THE WOLD NEWTON UNIVERSE
This page contains several articles by the great creative mythographer, Philip José Farmer, and are generally harder to locate than some of his Wold Newton books, such as Tarzan Alive, Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life, and The Other Log of Phileas Fogg (go to this page and this page for a full listing of Mr. Farmer's Wold Newton books and stories). The articles are reproduced here with Mr. Farmer's permission and with my thanks. Many thanks also go to Michael Croteau of The Official Philip José Farmer Home Page, who made my life much easier by acting as a liaison with Mr. Farmer and providing preliminary OCR conversions of some of the texts.
The remainder of the Wold Newton Articles pages contain several types of articles, ranging from pure information about the Wold Newton Universe (such as Lou Mougin's The Continuing Crossovers Affair and Brad Mengel's The Edson Connection), to more speculative pieces (such as Chuck Loridans' The Daughters of Tarzan), to a mixture a both. The presence of an article on these pages does not necessarily constitute an integration of that article's theories and speculation into the history described in The Wold Newton Universe Crossover Chronology. Rather, the purpose of the articles pages is encourage free thinking, theorizing, hypothesizing, and research into the mysteries of the Newtonverse.
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Mark Brown's Wold Newton Chronicles follows the tradition of featuring the very best in scholarship and articles on Wold Newton topics ranging far and wide.
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From now on, please forward your articles to Win, to Mark, and to Dennis. We will consider submissions and coordinate for posting on one of our sites.
As almost everybody knows, Tarzan does live, and most of the stories told about him by Edgar Rice Burroughs (ERB) are true. However, ERB did mix some fiction in his biographies of the immortal apeman. H. Rider Haggard (HRH) was also not above falsifying some accounts of Allan Quatermain. Unlike ERB, though, he never concocted a story. His deviations from reality were confined to giving some of his real-life people fictional names or falsely locating the fabled cities which the great hunter and explorer of Africa found. Just as ERB used pseudonyms to protect some persons from unwanted publicity and gave hopelessly confused directions for finding Opar, so HRH used fake names and made it impossible to track down Kor, Zuvendis, and Waloo by following clues in SHE, SHE AND ALLAN, ALLAN QUATERMAIN and HEU-HEU.
The American, ERB, and the Englishman, HRH, never met. HRH probably heard of ERB as they both had stories in New Story Magazine in late 1913. It's highly likely that ERB had read some of Haggard's very popular works, and he probably did research on one of HRH's minor protagonists before writing one of his Tarzan tales.
It's the purpose of this essay to show just where a work by each intersected in a certain English noble family.
"The Lord of the Jungle is abroad" in TARZAN THE MAGNIFICENT. He's far north of Lake Rudolf (which is near the northern border of Kenya) on a mission for Haile Selassie I, King of Kings, Lion of Judah, and emperor of Ethiopia (Abyssinia). (As an aside, Tarzan, like Selassie, is descended from King Solomon, as may be seen by referring to addendum 3 of my TARZAN ALIVE. Greystoke, however, is lord of far more than Selassie can claim, since all Africa is his domain.)
Tarzan finds a skeleton of a black message-bearer and in the runner's cleft stick, a nineteen-year-old letter. Since TARZAN THE MAGNIFICENT occurred in 1934, the letter was written in 1915. Its writer, Lord Mountford, and his wife had disappeared twenty years before while exploring this vast arid, and mountainous area. Mountford says that he and his wife were captured by a tribe of white women who live on the plateau of Kaji. Kaji, ERB says, is not far from where the Mafa River empties into the Neubari River. A study of detailed maps of Ethiopia and several encyclopedias and atlases fails to locate these. We can assume that ERB is using fictional names for real rivers. The only large river in the area northwest of Lake Rudolf (they are specified by ERB) is the Omo (sometimes spelled Umu). The Omo forms the eastern border of the northwest area. The only town of any consequence in this area is Maji, which has an airport now. The similarity of Kaji to Maji is no doubt a coincidence.
Possibly, the confluence of two rivers which ERB described may be, in reality, the point where the Akobo River branches into two streams. Certainly, this territory is rugged and unpopulated enough to still conceal the cliff-dwellings of the Kaji and the small village and two-story building of the Zuli, the enemies of the Kaji.
Lord Mountford says in his letter that his wife bore a daughter a year after they were captured. His wife was killed by the Kaji because she had not delivered a son. The Kaji amazons needed white males to keep the "white blood" in the tribal veins. This murder seems to be illogically motivated. Why not allow Lady Mountford to have more babies, some of which might be male? However, as we know, all societies, literate or preliterate, often proceed on illogical and nonsurvival grounds, and this seems to have been the case with the Kaji.
A little later, Tarzan finds a refugee from the Kaji. He is Stanley Wood, a travel writer who has capitalized on his "natural worthlessness, which often finds its expression and its excuse in wanderlust."
It may be that ERB put these words into Wood's mouth. Every now and then, in his books, ERB pokes fun at his own profession.
Wood and a friend had led a small safari to search for the long-lost Mountfords. On the way, Wood finds Mountford, who has just escaped from the amazons and their chief, a male witch doctor. After some delirious statements, Mountford dies. He is a man well under fifty, and so, if he's in his early forties, would have been born circa 1892. This point is made here because it's relevant to the chronology of my theory.
Tarzan later encounters Mountford's daughter, a beautiful nineteen-year-old blonde. She is known only as Gonfala. After many adventures, aided by Tarzan, Gonfala and Wood escape to civilization and are, presumably, married there. They'll be wealthy, since Tarzan is going to give them the enormous emerald of the Zulis or some share of it.
TARZAN THE MAGNIFICENT does not give many details about the Mountfords. It says nothing, for instance, of their family background or history before their disappearance. Nor are the Mountfords mentioned in the other Tarzan Epics.
But Allan Quatermain, in FINISHED, Haggard's 1917 novel, meets a member of the Mountford family in 1877. And from this story, we can fill in the background which ERB left blank.
Quatermain, while in Pretoria, then a frontier town, runs into a Maurice Anscombe. He is a younger son of Lord Mountford, one of the richest peers in England. He is tall and loosely built and between thirty and thirty-five years old. He has steady blue eyes with a humorous twinkle. His face is attractive, though the features are too irregular and his nose is too long for good looks. He served in a crack cavalry regiment, resigned, and went to South Africa to hunt big game. He is brave, but a bad shot.
Anscombe has inherited much money from his recently dead mother. His father is also dead. An older brother is the present Lord Mountford. None of his brothers have any children.
Anscombe goes to the Kashmir in India to hunt wild sheep but returns on October 1, 1878 to hunt with Quatermain. While they're tracking a wounded gnu, they run into the alcoholic and terrible-tempered Marnham and his sinister partner, Doctor Rodd. These recruit native labor for the Kimberley mines but get most of their money from smuggling diamonds and running guns for rebellious natives. Marnham once served with Anscombe's father in the Coldstream Guards but was cashiered for striking a superior officer during a card game. He had married a beautiful Hungarian, but she died a year after giving birth to a daughter, Hedda.
The daughter is almost twenty-one, is tall and slender, and has auburn hair and large dark-grey eyes. Rodd is in love with her but is killed while trying to do away with Anscombe and Quatermain.
A weird black dwarf, the wizard Zikali, the Opener-of-Roads, the Thing-that-should-never-have-been-born, predicts that Hedda will have five children. Two will die, and one will give her so much trouble she'll wish it had died, too. Inasmuch as all of Zikali's prophecies come true in other Quatermain tales, it can be assumed that this one is valid.
Zikali then makes a strange statement. "But who their father will be I will not say."
Whatever this means, Anscombe and Hedda do get married. After many years, Quatermain hears they're still alive and spend most of their time in Hungary, where Hedda has inherited property.
"Lord Mountford" is as fictional a title as "Lord Greystoke." Mountford, to the best of my knowledge, is not to be found in any book on extant or extinct peerages. The real title is a matter for future research.
But ERB, when writing of the peers who figure in TARZAN THE MAGNIFICENT, decided to use HRH's title, since they were both writing of the same family.
Since Maurice Anscombe's brothers would have died childless, he would have inherited the title, perhaps late in life. One of Hedda's sons, born when she was about thirty-four, would have become Lord Mountford when Maurice Anscombe died. It was this son who was the Lord Mountford of TARZAN THE MAGNIFICENT.
It is possible that, since he was raised in Hungary a good part of this time, he married a girl of that country. Their daughter, Gonfala, could be one of the beautiful Hungarian blondes typified by the Gabors. Probably, Gonfala's mother was of that ancient aristocracy which, like Baroness Orczy, biographer of The Scarlet Pimpernel, traces its ancestry back to Arpad, the Magyar conqueror of that area to be called Hungary. (Lord Greystoke himself, as shown in TARZAN ALIVE, could do the same through the founder of the Scots family of Drummond, a Maurice by the way.)
Whether or not Gonfala could lay claim to the title is not known. When her father disappeared into Africa, the title may have gone to a male relative, a brother, a nephew, or cousin. If there were no male relatives, the title may have become extinct. If, however, the patent permitted a female in the direct line of descent to inherit the title, as some English patents do, Gonfala could have become a peeress.
If this were not the case, she probably went to the USA as just Mrs. Stanley Wood. The latter seems more likely, since there is nothing in the various chronicles of the years circa 1934 indicating that the daughter of a long-lost peer suddenly appeared out of Africa.
In any event, there is evidence that Henry Rider Haggard did write the story of the parents of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Lord Mountford.
All persons of North European ancestry, and the majority of those of South European extraction, are descended from Charlemagne. Charlemagne, or Karl the Great (742-814 A.D.), was the king of the Franks and emperor of the West (Holy Roman Empire). Most American blacks can also claim the distinction of descent from this famous monarch, since very few lack white ancestors. Furthermore, those belonging to Indian tribes whose original habitat was east of the Mississippi can make a similar claim. Further, anybody whose forebears were of old British stock also has as ancestor Alfred the Great (849-899 A.D.), king of the West Saxons. This includes many Dutchmen, Belgians, French, and Germans, since the British, in their many, many wars and travels, have left a trail of babies behind them in western Europe and elsewhere.
Unfortunately, few of us in the United States know who our great-grandfathers were. We can only show that Alfred and Charlemagne are in our lineage by arithmetic. Suppose you were born in 1950 A.D. Assuming 25 years per generation, you had sixteen ancestors living in 1850. Doubling each generation as you go backwards, you had 256 ancestors living in 1750. By the time you get to 1040 A.D., you have 23,873,978,368 ancestors.
The world population today is about 3.4 billion, the highest by far that it has been since the human species began. The world population in 1 A.D. was somewhere between 200 and 300 million. Obviously, you could not have had over 23 billion ancestors living in 1040 A.D. Marriage between cousins, near and far, is the only explanation of this discrepancy. The world is, and has been, a hotbed of incest.
It's no exaggeration to say that we're all related and that all of us have noble and royal ancestors. The difference between the majority of us and a small minority is that the latter can offer documentary proof of their descent from kings and nobility. They can give the names, step by step, ancestor by ancestor, of those in their lineage.
Edgar Rice Burroughs (ERB) belongs to this minority. His lineage is distinguished indeed. In fact, it can be traced back to the great Germanic God Woden, known in various languages as Odin, Wuodan, Wodan, Wuotan, etc. One of his epithets in Old Norse was Ygg, hence the name in the title of this essay. Ygg means "The Terrible One," and Yggdrasil, the great ashtree or worldtree of the Old Norse, means "Odin's Steed."
But let's go to a son of Odin, the man whose lineage is the subject of this article. He was born in Chicago on the first of September, 1875. Neither his environment nor his immediate ancestry smacked remotely of the divine. Yet this man, Edgar Rice Burroughs, had an imagination which would carry his readers further than Woden ruled, to the center of the Earth and beyond Earth itself, faster than Odin's eight-legged steed, Sleipnir, could travel.
His parents were George Tyler Burroughs (1833-1913) and Mary Evaline Zieger, married 23rd February, 1863. George was a major in the U.S. Army during the Civil War and a successful businessman afterwards. He was the son of Abner Tyler Burroughs (1805-1897) and Mary Rice, married 16th December, 1827.
Abner Tyler Burroughs was the son of Tyler Burroughs (1771-1845) and Anna Pratt. The ancestors of Tyler Burroughs are not known to me, though Mr. Porges, in his biography of ERB (still unpublished) may extend the genealogy in the Burroughs line.
However, it is the purpose of this article to trace ERB's lineage through the Rices. The genealogy of ERB's other American ancestors, the Ziegers, Colemans, McCullochs and Innskeeps, is not covered here.
Mary Rice (see above), ERB's paternal grandmother, was born in 1802 at Warren, Mass., and died 1889 in Chicago, Ill.
Her parents were Thomas Rice (1767-1847) and Sally Makepeace, both of Brookfield, Mass.
Thomas' parents were Tilly Rice and Mary (Baxter) Buckminster of Brookfield.
Tilly Rice was the son of Obadiah Rice (born in Marlboro, Mass.) and Esther Merrick.
Obadiah was the son of Jacob Rice (born in Marlboro) and Mary ---*
Jacob Rice (died 1746) was the son of Edward Rice, born in Sudbury, Mass. Mary Evaline Zieger, ERB's mother, says in her booklet on the family, Memoirs of a War Bride (1914), that Jacob Rice married Mary ---. Burke's Landed Gentry, 1939, states that his wife was Mary, daughter Christopher Bannister of Marlboro.
Edward Rice (died 1712) married Anna ---, according to Memoirs of a War Bride. Burke says that Edward's wife was Agnes, daughter of John Bent of Marlboro.
Edmund, called Deacon Rice, father of Edward, was born about 1594 in Berkhampstead, Hertfordshire, England. He emigrated to the colonies and settled in Sudbury, Mass., in 1639. Edmund was one of the founders of Sudbury, a proprietor and selectman, a freeman and a deputy to the General Court. He had a twin brother, Robert, who followed him to America.
Edmund's father was Thomas Rice of Boemer, county of Buckinghamshire. There seems to be no record available of Edmund's mother.
Thomas' father was William Rice, born 1522 in the same town as Thomas. William was important enough to be granted a coat of arms in 1522. These arms are illustrated in color in Burke's Landed Gentry of 1939. Their blazoning: Argent on a chevron engrailed sable between three reindeers' heads erased gules as many cinquefoils ermine. As descendants of William Rice, ERB and his posterity are entitled to bear these arms.
William Rice was a younger son of Rice ap-Griffith FitzUryan and Katherine, daughter of Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk. It is through these two that noble and royal blood enters the Rice family. Let's consider the Welsh line before we go to the English line.
First, though, it must be admitted that William Rice is a weak link in the genealogical chain. Burke's Peerage in the section on Dynevor gives only a son, Griffith apRice FitzUryan, and a daughter, Agnes, as the children of Katherine Howard and Rice apGriffith FitzUryan. Burke's Landed Gentry states that it is said that William Rice was a younger son of Katherine and Rice. Dr. Charles Rice of Alliance, Ohio, a genealogical writer, indicates that there is no doubt about William Rice being their son. Since Burke often does not mention children who founded "unimportant" lines, the omission in the Peerage may be due to this. This may also account for the omission of Obadiah Rice in Landed Gentry. Obadiah (ERB's great-great-great-grandfather was "unimportant" to Landed Gentry. This is ironic, since Gentry lists in detail the accomplishments and novels of two of the descendants of Edmund Rice; but who today has ever heard of Cale Young Rice and Alexander Hamilton Rice? Yet, in 1939, Edgar Rice Burroughs was a world-famous writer and the creator of a character, Tarzan, whose only close rival in literary stature is Sherlock Holmes. I have no hesitation in saying that these are immortal characters, literarily speaking--the best known in the 20th century, and undiminished by time. As the years go by, they grow bigger.
Again, the family of Doyle is not even listed in Landed Gentry, though A. Conan Doyle came of ancient and distinguished stock from both sides. But then, neither Doyle nor Burroughs were considered to be "respectable" writers. And they are still vastly underrated by the literati.
The Welsh line of ERB's ancestry is studded with knights, princes and gentlemen. Those who are interested can refer to the section on the barons of Dynevor in Burke's Peerage. This begins the Rice lineage with Uryan Rheged, Lord of Kidwelly, Carunllou, and Iskennen in South Wales. He married Margaret La Faye, daughter of Gerlois, Duke of Cornwall, and he built the castle of Carrey Cermin in Carmathenshire, Wales. He had originally been a prince of the North Britons, but was expelled by the Saxons in the 6th century and fled to Wales.
His great-grandfather's sister was supposed to be Helena, mother of Constantine the Great. However, Helena's origin as a Briton is based on legends which are not backed by records contemporary to Constantine.
Uryan Rheged's great-great-grandfather was Coel Codevog, King of the Britons. Coel, who lived in the 3rd century A.D., seems to be the original of the nursery song, "Old King Cole." (See The Annotated Mother Goose, William S. and Ceil Baring-Gould, Clarkson N. Potter, 1962.)
Let's return now to the English line of ERB's family tree. Katherine Howard, William Rice's mother, came of a line which had many kings in its pedigree. The present head of the family, the Duke of Norfolk, is the Earl Marshal of England and the premier noble. Katherine was the daughter of Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk, and of Agnes, daughter of Hugh Tilney. Thomas led the English to their great victory over the Scots at Flodden Field, 9th September, 1513.
Thomas' father, Sir John Howard, 1st Duke of Norfolk, married Katherine, daughter of William, Lord Moleyns, and died fighting for Richard III on Bosworth Field.
The 1st duke was the son of Margaret, eldest daughter of Thomas, Lord Mowbray, and of Sir Robert Howard.
Sir Robert's lineage started with a John Howard of Wiggenhall St. Peter, 1267, who married a Lucy ---. Sir Robert was also descended from King John of England, Duke of Normandy, through Joan, daughter of Sir Richard de Cornwall, a bastard of Richard Cornwall, second son of King John.
Margaret, Sir Robert's wife, was the eldest daughter of Thomas, Lord Mowbray, and of Elizabeth FitzAllen, daughter of the Earl of Arundel. Her brother, be it noted, was the ancestor of Isabel Arundell, the wife of the great explorer, writer and anthropologist, Sir Richard Francis Burton. Another item of interest is that some of the present branches of the Howard family are descendants of the barons of Greystoke. (See Burke, Extinct Peerage.) The de Greystock blood, alas, entered the Howard veins too late for ERB to claim them as forefathers. Captain Stafford Vaughan Stepney Howard-Stepney is the present Lord of Greystoke Manor in Cumberland and a distant relative of ERB.
Thomas, Lord Mowbray, was the son of John, Lord Mowbray, and of Elizabeth Segrave.
Elizabeth Segrave was the daughter of John, Lord Segrave, and of Margaret Plantagenet.
Margaret was the daughter and heiress of Thomas de Brotherton, Earl of Norfolk and Earl Marshal of England.
Thomas was the eldest son of King Edward I by Margaret, daughter of Philip the Hardy, King of France. Philip's dynasty will be described in Part II, along with other ancestors of ERB, the rulers of Scotland, Normandy, Norway, Hungary, and the Swedish Norsemen rulers of medieval Russia.
Edward I was the son of Henry III and of Eleanor, daughter of Raymond Berengaris, Count of Provence. Edward, be it noted, was the brother of Richard, also called Norman of Torn or the Outlaw of Torn. ERB says that Richard was a legitimate son, but there is plenty of evidence that The Outlaw of Torn is a semifictionalized account. Richard was probably one of Henry III's "natural" children. The identity of the mother is a subject for a separate article. I may also mention that Alice Pleasaunce Liddell, the real-life model for Lewis Carroll's Alice, was a descendant of Edward I. Her line came through John of Gaunt, Edward I's grandson. But she, along with Old King Cole, is a relative of ERB's.
Henry III's father was King John, who's had such a bad press that no king of England has ever been name John since. Actually, John was no worse than any of the medieval monarchs and a lot better than many. His brother, Richard the Lion-Hearted, was a thorough rotter who probably couldn't even speak English, but writers (until recently) made a hero out of him.
John married Isabel, daughter and heiress of Aymer, count of the French province of Angouleme. John's parents were Henry II and Eleanor, daughter of William, Duke of Aquitaine.
Henry II's father was Geoffrey, Count of Anjou and son of John, King of Jerusalem. Henry's mother was the empress dowager of England and daughter of Henry I.
Henry I married Maud, daughter of the king of the Scots, Malcolm III, surnamed Caennmor. Maud, also called Matilda, was directly descended from Alfred the Great.
The father of Henry I was William (1027-1087), called the Bastard or the Conqueror. He and his Normans defeated King Harold of England at Hastings in 1066 and so won the rulership of England. William was the illegitimate son of Robert I, Duke of Normandy, also known as Robert the Devil. His mother was Arletta, daughter of a tanner of Falaise, and the story is that she caught the Devil's eye while he was riding past a brook where she was washing clothes. Robert dismounted and mounted. And thus was created another link in the blood-chain which resulted in ERB. Little William was raised in Robert's house and, since Robert had no surviving legitimate sons, became Robert's heir. In those days, the upper crust often took in their natural children to rear as their own. There was no stigma attached to bastardry.
What if Robert the Devil had not happened to be riding by that particular spot on that particular day? Quite probably the Norman conquest of England would not have occurred. The world, especially the English-speaking world, would be different in many respects. The English speech would not quite be what it is today, nor would our political and social institutions. Most of us (North American and European readers) would not exist. Our places would be taken by entirely different individuals. The works of Edgar Rice Burroughs would not exist, and this article would not have been written.
William the Conqueror was the descendant of Rollo, or Hrolf, the Norseman who conquered that part of France which became Normandy. Rollo was called the Ganger, or Walker, because he was so huge that no horse could bear his weight. His ancestry will be described in Part II.
William married Maud, or Matilda, daughter of Baldwin, Count of Flanders. She was descended from Alfred the Great and Charlemagne.
Skipping a few Old English kings, we come to Alfred the Great. He was the son of King Ethelwulf (died 857) and of a lady named Osburh. Ethelwulf was the son of Egbert, King of Wessex, also titled Bretwalda, "ruler of Britain", deceased in 839.
The line of descent from Offa (reigned 757-796), King of the Mercians and of all England, is uncertain. But since there was much giving in marriage of sons and daughters among all the early Old English kings, it's highly probable that Egbert was descended from Offa.
Offa, according to a traditional genealogy, was a descendant of Penda, a king of Mercia. Penda's ancestral line consisted of Wibba, Creoda, Cynewulf, Cnebba, Icel, Eomaer, Angetheow, Offa, Waremund, Wihtlaeg, and the great god Woden.
(The latter Offa is quite likely the Offa mentioned in Beowulf.)
No one today is claiming that a god actually begat Wihtlaeg. This founding of a royal line by a deity was traditional and common to all the kings of Kent, Eastanglia, Essex, Mercia, Deira, Bernicia, Wessex and Lindesfaran. But, according to some modern authorities (Jacob Grim, among others), Woden was probably a hero of the early Germanic peoples who became deified after his death.
He would have lived, however, somewhere between 1000 B.C. and 800 B.C., not the 4th century A.D.
This early date means that the majority of those who read this article are also the many times great grandchildren of that ancient proto-Germanic speaking hero.
The descendants of ERB are living today, but the scope of this article ends with ERB. As it is, it's been a long journey from Woden to Tarzan.
* Old records often use a dash to indicate an unknown name.
In THE RETURN OF TARZAN, Tarzan is captured the first time he enters the city of Opar. He is placed on an altar to be sacrificed, and the high priestess, La, recites a "long and tiresome prayer." At least, Tarzan presumes it's a prayer, since the language is unknown to him. Later, La addresses him. Tarzan replies in five languages, none of which she understands. The last is "the mongrel tongue of the West Coast," a beche-de-mer or pidgin spoken in the ports and along the shoreline of West Africa.
So far, I've been unable to identify this pidgin, though no doubt it exists and my research has not been extensive enough. The surprising thing is that Tarzan knows it. He's had the time to learn French, English, Arabic, and Waziri (to some extent, anyway). But when and where did he have opportunity and leisure to learn the West Coast pidgin? During the events of TARZAN OF THE APES and THE RETURN OF TARZAN, he has been very busy and had very little contact with the natives of the West Coast.
But seek and ye shall find. Tarzan must have learned at least its rudiments while he and d'Arnot were in the port-town they found at the end of their wanderings in TARZAN OF THE APES. Tarzan, always a magnificent linguist, could have picked up the beche-de-mer very quickly.
During the ceremony at the altar of this lost outpost of Atlantis, Tha, an Oparian priest, makes a complaint. Tarzan is surprised to hear him speak "his own mother tongue." This is the speech of the mangani -- "the low guttural barking of the tribe of great anthropoids." La answers Tha in the same tongue.
Burroughs could not have meant that the two Oparians were emitting doglike barks. Possibly, a language could consist of clusters of long and short barks, a barking Morse code, in other words. But humans would never adopt such a speech.
Besides, Burroughs makes it evident throughout the Tarzan books that the mangani speech has definite words with consonants and vowels and that these are arranged in syntactical order. Intonation also plays an important part in the meaning. It determines whether "kagoda" means, "Do you surrender?" or "I do surrender." And intonation in a barking language is impossible.
The only way to reconcile Burroughs' two contradictory descriptions of the mangani speech is to assume that meant something that did not accord with the conventional definition of "barking." Perhaps the force with which the words were uttered suggested to him the "barking" metaphor. Thus, in English, a drill sergeant can "bark" orders.
Burroughs' use of the adjective "guttural" must mean that the mangani used sounds not found in English and seldom found in other languages. I believe that he meant by this one of the definitions of "guttural" given by Webster: "being or marked by utterance that is strange, unpleasant, or disagreeable." Burroughs was no linguist and hence did not use "guttural" in a truly linguistic sense.
Note that the original language is "a grunting monosyllabic" tongue. What Burroughs means by "grunting" is open to speculation. He does not define the term. "Opar" and "Oah" (Cadj's fellow conspirator) are not monosyllables. But Opar must be a heritage of the period in which the language was not monosyllabic. Oah, instead of being O-ah, could be diphthong, pronounced as our English "aw" or "oy." Burroughs doesn't tell us its pronunciation.
Whatever the sounds of the mangani language, they are not out of the range of human speech. Apparently, the mangani have teeth, oral cavities, larynxes and pharynxes much like those of human beings. And this tells us that the mangani are not as ape-like as Burroughs depicts them. But that's the subject of another article to be in ERB-dom soon: The Reconstruction of the Mangani.
After Tarzan kills the madman Tha, he and La have a long conversation in mangani. La tells him of the origin of Opar and summarizes its history. And we're confronted by a problem at once.
Both La and Tarzan use many words which the mangani tongue just would not have. In the paragraph beginning "You are a wonderful man..." La uses city and civilization. Tarzan, in his reply, uses religion and creed. Some of the other non-mangani words in the following dialog are priestess, temple, ten thousand, gold, ships, mines, slaves, soldiers, sailed, fortress, galley, rituals, sacrilegious, and God.
It is probable that La used these words. But they would have been loanwords from the Oparian tongue and hence unintelligible to Tarzan. He knew only the mangani of the west coast of Africa. This, as chapter IV, "The God of Tarzan," of JUNGLE TALES OF TARZAN indicates, had no concepts of, or words for, any words to do with religion. And what would the mangani among whom Tarzan had been raised know of gold, galley, mines, slaves, civilization, etc? Doubtless, the Oparian language had a word for ten thousand. But the preliterate mangani would not. For most preliterates, a word signifying "many" has to represent numbers above twenty. Some can count above that, but not very far.
HOW WAS TARZAN ABLE TO UNDERSTAND LA???
One explanation is that he interpreted the unfamiliar words from the context. Another, the most likely, is that he interrupted La many times to ask her for he definition of a word. This would not have been easy for La, since she would have had to use the limited mangani vocabulary to make the definition. Apparently, she was successful. Tarzan's acquaintance with the vocabulary of several civilized peoples enabled him to grasp her meaning quickly.
In any event, the dialog did not proceed as reported by Burroughs.
This linguistic difficulty may have been described to Burroughs. In this case, Burroughs just ignored the facts and described the dialog as if it had gone smoothly. He did this for the benefit of the reader, whom he thought (rightly or not) wouldn't be interested in the mechanics of the conversation. Burroughs discarded realism for the sake speed of narration. The essential thing was to communicate the basics of La's history of Opar.
Since the humans and the mangani of Opar were in such close linguistic contact, it is likely that some of the personal names of the humans were borrowed from the mangani. La doesn't seem to be one of these. Since she is the inheritor of a priestesshood and queenship many thousands of years old, it is probable that "La" came from the other tongue. It might have originally been a title. Perhaps every chief priestess was named La. On the other hand, Oah, during her brief tenure as the chief priestess, did not adopt the name of La. Or perhaps Burroughs did not tell us that she did because he did not want to confuse the reader with two La's.
Some ERB scholars have speculated that La might mean, simply, She. That is, The She, Ayesha, the immortal queen and high priestess of the city of Kor (see H. Rider Haggard's SHE, SHE AND ALLAN, and AYESHA) is addressed as 'She' or 'She-who-must-be-obeyed.'
It's my theory that the city of Kor was founded by refugees from the same great civilization which gave birth to Opar. After the cataclysm which destroyed the mother-culture, survivors fled to various parts of Africa and founded their own tributary cultures. The cities of Athne and Cathne, Xuja, and Tuen-Baka may have been built by the refugees, and the wild Kavuru may also have been descendants of the refugees.
John Harwood and Frank Brueckel have originated this latter thesis, and it will be expounded in their forthcoming article, Heritage of the Flaming God, an essay on the History of Opar and Its Relationship to Other Ancient Cultures. This will be published by Vernell Coriell in a Burroughs Bibliophiles. Harwood and Brueckel originated the idea that the lost cities of the Tarzan books may have been built by survivors of the destroyed mother-state. It is my own idea that Kor (and the civilization of the Zu-vendis, see Haggard's novel ALLAN QUATERMAIN) were also founded by refugees.
One final speculation. The religion of Opar seems to have been monotheistic. This means that it was the end-product of thousands of years of civilization. It has gone through the polytheism which is an inevitable stage of early cultures and now has one deity, the sun, the Flaming God.
The Flaming God is a male, and yet the head of the theocracy is, and apparently always has been, a woman, La.
This situation is unlike any other of which I have read. Where the dominant deity (or deities) is male, the chief theocrats are males, and almost always the temporal ruler is male. In the pre-Indo-European and pre-Semitic civilizations around the Mediterranean, the chief deity was a chthonic mother-goddess, and her chief vicars were women. Then the Indo-Europeans and Semites of the patriarchal male gods won out. Men became the chief vicars; priestesses assumed a subordinate role.
Yet, in Opar, a woman is the head of the state and the chief of a religion which worships a male god. Does this singular situation reflect a long struggle between the priestesses of a mother-god and the priests of a father-god in ancient Opar? Was the sun-god originally a son of the Great Goddess, and did he finally rise from the rank of a secondary deity to that of the primary and, finally, that of the only deity? Such seems to have been the case with the male gods in Greece and other Mediterranean countries.
And was the struggle in Opar solved by a compromise? Did the son-sun become the only deity but the priestesses retained their position as the head of the religion?
This seems the only explanation to account for the unique Oparian religion. And this indicates that the mother-state, the mighty empire stretching from sea to sea, was a matriarchy, and its chief deity at that time was an earth-goddess.
However, it is possible that she was the sun in the beginning, and that in the end the sun had to become masculinized.
In Kor (according to SHE AND ALLAN), the struggle was still going on. She, priestess of the moon, had long been challenged by Resu, priest of the sun. Only because of the intervention of Allan Quatermain and his mighty Zulu ally, Umslopogaas, were the worshippers of the moon (a female deity) able to triumph.
The question of the ancientness of religious sacrifice of human beings in Opar is not answered in the Oparian novels of Burroughs. Apparently, it had been going on for a long time. But this does not mean that human sacrifices were a part of the religion of the mother-state at the time of the cataclysm. In ten thousand years much will change, and the Oparians had degenerated in many respects.
The story following this introduction is a chapter in a projected novel originally titled The Unspeakable Threshold (now titled The Monster on Hold). This will be a "Doc Caliban" story and the latest in the series beginning with A Feast Unknown and continued in the Lord of the Trees and The Mad Goblin. Feast started in east Africa and is told in first person by James Cloamby, Viscount Grandrith (pronounced Grunith), an Englishman raised by a subhuman species (a variant of Australopithecus) in west Africa. Grandrith, while still a youth, became one of the high-echelon agents of the Council of Nine. The Nine are the secret rulers of earth, most of whom were born circa 30,000-20,000 B.C. though they looked as if their age is only a hundred.
The Nine have considerably slowed their aging with a longevity "elixir" which they share with certain agents who have earned it. Grandrith is one of the very few so privileged. Though eighty-three he looks and feels like a twenty-five year old man.
In A Feast Unknown, Grandrith is suffering unforeseen side effects of the elixir. These make it impossible for him to get an erection unless, and to avoid one if, violence is involved. He finds this out when he is attacked by Jomo Kenyatta's forces. Then he discovers that an American agent for the Nine is out to kill him. Doc Caliban believes (wrongly) that Grandrith has killed Caliban's cousin, Patricia Wild, also an agent of the Nine. Caliban is suffering from the same side effects of the elixir.
Just as the two have what should be a final confrontation, they are summoned to a meeting of the Nine in a subterranean area in east Africa. The oldest man of the Council, XauXaz, has died, and Caliban and Grandrith are the top two candidates to replace him. One must kill the other to get a seat on the Council. In the end of A Feast Unknown, after many adventures, the two almost kill each other, but they then unite to fight against the Nine.
In Lord of the Trees, Grandrith manages to kill Mubaniga, the proto-Bantu member of the Nine. In The Mad Goblin, Jiinfan, a proto-Mongolian member and Iwaldi, an ancient Germanic member, are killed during a night battle at Stonehenge. Four of the Nine are dead, leaving as head of the Council Anana, the withered hag born about thirty thousand years ago in the area which would become Sumeria. Other living members are Tilatoc (an ancient Amerindian), Ing (the patronymic leader of the early English tribes when they were living in Denmark), Yeshua (a Hebrew born circa 3 B.C.), and Shaumbim (a proto-Mongolian).
The three novels above took place in the late 1960s. The events of The Monster on Hold begin in the late 1970s when Doc Caliban penetrates Tilatoc's supposedly impregnable fortress hideout in northern Canada. I won't describe the result because I don't want to reveal too much about the novel. But Caliban goes into hiding again. He hears that Anana has decreed that whoever kills Grandrith and Caliban will become Council members even if they are not candidates. (Caliban almost loses his life when he gains this piece of information.) When the second section of the novel begins (in 1984), Caliban is in Los Angeles and disguised as an old wino. Tired of running, he's decided to attack, but, first, he needs a lead. One night, a juvenile gang jumps him, thinking he's easy prey. He disposes of them quite bloodily, but he spots a man observing the fight. Later, he sees the man shadowing him. After trapping him, Caliban questions him, using a truth drug he invented in the 1930s. As Caliban suspects, the man is an agent of the Nine. Caliban allows him to escape and then trails him. This leads to a series of adventures I'll omit in this outline.
During these, Caliban begins to suffer from a recurring nightmare and has dreams alternating with these in which he see himself or somebody like himself. However, this man, whom he calls The Other, also at times in Caliban's dreams seems to be dreaming of Caliban.
Caliban thinks he has shaken himself loose of the Nine's agents, but then another appears. Caliban catches him and then recognizes him as a man he last saw in 1948.
He's shaken. The man, now calling himself Scott Free, figured prominently in an adventure which Caliban recalls with horror and much puzzlement. That is, when he does think about it, which is as seldom as he can help.
Caliban and his aides and some others had ventured deep into a labyrinthine cavern complex in New England. There they had encountered things which Mr. Free (one of the party) had said were the metamorphosed spirits of the dead. "Devils." Free claimed to be a lower-echelon devil who had escaped from Hades. Caliban, a rationalist and agnostic, did not believe Free's explanation. Yet, some of the events had no acceptable explanations. Whatever the truth, Caliban had escaped something very horrible. He had had no desire to explore the caverns again. At the same time his scientific curiosity about them had tormented him from time to time.
The adventure had been thirty-six years ago, and here is Mr. Free looking as young as then and trying to make him his prisoner. By whose orders?
That of the thing which Free had implied was Satan? That of the Nine? Or was he trying to get Caliban on his own?
Doc gets into contact with his two aides, "Pauncho" Van Veelar and Barney Banks. They're living under assumed names in upper New York but come at once when Doc summons them.
The truth drug fails to work on Free, but Caliban forces a story out of him which seems to be true. At least, the instruments that Doc used indicate this. Free confesses that the story about the cavern being Hades and its inhabitants being doomed souls is false. But he was born in the middle of the eighteenth century, and he had worked for the Nine. Too ambitious, he doublecrossed the Nine to gain a vast fortune. Caught, he expected to be tortured and killed. Instead he was condemned to be one of the guards in the cavern complex in New England.
There he discovered that he was to help guard some thing that he could only describe as "the monster in abeyance" or "the monster on hold." But it did have a name, Shrassk, meaning "She-Who-Eats-Her-Children." Free has never seen the monster. He says that in the eighteenth century the Nine were faced with a situation similar to that of Grandrith's and Caliban's revolt. Then, three candidates had tried to over throw the Nine. They had so disrupted the organization, slain so many agents and candidates, come so close to killing some of the Nine, that the Council, in desperation, had summoned a thing from another dimension or perhaps from a parallel universe.
(Not too parallel, Free says. Caliban says that things are either parallel or they're not. Free says that the other universe is, then, asymptotic. Which explains why the area in which the monster is contained in the cave is partly in this world, partly out of it. Or, from what he's heard, it may be suspended between two universes, acting as a sort of bridge.)
Shrassk, Free says, has the power, perhaps uncontrolled by it, a wild talent, to touch the subconscious of some sensitive human receptors and cause nightmares. God only knows what else.
Its touching may have been what caused Lovecraft to form his Cthulhu mythos, a dimly perceived and mostly fictional concept but based on the real horror.
In any event, Shrassk was not to be released directly upon the world in an effort to get the three rebels of the eighteenth century. While Shrassk was held in abeyance, it would reproduce after some mysterious mating and conception, and its "children" would be loosed to seek out and destroy the three without fail. Some children, that is.
Before that happened, the three rebels were caught, tortured, and then fed to Shrassk. It would not, however, go back to where it had come from. The Nine had to maintain the guards for the children and the forces that held it back from entering this world. Meanwhile, Shrassk was breeding, though very slowly, more of the children. Free says that Shrassk is imprisoned by geometry but, if it escapes, will do so by algebra. He is unable to clarify this enigmatic remark.
In 1948, Free had escaped from the cavern but had been forced to re-enter the cavern by Caliban and his aides. After they had gotten out of the cave, Free had teleported himself from jail. But teleportation is a power not always on tap. After a few "discharges," as Free puts it, the user has to recharge his battery.
Doc doesn't believe the story about TP. He thinks Free is lying and that he's just a superb escape artist.
Now, Free says, the Nine are so desperate that they are considering letting loose a "child" to destroy Grandrith, Caliban, Caliban's cousin, Pat Wilde, and Van Veelar and Banks. If that "child" doesn't succeed, another will be released.
Doc wonders if the truth drug isn't ineffective on Free and if Free hasn't been planted by the Nine to allure Caliban to go back to the cave. Nevertheless, he decides that he will attack. He gets into contact with Van Veelar and Banks and, after some difficulty, with his cousin, Pat. After taking the small stone fortress at the opening of the cave, the four descend into the many-leveled subterranean complex. This time, they penetrate much deeper than in 1948. They encounter a greater variety of denizens than the first time, including one which Doc thinks for a while is Shrassk. Doc becomes separated from his companions and has to go on alone.
The following is the first draft of a chapter of the proposed novel.
Free had said that the "children" were born out of flame by Shrassk.
Why then, as Caliban had proved so many times in the past twelve hours, were they terrified by fire? Was it fire itself, the reality, or the idea of fire that panicked them? Or both? Or something else?
He crouched behind the seven-foot-high cone of dark brown stuff oozing from the wide crack in the rock floor. Its rotten-onion stink and his knowledge of its origin sickened him. That the cone was building up at the rate of a quart every five minutes meant that monsters like the one he had just killed were in the neighborhood. Unless, that is, the dead thing was excreting after death and its wastes were flowing through the undersurface fissure complex. No. This cone was too far from the carcass.
Others of its kind must be nearby.
Soft noises came from the other side of the cone. Whisperings, chitterings. Nonhuman. He moved slowly along the edge of the cone. The gray-green light seemed to be dimming somewhat. Was the chocolate-brown goo absorbing the light? Nonsense. Or was it? He could not know here what was or was not nonsense. Anyway, calling something nonsense meant only that you did not understand it.
He looked around the cone. In the half-light he could see the rear of a creature he had not encountered so far. It had a tail two feet long, about an inch in diameter, hairless, studded with dark warts, and exuding slime. The tail was switching back and forth much like that of a cat thinking whatever sphinxlike thoughts a cat thought.
He moved slowly further around the edge of the cone, prepared to duck back if the thing should turn its eyes - if it had any - toward him. Then he saw that he had been wrong in assuming that the creature had a posterior part. It was two feet in diameter and a foot high. There was no head, hence, no rear, just an armored dome from which four tails - some kind of flexible members, anyway - extended. If the tail he had first seen came from the south of the round body, the others extended from the north, west, and east. The end of the west tail was stuck into the brown cone and was, since it was twice as large in diameter as the others, swollen with the sucking-in of the excrement.
Because the thing seemed to be eyeless, Caliban stepped forward two paces. Beyond the creature were four others, all feeding with the tail-like "west" organs.
Beyond them, its back to him - he supposed it was the back - was a bipedal creature. It was almost as tall as he and was unclothed. Though human in form, its skin was a dull blue. Black ridges ran both vertically and horizontally over its legs and body and hairless head. The ridges formed squares in the center of which was a livid red circle the size of a silver dollar. One hand, quite human, held a shepherd's staff.
The whisperings and chitterings came from the "shepherd."
The creature began to turn around. Caliban backed away around the cone. He looked around. No living thing in sight - as far as he knew. Here, he could not be sure what was or was not living. The rock floor slanted upwards at a ten-degree angle to the horizontal. At least, what he thought was the horizontal. The only relief to the smoothness and emptiness were some tall rock spirals, huge boulders, and brown cones here and there. The warm thick air passed slowly over his sweating skin.
He walked in the opposite direction so that he could watch the shepherd while it was facing the other way. And then the flickerings began again - flickerings he knew now were not phenomena outside him - and he saw The Other, his near-double.
For a moment he was frightened. Shrassk was touching his mind again. But, he reassured himself, that did not mean that Shrassk knew where he was. On the other hand...
He slid that possibility into a drawer in his mind and watched the vision with inner eyes while the outer watched the cone. If that shepherd strolled around the cone, it would have him at a disadvantage. He should go ahead with his plan. But he could not move.
The man who looked so much like him was walking through a rock tunnel filled with with the same light as this cavern, the gray-green of an old bone spotted with lichen. He, too, wore a backpack and a harness to which was attached many containers for instruments and weapons. Suddenly, The Other, stopped. His expression shifted from intense wariness to fright. That quickly passed and he stared straight ahead as if he were seeing something puzzling.
Caliban relaxed a trifle. The other man was probably also touched by Shrassk. He was seeing Caliban as Caliban was seeing him.
Caliban anticipated that they might soon do more than just see one another. It seemed to him that The Other was not perhaps in the same universe as Caliban's. Not yet. Perhaps never. But Shrassk was in the third universe which was a bridge between Caliban's and The Other's. A crossroads. And Caliban and The Other could leave their two worlds to meet in the third, Shrassk's.
This anticipation was based on Free's explanation, which meant that neither was grounded in reality.
Doc forced himself to move. With the first step, the little glowing stage and its single performer vanished. It was as if his connection with the vision had been switched off by muscular action. By the time that he came to the other side of the cone, he was running and his mind was completely wrapped around his intent. A big knife was in one hand and the gas-powered pistol was in the other.
The shepherd has his back to him. It was turning one of the round things with its staff so that the tail on the south side could be inserted into the cone. Caliban slowed down just a little because he was astonished. The crook at the end of the shepherd's staff was straight now. Its end had split into two, and these were clamped around the lower edge of the dome-shaped cone-eater. Using these, the shepherd was turning the thing so that it could insert another tail into the goo.
The checkerboard-skinned thing must have heard him or have felt the vibrations of Caliban's boots through the rock floor and its bare soles. It yanked the staff from the edge of the round tailed thing and whirled. The ends of the staff merged together.
Caliban noted this and also the sex of the shepherd. It had no testicles, but a thin orange-prepuced penis reached to its knees.
The shepherd grinned, exposing four beaverlike teeth. Its face was human except for the black squares and red spots. It raised the staff as if it were going to throw it at Doc. The end nearest Doc swelled, the shaft shrinking in length and diameter as substance flowed into the end, and the end became a thin pointed two-edged blade.
Doc raised the gas-pistol and squeezed the trigger. There was a hiss. The projectile appeared, its needle point buried in the blue chest. The thing staggered back two steps. It should have been unconscious in four seconds, but, screaming, it ran at Doc, the staff held as if it were a spear. Which it now was. The thing's arm came down; the spear flashed at Doc. He ducked. The spear missed, but the lower back end sagged, became supple, and whipped around Doc's arm.
Still holding the pistol, Doc sawed with his knife at the creature squeezing on his arm. Its body seemed to be as hard as hickory though it was as flexible as rubber.
By then the shepherd was upon him. Doc brought the knife up from the snake-shaft and down into the shepherd's thigh. The blade sank halfway into the flesh, but Doc was knocked down by the impact of its body. He rolled away and started to get up. The snake-shaft coiled the rest of its body around Doc's neck. He fell on his back, dropped the knife and pistol, and, while the thing cut his breath off, got his fingers between it and his neck, though not without cutting his skin with his fingernails, and, with a mighty yank, uncoiled it and cast it away.
Few men would have had the power to do that, but Doc had no time to congratulate himself on that. The shaft was writhing on the floor in an effort to reach him. Lacking the belly plates of the true snake, it was making little progress. The shepherd, however, screaming, blood gushing from its wound, was hobbling towards him. Doc rolled away until his right had was within reach of the snake-shaft. His fingers closed around it just back of the head, which was swelling - toward what shape? - and he rose to his feet and threw the thing at the shepherd in one fluid movement. He had taken the chance that the staff might be so quick that it would whip itself around his wrist or even, perhaps, around his neck again. But, cracking it like a whip, he had avoided that. Now the shaft fell around the shepherds head, chittered something, and the shaft fell off it.
Doc had hurled himself against the shepherd then, and he had knocked it down. It started to get up, but Doc's boot caught it under its rounded and cleft chin. It fell back, unconscious.
Panting, Doc bent over the shepherd. Since he wanted no witness left behind, no one to tell - whom? - that he had been this way, he intended to drag the shepherd to a nearby deep fissure and drop it in. He screamed and straightened up and grabbed at his crotch. Something had wrapped itself around his penis and was squeezing it. For a few seconds, he was so taken by shock and surprise that he did not recognize what it was that had seized him. Now he saw that the proboscislike sex organ of the shepherd - if it was a sex organ - had coiled itself around his penis. It was yanking at it as if it was trying to tear his organ off. Fortunately, the cloth of Doc's pants was interfering with the effort.
The shepherd seemed to be still knocked out. The drug from the hypodermic and its wound had surely done their work. But they should also have made its sex organ, or whatever it was, flaccid. Knocked it out, too. Unless it was partially independent of the blood supply of the main body.
No time to think. Gritting his teeth, Doc backed away, the shepherd's body dragging behind, pulled by the proboscis attached to Doc's penis. The pain became worse. He had a vision of his organ being torn out by the roots, but he kept backing until he was by the knife. He fell to his knees, grabbed it, and sliced away the blue length and orange prepuce with one motion. Blood, almost black in the dim light, geysered out from the shepherd.
Doc staggered to the gas gun, picked it up, sheathed it and the knife, and ran. The pain faded away but not the memory. After a few yards, he slowed to a walk. A glance showed him the shepherd's still body, the shaft writhing, and the five round things. What next? When he reached the far wall of the cavern, he went along it for perhaps a quarter of a mile and found in the shadows the entrance of a smooth downslanting tunnel. With both arms outspread, he could touch its walls. The top was a foot higher than his six feet and seven inches.
The tunnel, after a half a mile, ended with a flaring out as if it were a trumpet. Before him was silence and the biggest cavern yet. The walls opposite him were draped in blackness which, for a second, he thought moved. The ceiling soared into darkness. The floor, far below, was bathed in a brighter light than that which he had gone through and was now green-yellow. Its source, however, was still unknown.
A ledge extended from the tunnel exit. Two feet wide, it ran more or less horizontally from both sides of the tunnel mouth as far as he could see. The straight drop from the ledge to the floor was, he estimated, about a mile. From here, the floor seemed to be smooth among the ridges, hillocks, and curious shapes, some of which looked human. Vaguely. They could not be, however. For one thing, they did not move. For another, they would have to be far larger than elephants for him to make out their shapes at this distance and in this twilight.
For the first time, he saw water in large quantity. A river wound through a rock channel, its surface dark, smooth, and oily. Perhaps it wasn't water.
Something darker than the river and the stone banks moved slowly on the surface. Doc removed his backpack and took out the night-vision subsonic-transmitter. He lay down on the ledge, his elbows propped near the edge, put the viewscreen to his eyes, swept the area that had attracted his attention, adjusted the dials, moved the instrument back and forth, and held it steady.
The slowly floating mass was a rowboat with an unmoving figure seated in it. The figure seemed to have its back to him. But something extended from its front out over the water. A fishing rod? What kind of creatures could live in the barren river. There was no food for them. Unless . . . there were cracks in the riverbottom and the chocolately onion-stinking stuff oozed up from them. Maybe the "fish" ate that stuff.
Doc moved the line of sight over the boat. It was white, though that may not have been its color. Objects on which the instrument focused looked white; objects near the edge of the screen and in the background were dark. He did not think that the boat was made of wood since wood was absent in this world. The boat had probably been carved from stone.
The fisherman could be of stone, too. He certainly had not moved any more than a granite statue would. If that were so, then the monk's cloak and hood on him were of stone, too.
Doc had to keep moving the instrument slowly because the boat, like the river, was moving sluggishly. Then he started, and he lost the boat for a moment. The fisherman had shifted. By the time that he was in the screen again, he was on his feet and holding the pole with both hands. The line from the pole was too thin for Doc's instrument to reflect, but Doc knew that there was a line. Proof of its existence was climbing out of the river on the line.
The thing ascending the line hand over hand had a ghostly-white face with enormous eyes. A snub human nose. Thick pale lips. A rounded chin. Under which hung a loose bladder of skin. The thing had a high and bulging forehead. If it had a head of hair, it was not visible. It had no ears or ear openings that Doc could see. The neck was fat, and the body was a baby's, the arms and legs very short. It stood swaying, its nonhuman round feet with long webbed toes spread out on the stone bottom of the boat. The fingers were also long and webbed.
Doc widened the field of vision. The fisherman was three times as tall as the catch. If the former was six feet high, then the catch was two feet tall.
Doc's muscles tightened, and the back of his neck chilled. The fisherman had turned so that Doc could see the profile under the hood. It was human and familiar. The big hooked nose could be Dante Alighieri's.
Stop thinking like this, Doc told himself. That is not the centuries-dead Florentine poet. He - or it - is probably, no, certainly, not even human. Free's claim that the dead were reincarnated here was ridiculous.
Now the fisherman had put the pole down in the boat. Now he was picking up the large but slim fishhook at the end of the line and was walking carefully - didn't want to rock the boat - toward the creature that looked like a hybrid of baby and frog. Now he had grabbed its neck - the creature was not struggling - and had savagely driven the end of the hook through one side of the bladder below the neck and out through the other side.
Even then the creature was passive. Perhaps it was in shock, though Doc did not think so. Something in its attitude indicated that it was fully cooperating. And now the fisherman had tossed the creature into the water. He walked back to the pole, lifted it, and sat down, becoming again a stone-still Izaak Walton. The pole did not move, which meant that the thing on the hook was not struggling.
What was the prey for which the baby-frog would be bait? Anything big enough to swallow it would be too big for the simple Tom Sawyer fishing tackle to handle.
Getting answers here is secondary, Doc thought. I shouldn't be wasting time lying here and watching. I must be moving on. Besides, in this place, what I see from a distance, even with the viewer, may be quite different from what I'd see close up.
Nevertheless, he did not get up at once. The fisherman maintained his unhuman lack of movement, no wriggling, no looking around, no scratching of nose or hair. Only the boat and the river moved, and they did so very slowly. Nor had anything else moved except some shadows seen out of the corners of his eyes. When he looked directly at where the shadows had been, he saw only the pale dead-looking light.
Though he kept the viewer on the boat, with occasional sweeps across the floor, he could not help but think of other things. For instance, what was the ecosystem of this place? There had to be some kind of order here despite all the appearances of illogic and chaos. Everything he had seen had to be obeying or acting in accordance with a "law," a "principle." Everything had to be interconnected here as much as everything above it was. The "laws" of entropy, of energy input and output, conception, reproduction, growth, aging, and death had to operate in this deep underground. There had to be a system and an interdependent network.
Doc vowed that, before he left here - if he did leave - he would at least have an inkling of the system. He would have some data on which he could theorize.
Finally he rose. He was ready to go on. But, lacking a parachute or enough rope, he could not get down or along the glass-smooth wall below the ledge. He could go to the right or the left on the ledge. One direction had to lead down to the cave floor. There was traffic from the lower levels to the upper, and, thus, this ledge was the highway. Perhaps both the left and right were used. He could not, however, afford the time to take one and find out that it petered out somewhere on the side of the immense bowl.
Take the left. Why? Because that was the sinister side. It seemed to him that the sinister would always be the right direction in this place. Chuckling feebly at his feeble pun, he began walking faster than caution recommended, his left shoulder brushing against the wall now and then.
After a quarter of a mile, the ledge began sloping gently downward. In an hour, he was halfway to the floor and above a roughly three-cornered opening in the wall into which the dark river flowed. By then the fisherman had inserted his pole into a socket in the corner of the boat and was rowing back up the river. Were his oars also made of stone?
The ledge took Caliban to the other side of the cavern before it reached the floor. He stood there for a while and listened to the total silence, which was a ringing in his ears. The fear bell ringing, he thought. Someone is at the front door and pressing on the button.
Though he had no reason to think so, he felt that he was getting close to his goal. Which perhaps explained why his fear had come back and was moving closer to that sheer hysterical horror he had suffered during an incident in his first venture into the cave so many years ago.
Caliban, your hindbrain is trying to take over, he told himself. Use your forebrain. Don't use it to rationalize and justify what your hindbrain is telling you. Don't turn and run away. Don't walk away, either. Push on ahead. If you flee now when you are so close, after you've gone through so much, you'll despise yourself forever afterwards. You might as well kill yourself. In which case, if you're going to die if you run away or die if you go ahead, you might as well, no, it'll be much better, if you die because you went ahead.
Despite this, the fire of panic was burning away his reason and courage. It might have caught hold of him and turned him around. He would never know because the vision of The Other sprang into light in some place in his mind. And, as fire lights fire, a cliché but sometimes true, the vision swept away the fear.
The Other was standing at the entrance to a cave. He was smiling and holding up one huge bronze-skinned hand, two fingers forming a V. Then the scene widened, and Doc saw that The Other was about three hundred feet from a great circle of stone symbols brightly lit by burning gas jets at their bases. There were nine: a Greek cross, a hexagon, a crescent, a five-pointed star, a triangle with an eye at its top, a Celtic cross, an O with an X inside it, a snake with its tail in its mouth, and a winged horseshoe. They enclosed a shallow bowl-shaped depression in the rock about three hundred feet in diameter. In the center was another circle of stone symbols, smaller than those that formed the outer circle and unfamiliar to Caliban. Inside the smaller circle was a platform shaped like an 8 on its side. The upper side of the 8 had holes which projected to the far ceiling bright violet-colored rays.
Where the two O's that formed the 8 met, a strip of stone about ten feet wide, was a highbacked chair cut from a bloodred stone. The chair was not empty.
Caliban felt as if every cell in his body had turned over.
The being on the chair, surely Shrassk, She-Who-Eats-Her-Young, was not at all whom or what he had expected.
The fear surged back in; the vision dimmed. But he forced himself to push it back down, though it was like pressing down on a lid over a kettle of cockroaches breeding so furiously that the lid kept rising. For a moment, the vision became brighter and clearer. Doc saw that his Other was making signs in deaf-and-dumb language, indicating that his Other, Caliban, must hasten to aid him. Alone, each would go down quickly. Together, they might have a chance.
Caliban began running in a land where it was not good to run.
* * * * *
Thus ends this chapter. Will Caliban and The Other kill Shrassk?
Or will they be lucky to get away with life and limb? Will both survive? Will Doc Caliban ever analyze the ecosystem of what might or might not be Hell?
You will find out when The Monster On Hold is published.
Editor's Note: Unfortunately, The Monster On Hold was never published.