Part II Chapter 7 Savage Pellucidar by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Chanting their horrid song of death, the two priests walked through the narrow streets of Lolo-lolo all the way to the gates of the city. “Go to the great square;” they shouted to the guard. “Hor has sent us to summon you. Every fighting man is needed to overcome those who would defend the false Noada and Gamba. Hurry! We will watch the gates.”

The warriors hesitated. “It is Hor’s command,” said one of the priests; “and with Gamba and the Noada dead, Hor will rule the city; so you had better obey him, if you know what’s good for you.”

The warriors thought so, too; and they hurried off toward the square. When they had gone, the two priests opened the gates and passed out of the city. Turning to the right, they crossed to a forest into which they disappeared; and as soon as they were out of sight of the city, they removed their masks and their robes of office.

“You are not only a very brave girl,” said Gamba, “but you are a very smart one.”

“I am afraid that I shall have to be a whole lot smarter,” replied Dian, “if I am ever to get back to Sari.”

“What is Sari?” asked Gamba.

“It is the country from which I came.”

“I thought you came from Karana,” said Gamba.

“Oh, no you didn’t,” said Dian, and they both laughed.

“Where is Sari?” asked Gamba.

“It is across the nameless strait,” replied Dian. “Do you know where we might find a canoe?”

“What is a canoe?” asked Gamba.

Dian was surprised. Was it possible that this man did not know what a canoe was? “It is what men use to cross the water in,” she replied.

“But no one ever crosses the water,” protested Gamba. “No one could live on the nameless strait. It is full of terrible creatures; and when the wind blows, the water stands up on end.”

“We shall have to build a canoe,” said Dian.

“If my Noada says so, we shall have to build a canoe,” said Gamba, with mock reverence.

“My name is Dian,” said the girl; so the man who had been a king and the woman who had been a goddess went down through the forest toward the shore of the nameless strait.

Beneath the long robes of the priests, they had brought what weapons they could conceal. They each had a sword and a dagger, and Gamba had a bow and many arrows.

On the way to the shore, Dian looked for trees suitable for the building of a canoe. She knew that it would be a long and laborious job; but if the Mezops could do it with stone tools, it should be much easier with the daggers and swords of bronze; and then, of course there was always fire with which to hollow out the inside.

When they came to the shore of the nameless strait, they followed it until Gamba was sure there would be no danger of their being discovered by the people of Lolo-lolo or the people of Tanga-tanga.

“They do not come in this direction much,” he said, “nor often so far from the cities. The hunters go more in the other direction or inland. There are supposed to be dangerous animals here, and there is said to be a tribe of wild savages who come up from below to hunt here.”

“We should have an interesting time building the canoe,” commented Dian.

At last the second balloon was completed. It was just like the first, except that it had a rip cord and was stocked with food and water, David’s extra weight and the weight of the food and water being compensated for by the absence of the heavy rope which had been attached to the first balloon.

When the time came to liberate the great bag, the people of Sari stood in silence. They expected that they would never see David Innes again, and David shared their belief.

“Dod-burn it!” exclaimed the little old man whose name was not Dolly Dorcas, “there goes a man, as the feller said.”

Ope, the high priest of the temple at Tanga-tanga, had acquired a Noada; but she was not at all what he had imagined Noada should be. At first she had been docile and tractable, amenable to suggestion; that was while O-aa was learning the ropes, before she learned that she was supposed to be allwise and all-powerful, deriving her omniscience and omnipotence from some one they called Pu who dwelt in a place called Karana.

Later on, she became somewhat of a trial to Ope. In the first place, she had no sense of the value of pieces of bronze. When they were brought as offerings to her, she would wait until she had a goodly collection in a large bowl which stood beside her throne; then, when the temple was filled with people, she would scoop handfuls of the pieces from the bowl and throw them to the crowd, laughing as she watched them scramble for them.

This made O-aa very popular with the people, but it made Ope sad. He had never had such large congregations in the temple before, but the net profits had never been so small. Ope spoke to the Noada about this—timidly, because, unlike Hor of Lolo-lolo, he was a simple soul and guileless; he believed in the divinity of the Noada.

Furp, the go-sha of Tanga-tanga, was not quite so simple; but, like many an agnostic, he believed in playing safe. However, he talked this matter over with Ope, because it had long been the custom for Ope to split the temple take with him, and now his share was approaching the vanishing point, so he suggested to Ope that it might be well to suggest to the Noada that, while charity was a sweet thing, it really should begin at home. So Ope spoke to the Noada, and Furp listened.

“Why,” he asked, “does the Noada throw away the offerings that are brought to the temple?”

“Because the people like them,” replied O-aa. “Haven’t you noticed how they scramble for them?”

“They belong to the temple.”

“They are brought to me,” contradicted O-aa. “Anyway, I don’t see why you should make a fuss over some little pieces of metal. I do not want them. What good are they?”

“Without them we could not pay the priests, or buy food, or keep the temple in repair,” explained Ope.

“Bosh!” exclaimed O-aa, or an expletive with the same general connotation. “The people bring food, which we can eat; and the priests could keep the temple in repair in payment for their food; they are a lazy lot, anyway. I have tried to find out what they do besides going around frightening people into bringing gifts, and wearing silly masks, and dancing. Where I come from, they would either hunt or work.”

Ope was aghast. “But you come from Karana, Noada!” he exclaimed. “No one works in Karana.”

O-aa realized that she had pulled a boner, and that she would have to do a little quick thinking. She did.

“How do you know?” she demanded. “Were you ever in Karana?”

“No, Noada,” admitted Ope.

Furp was becoming more and more confused, but he was sure of one point, and he brought it out. “Pu would be angry,” he said, “if he knew that you were throwing away the offerings that the people brought to his temple, and Pu can punish even a Noada.”

“Pu had better not interfere,” said O-aa; “my father is a king, and my eleven brothers are very strong men.”

“What?” screamed Ope. “Do you know what you are saying? Pu is all-powerful, and anyway, a Noada has no father and no brothers.”

“Were you ever a Noada?” asked O-aa. “No, of course you never were. It is time you learned something about Noadas. Noadas have a lot of everything. I have not one father only, but three, and besides my eleven brothers, I have four sisters, and they are all Noadas. Pu is my son, he does what I tell him to. Is there anything more you would like to know about Noadas?”

Ope and Furp discussed this conversation in private later on. “I never before knew all those things about Noadas,” said Ope.

“Our Noada seems to know what she’s talking about,” observed Furp.

“She is evidently more powerful than Pu,” argued Ope, “as otherwise he would have struck her dead for the things she said about him.”

“Perhaps we had better worship our Noada instead of Pu,” suggested Furp.

“You took the words out of my mouth,” said Ope.

Thus, O-aa was sitting pretty in Tanga-tanga, as Hodon the Fleet One set sail from Amoz on his hopeless quest and David Innes drifted toward the end of the world in the Dinosaur II, as Perry christened his second balloon.