Informational Site NetworkInformational Site Network
Privacy
 
   Home - Science Fiction Stories - Western Stories


Conquest And Peace







From: Pellucidar

The fleet sailed directly for Hooja's island, coming to anchor at its
north-eastern extremity before the flat-topped hill that had been
Hooja's stronghold. I sent one of the prisoners ashore to demand an
immediate surrender; but as he told me afterward they wouldn't be-lieve
all that he told them, so they congregated on the cliff-top and shot
futile arrows at us.

In reply I had five of the feluccas cannonade them. When they
scampered away at the sound of the terrific explosions, and at sight of
the smoke and the iron balls I landed a couple of hundred red warriors
and led them to the opposite end of the hill into the tunnel that ran
to its summit. Here we met a little resistance; but a volley from the
muzzle-loaders turned back those who disputed our right of way, and
presently we gained the mesa. Here again we met resistance, but at
last the remnant of Hooja's horde surrendered.

Juag was with me, and I lost no time in returning to him and his tribe
the hilltop that had been their ancestral home for ages until they were
robbed of it by Hooja. I created a kingdom of the island, making Juag
king there. Before we sailed I went to Gr-gr-gr, chief of the
beast-men, taking Juag with me. There the three of us arranged a code
of laws that would permit the brute-folk and the human beings of the
island to live in peace and harmony. Gr-gr-gr sent his son with me
back to Sari, capital of my empire, that he might learn the ways of the
human beings. I have hopes of turning this race into the greatest
agriculturists of Pellucidar. When I returned to the fleet I found
that one of the islanders of Juag's tribe, who had been absent when we
arrived, had just returned from the mainland with the news that a great
army was encamped in the Land of Awful Shadow, and that they were
threatening Thuria. I lost no time in weighing anchors and setting out
for the continent, which we reached after a short and easy voyage.

From the deck of the Amoz I scanned the shore through the glasses that
Perry had brought with him. When we were close enough for the glasses
to be of value I saw that there was indeed a vast concourse of warriors
entirely encircling the walled-village of Goork, chief of the Thurians.
As we approached smaller objects became distinguishable. It was then
that I discovered numerous flags and pennants floating above the army
of the besiegers.

I called Perry and passed the glasses to him.

"Ghak of Sari," I said.

Perry looked through the lenses of a moment, and then turned to me with
a smile.

"The red, white, and blue of the empire," he said. "It is indeed your
majesty's army."

It soon became apparent that we had been sighted by those on shore, for
a great multitude of warriors had congregated along the beach watching
us. We came to anchor as close in as we dared, which with our light
feluccas was within easy speaking-distance of the shore. Ghak was
there and his eyes were mighty wide, too; for, as he told us later,
though he knew this must be Perry's fleet it was so wonderful to him
that he could not believe the testimony of his own eyes even while he
was watching it approach.

To give the proper effect to our meeting I commanded that each felucca
fire twenty-one guns as a salute to His Majesty Ghak, King of Sari.
Some of the gunners, in the exuberance of their enthusiasm, fired solid
shot; but fortunately they had sufficient good judg-ment to train their
pieces on the open sea, so no harm was done. After this we landed--an
arduous task since each felucca carried but a single light dugout.

I learned from Ghak that the Thurian chieftain, Goork, had been
inclined to haughtiness, and had told Ghak, the Hairy One, that he knew
nothing of me and cared less; but I imagine that the sight of the fleet
and the sound of the guns brought him to his senses, for it was not
long before he sent a deputation to me, inviting me to visit him in his
village. Here he apologized for the treatment he had accorded me, very
gladly swore allegiance to the empire, and received in return the title
of king.

We remained in Thuria only long enough to arrange the treaty with
Goork, among the other details of which was his promise to furnish the
imperial army with a thousand lidi, or Thurian beasts of burden, and
drivers for them. These were to accompany Ghak's army back to Sari by
land, while the fleet sailed to the mouth of the great river from which
Dian, Juag, and I had been blown.

The voyage was uneventful. We found the river easily, and sailed up it
for many miles through as rich and wonderful a plain as I have ever
seen. At the head of navigation we disembarked, leaving a sufficient
guard for the feluccas, and marched the remaining distance to Sari.

Ghak's army, which was composed of warriors of all the original tribes
of the federation, showing how successful had been his efforts to
rehabilitate the empire, marched into Sari some time after we arrived.
With them were the thousand lidi from Thuria.

At a council of the kings it was decided that we should at once
commence the great war against the Mahars, for these haughty reptiles
presented the greatest obstacle to human progress within Pellucidar. I
laid out a plan of campaign which met with the enthusiastic
indorse-ment of the kings. Pursuant to it, I at once despatched fifty
lidi to the fleet with orders to fetch fifty cannon to Sari. I also
ordered the fleet to proceed at once to Anoroc, where they were to take
aboard all the rifles and ammunition that had been completed since
their departure, and with a full complement of men to sail along the
coast in an attempt to find a passage to the inland sea near which lay
the Mahars' buried city of Phutra.

Ja was sure that a large and navigable river connected the sea of
Phutra with the Lural Az, and that, barring accident, the fleet would
be before Phutra as soon as the land forces were.

At last the great army started upon its march. There were warriors
from every one of the federated kingdoms. All were armed either with
bow and arrows or muzzle-loaders, for nearly the entire Mezop
contingent had been enlisted for this march, only sufficient having
been left aboard the feluccas to man them properly. I divided the
forces into divisions, regiments, battalions, companies, and even to
platoons and sections, appointing the full complement of officers and
noncommissioned officers. On the long march I schooled them in their
duties, and as fast as one learned I sent him among the others as a
teacher.

Each regiment was made up of about a thousand bowmen, and to each was
temporarily attached a company of Mezop musketeers and a battery of
artillery--the latter, our naval guns, mounted upon the broad backs of
the mighty lidi. There was also one full regiment of Mezop musketeers
and a regiment of primitive spearmen. The rest of the lidi that we
brought with us were used for baggage animals and to transport our
women and children, for we had brought them with us, as it was our
intention to march from one Mahar city to another until we had subdued
every Mahar nation that menaced the safety of any kingdom of the empire.

Before we reached the plain of Phutra we were discovered by a company
of Sagoths, who at first stood to give battle; but upon seeing the vast
numbers of our army they turned and fled toward Phutra. The result of
this was that when we came in sight of the hundred towers which mark
the entrances to the buried city we found a great army of Sagoths and
Mahars lined up to give us battle.

At a thousand yards we halted, and, placing our artillery upon a slight
eminence at either flank, we commenced to drop solid shot among them.
Ja, who was chief artillery officer, was in command of this branch of
the service, and he did some excellent work, for his Mezop gunners had
become rather proficient by this time. The Sagoths couldn't stand much
of this sort of warfare, so they charged us, yelling like fiends. We
let them come quite close, and then the musketeers who formed the first
line opened up on them.

The slaughter was something frightful, but still the remnants of them
kept on coming until it was a matter of hand-to-hand fighting. Here
our spearmen were of value, as were also the crude iron swords with
which most of the imperial warriors were armed.

We lost heavily in the encounter after the Sagoths reached us; but they
were absolutely exterminated--not one remained even as a prisoner. The
Mahars, seeing how the battle was going, had hastened to the safety of
their buried city. When we had overcome their gorilla-men we followed
after them.

But here we were doomed to defeat, at least temporarily; for no sooner
had the first of our troops descended into the subterranean avenues
than many of them came stumbling and fighting their way back to the
surface, half-choked by the fumes of some deadly gas that the reptiles
had liberated upon them. We lost a number of men here. Then I sent
for Perry, who had remained discreetly in the rear, and had him
construct a little affair that I had had in my mind against the
possibility of our meeting with a check at the entrances to the
underground city.

Under my direction he stuffed one of his cannon full of powder, small
bullets, and pieces of stone, almost to the muzzle. Then he plugged
the muzzle tight with a cone-shaped block of wood, hammered and jammed
in as tight as it could be. Next he inserted a long fuse. A dozen men
rolled the cannon to the top of the stairs leading down into the city,
first removing it from its carriage. One of them then lit the fuse and
the whole thing was given a shove down the stairway, while the
detachment turned and scampered to a safe distance.

For what seemed a very long time nothing happened. We had commenced to
think that the fuse had been put out while the piece was rolling down
the stairway, or that the Mahars had guessed its purpose and
extinguished it themselves, when the ground about the entrance rose
suddenly into the air, to be followed by a terrific explosion and a
burst of smoke and flame that shot high in company with dirt, stone,
and fragments of cannon.

Perry had been working on two more of these giant bombs as soon as the
first was completed. Presently we launched these into two of the other
entrances. They were all that were required, for almost immediately
after the third explosion a stream of Mahars broke from the exits
furthest from us, rose upon their wings, and soared northward. A
hundred men on lidi were despatched in pursuit, each lidi carrying two
riflemen in addition to its driver. Guessing that the inland sea,
which lay not far north of Phutra, was their destination, I took a
couple of regiments and followed.

A low ridge intervenes between the Phutra plain where the city lies,
and the inland sea where the Mahars were wont to disport themselves in
the cool waters. Not until we had topped this ridge did we get a view
of the sea.

Then we beheld a scene that I shall never forget so long as I may live.

Along the beach were lined up the troop of lidi, while a hundred yards
from shore the surface of the water was black with the long snouts and
cold, reptilian eyes of the Mahars. Our savage Mezop riflemen, and the
shorter, squatter, white-skinned Thurian drivers, shading their eyes
with their hands, were gazing seaward beyond the Mahars, whose eyes
were fastened upon the same spot. My heart leaped when I discovered
that which was chaining the attention of them all. Twenty graceful
feluccas were moving smoothly across the waters of the sea toward the
reptilian horde!

The sight must have filled the Mahars with awe and consternation, for
never had they seen the like of these craft before. For a time they
seemed unable to do aught but gaze at the approaching fleet; but when
the Mezops opened on them with their muskets the reptiles swam rapidly
in the direction of the feluccas, evidently thinking that these would
prove the easier to overcome. The commander of the fleet permitted
them to approach within a hundred yards. Then he opened on them with
all the cannon that could be brought to bear, as well as with the small
arms of the sailors.

A great many of the reptiles were killed at the first volley. They
wavered for a moment, then dived; nor did we see them again for a long
time.

But finally they rose far out beyond the fleet, and when the feluccas
came about and pursued them they left the water and flew away toward
the north.

Following the fall of Phutra I visited Anoroc, where I found the people
busy in the shipyards and the factories that Perry had established. I
discovered something, too, that he had not told me of--something that
seemed infinitely more promising than the powder-factory or the
arsenal. It was a young man poring over one of the books I had brought
back from the outer world! He was sitting in the log cabin that Perry
had had built to serve as his sleeping quarters and office. So
absorbed was he that he did not notice our entrance. Perry saw the
look of astonishment in my eyes and smiled.

"I started teaching him the alphabet when we first reached the
prospector, and were taking out its contents," he explained. "He was
much mystified by the books and anxious to know of what use they were.
When I explained he asked me to teach him to read, and so I worked with
him whenever I could. He is very intelligent and learns quickly.
Before I left he had made great progress, and as soon as he is
qualified he is going to teach others to read. It was mighty hard work
getting started, though, for everything had to be translated into
Pellucidarian.

"It will take a long time to solve this problem, but I think that by
teaching a number of them to read and write English we shall then be
able more quickly to give them a written language of their own."

And this was the nucleus about which we were to build our great system
of schools and colleges--this almost naked red warrior, sitting in
Perry's little cabin upon the island of Anoroc, picking out words
letter by letter from a work on intensive farming. Now we have--

But I'll get to all that before I finish.

While we were at Anoroc I accompanied Ja in an expedition to South
Island, the southernmost of the three largest which form the Anoroc
group--Perry had given it its name--where we made peace with the tribe
there that had for long been hostile toward Ja. They were now glad
enough to make friends with him and come into the federation. From
there we sailed with sixty-five feluccas for distant Luana, the main
island of the group where dwell the hereditary enemies of Anoroc.

Twenty-five of the feluccas were of a new and larger type than those
with which Ja and Perry had sailed on the occasion when they chanced to
find and rescue Dian and me. They were longer, carried much larger
sails, and were considerably swifter. Each carried four guns instead
of two, and these were so arranged that one or more of them could be
brought into action no matter where the enemy lay.

The Luana group lies just beyond the range of vision from the mainland.
The largest island of it alone is visible from Anoroc; but when we
neared it we found that it comprised many beautiful islands, and that
they were thickly populated. The Luanians had not, of course, been
ignorant of all that had been going on in the domains of their nearest
and dearest enemies. They knew of our feluccas and our guns, for
several of their riding-parties had had a taste of both. But their
principal chief, an old man, had never seen either. So, when he
sighted us, he put out to overwhelm us, bringing with him a fleet of
about a hundred large war-canoes, loaded to capacity with javelin-armed
warriors. It was pitiful, and I told Ja as much. It seemed a shame to
massacre these poor fellows if there was any way out of it.

To my surprise Ja felt much as I did. He said he had always hated to
war with other Mezops when there were so many alien races to fight
against. I suggested that we hail the chief and request a parley; but
when Ja did so the old fool thought that we were afraid, and with loud
cries of exultation urged his warriors upon us.

So we opened up on them, but at my suggestion centered our fire upon
the chief's canoe. The result was that in about thirty seconds there
was nothing left of that war dugout but a handful of splinters, while
its crew--those who were not killed--were struggling in the water,
battling with the myriad terrible creatures that had risen to devour
them.

We saved some of them, but the majority died just as had Hooja and the
crew of his canoe that time our second shot capsized them.

Again we called to the remaining warriors to enter into a parley with
us; but the chief's son was there and he would not, now that he had
seen his father killed. He was all for revenge. So we had to open up
on the brave fellows with all our guns; but it didn't last long at
that, for there chanced to be wiser heads among the Luanians than their
chief or his son had possessed. Presently, an old warrior who
commanded one of the dugouts surrendered. After that they came in one
by one until all had laid their weapons upon our decks.

Then we called together upon the flag-ship all our captains, to give
the affair greater weight and dignity, and all the principal men of
Luana. We had conquered them, and they expected either death or
slavery; but they deserved neither, and I told them so. It is always
my habit here in Pellucidar to impress upon these savage people that
mercy is as noble a quality as physical bravery, and that next to the
men who fight shoulder to shoulder with one, we should honor the brave
men who fight against us, and if we are victorious, award them both the
mercy and honor that are their due.

By adhering to this policy I have won to the federation many great and
noble peoples, who under the ancient traditions of the inner world
would have been massacred or enslaved after we had conquered them; and
thus I won the Luanians. I gave them their freedom, and returned their
weapons to them after they had sworn loyalty to me and friendship and
peace with Ja, and I made the old fellow, who had had the good sense to
surrender, king of Luana, for both the old chief and his only son had
died in the battle.

When I sailed away from Luana she was included among the kingdoms of
the empire, whose boundaries were thus pushed eastward several hundred
miles.

We now returned to Anoroc and thence to the mainland, where I again
took up the campaign against the Mahars, marching from one great buried
city to another until we had passed far north of Amoz into a country
where I had never been. At each city we were victorious, killing or
capturing the Sagoths and driving the Mahars further away.

I noticed that they always fled toward the north. The Sagoth prisoners
we usually found quite ready to trans-fer their allegiance to us, for
they are little more than brutes, and when they found that we could
fill their stomachs and give them plenty of fighting, they were nothing
loath to march with us against the next Mahar city and battle with men
of their own race.

Thus we proceeded, swinging in a great half-circle north and west and
south again until we had come back to the edge of the Lidi Plains north
of Thuria. Here we overcame the Mahar city that had ravaged the Land
of Awful Shadow for so many ages. When we marched on to Thuria, Goork
and his people went mad with joy at the tidings we brought them.

During this long march of conquest we had passed through seven
countries, peopled by primitive human tribes who had not yet heard of
the federation, and succeeded in joining them all to the empire. It
was noticeable that each of these peoples had a Mahar city situated
near by, which had drawn upon them for slaves and human food for so
many ages that not even in legend had the population any folk-tale
which did not in some degree reflect an inherent terror of the
reptilians.

In each of these countries I left an officer and warriors to train them
in military discipline, and prepare them to receive the arms that I
intended furnishing them as rapidly as Perry's arsenal could turn them
out, for we felt that it would be a long, long time before we should
see the last of the Mahars. That they had flown north but temporarily
until we should be gone with our great army and terrifying guns I was
positive, and equally sure was I that they would presently return.

The task of ridding Pellucidar of these hideous creatures is one which
in all probability will never be entirely completed, for their great
cities must abound by the hundreds and thousands of the far-distant
lands that no subject of the empire has ever laid eyes upon.

But within the present boundaries of my domain there are now none left
that I know of, for I am sure we should have heard indirectly of any
great Mahar city that had escaped us, although of course the imperial
army has by no means covered the vast area which I now rule.

After leaving Thuria we returned to Sari, where the seat of government
is located. Here, upon a vast, fertile plateau, overlooking the great
gulf that runs into the continent from the Lural Az, we are building
the great city of Sari. Here we are erecting mills and factories.
Here we are teaching men and women the rudiments of agriculture. Here
Perry has built the first printing-press, and a dozen young Sarians are
teaching their fellows to read and write the language of Pellucidar.

We have just laws and only a few of them. Our people are happy because
they are always working at some-thing which they enjoy. There is no
money, nor is any money value placed upon any commodity. Perry and I
were as one in resolving that the root of all evil should not be
introduced into Pellucidar while we lived.

A man may exchange that which he produces for something which he
desires that another has produced; but he cannot dispose of the thing
he thus acquires. In other words, a commodity ceases to have pecuniary
value the instant that it passes out of the hands of its producer. All
excess reverts to government; and, as this represents the production of
the people as a government, government may dispose of it to other
peoples in exchange for that which they produce. Thus we are
establishing a trade between kingdoms, the profits from which go to the
betterment of the people--to building factories for the manufacture of
agricultural implements, and machinery for the various trades we are
gradually teaching the people.

Already Anoroc and Luana are vying with one another in the excellence
of the ships they build. Each has several large ship-yards. Anoroc
makes gunpowder and mines iron ore, and by means of their ships they
carry on a very lucrative trade with Thuria, Sari, and Amoz. The
Thurians breed lidi, which, having the strength and intelligence of an
elephant, make excellent draft animals.

Around Sari and Amoz the men are domesticating the great striped
antelope, the meat of which is most delicious. I am sure that it will
not be long before they will have them broken to harness and saddle.
The horses of Pellucidar are far too diminutive for such uses, some
species of them being little larger than fox-terriers.

Dian and I live in a great palace overlooking the gulf. There is no
glass in our windows, for we have no windows, the walls rising but a
few feet above the floor-line, the rest of the space being open to the
ceilings; but we have a roof to shade us from the perpetual noon-day
sun. Perry and I decided to set a style in architecture that would not
curse future generations with the white plague, so we have plenty of
ventilation. Those of the people who prefer, still inhabit their
caves, but many are building houses similar to ours.

At Greenwich we have located a town and an observatory--though there is
nothing to observe but the stationary sun directly overhead. Upon the
edge of the Land of Awful Shadow is another observatory, from which the
time is flashed by wireless to every corner of the empire twenty-four
times a day. In addition to the wireless, we have a small telephone
system in Sari. Everything is yet in the early stages of development;
but with the science of the outer-world twentieth century to draw upon
we are making rapid progress, and with all the faults and errors of the
outer world to guide us clear of dangers, I think that it will not be
long before Pellucidar will become as nearly a Utopia as one may expect
to find this side of heaven.

Perry is away just now, laying out a railway-line from Sari to Amoz.
There are immense anthracite coal-fields at the head of the gulf not
far from Sari, and the railway will tap these. Some of his students
are working on a locomotive now. It will be a strange sight to see an
iron horse puffing through the primeval jungles of the stone age, while
cave bears, saber-toothed tigers, mastodons and the countless other
terrible creatures of the past look on from their tangled lairs in
wide-eyed astonishment.

We are very happy, Dian and I, and I would not return to the outer
world for all the riches of all its princes. I am content here. Even
without my imperial powers and honors I should be content, for have I
not that greatest of all treasures, the love of a good woman--my
wondrous empress, Dian the Beautiful?





Next: On The Arizona Hills

Previous: Gore And Dreams



Add to del.icio.us Add to Reddit Add to Digg Add to Del.icio.us Add to Google Add to Twitter Add to Stumble Upon
Add to Informational Site Network
Report
Privacy
SHAREADD TO EBOOK


Viewed 437