, Brady,
Sinclair, Wilson, and Whitely.

Bradley knew nothing of the disappearance of Bowen Tyler and Miss La
Rue, nor of the perfidy of the Germans in shelling the fort and
attempting to escape in the U-33; but he was in no way surprised at
what he saw before him.

The little party came slowly onward, the prisoners staggering beneath
heavy cans of oil, while Schwartz, one of the German noncommissioned
officers cursed and beat them with a stick of wood, impartially.  Von
Schoenvorts walked in the rear of the column, encouraging Schwartz and
laughing at the discomfiture of the Britishers.  Dietz, Heinz, and
Klatz also seemed to enjoy the entertainment immensely; but two of the
men--Plesser and Hindle--marched with eyes straight to the front and
with scowling faces.

Bradley felt his blood boil at sight of the cowardly indignities being
heaped upon his men, and in the brief span of time occupied by the
column to come abreast of where he lay hidden he made his plans,
foolhardy though he knew them.  Then he drew the girl close to him.
"Stay here," he whispered.  "I am going out to fight those beasts; but
I shall be killed.  Do not let them see you.  Do not let them take you
alive.  They are more cruel, more cowardly, more bestial than the
Wieroos."

The girl pressed close to him, her face very white.  "Go, if that is
right," she whispered; "but if you die, I shall die, for I cannot live
without you."  He looked sharply into her eyes.  "Oh!" he ejaculated.
"What an idiot I have been!  Nor could I live without you, little
girl."  And he drew her very close and kissed her lips.  "Good-bye."
He disengaged himself from her arms and looked again in time to see
that the rear of the column had just passed him.  Then he rose and
leaped quickly and silently from the jungle.

Suddenly von Schoenvorts felt an arm thrown about his neck and his
pistol jerked from its holster.  He gave a cry of fright and warning,
and his men turned to see a half-naked white man holding their leader
securely from behind and aiming a pistol at them over his shoulder.

"Drop those guns!" came in short, sharp syllables and perfect German
from the lips of the newcomer.  "Drop them or I'll put a bullet through
the back of von Schoenvorts' head."

The Germans hesitated for a moment, looking first toward von
Schoenvorts and then to Schwartz, who was evidently second in command,
for orders.

"It's the English pig, Bradley," shouted the latter, "and he's
alone--go and get him!"

"Go yourself," growled Plesser.  Hindle moved close to the side of
Plesser and whispered something to him.  The latter nodded.  Suddenly
von Schoenvorts wheeled about and seized Bradley's pistol arm with both
hands, "Now!" he shouted.  "Come and take him, quick!"

Schwartz and three others leaped forward; but Plesser and Hindle held
back, looking questioningly toward the English prisoners.  Then Plesser
spoke.  "Now is your chance, Englander," he called in low tones.
"Seize Hindle and me and take our guns from us--we will not fight hard."

Olson and Brady were not long in acting upon the suggestion.  They had
seen enough of the brutal treatment von Schoenvorts accorded his men
and the especially venomous attentions he had taken great enjoyment in
according Plesser and Hindle to understand that these two might be
sincere in a desire for revenge.  In another moment the two Germans
were unarmed and Olson and Brady were running to the support of
Bradley; but already it seemed too late.

Von Schoenvorts had managed to drag the Englishman around so that his
back was toward Schwartz and the other advancing Germans.  Schwartz was
almost upon Bradley with gun clubbed and ready to smash down upon the
Englishman's skull.  Brady and Olson were charging the Germans in the
rear with Wilson, Whitely, and Sinclair supporting them with bare
fists.  It seemed that Bradley was doomed when, apparently out of
space, an arrow whizzed, striking Schwartz in the side, passing
half-way through his body to crumple him to earth.  With a shriek the
man fell, and at the same time Olson and Brady saw the slim figure of a
young girl standing at the edge of the jungle coolly fitting another
arrow to her bow.

Bradley had now succeeded in wrestling his arm free from von
Schoenvorts' grip and in dropping the latter with a blow from the butt
of his pistol.  The rest of the English and Germans were engaged in a
hand-to-hand encounter.  Plesser and Hindle standing aside from the
melee and urging their comrades to surrender and join with the English
against the tyranny of von Schoenvorts.  Heinz and Klatz, possibly
influenced by their exhortation, were putting up but a half-hearted
resistance; but Dietz, a huge, bearded, bull-necked Prussian, yelling
like a maniac, sought to exterminate the Englische schweinhunde with
his bayonet, fearing to fire his piece lest he kill some of his
comrades.

It was Olson who engaged him, and though unused to the long German
rifle and bayonet, he met the bull-rush of the Hun with the cold, cruel
precision and science of English bayonet-fighting.  There was no
feinting, no retiring and no parrying that was not also an attack.
Bayonet-fighting today is not a pretty thing to see--it is not an
artistic fencing-match in which men give and take--it is slaughter
inevitable and quickly over.

Dietz lunged once madly at Olson's throat.  A short point, with just a
twist of the bayonet to the left sent the sharp blade over the
Englishman's left shoulder.  Instantly he stepped close in, dropped his
rifle through his hands and grasped it with both hands close below the
muzzle and with a short, sharp jab sent his blade up beneath Dietz's
chin to the brain.  So quickly was the thing done and so quick the
withdrawal that Olson had wheeled to take on another adversary before
the German's corpse had toppled to the ground.

But there were no more adversaries to take on.  Heinz and Klatz had
thrown down their rifles and with hands above their heads were crying
"Kamerad!  Kamerad!" at the tops of their voices.  Von Schoenvorts
still lay where he had fallen.  Plesser and Hindle were explaining to
Bradley that they were glad of the outcome of the fight, as they could
no longer endure the brutality of the U-boat commander.

The remainder of the men were looking at the girl who now advanced
slowly, her bow ready, when Bradley turned toward her and held out his
hand.

"Co-Tan," he said, "unstring your bow--these are my friends, and
yours."  And to the Englishmen:  "This is Co-Tan.  You who saw her save
me from Schwartz know a part of what I owe her."

The rough men gathered about the girl, and when she spoke to them in
broken English, with a smile upon her lips enhancing the charm of her
irresistible accent, each and every one of them promptly fell in love
with her and constituted himself henceforth her guardian and her slave.

A moment later the attention of each was called to Plesser by a volley
of invective.  They turned in time to see the man running toward von
Schoenvorts who was just rising from the ground.  Plesser carried a
rifle with bayonet fixed, that he had snatched from the side of Dietz's
corpse.  Von Schoenvorts' face was livid with fear, his jaws working as
though he would call for help; but no sound came from his blue lips.

"You struck me," shrieked Plesser.  "Once, twice, three times, you
struck me, pig.  You murdered Schwerke--you drove him insane by your
cruelty until he took his own life.  You are only one of your
kind--they are all like you from the Kaiser down.  I wish that you were
the Kaiser.  Thus would I do!"  And he lunged his bayonet through von
Schoenvorts' chest.  Then he let his rifle fall with the dying man and
wheeled toward Bradley.  "Here I am," he said.  "Do with me as you
like.  All my life I have been kicked and cuffed by such as that, and
yet always have I gone out when they commanded, singing, to give up my
life if need be to keep them in power.  Only lately have I come to know
what a fool I have been.  But now I am no longer a fool, and besides, I
am avenged and Schwerke is avenged, so you can kill me if you wish.
Here I am."

"If I was after bein' the king," said Olson, "I'd pin the V.C. on your
noble chist; but bein' only an Irishman with a Swede name, for which
God forgive me, the bist I can do is shake your hand."

"You will not be punished," said Bradley.  "There are four of you
left--if you four want to come along and work with us, we will take
you; but you will come as prisoners."

"It suits me," said Plesser.  "Now that the captain-lieutenant is dead
you need not fear us.  All our lives we have known nothing but to obey
his class.  If I had not killed him, I suppose I would be fool enough
to obey him again; but he is dead.  Now we will obey you--we must obey
some one."

"And you?"  Bradley turned to the other survivors of the original crew
of the U-33.  Each promised obedience.

The two dead Germans were buried in a single grave, and then the party
boarded the submarine and stowed away the oil.

Here Bradley told the men what had befallen him since the night of
September 14th when he had disappeared so mysteriously from the camp
upon the plateau.  Now he learned for the first time that Bowen J.
Tyler, Jr., and Miss La Rue had been missing even longer than he and
that no faintest trace of them had been discovered.

Olson told him of how the Germans had returned and waited in ambush for
them outside the fort, capturing them that they might be used to assist
in the work of refining the oil and later in manning the U-33, and
Plesser told briefly of the experiences of the German crew under von
Schoenvorts since they had escaped from Caspak months before--of how
they lost their bearings after having been shelled by ships they had
attempted to sneak farther north and how at last with provisions gone
and fuel almost exhausted they had sought and at last found, more by
accident than design, the mysterious island they had once been so glad
to leave behind.

"Now," announced Bradley, "we'll plan for the future.  The boat has
fuel, provisions and water for a month, I believe you said, Plesser;
there are ten of us to man it.  We have a last sad duty here--we must
search for Miss La Rue and Mr. Tyler.  I say a sad duty because we know
that we shall not find them; but it is none the less our duty to comb
the shoreline, firing signal shells at intervals, that we at least may
leave at last with full knowledge that we have done all that men might
do to locate them."

None dissented from this conviction, nor was there a voice raised in
protest against the plan to at least make assurance doubly sure before
quitting Caspak forever.

And so they started, cruising slowly up the coast and firing an
occasional shot from the gun.  Often the vessel was brought to a stop,
and always there were anxious eyes scanning the shore for an answering
signal.  Late in the afternoon they caught sight of a number of Band-lu
warriors; but when the vessel approached the shore and the natives
realized that human beings stood upon the back of the strange monster
of the sea, they fled in terror before Bradley could come within
hailing distance.

That night they dropped anchor at the mouth of a sluggish stream whose
warm waters swarmed with millions of tiny tadpolelike organisms--minute
human spawn starting on their precarious journey from some inland pool
toward "the beginning"--a journey which one in millions, perhaps, might
survive to complete.  Already almost at the inception of life they were
being greeted by thousands of voracious mouths as fish and reptiles of
many kinds fought to devour them, the while other and larger creatures
pursued the devourers, to be, in turn, preyed upon by some other of the
countless forms that inhabit the deeps of Caprona's frightful sea.

The second day was practically a repetition of the first.  They moved
very slowly with frequent stops and once they landed in the Kro-lu
country to hunt.  Here they were attacked by the bow-and-arrow men,
whom they could not persuade to palaver with them.  So belligerent were
the natives that it became necessary to fire into them in order to
escape their persistent and ferocious attentions.

"What chance," asked Bradley, as they were returning to the boat with
their game, "could Tyler and Miss La Rue have had among such as these?"

But they continued on their fruitless quest, and the third day, after
cruising along the shore of a deep inlet, they passed a line of lofty
cliffs that formed the southern shore of the inlet and rounded a sharp
promontory about noon.  Co-Tan and Bradley were on deck alone, and as
the new shoreline appeared beyond the point, the girl gave an
exclamation of joy and seized the man's hand in hers.

"Oh, look!" she cried.  "The Galu country!  The Galu country!  It is my
country that I never thought to see again."

"You are glad to come again, Co-Tan?" asked Bradley.

"Oh, so glad!" she cried.  "And you will come with me to my people?  We
may live here among them, and you will be a great warrior--oh, when Jor
dies you may even be chief, for there is none so mighty as my warrior.
You will come?"

Bradley shook his head.  "I cannot, little Co-Tan," he answered.  "My
country needs me, and I must go back.  Maybe someday I shall return.
You will not forget me, Co-Tan?"

She looked at him in wide-eyed wonder.  "You are going away from me?"
she asked in a very small voice.  "You are going away from Co-Tan?"

Bradley looked down upon the little bowed head.  He felt the soft cheek
against his bare arm; and he felt something else there too--hot drops
of moisture that ran down to his very finger-tips and splashed, but
each one wrung from a woman's heart.

He bent low and raised the tear-stained face to his own.  "No, Co-Tan,"
he said, "I am not going away from you--for you are going with me.  You
are going back to my own country to be my wife.  Tell me that you will,
Co-Tan."  And he bent still lower yet from his height and kissed her
lips.  Nor did he need more than the wonderful new light in her eyes to
tell him that she would go to the end of the world with him if he would
but take her.  And then the gun-crew came up from below again to fire a
signal shot, and the two were brought down from the high heaven of
their new happiness to the scarred and weather-beaten deck of the U-33.

An hour later the vessel was running close in by a shore of wondrous
beauty beside a parklike meadow that stretched back a mile inland to
the foot of a plateau when Whitely called attention to a score of
figures clambering downward from the elevation to the lowland below.
The engines were reversed and the boat brought to a stop while all
hands gathered on deck to watch the little party coming toward them
across the meadow.

"They are Galus," cried Co-Tan; "they are my own people.  Let me speak
to them lest they think we come to fight them.  Put me ashore, my man,
and I will go meet them."

The nose of the U-boat was run close in to the steep bank; but when
Co-Tan would have run forward alone, Bradley seized her hand and held
her back.  "I will go with you, Co-Tan," he said; and together they
advanced to meet the oncoming party.

There were about twenty warriors moving forward in a thin line, as our
infantry advance as skirmishers.  Bradley could not but notice the
marked difference between this formation and the moblike methods of the
lower tribes he had come in contact with, and he commented upon it to
Co-Tan.

"Galu warriors always advance into battle thus," she said.  "The lesser
people remain in a huddled group where they can scarce use their
weapons the while they present so big a mark to us that our spears and
arrows cannot miss them; but when they hurl theirs at our warriors, if
they miss the first man, there is no chance that they will kill some
one behind him.

"Stand still now," she cautioned, "and fold your arms.  They will not
harm us then."

Bradley did as he was bid, and the two stood with arms folded as the
line of warriors approached.  When they had come within some fifty
yards, they halted and one spoke.  "Who are you and from whence do you
come?" he asked; and then Co-Tan gave a little, glad cry and sprang
forward with out-stretched arms.

"Oh, Tan!" she exclaimed.  "Do you not know your little Co-Tan?"

The warrior stared, incredulous, for a moment, and then he, too, ran
forward and when they met, took the girl in his arms.  It was then that
Bradley experienced to the full a sensation that was new to him--a
sudden hatred for the strange warrior before him and a desire to kill
without knowing why he would kill.  He moved quickly to the girl's side
and grasped her wrist.

"Who is this man?" he demanded in cold tones.

Co-Tan turned a surprised face toward the Englishman and then of a
sudden broke forth into a merry peal of laughter.  "This is my father,
Brad-lee," she cried.

"And who is Brad-lee?" demanded the warrior.

"He is my man," replied Co-Tan simply.

"By what right?" insisted Tan.

And then she told him briefly of all that she had passed through since
the Wieroos had stolen her and of how Bradley had rescued her and
sought to rescue An-Tak, her brother.

"You are satisfied with him?" asked Tan.

"Yes," replied the girl proudly.

It was then that Bradley's attention was attracted to the edge of the
plateau by a movement there, and looking closely he saw a horse bearing
two figures sliding down the steep declivity.  Once at the bottom, the
animal came charging across the meadowland at a rapid run.  It was a
magnificent animal--a great bay stallion with a white-blazed face and
white forelegs to the knees, its barrel encircled by a broad surcingle
of white; and as it came to a sudden stop beside Tan, the Englishman
saw that it bore a man and a girl--a tall man and a girl as beautiful
as Co-Tan.  When the girl espied the latter, she slid from the horse
and ran toward her, fairly screaming for joy.

The man dismounted and stood beside Tan.  Like Bradley he was garbed
after the fashion of the surrounding warriors; but there was a subtle
difference between him and his companion.  Possibly he detected a
similar difference in Bradley, for his first question was, "From what
country?" and though he spoke in Galu Bradley thought he detected an
accent.

"England," replied Bradley.

A broad smile lighted the newcomer's face as he held out his hand.  "I
am Tom Billings of Santa Monica, California," he said.  "I know all
about you, and I'm mighty glad to find you alive."

"How did you get here?" asked Bradley.  "I thought ours was the only
party of men from the outer world ever to enter Caprona."

"It was, until we came in search of Bowen J. Tyler, Jr.," replied
Billings.  "We  found him and sent him home with his bride; but I was
kept a prisoner here."

Bradley's face darkened--then they were not among friends after all.
"There are ten of us down there on a German sub with small-arms and a
gun," he said quickly in English.  "It will be no trick to get away
from these people."

"You don't know my jailer," replied Billings, "or you'd not be so sure.
Wait, I'll introduce you."  And then turning to the girl who had
accompanied him he called her by name.  "Ajor," he said, "permit me to
introduce Lieutenant Bradley; Lieutenant, Mrs. Billings--my jailer!"

The Englishman laughed as he shook hands with the girl.  "You are not
as good a soldier as I," he said to Billings.  "Instead of being taken
prisoner myself I have taken one--Mrs. Bradley, this is Mr. Billings."

Ajor, quick to understand, turned toward Co-Tan.  "You are going back
with him to his country?" she asked.  Co-Tan admitted it.

"You dare?" asked Ajor.  "But your father will not permit it--Jor, my
father, High Chief of the Galus, will not permit it, for like me you
are cos-ata-lo.  Oh, Co-Tan, if we but could!  How I would love to see
all the strange and wonderful things of which my Tom tells me!"

Bradley bent and whispered in her ear.  "Say the word and you may both
go with us."

Billings heard and speaking in English, asked Ajor if she would go.

"Yes," she answered, "If you wish it; but you know, my Tom, that if Jor
captures us, both you and Co-Tan's man will pay the penalty with your
lives--not even his love for me nor his admiration for you can save
you."

Bradley noticed that she spoke in English--broken English like Co-Tan's
but equally appealing.  "We can easily get you aboard the ship," he
said, "on some pretext or other, and then we can steam away.  They can
neither harm nor detain us, nor will we have to fire a shot at them."

And so it was done, Bradley and Co-Tan taking Ajor and Billings aboard
to "show" them the vessel, which almost immediately raised anchor and
moved slowly out into the sea.

"I hate to do it," said Billings.  "They have been fine to me.  Jor and
Tan are splendid men and they will think me an ingrate; but I can't
waste my life here when there is so much to be done in the outer world."

As they steamed down the inland sea past the island of Oo-oh, the
stories of their adventures were retold, and Bradley learned that Bowen
Tyler and his bride had left the Galu country but a fortnight before
and that there was every reason to believe that the Toreador might
still be lying in the Pacific not far off the subterranean mouth of the
river which emitted Caprona's heated waters into the ocean.

Late in the second day, after running through swarms of hideous
reptiles, they submerged at the point where the river entered beneath
the cliffs and shortly after rose to the sunlit surface of the Pacific;
but nowhere as far as they could see was sign of another craft.  Down
the coast they steamed toward the beach where Billings had made his
crossing in the hydro-aeroplane and just at dusk the lookout announced
a light dead ahead.  It proved to be aboard the Toreador, and a
half-hour later there was such a reunion on the deck of the trig little
yacht as no one there had ever dreamed might be possible.  Of the
Allies there were only Tippet and James to be mourned, and no one
mourned any of the Germans dead nor Benson, the traitor, whose ugly
story was first told in Bowen Tyler's manuscript.

Tyler and the rescue party had but just reached the yacht that
afternoon.  They had heard, faintly, the signal shots fired by the U-33
but had been unable to locate their direction and so had assumed that
they had come from the guns of the Toreador.

It was a happy party that sailed north toward sunny, southern
California, the old U-33 trailing in the wake of the Toreador and
flying with the latter the glorious Stars and Stripes beneath which she
had been born in the shipyard at Santa Monica.  Three newly married
couples, their bonds now duly solemnized by the master of the ship,
joyed in the peace and security of the untracked waters of the south
Pacific and the unique honeymoon which, had it not been for stern duty
ahead, they could have wished protracted till the end of time.

And so they came one day to dock at the shipyard which Bowen Tyler now
controlled, and here the U-33 still lies while those who passed so many
eventful days within and because of her, have gone their various ways.



[Transcriber's note: I have made the following changes to the text:

 PAGE  LINE    ORIGINAL          CHANGED TO
   10    12    of                 or
   14    19    of animals life    of animals
   31    26    is arms            his arms
   37    14    above this         above his
   37    23    Bradley,           Bradley
   54    18    man                man
   57    14    and of Oo-oh       of Oo-oh
   62    18    spend              spent
   63    31    and mumbled        the mumbled
   64     9    things             thing
   80    30    east               cast
  104    16    proaching          proached
  106    30    cos-at-lu          cos-ata-lu
  126    17    not artistic       not an artistic
  126    25    close below        hands close below
  130     1    internals          intervals
  132     9    than               that
  132    10    splashes           splashed
  134     3    know know          not know]





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Out of Time's Abyss" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home