The village inside the palisade presented a strange appearance. It was evidently laid out according to no plan whatever, the houses having been placed according to the caprice of each individual builder. The result was most confusing, for there was no such thing as a street in the sense in which we understand it, for the spaces between the buildings could not be called streets. Sometimes they were only a couple of feet wide, and sometimes as much as twenty feet, and scarcely ever were they straight for more than the length of a couple of houses.
The design of the houses was as capricious as their location, apparently no two of them having been built according to the same plan.
At the Earth's Core, LAND OF TERROR, Edgar Rice Burroughs, (Pellucidar Series #6)
Some were built of small logs; some of wattle and mud; some of bark; and there were many entirely of grass over a light framework. They were round, or square, or oblong, or conical. I noted one in particular that was a tower fully twenty feet high; while next to it was a woven grass hut that rose no more than three feet above the ground. It had a single opening, just large enough for its occupants to crawl in and out on their hands and knees. In the narrow alleyways between the buildings, wild-eyed children played, women cooked, and men loafed; so it was with the greatest difficulty our escort forced its way toward the center of the village.
We were constantly stepping over or around men, women or children, most of whom paid no attention to us, while others flew into frightful rages if we touched them. We saw some strange sights during that short journey through the village.
One man, sitting before his doorway, struck himself a terrific blow on the head with a rock. I do not know how his altercation with himself turned out, for we turned the corner of his house and lost sight of him. A little farther on, we came upon a woman who was holding down a screaming child while she attempted to cut its throat with a stone knife.
It was more than I could stand; and though I knew the risk I took, I seized her arm and pulled the knife from the child's throat. I am putting it out of its misery. I warded off the blow, and simultaneously one of my escort knocked the woman down with the haft of his spear, while another pushed me roughly forward along the narrow alleyway. I might want to cut somebody's throat some day, myself; and I wouldn't want anyone to interfere with my fun. I might even want to cut yours.
We turned the corner of the house, and a moment later I heard the screams of the child again, but I was helpless to do anything about it, and now I had my own throat to think about. Presently we came to a large open space below a low, rambling, crazy- looking structure. It was the palace of Meeza, the king. In the center of the plaza before the palace was a huge, grotesque, obscene figure representing a creature that was part man and part beast.
Circling around it were a number of men turning "cartwheels. As we passed the figure, each member of our escort said, "Greetings, Ogar! They made Zor and me salute the hideous thing in the same manner. We are all the children of Ogar. We owe everything to him. He made us what we are. He gave us our great intelligence. He made us the most beautiful, the richest, the most powerful people in Pellucidar. If they didn't pray for us, we'd have to; and praying is very strenuous and tiring. We were admitted to the palace, which was as bizarre and mad a structure as I have ever seen; and there the leader of our escort turned us over to another Jukanian, a functionary of the palace.
Do not, by any mischance, cut their throats, or permit anyone else to do so, lest they have difficulty in talking with Meeza, who is anxious, I know, to converse with them. The palace functionary had been sitting on the floor when we entered, nor did he arise or discontinue his activities.
Instead, he dismissed our escort and asked Zor and me to sit down and join him. He had dug a hole in the dirt floor with the point of his knife, and into this hole he poured some water which he mixed with the loose earth he had excavated until the contents of the bole was of the consistency of soft modeling clay; then he took some in the palm of one hand, shaped it until it was round, patted it flat, and set it carefully on the floor beside him.
He inclined his head toward us and waved an inviting hand toward the hole. Goofo, the palace functionary in whose charge we had been placed, seemed quite pleased with us and our work. He told us that his undertaking was quite important, something of an engineering discovery that was going to revolutionize Pellucidar; and when he had finished telling us that, he shoved all the mud back into the hole, leveled it off, and patted it down with his hands until it was smooth on the surface like the rest of the floor.
He contracted his brows as though in an effort to recall something. A short time later, the girls returned with platters of food. There were meat, vegetables, and fruit; and they certainly looked delicious. My mouth fairly watered in anticipation. I moved a little closer to them and reached for a piece of meat; whereupon Goofo slapped my hand away and cried, "No, no.
He watched the girls very carefully as they consumed the food.
When the girls had finished the meal, he ordered them from the room; and then turned to me with a sly wink. Only one of the girls came in this time. She was a nice appearing, intelligent looking girl. Her expression was quite normal, but she looked very sad. I started to say something, but Zor touched me on the arm. Right now, we are very fortunate that this Goofo is friendly. Goofo looked pleased. Just remember that there are a great many eccentric people in the village and that you must be very careful what you say and do. I, alone, am probably the only sane person here.
In the next room, the other two girls were preparing food; and the sight and smell of it nearly drove me frantic.
Goofo has probably already forgotten that he has sent you to sleep. If he came in and saw you eating, he would think that it was he who had suggested it; and these girls will forget almost as soon as you are through that you have been here or that you have eaten. They are little better than imbeciles. In fact, everyone in the village is crazy except me. I felt sorry for the poor thing, knowing that she believed that she had impressed us with the truth of her statement.
I will admit that she didn't look crazy; but it is one of the symptoms of insanity to believe that everyone else is insane but you. She caught herself suddenly, as though she had said something she should not have said, and quickly added, "Of course I know you're not crazy, because I peeked through the doorway and saw you working in the mud with Goofo. I wondered if she were ribbing me a bit, and then I realized that to her poor unbalanced mind the thing that we had been doing might seem entirely natural and rational. With a sigh, I continued my meal—a sigh for the poor warped brain that dominated such a lovely girl.
Zor and I were famished; and Kleeto looked on in amazement at the amount of food we consumed. The two other girls paid no attention to us, but went on with their work preparing more food. At last we could eat no more; and Kleeto led us to a darkened room and left us to sleep.
I don't know how long we were in the palace of Meeza. I know we slept many times; and we lived off the fat of the land. Kleeto saw to that, for she seemed to have taken a liking to us. Nobody seemed to know what we were doing in the palace; but after they became accustomed to seeing us around, they paid no more attention to us, except that we were not permitted to leave the building, which meant, of course, that we could not escape; but we bided our time, hoping that some day something would occur to give us the opportunity for which we so longed.
Goofo, who was major-domo of the palace, never could recall why we were there. I used to see him sitting with that puzzled look on his face gazing at us intently, and I knew perfectly well that he was trying to recall who we were and why we were in the palace. As time went on, I became more and more impressed with Kleeto's intelligence.
Pellucidar (audio book)
She had an excellent memory, and by comparison with the others that we met she was unquestionably sane. Zor and I used to like to talk with her whenever the opportunity arose. She told us much about the ways of the people and the gossip of the palace. I don't understand," I said. She looked puzzled for a moment.
I will admit, however, that I was puzzled, because you seemed to be far too intelligent to be Jukans.
- Author and editor?
- Pellucidar - Hachette Australia?
- La baie des requins (FLAMMARION JEUN) (French Edition).
- The Mermaids Mirror.
- The Oil Man?
- Thunder Hawk (OMalley Saga)!
- Top Liner Rag - Piano.
They, as you have doubtless discovered, are all maniacs. I had to laugh at that; and she asked me why I was laughing. Some of the Jukans look and act perfectly normal; and they may be the craziest of the lot. Now neither Meeza, the king, nor Moko, his son, look like imbeciles; and, well, they are not exactly imbeciles either; but they are both maniacs of the worst type, irresponsible and cruel, always ready to kill. You were lucky to fall into his hands. If Noak, his assistant, had been on duty when you were brought into the palace, it might have been a very different story.
In fact, I have been here for so long that they have forgotten that I am not one of them.
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They think I am a Jukan. She shook her head. There have been many prisoners here, and I have never heard of one escaping. By the way," she added, "you said you were from Sari, didn't you? Do you know her name? The High Priest keeps her hidden. You see, Meeza wants to take her as one of his wives; Moko, his son, wants her; and the High Priest wants to sacrifice her to Ogar.
Related Land of Terror: Pellucidar Book 6
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