The Kur came to Port Kar! Two of the terrible space beasts came to make Tarl Cabot an offer. They, a death-squad, sought the renegade Kur commander, the great Half Ear, whom Tarl had once battled in the Far North. But Tarl refused their offer, for Half Ear was more valuable to the Priest-Kings alive than to the Kur dead. And now he knew it was imperatible for him to save that monster from the doom that would fast over take him. This meant venturing into the forbidden Barrens of Gor-a vast land of plains and praries whose cruel masters were tribes of savage red riders and where civilized men were always prey and their women were mere trophies of the hunt!


(Volume seventeen in the Chronicles of Counter-Earth)

by John Norman

1 Kog and Sardak; The Parley in the Delta

"How many are there?" I asked Samos.

"Two." he said.

"Are they alive?" I asked.

"Yes," he said.

At the second Ahn, long before dawn, the herald of Samos had come to the lakelike courtyard of my holding in many-canalled Port Kar, that place of manyships, scourge of Thassa, that dark jewel in her gleaming green waters. Twicehas he struck the bars of the sea gate, each time with the Ka-la-na shaft of hisspear, not with the side of its broad tapering bronze point. The signet ring, ofSamos of Port Kar, first captain of the council of captains, was displayed. Iwould be roused. The morning, in early Spring, was chilly.

"Does Tyros move?" I asked blond-haired Thurnock, that giant of a man, he ofpeasants, who had come to rouse me.

"I think not, Captain," said he.

The girl beside me pulled the furs up about her throat, frightened.

"Have ships of Cos been sighted?" I asked.

"I do not think so, Captain," said he.

There was a sound of chain beside me. The chain had moved against the collarring of the girl beside me. Beneath the furs she was naked. The chain ran fromthe slave ring at the foot of my couch, a heavy chain, to the, thick metalcollar fastened on her neck.

"It is not, then, on the business of Port Kar that he comes?" I had asked.

"I think perhaps not, Captain," said Thurnock. "I think that the matters have todo with business other than that of Port Kar."

The small tharlarion-oil lamp he held illuminated his bearded face as he stoodnear the door.

"It has been quiet," I said, "for too long."

"Captain?" he asked.

"Nothing," I said.

"It is early," whispered the girl next to me.

"You were not given permission to speak," I told her.

"Forgive me, Master," she said.

I threw back the heavy furs on the great stone couch. Quickly the girl pulled upher legs and turned on her side. I, sitting up, looked down at her, trying tocover herself from the sight of Thurnock. I pulled her then beneath me. "Ohh," she breathed.

"You will grant him, then, an audience?" asked Thurnock.

"Yes," I said.

"Oh," said the girl. "Ohh!"

Now, as she lay, the small, fine brand high on her left thigh, just below thehip, could be seen. I had put it there myself, at my leisure, once in Ar.

"Master, may I speak?" she begged.

"Yes," I said.

"One is present," she said. "Another is present!"

"Be silent," I told her.

"Yes, my Master," she said.

"You will be there shortly?" asked Thurnock.

"Yes," I told him. "Shortly."

The girl looked wildly over my shoulder, toward Thurnock. Then she clutched me,her eyes closed, shuddering, and yielded. When again she looked to Thurnock shedid so as a yielded slave girl, pinned in my arms.

"I shall inform the emissary of Samos that you will be with him in moments," said Thurnock.

"Yes," I told him.

He then left the room, putting the tharlarion-oil lamp on a shelf near the door.

I looked down into the eyes of the girl, held helplessly in my arms.

"What a slave you made me," she said.

"You are a slave," I told her.

"Yes, my Master," she said.

"You must grow accustomed to your slavery, in all its facets," I told her.

"Yes, my Master," she said.

I withdrew from her then, and sat on the edge of the couch, the furs about me.

"A girl is grateful that she was touched by her Master," she said.

I did not respond. A slave's gratitude is nothing, as are slaves.

"It is early," she whispered.

"Yes," I said.

"It is very cold," she said.

"Yes," I said. The coals in the brazier to the left of the great stone couch hadburned out during the night. The room was damp, and cold, from the night air,and from the chin from the courtyard and canals. The walls, of heavy stone, too,saturated with the chilled, humid air, would be cold and damp, and the defensivebars set in the narrow windows, behind the buckled leather hangings. On my feetI could feel the dampness and moisture on the tiles. I did not give herpermission to draw back under the covers, nor was she so bold or foolish as torequest that permission. I had been lenient with her this night. I had not slepther naked on the tiles beside the couch, with only a sheet for warmth, nor nakedat the foot of the couch, with only a chain for comfort.

I rose from the couch and went to a bronze basin of cold water at the side ofthe room. I squatted beside it and splashed the chilled water over my face andbody.

"What does it mean, my Master," asked the girl, "that one from the house ofSamos, first captain in Port Kar, comes so early, so secretly, to the house ofmy Master?"

"I do not know," I said. I toweled myself dry, and turned to look upon her. Shelay on her left elbow, on the couch, the chain running from her collar to thesurface of the couch, and thence to the slave ring fixed deeply in its base.

Seeing my eyes upon her she then knelt on the surface of the couch, kneelingback an her heels, spreading her knees, straightening her back, lifting herhead, and putting her hands on her thighs. It is a common kneeling position fora female slave.

"If you knew, you would not tell me, would you?" she asked.

"No," I said.

"I am a slave," she said.

"Yes," I said.

"You had me well," she said, "and as a slave."

"It is fitting," I said.

"Yes, Master," she said.

I then returned to the couch, and sat upon its edge. She then left the couch,that she might kneel on the tiles before me. I looked down at her. How beautifulare enslaved women.

"Perhaps," I said, "you might speculate on what business brings the emissary ofSamos of Port Kar to my house this morning?"

"I, Master?" she asked, frightened.

"Yes," I said. "You once served Kurii, the Others, the foes of Priest-Kings."

"I told all that I knew," she exclaimed. "I told all in the dungeons of Samos! Iwas terrified! I held back nothing! I was emptied of information!"

"You were then valueless," I said.

"Except, perhaps, as I might please a man as a slave," she said.

"Yes," I smiled.

Samos himself had issued the order of enslavement on her. In Ar I had presentedthe document to her and shortly thereafter, as it pleased me, implemented itsprovisions. She had once been Miss Elicia Nevins, of Earth, an agent of Kurii onGor. Then, in Ar, a city from which once I had been banished, I had caught andenslaved her. In those compartments which had been her own in Ar she had becomemy capture, and had been stripped and placed in my bonds. In her owncompartments, then, at my leisure, I had branded her and locked on her fairthroat the gleaming, inflexible circlet of bondage. Before the fall of darkness,and my escape, I had had time, too, to pierce her ears, that the full degree ofher degradation and slavery, in the Gorean way of thinking, be made most clear.

To Gorean eyes the piercing of the ears, this visible set of wounds, inflictedto facilitate the mounting of sensual and barbaric ornamentations, iscustomarily regarded as being tantamount, for most practical purposes, to asentence of irrevocable bondage. Normally ear- piercing is done only to thelowest and most sensuous of slaves. It is regarded, by most Goreans, as beingfar more humiliating and degrading to a woman than the piercing of a girl'sseptum and the consequent fastening on her of a nose ring. Indeed, such anaperture does not even show. Some slave girls, of course, are fixed for both.

Their masters, thus, have the option of ornamenting their lovely properties asthey please. It might be mentioned that nose rings are favored in some areasmore than in others, and by some peoples more than others. On behalf of the nosering, too, it should be mentioned that among the Wagon Peoples, even free womenwear such rings. This, however, is unusual on Gor. The nose ring, most often, isworn by a slave.

These rings, incidentally, those for the ears and for the nose, do not servesimply to bedeck the female. They also have a role to play in her arousal. Thebrushing of the sides of the girl's neck by the dangling ornament is, in itself,a delicate stimulation of a sensitive area of her body, the sides of her neckbeneath the ears; this area is quite sensitive to light touches; if the earringis of more than one piece, the tiny sounds made by it, too, can also bestimulatory; accordingly, the earring's feel and movement, and caress, andsometimes sound, persistent, subtle and sensual, functioning on both a consciousand subliminate level, can often bring a female to, and often keep herindefinitely in, a state of incipient sexual readiness. It is easy to see whyfree women on Gor do not wear them, and why they are, commonly, only put on lowslaves. Similar remarks hold, too, of course, for the nose ring, which touches,lightly, the very sensitive area of a girl's upper lip. The nose ring, too, ofcourse, makes clear to the girl that she is a domestic animal. Many domesticanimals on Gor wear them.

The girl kneeling before me, once Elicia Nevins, once the lofty, beautiful andproud agent of Kurii, now only my lovely slave, reached for my sandals. Shepressed them to her lips, kissing them, and then, head down, began to tie themon my feet. She was quite beautiful, kneeling before me, performing this lowlytask, the heavy iron collar and chain on her neck.

I wondered what the emissary of Samos might wish.

"Your sandals are tied, Master," said the girl, lifting her, head, kneelingback.

I regarded her. It is pleasant to own a woman.

"Of what are you thinking, Master?" she asked.

"I was thinking," I said, "of the first time that I put you to my pleasure. Doyou recall it?"

"Yes, Master," she said. "I have never forgotten. And it was not only the firsttime that you put me to your pleasure. It was the first time that any man hadput me to his pleasure."

"As I recall," I said, "you yielded well, for a new slave."

"Thank you, Master," she said. "And while you were waiting for darkness, toescape the city, whiling away the time, you made me yield again and again."

"Yes," I said. I had then, after the fall of darkness, deeming it thenreasonably safe, bound her naked, belly up, over the saddle of my tarn and,eluding patrols, escaped from the city. I had brought her back to Port Kar,where I had thrown her, a bound slave, to the feet of Samos. He had had her putin one of his girl dungeons, where we had interrogated her. We had learned much.

After she had been emptied of information she might then be bound naked andthrown to the urts in the canals, or, perhaps, if we wished, kept as a slave.

She was comely. I had had her hooded and brought to my house. When she wasunhooded she found herself at my feet.

"Are you grateful that you were spared?" I asked.

"Yes, Master," she said, "and particularly that you have seen fit to keep me, ifonly for a time, as your own slave."

Nothing so fulfills a woman as her own slavery.

After I had used her, I had put her with my other women. Most of these areavailable to my men, as well as to myself.

"A girl is grateful," she said, "that this night you had her chained to yourslave ring."

"Who is grateful?" I asked.

"Elicia is grateful," she said.

"Who is Elicia?" I asked.

"I am Elicia," she said. "That is the name my Master has seen fit to give me."

I smiled. Slaves, no more than other animals, do not have names in their ownright. They are named by the Master. She wore her former name, but now only as aslave name, and by my decision.

I stood up, and drew about me one of the furs from the couch. I went to the sideof the room and, with a belt, belted the fur about me. Also, from the wall, fromits peg, I took down the scabbard with its sheathed short sword. I removed theblade from the scabbard and wiped it on the fur I had belted about me. I thenreinserted the blade in the scabbard. The blade is wiped to remove moisture fromit. Most Gorean scabbards are not moisture proof, as this would entail eithertoo close a fit for the blade or an impeding flap. I slung the scabbard strapover my left shoulder, in the Gorean fashion. In this way the scabbard, theblade once drawn, may be discarded, with its strap, which accouterments,otherwise, might constitute an encumbrance in combat. On marches, incidentallyand in certain other contexts, the strap, which is adjustable, is usually putover the right shoulder. This minimizes slippage in common and recurrent motion.

In both cases, of course, for a right-handed individual, the scabbard is at theleft hip, facilitating the convenient and swift across-the-body draw.

I then went again to the side of the fur-strewn, great stone couch, at the sideof which, on the, tiles, chained by the neck, knelt the beautiful slave.

I stood before her.

She lowered herself to her belly and, holding my ankles gently with her hands,covered my feet with kisses. Her lips, and her tongue, were warm and wet.

"I love you, my Master," she said, "and I am yours."

I stepped back from her. "Go to the foot of the couch," I told her, "and curlthere."

"Yes, Master," she said. She then, on her hands and knees, crawled to the footof the couch and, drawing up her legs, curled there on the cold tiles.

When I went to the door, I stopped and looked back, once, at her. She, curledthere on the cold, damp tiles, at the foot of the couch, the chain on her neck,regarded me.

The only light in the room was from the tiny tharlarion-oil lamp which, earlier,Thurnock had placed on the shelf near the door.

"I love you, my Master," she said, "and I am yours."

I then turned about and left the room. In a few Ahn, near dawn, men would cometo the room and free her, and then, later, put her to work with the other women.

"How many are there?" I asked Samos.

"Two," he said.

"Are they alive?" I asked.

"Yes," he said.

"This seems an unpropitious place for a meeting," I said. We were in the remainsof a half-fallen, ruined tarn complex, built on a wide platform, at the edge ofthe rence marshes, some four pasangs from the northeast delta gate of Port Kar.

In climbing to the platform, and in traversing it, the guards with us, who hadnow remained outside, had, with the butts of their spears, prodded more than onesinuous tharlarion from the boards, the creature then plunging angrily, hissing,into the marsh. The complex consisted of a tarn cot, now muchly open to the sky,with an anterior building to house supplies and tam keepers. It had beenabandoned for years. We were now within the anterior building. Through theruined roof, between unshielded beams, I could see patches of the night sky ofGor, and one of her three moons. Ahead, where a wall had mostly fallen, I couldsee the remains of the large tarn cot. At one time it had been a huge, convex,cage like lacing of mighty branches, lashed together, a high dome of fastened,interwoven wood, but now, after years of disrepair, and the pelting of rains andthe tearings of winds, little remained of this once impressive and intricatestructure but the skeletal, arched remnants of its lower portions.

"I do not care for this place," I said.

"It suits them," said Samos.

"It is too dark," I said, "and the opportunities for surprise and ambush are tooabundant."

"It suits them," said Samos.

"Doubtless," I said.

"I think we are in little danger," he said. "Too, guards are about."

"Could we not have met in your holding?" I asked.

"Surely you could not expect such things to move easily about among men?" askedSamos.

"No," I granted him.

"I wonder if they know we are here," said Samos.

"If they are alive," I said, "they will know."

"Perhaps," said Samos.

"What is the purpose of this parley?" I asked.

"I do not know," said Samos.

"Surely it is unusual for such things to confer with men," I said.

"True," granted Samos. He looked about himself, at the dilapidated, ramshacklebuilding. He, too, did not care overly much for his surroundings.

"What can they want?" I wondered.

"I do not know," said Samos.

"They must, for some reason, want the help of men," I speculated.

"That seems incredible," said Samos.

"True," I said.

"Could it be," asked Samos, "that they have come to sue for peace?"

"No," I said.

"How can you know that?" asked Samos.

"They are too much like men," I said.

"I shall light the lantern," said Samos. He crouched down and extracted a tinyfire-maker from his pouch, a small device containing a tiny reservoir oftharlarion oil, with a tharlarion-oil-impregnated wick, to be ignited by aspark, this generated from the contact of a small, ratcheted steel wheel, spunby a looped thumb handle, with a flint splinter.

"Need this meeting have been so secret?" I asked.

"Yes," said Samos.

We had come to this place, through the northeast delta gate, in a squarish,enclosed barge. It was only through slatted windows that I had been able tofollow our passage. Any outside the barge, on the walkways along the canals, forexample, could not have viewed its occupants. Such barges, though with the slatslocked shut, are sometimes used in the transportation of female slaves, thatthey may not know where in the city they are, or where they are being taken. Asimilar result is obtained, usually, more simply, in an open boat, the girlsbeing hooded and bound hand and foot, and then being thrown between the feet ofthe rowers.

I heard the tiny wheel scratch at the flint. I did not take my eyes from thethings at the far end of the room, on the floor, half hidden by a large table,the area open behind them leading to the ruined tarn cot. It is not wise to lookaway from such things, if they are in the vicinity, or to turn one's back uponthem. I did not know if they were asleep or not. I guessed that they were not.

My hand rested on the hilt of my sword. Such things, I had reason to know, couldmove with surprising speed.

The wick of the fire-maker was now aflame. Samos, carefully, held the tiny flameto the wick of the now-unshuttered dark lantern. It, too, burned tharlarion oil.

I was confident now, in the additional light, that the things were not asleep.

When the light had been struck, with the tiny noise, from the steel and flint,which would have been quite obvious to them, given the unusual degree of theirauditory acuity, there had been only the slightest of muscular contractions. Hadthey been startled out of sleep, the reaction, I was confident, would have beenfar more noticeable. I had little doubt they were, and had been, from the first,clearly and exactly aware of our presence.

"The fewer who know of the warrings of worlds, the better," said Samos. "Littleis to be served by alarming an unready populace. Even the guards outside do notunderstand, clearly, on what business we have come here. Besides, if one had notseen such things, who would believe stories as to their existence? They would beregarded as mythical or stories of wondrous animals, such as the horse, the dogand griffin."

I smiled. Horses and dogs did not exist on Gor. Goreans, on the whole, knew themonly from legends, which, I had little doubt, owed their origins to forgottentimes, to memories brought long ago to Gor from another world. Such stories, forthey were very old on Gor, probably go back thousands of years, dating from thetimes of very early Voyages of Acquisition, undertaken by venturesome,inquisitive creatures of an alien species, one known to most Goreans only as thePriest-Kings. To be sure, few Priest-Kings, now, entertained such a curiositynor such an enthusiastic penchant for exploration and adventure. Now, thePriest-Kings had be- come old. I think that perhaps one is old only when one haslost the desire to know. Not until one has lost ones curiosity, and concern, canone be said to be truly old.

I had two friends, in particular, who were Priest-Kings, Misk, and Kusk. I didnot think that they, in this sense, could ever grow old. But they were only two,two of a handful of survivors of a once mighty race, that of the lofty andgolden Priest-Kings. To be sure, I had managed, long ago, to return the lastfemale egg of Priest-Kings to the Nest. Too, among the survivors, protected fromassassination by the preceding generation, there had been a young male. But Ihad never learned what had occurred in the Nest after the return of the egg. Idid not know if it had been viable, or if the male had been suitable. I did notknow if it had hatched or not. I did not know if, in the Nest, a new Mother nowreigned or not. If this were the case I did not know the fate of the oldergeneration, nor the nature of the new. Would the new generation be as aware ofthe dangers in which it stood, as had been the last? Would the new generationunderstand, as well as had the last, the kind of things that, gigantic, shaggyand dark, intertwined, lay a few feet before me now? "I think you are right,Samos," I said.

He lifted the lantern now, its shutters open.

We viewed the things before us.

"They will move slowly," I said, "that they may not startle us. I think that we,too, should do the same."

"Agreed," said Samos.

"There are tarns in the tarn cot," I said. I had just seen one move, and theglint of moonlight off a long, scimitar like beak. I then saw it lift its wings,opening and shutting them twice. I had not detected them earlier in the shadows.

"Two," said Samos. "They are their mounts."

"Shall we approach the table?" I asked.

"Yes," said Samos.

"Slowly," I said.

"Yes," said Samos.

We then, very slowly, approached the table. Then we stood before it. I could seenow, in the light of the lantern, that the fur of one of the creatures was adarkish brown, and the fur of the other was almost black. The most common colorin such things is dark brown. They were large. As they lay, together, the crestof that heap, that living mound, marked by the backbone of one of them, was afew inches higher than the surface of the table. I could not see the heads. Thefeet and hands, too, were hidden. I could not, if I had wished, because of thetable, have easily drawn the blade and struck at them. I suspected that theposition they had taken was not an accident. Too, of course, from my point ofview, I was not displeased to have the heavy table where it was. I would nothave minded, in fact, had it been even wider. One tends to be most comfortablewith such things, generally, when they are in close chains, with inch-thicklinks, or behind close-set bars, some three inches in diameter.

Samos set the lantern down on the table. We then stood there, not moving.

"What is to be done?" asked Samos.

"I do not know," I said. I was sweating. I could sense my heart beating. Myright hand, across my body, was on the hilt of my sword. My left hand steadiedthe sheath.

"Perhaps they are sleeping," whispered Samos.

"No," I said.

"They do not signal their recognition of our presence," said Samos.

"They are aware we are here," I said.

"What shall we do?" asked Samos. "Shall I touch one?"

"Do not," I whispered, tensely. "An unexpected touch can trigger the attackreflex."

Samos drew back his hand.

"Too," I said, "Such things are proud, vain creatures. They seldom welcome thetouch of a human. The enraged and bloody dismemberment of the offender oftenfollows upon even an inadvertent slight in this particular."

"Pleasant fellows," said Samos.

"They, too," I said, "Like all rational creatures have their sense of proprietyand etiquette."

"How can you regard them as rational?" asked Samos.

"Obviously their intelligence, and their cunning, qualifies them as rational," Isaid. "It might interest you to know that, from their point of view, theycommonly regard humans as sub rational, as an inferior species, and, indeed, onethey commonly think of in terms little other than of food."

"Why, then," asked Samos, "would they wish this parley?"

"I do not know," I said. "That is, to me, a very fascinating aspect of thismorning's dark business."

"They do not greet us," said Samos, irritably. He was, after all, an agent ofPriest-Kings, and, indeed, the first captain of the council of captains, thatbody sovereign in the affairs of Port Kar.

"No," I said.

"What shall we do?" he asked.

"Wait," I suggested.

We heard, outside, the screaming of a predatory ul, a gigantic, toothed, wingedlizard, soaring over the marshes.

"How was this rendezvous arranged?" I asked.

"My original contact was made by a pointed, weighted message cylinder, foundupright two days ago in the dirt of my men's exercise yard," said Samos.

"Doubtless it was dropped there at night, by someone on tarnback."

"By one of them?" I asked.

"That seems unlikely," said Samos, "over the city."

"Yes," I said.

"They have their human confederates," he said.

"Yes," I said. I had, in my adventures on Gor, met several of the confederatesof such creatures, both male and female. The females, invariably, had been quitebeautiful. I had little doubt that they had been selected, ultimately, with thecollar in mind, that they might, when they had served their purposes, be reducedto bondage. Doubtless this projected aspect of their utility was not made clearto them in their recruitment. She who had once been Miss Elicia Nevins, now theslave Elicia in my holding, chained now nude by the neck to my slave ring, hadbeen such a girl. Now, however, instead of finding herself the slave of one ofher allies, or being simply disposed of in a slave market, she found herself theslave of one of her former enemies. That, I thought, particularly on Gor, wouldgive her slavery a peculiarly intimate and terrifying flavor. It was an Ahn orso until dawn now. Soon, doubtless, she would be released from the ring. Shewould be supervised in relieving and washing herself. Then she would be put withmy other women. She then, like the others, after having been issued her slavegruel, and after having finished it, and washed the wooden bowl, would beassigned her chores for the day.

We heard, again, the screaming of the ul outside the building. The tarns in thetarn cot moved about. The ul will not attack a tarn. The tarn could tear it topieces.

"We have been foolish," I said to Samos.

"How so?" asked Samos.

"Surely the protocols in such a matter, from the point of view of our friends,must be reasonably clear."

"I do not understand," said Samos.

"Put yourself in their place," I said. "They are larger and stronger than we,and quite possibly more ferocious and vicious. Too, they regard themselves asmore intelligent than ourselves, and as being a dominant species."

"So?" asked Samos.

"So," said I, "naturally they expect not to address us first, but to be firstaddressed."

"I," asked Samos, "first speak to such as they, I, who am first captain in thehigh city of Port Kar, jewel of gleaming Thassa?"

"Correct," I said.

"Never," said he.

"Do you wish me to do so?" I asked.

"No," said Samos.

"Then speak first," I said.

"We shall withdraw," said Samos, angrily.

"If I were you," I said, "I do not think I would risk displeasing them."

"Do you think they would be angry?" he asked.

"I expect so," I said. "I do not imagine they would care to have beenfruitlessly inconvenienced by human beings."

"Perhaps I should speak first," said Samos.

"I would recommend it," I said.

"They it is, after all," said he, "who have called this meeting."

"True," I encouraged him. "Also, it would be deplorable, would it not, to betorn to pieces without even having discovered what was on their minds?"

"Doubtless," said Samos, grimly.

"I can be persuasive," I admitted.

"Yes," agreed Samos.

Samos cleared his throat. He was not much pleased to speak first, but he woulddo it. Like many slavers and pirates, Samos was, basically, a good fellow.

"Tal," said Samos, clearly, obviously addressing this greeting to our shaggyconfreres. "Tal, large friends."

We saw the fur move, gigantic muscles slowly, evenly, beginning to stir beneathit. As they had lain it would have been difficult to detect, or strike, a vitalarea. Sinuously, slowly, the two creatures separated and then, slowly, seemed torise and grow before us. Samos and I stepped back. Their heads and arms were nowvisible. The light reflected back, suddenly, eccentrically, from the two largeeyes of one of them. For an instant they blazed, like red-hot copper disks, likethose of a wolf or coyote at the perimeter of a fire lit camp.

I could now, the angle of the lighting being different, see them, blinking, asthe large, deep orbs they were. I could see the pupils contracting. Suchcreatures are primarily nocturnal. Their night vision is far superior to that ofthe human. Their accommodation to shifting light conditions is also much morerapid than is that of the human. These things have been selected for in theirbloody species. When the eyes of the creature had reflected back the light, thelight, too, had suddenly reflected back from its fangs, and I had seen, too, thelong, dark tongue move about on the lips, and then draw back into the mouth.

The creatures seemed to continue to grow before us. Then they stood erect beforeus. Their hind legs, some eight to ten inches in width, are proportionatelyshorter than their arms, which tend to be some eight inches in width at thebiceps and some five inches, or so, in width at the wrist. Standing as theywere, upright, the larger of the two creatures was some nine feet tall, and thesmaller some eight and a half feet tall. I conjecture the larger weighed aboutnine hundred pounds and the smaller about eight hundred and fifty pounds. Theseare approximately average heights and weights for this type of creature. Theirhands and feet are six digited, tentacle like and multiply jointed. The nails,or claws, on the hands, are usually filed, presumably to facilitate themanipulation of tools and instrumentation. The claws, retractable, on the feetare commonly left unfiled. A common killing method for the creature is to seizethe victim about the head or shoulders, usually with the teeth, and, raking, todisembowel it with the tearing of the clawed hind feet. Other common methods areto hold the victim and tear away the throat from between the head and body, orto bite away the head itself.

"Tal," repeated Samos, uneasily.

I looked across the table at the creatures. I saw intelligence in their eyes.

"Tal," repeated Samos.

Their heads were better than a foot in width. Their snouts were two-nostriled,fattish and leathery. Their ears were large, wide and pointed. They were nowerected and oriented towards us. This pleased me, as it indicated they had noimmediate intention of attacking. When such a creature attacks the ears flattenagainst the sides of the head, this having the apparent function of reducingtheir susceptibility to injury. This is a common feature of predatorycarnivores.

"They do not respond," said Samos.

I did not take my eyes from the creatures. I shrugged. "Let us wait," I said. Iwas uncertain as to what alien protocols the creatures might expect us toobserve.

The creatures stood upright now but they could function as well on all fours,using the hind legs and the knuckles of the hands. The upright carriageincreases scanning range, and has probably contributed to the development andrefinement of binocular vision. The horizontal carriage permits great speed, andhas probably contributed, via natural selections, to the development ofolfactory and auditory acuity. In running, such creatures almost invariably,like the baboon, have recourse to all fours. They will normally drop to allfours in charging, as well, the increased speed increasing the impact of theirstrike.

"One is a Blood," I said.

"What is that?" asked Samos.

"In their military organizations," I said, "six such beasts constitute a Hand,and its leader is called an Eye. Two hands and two eyes constitute a largerunit, called a "Kur" or "Beast," which is commanded by a leader, or Blood.

Twelve such units constitute a Band, commanded again by a Blood, though ofhigher rank. Twelve bands, again commanded by a Blood, of yet higher rank,constitute a March. Twelve Marches is said to constitute a People. Thesedivisors and multiples have to do with, it seems, a base-twelve mathematics,itself perhaps indexed historically to the six digits of one of the creature'sprehensile appendages."

"Why is the leader spoken of as a Blood? asked Samos.

"It seems to have been an ancient belief among such creatures," I said, "thatthought was a function of the blood, rather than of the brain, a terminologywhich has apparently lingered in their common speech. Similar anachronisms occurin many languages, including Gorean."

"Who commands a People?" asked Samos.

"One who is said to be a "Blood' of the People, as I understand it," I said.

"How do you know that one of these is a "Blood," asked Samos.

"The left wrist of the larger animal bears two rings, rings of reddish alloy," Isaid. "They are welded on the wrist. No Gorean file can cut them."

"He is then of high rank?" asked Samos.

"Of lower rank than if he wore one," I said. "Two such rings designate theleader of a Band. He would have a ranking, thusly, of the sort normally accordedto one who commanded one hundred and eighty of his fellows."

"He is analogous to a captain," said Samos.

"Yes," I said.

"But not a high captain," said Samos.

"No," I said.

"If he is a Blood, then he is almost certainly of the steel ships," said Samos.

"Yes," I said.

"The other," said Samos, "wears two golden rings in its ears.

"It is a vain beast," I said. "Such rings serve only as ornaments. It ispossible he is a diplomat."

"The larger beast seems clearly dominant," said Samos.

"It is a Blood," I said.

There was a broad leather strap, too, running from the right shoulder to theleft hip of the smaller of the two creatures. I could not see what accoutermentit bore.

"We have greeted them," said Samos. "Why do they not speak?"

"Obviously we must not yet have greeted them properly," I said.

"How long do you think they will remain tolerant of our ignorance?" asked Samos.

"I do not know," I said. "Such creatures are not noted for their patience."

"Do you think they will try to kill us?" asked Samos.

"They have already had ample opportunity to attempt to do so, if that were theirintention," I said.

"I do not know what to do," said Samos.

"The occasion is formal, and we are dealing with a Blood," I said, "Onedoubtless from the steel ships themselves. I think I have it."

"What do you recommended?" asked Samos.

"How many times have you proffered greetings to them?" I asked.

Samos thought, briefly. "Four," he said. "Tal' was said to them four times."

"Yes," I said. "Now, if one of these beasts were to touch the hand, or paw, ofanother, the hand, or paw, of each being open, indicating that weapons were notheld, that the touch was in peace, at how many points would contact be made?"

"At six," said Samos.

"Such creatures do not care, usually, to be touched by humans," I said. "Thehuman analogy to such a greeting then might be six similar vocal signals. At anyrate, be that as it may, I think the number six is of importance in thismatter."

Samos then held up his left hand. Slowly, not speaking, he pointed in successionto four fingers. He then held the small finger of his left hand in his righthand. "Tal," he said. Then he held up the index finger of his right hand. "Tal," he said again.

Then, slowly, the smaller of the two creatures began to move. I felt goosepimples. The hair on the back of my neck stood up.

It turned about and bent down, and picked up a large shield, of a sort adequatefor such a creature. It lifted this before us, displaying it, horizontally,convex side down. We could see that the shield straps were in order. It thenplaced the shield on the floor, to the side of the table, to their left. It thenwent back and again bent down. This time it brought forth a mighty spear, sometwelve feet in length, with a long, tapering bronze head. This, with two hands,holding it horizontally, across its body, it also displayed, lifting itceremoniously upwards and towards us, and then drawing it back. It then put thespear down, laying it on the floor, to their left. The shaft of the spear wassome three inches in diameter. The bronze head might have weighed some twentypounds.

"They honor us," said Samos.

"As we did them," I said.

The symbolism of the creatures action, the lifting of weapons, and then thesetting aside of them, was clear. This action also, of course, was in accordwith the common Gorean convention in proposing a truce. That the creatures hadseen fit to utilize this convention, one of humans, was clear. I found this awelcome accommodation on their part. They seemed concerned to be congenial. Iwondered what they wanted. To be sure, however, it was only the lighter colored,and smaller, of the two creatures, that with rings in its ears, which hadperformed these actions. It might, indeed, be, for most practical purposes, adiplomat. The larger creature, the Blood, had stood by, unmoving. Yet clearlythese actions had been performed in its presence. This, then, was sufficientevidence of their acceptance on its part. I noted, the sort of thing a warriornotes, that the spear had been placed to their left, and that its head, too, wasoriented to their left. It was thus placed, and oriented, in such a way that theBlood, which stood on the left, from their point of view, if it favored theright hand, or paw, as most such creatures do, rather like humans, could easilybend down and seize it up.

"I see they have not come to surrender," said Samos.

"No," I said. The shield straps, which had been displayed to us with the shield,the shield held convex side down, bad not been torn away or cut, which wouldhave rendered the shield useless. Similarly the shaft of the spear had not beenbroken. They had not come to surrender.

The lips of the smaller of the two creatures drew back, exposing the fangs.

Samos stepped back. His hand went to the hilt of his sword.

"No," I said to him, quietly. "It is trying to imitate a human smile."

The creature then detached, from the broad strap, which hung diagonally aboutits body, from its right shoulder to the left hip, an instrumented, metallic,oblong, boxlike device, which it placed on the table.

"It is a translator," I said to Samos. I had seen one in a complex; some yearsearlier, in the north.

"I do not trust such creatures," said Samos.

"Some of them specially trained," I said, "can understand Gorean."

"Oh," said Samos.

The smaller of the two creatures turned to the larger. It said something to him.

The speech of such creatures resembles a succession of snarls, growls, rasps andthroaty vibrations. The noises emitted are clearly animal noises, and, indeed,such as might naturally be associated with a large and powerful, predatorycarnivore; yet, on the other hand, there is a liquidity, and a precision andsubtlety about them which is unmistakable; one realizes, often uneasily, thatwhat one is listening to is a language.

The larger one inclined its huge, shaggy head, and then lifted it. The tips oftwo long, curved fangs, in the position of the upper canines, protruded slightlyfrom its closed mouth. It watched us.

The smaller of the two creatures then busied itself with the device on thetable.

Lowering the head is an almost universal assent gesture, in dictating submissionto, or agreement with, the other. The dissent gesture, on the other hand, showsmuch greater variety. Shaking the head sideways, among rational creatures, maybe taken as a negation of assent. Other forms of the nonassent gesture can beturning the head away from the other, sometimes with a gesture of the lips,indicating distaste, or even of ejecting an unwanted. Substance from the mouth,backing away, or lifting the head and extending the neck, sometimes baring thefangs and tensing the body, as in a variation on the bristling response.

"To be sure," I said, "it is extremely difficult for them to speak Gorean, oranother human language." It was difficult for them, of course, given the natureof their oral cavity, throat, tongue, lips and teeth, to produce human phonemes.

They can, however, sometimes in a horrifying way, approximate them. I shuddered.

I had, once or twice, heard such creatures speaking Gorean. It had beendisconcerting to hear human speech, or something resembling human speech,emanating from such a source. I was just as pleased that we had a translator atour disposal.

"Look," said Samos.

"I see," I said.

A small, conical, red light began to glow on the top of the machine.

The slighter of the two monsters then drew itself up. It began to speak.

We understood, initially, of course, nothing of what it said. We listened to it,not moving, in the dim, pale-yellowish, flickering light of the unshuttered darklantern, amidst the dark, dancing shadows in that abandoned tam complex.

I remember noting the glinting of the golden rings in its ears, and themoistness of saliva about its dark lips and on its fangs.

"I am Kog," came from the translator. "I am below the rings. With me is Sardak,who is within the rings. I speak on behalf of the Peoples, and the chieftains ofthe Peoples, those who stand above the rings. I bring you greetings from theDominants, and from the Conceivers and Carriers. No greetings do I bring youfrom those unworthy of the rings, from the discounted ones, the unnamed andcraven ones. Similarly no greetings do I bring you from our domestic animals,those who are human and otherwise. In short, honor do I do unto you, bringingyou greetings from those who are entitled to extend greetings, and bringing youno greetings from those unworthy to give greetings. Thus, then, do I bring yougreetings on behalf of the Peoples, on behalf of the ships, and the SteelWorlds. Thus, then, do I bring you greetings on behalf of the cliffs of thethousand tribes." These words, and word groups, came forth from the translator,following intervals between the creature's inputs. They are produced in a flat,mechanical fashion. The intonation contours, as well as meaningful tonalqualities, pitches and stresses, from which one can gather so much in livingspeech, unfortunately, tend to be absent or only randomly correlated in such aformal, desiccated output. Similarly the translation, it seems, is oftenimperfect, or, at least, awkward and choppy. Indeed, it takes a few momentsbefore one can begin to follow the productions of such a machine coherently but,once this adjustment is made, there is little difficulty in comprehending thegist of what is being conveyed. In my presentation of the machine's output Ihave, here and there, taken certain liberties. In particular I have liberalizedcertain phrasings and smoothed out various grammatical irregularities. On theother hand, given the fact that I am conveying this material in English, at tworemoves from the original, I think that the above translation and what follows,is not only reasonably adequate in a literal sense, but also conveys something,at least, of the flavor of the original. On the other hand, I do not claim tounderstand all aspects of the translation. For example, I am unclear on the ringstructure and on the significance of the references to tribal cliffs.

"I think, Samos," I said, "You are expected to respond."

"I am Samos," said Samos, "and I thank you for your cordial and welcomesalutations."

Fascinated, Samos and I listened to what was, with one exception, a successionof rumbling, throaty utterances emanating from the machine. The machineapparently accepted and registered Gorean phonemes, and then scanned thephonemic input for those phoneme combinations, which expressed Gorean cognitiveunits, or morphemes. In this way, morphemes, per se, or linguistic cognitiveunits, at least as comprehended units, do not occur in the machine. With a humantranslator sound is processed, and understood morphemically, which understandingis then reprocessed into the new phonemic structures. With the machine thecorrelation is simply between sound structures, simpliciter, and it is theauditor who supplies the understanding. To be sure, a linguistic talent of nomean degree is required to design and program such a device. We did hear oneGorean word in the translation. That was the name "Samos'. When the machineencounters a phoneme or phonemic combination, which is not correlated with aphoneme or phoneme combination in the new language it presents the originalinput as a portion of the new output. For example, if one were to utter nonsensesyllables into the device the same nonsense syllables, unless an accident or acoincidence occurred, would be played back.

The creatures, then, heard the name of Samos. Whether they could pronounce it ornot, or how close they could come to pronounce it, would depend on the sound andon the capacity of their own vocal apparatus. This is different; it should benoted, with the names of the two creatures, "Kog' and "Sardak'. These names weregiven in Gorean phonemes, not in the phonemes of the creatures' own language. Inthis case, of course, this made it clear that these two names, at least, hadbeen programmed into the machine. The machine, doubtless, had been altered to beof aid to two particular individuals in some particular mission. PresumablySamos and I could not have pronounced the actual names of the creatures. "Kog' and "Sardak', however, doubtless correlated in some fashion, given some type ofphonemic transcription found acceptable by the creatures, with their actualnames. There was probably, at least, a syllabial correlation.

"I bring you greetings," said Samos, "from the Council of Captains, of Port Kar,Jewel of Gleaming Thassa."

I saw the lips of the two creatures draw back. 1, too, smiled. Samos wascautious, indeed. What would the Council of Captains know of such creatures, orof the warrings among worlds? He had not identified himself as being among theparty of those forces arrayed against the ravaging, concupiscent imperialism ofour savage colleagues. I myself, whereas I had served Priest-Kings, did notregard myself as being of their party. My lance, in such matters, so to speak,was free. I would choose my own wars, my own ventures.

"I bring you greetings, too," said Samos, "from the free men of Port Kar. I donot bring you greetings, of course, from those who are unworthy to greet you,for example, from our slaves, who are nothing, and who labor for us, and whom weuse for our sport and pleasure."

Kog briefly inclined his head. I thought Samos had done rather well. Slaves onGor are domestic animals, of course. A trained sleen in a sleen market willusually bring a higher price than even a beautiful girl sold naked in a slavemarket. This is doubtless a function of supply and demand. Beautiful femaleslaves are generally cheap on Gor, largely as a result of captures andbreedings. It is not unusual, in most cities, for a prize tarsk to bring ahigher price than a girl. The girls understand this, clearly, and it helps themto understand their place in the society.

"I speak on behalf of the Peoples, on behalf of the Steel Worlds," said Kog.

"Do you speak on behalf of all the Peoples, on behalf of all the Steel Worlds?" asked Samos.

"Yes," said Kog.

"Do you speak on behalf of all of those of the Peoples, of all of those of theSteel Worlds?" asked Samos. This, I thought, was an interesting question. Itwas, of course, subtly different from the preceding question. We knew thatdivisions as to tactics, if not ultimate objectives, existed among parties ofsuch creatures. We had learned this in the Tahari.

"Yes," said Kog, unhesitantly.

When Kog had made his response to the question I was, by intent, watching nothim but the other of the two creatures. Yet I saw no flicker of doubt oruneasiness in his eyes, nor any incipient lifting of the broad ears. It did,however, draw its lips back slightly, observing my attention. It had apparentlyfound my attempt to read its behavioral cues amusing.

"Do you speak on behalf of Priest-Kings?" asked Kog.

"I cannot," said Samos.

"That is interesting," said Kog.

"If you would speak with Priest-Kings," said Samos, "you must go to the Sardar."

"What are Priest-Kings?" asked Kog.

"I do not know," said Samos.

Such creatures, I gathered, had no clear idea of the nature of Priest- Kings.

They had not directly experienced Priest-Kings, only the power of Priest-Kings.

Like burned animals they were wary of them. Priest- Kings, wisely, did notchoose to directly confront such creatures. Not a little of the hesitancy andtentativeness of the militaristic incursions of such creatures was, I suspected,a function of their ignorance of, and fear of, the true nature and power of theremote and mysterious denizens of the Sardar. If such creatures should come toclearly understand the nature of the Priest-Kings, and the current restrictionson their power, in virtue of the catastrophic Nest War, I had little doubt butwhat the attack signals would be almost immediately transmitted to the steelworlds. In weeks the silver ships would beach on the shores of Gor.

"We know the nature of Priest-Kings," said Kog. "They are much like ourselves."

"I do not know," said Samos.

"They must be," said Kog, "or they could not be a dominant life form."

"Perhaps," said Samos. "I do not know."

The larger of the two creatures, during this exchange, was watching me. I smiledat him. Its ears twitched with annoyance. Then again it was as it had been,regal, savage, distant, unmoving and alert.

"Can you speak on behalf of the men of the two worlds?" asked Kog. This was areference, doubtless, to the Earth and, Gor.

"No," said Samos.

"But you are a man," said Kog.

"I am only one man," said Samos.

"Their race has not yet achieved species unification," said the larger of thetwo creatures, to his fellow. His remark, of course, was picked up by thetranslator and processed, as though it had been addressed to us.

"That is true," said Kog. I wondered, hearing this, beasts, either, had achievedspecies unification. I was inclined to doubt it. Such creatures, beingterritorial, individualistic and aggressive, much like men, would not be likelyto find the bland idealisms of more vegetative organisms interesting, attractiveor practical, Logical, and terrible, they would not be likely to find thefallacy of the single virtue, the hypothesis of social reductivism, alluring.

All creatures are not the same, nor is it necessary that they should be. Junglesmay be as appealing to nature as gardens. Leopards and wolves are aslegitimately ingredient in the order of nature as spaniels and potatoes. Speciesunification, I suspected, would prove not to be a blessing, but a trap and abane, a pathology and curse, a societal sanitarium in which the great and strongwould be reduced to, or must pretend to be reduced to, the level of theblinking, the cringing, the creeping and the tiny. To be sure, values areinvolved here, and one must make decisions. It is natural that the small andweak will make one decision, and the large and strong another. There is nosingle humanity, no single shirt, no correct pair of shoes, no uniform, even agray one that will fit all men. There are a thousand humanities possible. He whodenies this sees only his own horizons. He who disagrees is the denier ofdifference, and the murderer of the better futures.

"It is unfortunate," said Sardak, speaking to Kog, "that they have not achievedspecies unification. Else, once the Priest-Kings are disposed of, it would beeasier to herd them to our cattle pens."

"That is true," said Kog.

What Sardak said seemed to me, too, likely to be true. Highly centralizedstructures are the most easily undermined and subverted. Cutting one strand ofsuch a web can unravel a world. One hundred and eighty-three men once conqueredan empire.

"Can you speak on behalf of the Council of Captains, of Port Kar?" asked Kog.

"Only on matters having to do with Port Kar, and then after a decision of thecouncil, taken after consultation," said Samos. This was not exactly correct,but it was substantially correct. It seemed to me a suitable answer, under thecircumstances. The creatures, of course, would not be familiar with councilprocedures.

"You do, however, have certain executive powers, do you not?" inquired Kog. Iadmired the creatures. Clearly they had researched their mission.

"Yes," said Samos, guardedly, "but they are not likely to be involved in mattersof the sort with which we are here likely to be concerned."

"I understand," said Kog. "On behalf of whom, then, do you speak?"

"I speak," said Samos, rather boldly I thought, "on behalf of Samos, of PortKar, on behalf of myself."

Kog snapped off the translator and turned to Sardak. They conversed for a momentin their own tongue. Kog then snapped the translator back on. This time, almostinstantly, the small, conical red light began to glow.

"It is sufficient," said Kog.

Samos stepped back a bit.

Kog turned away, then, to a leather tube and, with his large, furred, tentaclelike digits, with their blunted claws, removed the cap from this tube.

I suspected that the two creatures did not believe Samos when he protested tothem that he could speak only on behalf of himself. At the least they would becertain that he would be significantly involved in the affairs of Priest-Kings.

They would seem to have little alternative, then, to dealing with him.

From the long, leather tube, Kog removed what appeared to be a large piece ofclosely rolled, soft-tanned hide. It was very light in color, almost white, andtied with string. There was a slight smell of smoke about it, probably from thesmoke of the turl bush. Such hides may be waterproofed by suspending them from,and wrapping them about, a small tripod of sticks, this set over a small fire onwhich, to produce the desiderated smoke, the leaves and branches of the turlbush are heavily strewn.

Kog placed the roll of hide on the table. It was not rawhide, but soft-tannedhide, as I have suggested. In preparing rawhide the skin, suitably fleshed, ispegged down and dried in the wind and sun. The hide may then, without furtherado, be worked and cut. This product, crude and tough, may be used for suchthings as shields, cases and ropes. Softening a hide, on the other hand, is amuch more arduous task. In soft tanning, the fleshed hide must be saturated withfats, and with oils and grease, usually from the brains of animals. These arerubbed into the hide, and worked into it, usually with a soft flat stone. Thehide is then sprinkled with warm water and tightly rolled, after which it is putaside, away from the sun and heat, for a few days. This gives the time necessaryfor the softening ingredients, such as the fats and oils, to fully penetrate theleather. The skin is then unrolled and by rubbing, kneading and stretching,hand-softened over a period of hours. The resulting product ranges from tan tocreamy white, and may be worked and cut as easily as cloth.

"You are familiar, are you not," asked Kog, with one known as Zarendargar?"

"Who is Zarendargar?" asked Samos.

"Let us not waste one another's time, said Kog.

Samos turned white.

I was pleased that, outside, on the platform of this anterior building of thetarn complex, there were several guards. They were armed with crossbows. Theiron bolts of these devices, weighing about a pound apiece, were capable ofsinking some four inches into solid wood at a range of some twenty yards. To besure, by the time the guards might be summoned into the building Samos and Imight be half eaten.

Kog looked closely at Samos.

"Zarendargar," said Samos, "is a well-known commander of the steel worlds, a wargeneral. He perished in the destruction of a supply complex in the arctic."

"Zarendargar is alive," said Kog.

I was startled by this pronouncement. This seemed to me impossible. Thedestruction of the complex had been complete. I had witnessed this from pasangsacross the ice in the arctic night. The complex would have been transformed intoa radioactive inferno. Even the icy seas about it, in moments, had churned andboiled.

"Zarendargar cannot be alive," I said. It was the first time I had spoken to thebeasts. Perhaps I should not have but I had been in the vicinity of the event inquestion. I had seen the explosion. I had, even from afar, been half blinded bythe light, and, moments later, half staggered by the sound, the blast and heat.

The shape, height and awesomeness of that towering, expanding cloud was notsomething I would ever forget. "Nothing could have lived in that blast," I said.

"Nor in the seas about it."

Kog looked at me.

"I was there," I said.

"We know," said Kog.

"Zarendargar is dead," I said.

Kog then unrolled the hide on the table. He arranged it so that Samos and Icould easily see it. The hair rose up on the back of my neck.

"Are you familiar with this sort of thing?" asked Kog of Samos.

"No," said Samos.

"I have seen things like it," I said, "but only far away, on another world. Ihave seen things like it in places called museums. Such things are no longerdone."

"Does the skin seem to you old," asked Kog, "faded, brittle, cracked, worn,thin, fragile?"

"No," I said.

"Consider the colors," said Kog. "Do they seem old to you? Do they seem faded toyou?"

"No," I said. "They are bright, and fresh."

"Analysis, in virtue of desiccation index and molecular: disarrangement,suggests that this material, and its applied I pigments, are less than two yearsold. This hypothesis is corroborated by correlation data, in which this skin wascompared to samples whose dating is known and independent historical evidence,the nature of which should be readily apparent."

"Yes," I said. I knew that such beasts, on the steel worlds, possessed anadvanced technology. I had little doubt but what their physical and chemicaltechniques were quite adequate to supply the dating in question to the skin andits paints. Too, of course, the nature of their historical evidence would bequite clear. To be sure, it would be historical data at their disposal, and notmine. I had no way of knowing the pertinent facts. That such beasts, on thisworld, carried primitive weapons was a tribute to their fear of Priest-Kings.

Carrying such weapons they might be mistaken for beasts of their race who now,for all practical purposes, were native to Gor, beasts descended fromindividuals perhaps long ago marooned or stranded on the planet. Priest- Kings,on the, whole, tend to ignore such beasts. They are permitted to live, as theywill, where they may, on Gor, following even their ancient laws and customs,providing these do not violate the Weapons Laws and Technology Restrictions. Tobe sure, such beasts usually, once separated from the discipline of the ships,in a generation or two, lapsed into barbarism. On the: whole they tended tooccupy portions of Gor not inhabited by human beings. The Priest-Kings care fortheir world, but their primary interest is in its subsurface, not its surface.

For most practical purposes life goes on on Gor much as though they did notexist. To be sure, they are concerned to maintain the natural ecosystems of theplanet. They are wise, but even they hesitate to tamper with precise and subtlesystems, which have taken over four billion years to develop. Who knows whatcourse a dislodged molecule may take in a thousand years?

I looked at Kog and Sardak. Such creatures, perhaps thousands of years ago, had,it seemed, destroyed their own world. They now wanted another. The Priest-Kings,lofty and golden, remote, inoffensive and tolerant, were all, for most practicalpurposes, that stood between the Kogs and Sardaks, and the Earth and Gor.

"This is," said Kog, to Samos, "a story skin."

"I understand," said Samos.

"It is an artifact of the red savages," said Kog, "from one of the tribes in theBarrens."

"Yes," said Samos.

The Red Savages, as they are commonly called on Gor, are racially and culturallydistinct from the Red Hunters of the north. They tend to be a more slender,longer-limbed people; their daughters menstruate earlier; and their babies arenot born with a blue spot at the base of the spine, as in the case with most ofthe red hunters. Their culture tends to be nomadic, and is based on theherbivorous, lofty kaiila, substantially the same animal as is found in theTahari, save for the wider footpads of the Tahari beast, suitable fornegotiating deep sand, and the lumbering, gregarious, short-tempered,trident-homed kailiauk. To be sure, some tribes do not have the kaiila, neverhaving mastered it, and certain tribes have mastered the tam, which tribes arethe most dangerous of all.

Although there are numerous physical and cultural differences among these peoplethey are usually collectively referred to as the red savages. This is presumablya function of so little being known about them, as a whole, and the cunning,ruthlessness and ferocity of so many of the tribes. They seem to live forhunting and internecine warfare, which seems to serve almost as a sport and areligion for them. Interestingly enough most of these tribes seem to be unitedonly by a hatred of whites, which hatred, invariably, in a time of emergency orcrisis, takes precedence over all customary con- and rivalries. To attackwhites, intruding into their lands, once the war lance has been lifted, evenlong-term blood enemies will ride side by side. The gathering of tribes, friendsand foes alike, for such a battle is said to be a splendid sight. These thingsare in virtue of what, among these peoples, is called the Memory.

"The story begins here," said Kog, indicating the center of the skin. From thispoint there was initiated, in a slow spiral, to be followed by turning the skin,a series of drawings and pictographs. As the skin is turned each marking on itis at the center of attention, first, of course, of the artist, and, later, hefollows the trail, of the viewer. The story, then, unanticipated, each event asreal as any other, unfolds as it was lived.

"In many respects," said Kog, "this story is not untypical. These signs indicatea tribal camp. Because of the small number of lodges, this is a winter camp. Wecan also tell this from these dots, which represent snow."

I looked at the drawings. They were exactly, and colorfully done. They were, onthe whole, small, and precise and delicate, like miniatures. The man who hadapplied the pigment to that hide canvas had been both patient and skillful. Too,he had been very careful. This care is often a feature of such works. To speakthe truth is very important to the red savages.

"This jagged line," said Kog, "indicates that there is hung in the camp, thesawing feeling in the stomach. This man, whom we take to be the artist, and whomwe shall call Two Feathers, because of the two feathers drawn near him, puts onsnowshoes and leaves the camp. He takes with him a bow and arrows."

I watched Kog slowly turn the skin. The drawings are first traced on the skinwith a sharp stick. Many of them are then outlined in black. The interior areas,thusly blocked out, may then be colored in. The primary pigments used wereyellows, reds, browns and blacks. These are primarily obtained from powderedearths, clays and boiled roots. Blues can be obtained from blue mud, gantdroppings and boiled rotten wood. Greens can be obtained from a variety ofsources, in- earths, boiled rotten wood, copper ores and pond algae. Thepigments, commonly mixed with hot water or glue, are usually applied by a chewedstick or a small brush, or pen, of porous bone, usually cut from the edge of thekailliauk's shoulder blade or the end of its hip bone. Both of these bonescontain honeycombed structures useful in the smooth application of paint.

"This man travels for two days," said Kog, pointing to two yellow suns in thesky of the hide. "On the third day he finds the track of a kailiauk. He followsthis. He drinks melted snow, held in his mouth until it is warm. He eats driedmeat. On the third day be builds no fire. We may gather from this he is now inthe country of enemies. Toward the evening of the fourth day be sees moretracks. There are other hunters, mounted on kaiila, who, too, are following thekailiauk. It is difficult to determine their number, for they ride single file,that the prints of one beast may obscure and obliterate those of another. Hisheart is now heavy. Should he turn back? He does not know what to do. He mustdream on the matter."

"Surely," said Samos, "it could be only a coincidence."

"I do not think so," said Kog.

"This hide," said Samos, "could be nothing but the product of the crazedimagination of an ignorant savage. It might, too, be nothing more than theaccount of a strange dream."

"The organization and clarity of the account suggests rationality," said Kog.

"It is only the story of a dream," said Samos.

"Perhaps," said Kog.

"Such people do not distinguish clearly between dreams and reality," said Samos.

"They distinguish clearly between them," said Kog. "It is only that they regardboth as real."

"Please, continue," I said.

"Here, in the dream," said Kog, indicating a series of pictographs whichfollowed a small spiral line, "we see that the kailiauk invites the man to afeast. This is presumably a favorable sign. At the feast, however, in the lodgeof the kailliauk there is a dark guest. His lineaments are obscure, as you cansee. The man is afraid. He senses great power in this dark guest. The kailiauk,however, tells the man not to be afraid. The man takes meat from the hands ofthe dark guest. It will be his ally and protector, the kailiauk tells him. Hemay take it for his medicine. The man awakens. He is very frightened. He isafraid of this strange medicine. The dream is strong, however, and he knows itcannot be repudiated. Henceforth he knows his medicine helper is the mysteriousdark guest."

"From where," asked Samos, "does this man think he obtained this medicinehelper?"

"Surely the man will think he obtained it from the medicine world," said Kog.

"It seems an interesting anticipatory dream," I said.

"Surely the dream is ambiguous," said Samos. "See? The lineaments of the darkguest are unclear."

"True," I said. "Yet something of its size, and of its awesomeness, and force,particularly within a lodge, as evident."

"You will also notice," said Kog, "that it sits behind fire. That is the placeof honor."

"It could all be a coincidence," said Samos.

"That is quite true," I said. "Yet the matter is of interest.

"The man may once have seen such things, or heard of them, and forgotten them."

"That seems to me quite likely," I said.

"But why, in the dream, in this dream," asked Samos, "should the dark guestappear?"

"Possibly," I said, "because of the man's plight and need. In such a situation apowerful helper might be desired. The dream, accordingly, might have producedone."

"Of course," said Samos.

"Considering the events of the next day," said Kog "I think certain alternativeexplanations might be more likely. This is not, of course, to rule out that theman, in his quandary, and desperate straits, might not have welcomed a powerfulally."

"What do you suggest?" I asked.

"That be, earlier, during the day, saw sign of the medicine helper, but only inthe dream interpreted it."

"I see," I said.

"Even more plausibly, and interestingly," said Kog, "I suspect that the darkguest, in that moonlit snow, actually appeared to the man. The man, hungry,exhausted, striving for the dream, betwixt sleeping and waking, not being fullyaware of what was transpiring, saw it. He then incorporated, it into his dream,comprehending it within his own conceptual framework."

"That is an interesting idea," I said.

"But it is surely improbable that the paths of the man and the helper shouldcross in the vast, trackless wastes of the snowbound Barrens," said Samos.

"Not if both were following the kailiauk," said Kog.

"Why would the helper not have eaten the man?" I asked.

"Perhaps," said Kog, "because it was bunting the kailiauk, not the man. Perhapsbecause if it killed a man, it was apprehensive that other men would follow it,to kill it in turn."

"I see," I said.

"Also," said Kog, "kailiauk is better than man I know. I have eaten both."

"I see," I said.

"If the helper had visited the man," said Samos, "Would there not have beenprints in the snow?"

"Doubtless," said Kog.

"Were there prints?" asked Samos.

"No," said Kog.

"Then it was all a dream," said Samos.

"Me absence of prints would be taken by the man as evidence that the helper camefrom the medicine world," said Kog.

"Naturally," said Samos.

"Accordingly the man would not look for them," said Kog.

"It is your hypothesis, however," conjectured Samos, "that such prints existed."

"Of course," said Kog, "which then, in the vicinity of the camp, were dustedaway."

"From the point of view of the man, then," said Samos, "the dark guest wouldhave come and gone with all the silence and mystery of a guest from the medicineworld."

"Yes," said Kog.

"Interesting," said Samos.

"What is perfectly clear," said Kog, "is how the man viewed the situation,whether he was correct or not. Similarly clear, and undeniably so, are theevents of the next day. These are unmistakably and unambiguously delineated."

Kog then, with his dexterous, six- jointed, long digits, rotated the skin aquarter of a turn, continuing the story.

"In the morning," said Kog, "the man, inspired by his dream, resumed his hunt. Asnow began to fall." I noted the dots between the flat plane of the earth andthe semicircle of the sky. "The tracks, with the snow, and the wind, becameobscured. Still the man pressed on, knowing the direction of the kailiauk andfollowing the natural geodesics of the land, such as might be followed by aslow-moving beast, pawing under the snow for roots or grass. He did not fear tolose the trail. Because of his dream he was undaunted. On snowshoes, of course,he could move faster through drifted snow than the kailiauk. Indeed, over longdistances, in such snow, he could match the speed of the wading kaiila. Too, asyou know, the kailiauk seldom moves at night."

The kailiauk in question, incidentally, is the kailiauk of the Barrens. It is agigantic, dangerous beast, often standing from twenty to twenty- five hands atthe shoulder and weighing as much as four thousand pounds. It is almost neverhunted on foot except in deep snow, in which it is almost helpless. Fromkaiilaback, riding beside the stampeded animal, however, the skilled hunter cankill one with a- single arrow. He rides close to the animal, not a yard from itsside, just outside the hooking range of the trident, to supplement the strikingpower of his small bow. At this range the arrow can sink in to the feathers.

Ideally it strikes into the intestinal cavity behind the last rib, producinglarge-scale internal hemorrhaging he closely behind the left shoulder blade,thence piercing the eight-valved heart.

The hunting arrow, incidentally, has a long, tapering point, and this point isfirmly fastened to the shaft. This makes it easier to withdraw the arrow fromits target. The war arrow, on the other hand, uses an arrowhead whose base, iseither angled backwards, forming barbs, or cut straight across, the result inboth cases being to make the arrow difficult to extract from a wound. The headof the war arrow, too, is fastened less securely to the shaft than is that ofthe hunting arrow. The point thus, by intent, if the shaft is pulled out islikely to linger in the wound. Sometimes it is possible to thrust the arrowthrough the body, break off the point and then withdraw the shaft backwards. Atother times if the point becomes dislodged in the body, it is common to seek itwith a bone or greenwood probe, and then, when one has found it, attempt to workit free with a knife. There are cases where men have survived this. Muchdepends, of course, on the location of the point.

The heads of certain war arrows and hunting arrows differ, too, at least in thecase of certain warriors, in an interesting way, with respect to the orientationof the plane of the point to the plane of the nock. In these war arrows, thePlane of the point is perpendicular to the plane of the nock. In level shooting,then, the plane of the point is roughly parallel to the ground. In these huntingarrows, on the other hand, the plane of the point is parallel to the plane ofthe nock. In level shooting, then, the plane of the point is roughlyperpendicular to the ground. The reason for these different orientations isparticularly telling at close range, before the arrow begins to turn in the air.

The ribs of the kailiauk are vertical to the ground; the ribs of the human arehorizontal to the ground.

The differing orientations may be done, of course, as much for reasons of feltpropriety, or for medicine purposes, as for reasons of improving the efficiencyof the missile. They may have some effect, of course, as I have suggested, atextremely close range. In this respect, however, it should be noted that mostwarriors use the parallel orientation with respect to both their war and huntingpoints. It is felt that this orientation improves sighting. This seems to me,too, to be the case. The parallel orientation, of course, would be moreeffective with kailiauk, which are usually shot at extremely close range,indeed, from so close that one might almost reach out and touch the beast. Also,of course, in close combat with humans, if one wishes, the perpendicularalignment may be simply produced; one need only turn the small bow.

"Toward noon," said Kog, slowly turning the hide, "we see that the weather hascleared. The wind has died down. The snow has stopped falling. The sun hasemerged from Clouds. We may conjecture that the day is bright. A rise intemperature has apparently occurred as well. We see that the man has opened hiswidely sleeved hunting coat and removed his cap of fur."

"I had not hitherto, before seeing this skin," said Samos "realized that thesavages wore such things.

"They do," said Kog. "The winters in the Barrens are severe, and one does nothunt in a robe."

"Here," said Samos, "the man is lying down."

"He is surmounting a rise," said Kog. "Surmounting it with care."

I nodded. It is seldom wise to silhouette oneself against the sky. A movement insuch a plane is not difficult to detect. Similarly, before entering a terrain,it is sensible to subject it to some scrutiny. This work, whether done fortribal migrations or, war parties, is usually done by a scout or scouts. When aman travels alone, of course, he must be his own scout. Similarly it is commonfor lone travelers or small parties to avoid open spaces without cover, wherethis is possible, and where it is not possible, to cross them expeditiously. Anoccasional ruse used in crossing an open terrain, incidentally, is to throw akailiauk robe over oneself and bend down over the back of one's kaiila. From adistance then, particularly if one holds in one's kaiila, one and one's mountmay be mistaken for a single beast, a lone kailiauk.

Scouts are sometimes called sleen by the red savages. The sleen is Gor's mostefficient and tenacious tracker. They are often used to hunt slaves. Too, thescout, often, in most tribes, wears the pelt of a sleen. This pelt, like agarment, which is at one time both cowl and cape, covers both the head and back.

It is perhaps felt that something of the sleen's acuity and tenacity is thusimparted to the scout. Some scouts believe that they become, when donning thispelt, a sleen. This has to do with their beliefs as to the mysteriousrelationships which are thought to obtain between the world of reality and themedicine world, that, at times, these two worlds impinge on one another, andbecome one. To be sure, from a practical point of view, the pelt makes anexcellent camouflage. It is easy, for example, to mistake a scout, on all fours,spying over a rise, for a wild sleen. Such animals are not uncommon in theBarrens. Their most common prey is tabuk.

"And this, you see," said Kog, turning the hide, "is what he saw on that brightand thawing morning."

"It is what he said he saw," said Samos.

In the declivity below the rise there lay a slain kailiauk, dark in the snow.

There could be no mistaking what, alert, huge, catlike, like a larl, crouchedbehind the kailiauk.

"You see?" asked Kog.

"The dark guest," said Samos.

"Clearly delineated," said Samos.

"Yes," said Kog, "seen clearly now, in its own form."

I could not speak.

"Surely this is only the product of the imagination of the artist," said Samos.

"Too, there are five riders of the kaiila, with kaiila lances, between thekailiauk and the dark guest, and the man."

"These are the other hunters, those whose tracks were found, those who had alsobeen following the kailiauk," said Samos.

"Yes," said Kog.

The kaiila lance is used in hunting kailiauk as well as in mounted warfare. Itis called the kaiila lance because it is designed to be used from kaiilaback. Itis to be distinguished in particular from the longer, heavier tharlarion lance,designed for use from tharlarionback, and often used with a lance rest, and thesmaller, thicker stabbing lances used by certain groups of pedestrian nomads.

The kaiila lance takes, on the whole, two forms, the hunting lance and the warlance. Hunting lances are commonly longer, heavier and thicker than war lances.

Too, they are often undecorated, save perhaps for a knot of the feathers of theyellow, long-winged, sharp-billed prairie fleer, or, as it is sometimes called,the maize bird, or corn bird, considered by the red savages to be generally thefirst bird to find food.

The point of the hunting lance is usually longer and narrower than that of thewar lance, a function of the depth into which one must strike in order to findthe heart of the kailliauk. The shafts of the kaiila lances are black, suppleand strong; they are made of tem wood, a wood much favored on Gor for this typeof purpose. Staves for the lances are cut in the late winter, when the sap isdown. Such wood, in the long process of smoking and drying over the lodge fire,which consumes several weeks, seasoning the wood and killing any insects whichmight remain in it, seldom splits or cracks. Similarly, old- growth wood, orsecond-growth wood, which is tougher, is preferred over the fresher, less densefirst-growth, or new-growth, wood.

After drying the shafts are rubbed with grease and straightened over the beat ofa fire. Detailed trimming and shaping is accomplished with a small knife. Arubbing with sandstone supplies a smooth finish. The head, of metal, or of boneor stone, with sinew or rawhide, and also sometimes with metal trade rivets, isthen mounted on the lance. Lastly, grips, and loops, and decorations, ifdesired, are added. The sinew and rawhide, before being bound on the lance, aresoaked with hot water. The heated water releases a natural the water itself, ofcourse, produces a natural shrinking and contraction in drying. The mounting,thus, is extremely solid and secure. The tarn lance, it might be mentioned, asis used by the red savages who have mastered the tarn, is, in size and shape,very similar to the kaiila lance. It differs primarily in being longer and moreslender. These lances are used in a great variety of ways, but the most commonmethod is to thrust one's wrist through the wrist loop, grasp the lance with theright hand, and anchor it beneath the right arm. This maximizes balance, controland impact. With the weight of a hurtling kaiila behind the thrust such a lancecan be thrust through the body of a kailiauk. To be sure, the skillful hunterwill strike no more deeply than is necessary, and his trained kaiila will slowits pace sufficiently to permit the kailiauk to draw its own body from thelance. This permits the lance to be used again and again in the same hunt.

"Notice the manner in which the lances are held by the mounted hunters," saidKog.

"The first one," said Samos, "has his lance in the attack position."

"He, then, will be the first to die," I said.

"Of course," said Kog.

One of the other mounted hunters held his lance in his right hand, its buttresting on his thigh. From this position he could rapidly bring the lance to theattack position. He was, accordingly, the second fellow with whom the man mustdeal. A third mounted hunter held the lance across his body, it resting in thecrook of his left arm. He was the third fellow to reckon with. The other twomounted hunters still wore their lances in their shoulder loops, slung acrosstheir back. They might be saved to last.

"The man removes his bow from the fringed, beaded bow case," said Kog. "Hestrings the bow." The bow, of course, is left unstrung until it is ready to beused. This conserves the resilience of the wood and the tightness and strengthof the sinew string. "From his quiver," said Kog, "he extracts six arrows. Threehe holds, with the bow, in his left hand. One he fits to the string. Two heholds in his mouth."

"The first mounted hunter is prepared to attack," said Samos.

"The man, on his snowshoes, descends the slope between himself and his enemies," said Kog, "his arrow to the string."

The range and striking power of the small bow, while not negligible, do notcompare with that of the peasant bow, or long bow. The red savage, accordingly,whenever possible, attempts to maximize the possibilities of an effective hit bydecreasing the distance between himself and the target. This fits in,incidentally, with his glorification of close combat.

The most highly regarded battle exploit among most tribes, for which the highesthonors are accorded, is not to kill an armed enemy but to touch or strike onewith the open hand. The more danger and risk that is involved in a deed, on theWhole, the greater is the concomitant glory of accomplishing it. Killing theenemy, thus, in the heraldry of the red savages, ranks far beneath the bestingof the enemy, and in a way that supposedly demonstrates one's greater prowessand courage. It is thus understandable that touching an armed enemy with theopen hand counts among most tribes as a first coup. The second and third man toaccomplish such a deed would then receive second coup and third coup. Killing anenemy with a bow and arrow from ambush, on the other hand, might be counted asonly a fifth or seventh coup.

Needless to say, the counting of coup, which is reflected in the feathers andadornments to which one is entitled, is a matter of great importance to the redsavages. Indeed, there are also, in many tribes, practical considerations, whichalso become involved in these matters. For example, it is unlikely that one canadvance within a tribe, or become a leader or chieftain, unless one hasfrequently counted coup. Too, in many tribes many tribes, a man who has notcounted coup is not permitted to mate. In other tribes, such a man, if he isover twenty-five, is permitted to mate, but he is not allowed to paint hismate's face. Thus will her shame before the other women be made clear.

The institution of counting, or tallying, coup has several obvious effects onthe structure and nature of the society of the red savages. In particular, ittends, on the whole, to arrange social hierarchies in such a way that thesociety is oriented toward aggressiveness and warfare, features, which tend toprotect and preserve, in an almost natural harmony and balance, delicaterelationships between food supplies, territories and populations. Viewed in thismanner tribal warfare may be seen as an example of intraspecific aggression,with its attendant consequences in decentralizing and refining diversepopulations. Too, if one regards these things as of any interest, the countingof coup and intertribal warfare lends color, excitement and zest to the lives ofthe red savages. They live in a world in which danger is not unknown. Surelythey could live otherwise, but they have not chosen to do so. They live with thestars and the, winds, and the kaiila and kailiauk. They have not chosen torevere the fat-bellied, beer-drinking gods of more sedentary peoples. Too, ofcourse, it should he noted that the counting of coup tends, statistically, toensure that it is the stronger and healthier, the more alert, the moreintelligent and sharper-sensed who will repro- duce themselves. This is inmarked contrast to certain societies where it is the healthiest and finest whoare sent off to war while the inferior and defective remain behind in safety,making money and multiplying themselves.

In most tribes, incidentally, a man who refuses to go on the warpath is put inwomen's clothes and given a woman's name. He must then live as a woman.

Henceforth he is referred to in the female gender. Needless to say, she is neverpermitted to mate. Sometimes she must even serve the members of a warriorsociety, as a captive female.

Interestingly enough, whites stand outside the coup structure. This is somethingthat few of them will object to. It seems they are simply not regarded, on thewhole, as being suitable foes, or foes worthy enough to stand within the coupstructure. It is not that the red savages object to killing them. It is onlythat they do not take pride, commonly, in doing so.

Similarly a man of the high cities would not expect to be publicly rewarded forhaving speared a tarsk or slain an urt, Accordingly the red savage will seldomgo out of his way to slay a white person; he commonly sees little profit indoing so; in killing such a person, he is not entitled to count coup.

"The man, now," said Kog, "is not fifty feet from the mounted hunters. In thesoft snow he has descended the slope silently."

"Surely the dark guest, as we may call him, that crouching behind the kailiauk,has seen him."

"Of course," said Kog, "but he has given no sign."

"No sign," I said, "which was read by the mounted hunters.

"Yes," said Kog. His lips drew back, over his fangs. There are always signs. Itis only a question of their delectability. They are as small, sometimes, as thedilation of a pupil.

"The bow is drawn," said Kog.

The small bow has many advantages. High among these is the rapidity with whichit may be drawn and fired. A skilled warrior, in the Gorean gravity, can fireten arrows into the air, the last leaving the bow before the first has returnedto the earth. No Gorean weapon can match it in its rate of fire. At close rangeit can be devastating. Two further advantages of the small bow that might bementioned are its maneuverability and its capacity to be concealed, say beneatha robe. It can be easily swept from one side of the kaiila to the other. In thistype of combat, incidentally, it is not unusual for the warrior to shieldhimself behind the body of his racing kaiila, and, circling the enemy, rise up,suddenly, to fire over the animal's back or, sometimes, from beneath its neck: Aheel over the animal's back and a fist in its silken neck hair, or an arm thrustthrough a leather throat loop, provide the leverage needed for these feats.

To be sure, these folk are superb riders. A child is often put on kaiilaback,its tiny bands clutching the silken neck, before it can walk. Sometimes a strapdangles back for a few feet from the throat loop. This is to be seized by thewarrior who may have been struck from his mount, either to recapture the beastor, using the strap, being pulled along, with the momentum of the racing steed,to vault again to its back. This strap, incidentally, is used more often inhunting than in warfare. It could be too easily grasped by an enemy on foot,with the result of perhaps impeding the movement of the kaiila or even causingit to twist and fall. Needless to say, it is extremely dangerous to fall fromone's kaiila in hunting kailiauk, because one is often closely involved withnumerous stampeding beasts, or the given beast one is pursuing may suddenly turnon one.

In hunting kailiauk the hunters usually scatter about, each selecting his ownanimals. Accordingly, one's fellows are seldom close at hand to rescue one. Thisis quite different from mounted warfare, where one's fellows are usually quiteclose and ready, in an instant, to sweep one up or help one to regain one'smount. The red savage does not take an industrial or arithmetical approach towarfare. He would rather rescue one comrade than slay ten of the enemy. This hasto do with the fact that they are members of the same tribe and, usually, of thesame warrior society. They will have known one another almost all of theirlives; as children and boys they have played together and watched the kaiilaherds in the summer camps together; they may even have shared in their firstkailliauk hunt; now, as men, they have taken the warpath together; they arecomrades, and friends; each is more precious to the other than even a thousandcoups.

This explains some of the eccentricities of tribal warfare; first actual warparties, though common, are formed less often than parties for stealing kaiila;in this sport the object is to obtain as many kaiila as possible without, ifpossible, engaging the enemy at all; it is a splendid coup, for example, to cuta kaiila tether strap which is tied to the wrist of a sleeping enemy and makeoff with the animal before he awakens; killing a sleeping enemy is only a minorcoup; besides, if he has been killed, how can he understand how cleverly he hasbeen bested; imagine his anger and chagrin when he awakens; is that not moreprecious to the thief than his scalp; in actual warfare itself large-scaleconflicts almost never occur. The typical act of war is the raid, conductedusually by a small group of men, some ten to fifteen in number, which entersenemy country, strikes, usually at dawn, and makes away, almost at soon as itcame, with scalps and loot, sometimes, too, a woman or two of the enemy istaken; men of most tribes are fond of owning a woman of the enemy; maleprisoners are seldom taken; because of their camaraderie and the sporting aspectof their warfare a group of red savages will usually refuse to follow even asingle enemy into rock or brush cover; it is simply too dangerous to do so;similarly the red savages will almost never engage in a standing fight if theyare outnumbered; often, too, they will turn their backs on even an obviousvictory if the costs of grasping it seem too high; sometimes, too, a largenumber of red savages will retreat before an unexpected attack of a small numberof enemies; they prefer to fight on their own terms and at times of their ownchoosing; too, they may not have had time to make their war medicine.

"Even with the small bow," said Samos, "surely he cannot expect to best fivemen."

"It does not seem likely," I admitted.

"He conceives himself to be in the presence of the medicine helper," said Kog.

"He is undaunted."

"Turn the hide," I said.

The creature rotated the hide on the heavy table, in the light of theunshuttered dark lantern.

"The first of the mounted hunters is dead," said Kog, "he who had had the lancein the attack position. The kailla of the others, however, have bolted."

I nodded. I had feared this. The lofty, silken kaiila is an extremely alert,high-strung beast.

"The second mounted hunter, he who had held the lance ready, is thrown from thekaiila to the snow. The man must, thus, in the instant, change his aim to thethird mounted rider, he who held the lance across his body. He fells him. Thedark guest acts. He leaps across the body of the slain kailiauk. He seizes theman who had fallen to the snow."

I did not care to look at that picture.

"We may conjecture that the hunter in the snow has screamed," said Kog. "The twoother hunters, with their lances across their backs, bolt away. In the distancethey turn to regard the kailiauk, the dark guest, the man. The dark guest leapsto the carcass of the kailiauk, its blood red in the snow. Nearby, in the snow,lies he who had been the second mounted hunter. His lance is broken. His bodyhas been half bitten through. The dark guest throws back his head, scratches athis chest, lifts his clawed hands, challenges the other two mounted hunters. Theblood of the second hunter is red about his jaws and on the matted fur of hischest. The other two hunters take their leave. Now the dark guest and the manare alone, with the kailiauk, with three riderless kaiila. The dark guest againcrouches behind the kailiauk. The man puts away his bow and arrows. The darkguest invites him to the feast."

"The story is an interesting invention," said Samos.

"Turn the hide," I said to Kog.

"The dark guest has left," said Kog. "The man cuts meat from the kailiauk."

Kog again turned the hide.

"The man returns to his camp," said Kog. "He returns with three kaiila, on oneof which he rides. The other two are burdened with meat from the kailiauk. Nowthere will not be hunger in his camp. He returns, too, with the hide of thekailiauk rolled before him, and three scalps. He will make a shield."

Again Kog turned the hide.

"This is the shield that he will make," said Kog, indicating the last picture onthe hide. This last picture was much larger than the other pictures. It was someseven or eight inches in diameter.

"I see," I said.

Me shield bears, clearly delineated, the visage of the dark guest, the medicinehelper."

"Yes," I said. "Do you recognize the pictures?" asked Kog.

"Yes," I said, "it is Zarendargar, Half-Ear."

"You cannot be sure," said Samos.

"We, too, believe it to be Zarendargar, whom some humans call Half- Ear," saidKog.

"He is, then, alive," I said.

"It would seem so," said Kog.

"Why have you shown us the pictures?" I asked.

"We wish your help, " said Kog.

"To rescue him from the Barrens?" I asked.

"No," said Kog, "to kill him."

"This is preposterous," said Samos. "This entire story is naught but the fantasyof a savage."

"You will note," said Kog, "that the story is unfolded on this hide."

"So?" asked Samos.

It is kailiauk hide," said Kog.

"So?" asked Samos.

"The red savages depend for their very lives on the kailiauk said Kog.

"He is the major source of their food and life. His meat and hide, his bones andsinew, sustain them. From him they derive not only food, but clothing andshelter, tools and weapons."

"I know," said Samos. "I know."

"In their stories they revere, him. His images and relics figure in theirmedicine."

"I know," said Samos.

"Further, they believe that if they are unworthy of the kailiauk, be will goaway. And they believe that this once happened, long ago."

"So?" asked Samos.

"So" said Kog, "they do not lie on the hide of the kailiauk. It would be thelast place in the world that they would choose to lie. On the hide of thekailiauk one may paint only truth."

Samos was silent.

"Beyond this," said Kog, "note that the image of the dark guest appears on theshield."

"I see," said Samos.

"It is a belief of the red savages that if they are unworthy, or do not speakthe truth, that their shield will not protect them, it will move aside or willnot turn the arrows and lances of enemies. Many warriors claim to have seen thishappen. The shields, too, are made of the hide of the kailiauk from the thickhide of the back of the neck, where the skin and musculature are thick, tosupport the weight of the trident and turn the blows of other tridents,especially in the spring buffetings, attendant upon which follows mateselection.

"I shall accept," said Samos, "that the artist is sincere, that he believeshimself to be telling the truth."

"That much is undeniable," said Kog.

"But the whole thing may be only the faithful report of a vision or dream."

"The portion of the skin pertinent to the dream, or vision," said Kog, "isclearly distinguished from the portion of the skin which purports to beconcerned with real events. Further, we find little reason to believe that theartist could have been, or would have been, mistaken about the nature of thoseevents, at least in their broad outlines."

"The dark guest may not be Zarendargar," said Samos. "The resemblance may beonly a coincidence."

"We do not find that a likely possibility," said Kog. "The distances and thetimes, and the dating of this skin, the details of the representation, all thesethings, suggest that it is Zarendargar. Similarly fellows of our species, ortheir descendants, lapsed into barbarism, seldom roam the Barrens. There is toolittle cover and the heat in the summer is too severe."

"The story on the hide takes place in the winter," said Samos.

"That is true," said Kog, "but game, in the Barrens, is scarce in the winter.

Too, the land is too open, and tracks are difficult to conceal. Our peopleprefer wintering in forested or mountainous areas."

"They will normally seek out such areas," I said.

"Yes," said Kog.

"It is your assumption, then," I said, "that Zarendargar is in hiding."

"Yes," said Kog, "in the unlikely and dangerous terrain of the Barrens."

"He knows that he will be sought?" I asked.

"Yes," said Kog. "He knows that he has failed."

I recalled the destruction of the vast supply complex in the Gorean arctic.

"I met Zarendargar," I said. "It does not seem to me likely that he would behiding."

"How then would you explain his presence in the Barrens?" inquired Kog.

"I cannot," I said.

"We have searched for him for two years," said Kog. "This hide is our firstclue."

"How did you come by this hide?" I asked.

"It was received in trade," said Kog. "It came, eventually, to the attention ofone of our agents. Thence it was transported to the steel worlds."

"It does not seem the sort of thing with which the artist would willingly part,"

I said.

"Quite possibly not," said Kog.

I shuddered. The artist, doubtless, had been slain, his body left stripped andmutilated in the customary manner of the red savages. The object, then, throughtrade channels, would have come, I supposed, to one of the high cities, perhapsThentis, the nearest of the large cities to the Barrens.

"We seek Zarendargar," said Kog. "We are his appointed executioners."

Yet there was something puzzling to me in these matters. I could not fullyunderstand what it was. For one thing, I doubted that Zarendargar was in hiding.

Yet, otherwise, I could not explain his presence in the Barrens. Too, I was notfully confident that the artist was dead. He impressed me as a competent andresourceful warrior. The skin, on the other hand, had apparently been traded. Iwas troubled by these things. I did not understand them.

"His crime was failure?" I asked.

"It is not tolerated on the steel worlds," said Kog, "not in one who is abovethe rings."

"Doubtless he received a fair trial," I said.

"Judgment was pronounced in accord with the statutes of the steel worlds," saidKog, "by the high council, composed of seventy-two members elected from amongthe representatives of the thousand cliffs."

"The same council was both judge and jury?" I asked.

"Yes," said Kog, "as is the case in many of your own cities."

"Zarendargar was not present at this trial," I said.

"If the presence of the criminal were required," said Kog, "it would make itimpossible, in many cases, to pass judgment."

"That is true," I said.

"A limitation on judicial proceedings of such a sort would be intolerable," saidKog.

"I see," I said.

"Was evidence submitted in support of Zarendargar?" I asked.

"In a case of this sort, evidence against the court is inadmissible," said Kog.

"I see," I said. "Who, then," I asked, "spoke on behalf of Zarendargar?"

"It is wrong to speak on behalf of a criminal, ' said Kog.

"I understand," I said.

"Due process of law, as you may see," said Kog, "was strictly observed."

"Thank you," I said, "my mind is now satisfactorily relieved on the matter."

Kog's lips drew back over his fangs.

"Even so," I asked, "was the vote unanimous?"

"Unanimity constitutes an impediment to the pursuit of expeditious and efficientjustice," said Kog.

"Was the vote unanimous?" I asked.

"No," said Kog.

"Was the vote close?" I asked.

"Why do you ask?" asked Kog.

"I am curious," I said.

"Yes," said Kog, "interestingly, it was."

"Thank you," I said. I knew there were factions among these creatures. I hadlearned this, clearly, in the Tahari. Too, I suspected some of the council, evenif they were not of the party of Zarendargar, would have recognized his value tothe steel worlds. He was doubtless one of the finest of their generals.

"There is no division here," I said, "between the political and the judicial."

"All law exists to serve the interests of the dominant powers," said Kog. "Ourinstitutions secure this arrangement, facilitate it and, not unimportantly,acknowledge it. Our institutions are, thus, less dishonest and hypocritical thanthose of groups which pretend to deny the fundamental nature of social order.

Law which is not a weapon and a wall is madness."

"How do we know that you are truly appointed to fulfill the edict of thecouncil?" I asked.

"Do you doubt the word of one who is of the Peoples?" asked Kog.

"Not really," I said. "I was just curious about your credentials."

"You could not read them if we displayed them," said Kog.

"That is true," I said. I was truly amazed at the patience, which the creaturesexhibited. I knew they were short-tempered, even with their own kind. Yet Samosand I had not been attacked. They must need something desperately.

"I swear to you on the rings of Sardak," said Kog, putting his paw on the tworings of reddish alloy on the left wrist Of Sardak.

"That is good enough for me," I said, magnanimously. I had not the least idea,of course, of the significance of this gesture on the part of Kog, but Igathered, under the circumstances, that its import must be rather weighty.

Sardak was, I was sure, Kog's Blood, or leader. If Kog swore falsely I gatheredthat it would then be up to Sardak to kill him. Sardak, however, did not move.

"You are doubtless who you say you are," I admitted.

"Even if we were not," said Kog, "we could still do business."

"Business?" I asked.

"Surely," said Kog. "We are met here in the interest of our mutual profit."

"I do not understand," I said.

"Zarendargar is a dangerous enemy to human beings," said Kog.

"He is a proven foe of Priest-Kings. He is your enemy. How fortunate, then, thatwe may conjoin our efforts in this matter. What a rare, welcome and felicitouscoincidence do we here encounter. It is in your interest to have Zarendargarkilled, and it is our business to kill him. Let us, thus, pool our forces inthis common enterprise."

"Why do you wish our help in this matter?" I asked.

"Zarendargar is in the Barrens," said Kog. "This is a large and perilouscountry. It teems with red savages. To enter such a country and find him itseems to us useful to enlist the help of human beings, creatures of a sort whichthe red savages will understand to be of their own kind, creatures with whomthey might be expected, for a price, to be cooperative. They are superbtrackers, you must understand, and may find the search stimulating. Too, theymay wish to rid their country of something as dangerous as Zarendargar."

"They would hunt him down like an animal, and slay him?" I asked.

"Presumably," said Kog. "And, humans, you see, would be useful in dealing withthem."

"I see," I said.

"What is your answer?" said Kog.

"No," I said.

"Is that your final decision?" asked Kog.

"Yes," I said.

Kog and Sardak suddenly howled. The table between us flung upwards. Samos and I,buffeted, stumbled back. The dark lantern, scattering flaming oil, struck a wallto the side of the room. "Beware, Samos!" I cried. I stood ready with the swordin the guard position. Kog hesitated, tearing at the boards with his clawedfeet.

"Guards!" cried Samos. "Guards!" Burning oil was adhering to the rained wall toour right. I saw the eyes of the two creatures glinting like fiery copperplates. Sardak reached down and seized up the huge spear, which Kog had earlierplaced to the side. "Beware, Samos!" I cried.

Guards, with crossbows, rushed into the room, behind us. With a cry of rageSardak hurled the great spear. It missed Samos and shattered half through thewall some forty feet behind us. Kog hurled the shield towards us and, like agreat, shallow, concave bowl, it skimmed through the air, between us, and brokeboards loose near the roof behind us. "Fire," cried Samos to his men. "Fire!"

With the titanic beating of wings the two tarns, the creatures mounted on them,took flight from the ruins of the tarn cot. I staggered back in the wind fromthe wings. I half shut my eyes against the dust and debris, which struck,against my face. The flames from the burning oil on the wall to my right leapedalmost horizontally backwards, torn and lashed by the wind. Then they burnedagain, as they had a moment before. I saw the creatures mounted on the tarns,silhouetted against one of Gor's three moons, fleeing over the marshes. "Theyhave escaped," said Samos.

"Yes," I said. They had restrained themselves as long as they had been able to.

What a titanic effort of will must have been necessary for them, creatures soferocious and savage, to have control themselves as long as they had. They haddone particularly well considering the numerous provocations to which,deliberately, I had subjected them to test the depth of their commitment totheir mission and the depth of their need of human help.

"Look at this," said one of Samos' men, working loose the great spear from thewall.

"And this," said another, lifting up the huge shield.

Samos' men examined the spear and shield.

"Forget what you have seen here this night," said Samos.

"What were they?" asked one of Samos' men, standing beside me.

"We call them Kurii, Beasts," I said.

2 I Will Go to the Barrens

"It was a trick," said Samos, "to lure you into the Barrens, where they mighthave slain you with impunity."

Samos and I rode inside the squarish, covered barge in which we had earlier cometo the tam complex in the marshes. It was now shortly after dawn. We were makingour way through the canals of Port Kar. Here and there, on the walks at theedges of the canal, men were moving about. Most were loading or readying smallboats, or folding nets. I saw, through the small, slatted window near me, aslave girl drawing water from the canal, with a rope and bucket.

"Surely so elaborate a hoax would not have been necessary if our destruction hadbeen their only end in view," I said.

"Perhaps," said Samos.

"They might have attacked us almost immediately in the tarn complex, andpresumably have made good their escape," I said.

"True," said Samos. It was unlikely that we could have adequately defendedourselves against a sudden onslaught of such foes at that short a distance.

I saw a man outside on the walk, a few yards away, mending a net. Ovoid, paintedfloats lay beside him. On my knees, rolled, was the hide, which had beendisplayed to us by Kog and Sardak in the tarn complex. We had retrieved it fromthe burning complex. Too, at our feet, dented, but still operational, as we haddetermined, was the boxlike translator. We had left the burning complex behindus in the marshes, its smoke ascending in the gray light of the morning. Thehuge shield and spear we had discarded in the marshes. The less evidence of suchthings about the better, we speculated, for men.

"Do you think you should have gone with them?" asked Samos.

"No," I said.

"It could, of course," said Samos, "have been a portion of their plan that ifZarendargar had been successfully destroyed, they might then turn on you."

"Yes," I said, "or I on them."

"That possibility would not be unlikely to occur to such creatures," said Samos.

"No," I said.

"You do not feel you should have gone with them," said Samos.

"No," I said.

"What do you think they will do now?" asked Samos.

"They will go to the Barrens," I said.

"They will hunt Zarendargar," said Samos.

"Of course," I said.

"Do you think they will attempt to enlist the aid of men?" asked Samos.

"Doubtless," I said.

"It is easy for me to understand why they came first to us," said Samos.

"Of course," I said. "Our aid might prove invaluable. Too, they would expect usto be as eager, as zealous, as they, to bring about the destruction ofZarendargar. The venture, presumably, would be one which would be in our commoninterest, one in which we could find a mutual profit."

"It would also be easier for them, to approach us than many men," said Samos,"for, from our wars, such as they, and their nature and intelligence, are notunknown to us."

"That is true," I said.

"They will have difficulty recruiting efficient aid," said Samos, "for few whitemen are allowed to tread the Barrens, and those who are permitted to, encroachupon their fringes are normally permitted to do so only for purposes of trade."

"I think it is fair to assume," I said, "that they do not have an agent in theBarrens. If they had had such an agent then it is unlikely they would haveapproached us in the first place. Similarly the Barrens would seem to be anunlikely, desolate and profitless place in which to have placed an agent."

"They must obtain new recruits," said Samos.

"That seems likely," I said.

"We have their translator," said Samos.

"That is unimportant," I said. "Doubtless they have another among their stores."

"What of the red savages themselves?" asked Samos.

"Few red savages live outside of the Barrens," I said, "and those who do wouldpresumably be as unfamiliar with them as would be anyone else in theircircumstances."

"What of the red savages of the Barrens?" asked Samos.

"Such would have to be approached at their own risk," I said. "From the hide wesaw that the mounted hunters were apparently preparing to charge Zarendargarwhen they were interrupted by the man's attack."

"But the translator," said Samos.

"A bewildering complexity of tribal languages is spoken in the Barrens," Isaid," most of them unintelligible to native speakers of the others. I find ithard to believe that their translators would be prepared to deal with any one ofthose languages, let along several of them."

"Zarendargar is then perhaps safe," said Samos.

"Not at all," I said. "Kurii are tenacious. With or without human aid we may besure that they will not rest until they have found their quarry."

"Zarendargar, then, is doomed," said Samos.

"Perhaps," I said.

I glanced again outside the barge, through the now-opened slats of the smallwindow.

On a gently inclined slope of cement leading down to the canal, the waterlapping at her knees, there knelt a slave girl doing laundry. She wore her steelcollar. Her tunic came high on her thighs. It is thought desirable for a femaleslave to work long hours at menial tasks. I smiled to myself. It is pleasant toown a woman, absolutely, in the Gorean fashion.

"It is your belief, then," said Samos, "that the skin is genuine."

"Yes," I said, "and from what I know of the red savages, I would conjecture thatthis skin is from the very beast whose image is portrayed upon it."

"Ai," said Samos. "Perhaps!"

"I think it is more than likely," I said.

"I pity Zarendargar," said Samos.

"He would not appreciate the sentiment," I said.

I moved on the low wooden bench, one of several aligned perpendicularly to theinterior port wall of the enclosed barge. There was a similar set of benchesaligned identically against the starboard wall.

"These benches are uncomfortable," I said to Samos. My legs were cramped.

"They are designed for women," said Samos.

There was room for five women on each bench. With my heel I kicked some light,siriklike slave chains back under the bench. Such chains are too light for aman, but they are fully adequate for a woman. The primary holding arrangementsfor women on the benches, however, are not chains. Each place on the bench isfitted with ankle and wrist stocks, and for each bench there is a plank collar,a plank which opens horizontally, each half of which contains five matching,semicircular openings, which, when it is set on pinions, closed, and chained inplace, provides thusly five sturdy, wooden inserts for the small, lovely throatsof women. The plank is thick and thus the girls' chins are held high. The plankis further reinforced between each girl with a narrowly curved iron band, theopen ends of which are pierced; this is slid tight in its slots, in its metalretainers, about the boards, and secured in place with a four-inch metal pin,which may or may not be locked in place. Each girl is held well in her place,thusly, not only by the ankle and wrist stocks, which hold her ankles back andher wrists beside her, but by the plank collar as well.

"We are passing a market," said Samos. "You had better close the window slats."

I glanced outside. The smell of fruit and vegetables, and verr milk, was strong.

I also heard the chatter of women. Dozens of women were spreading theirblankets, and their wares, on the cement. There are many such markets in PortKar. Men and women come to them in small boats. Also, of course, sometimes thevendors, too, will merely tie up their boats near the side of the canal,particularly when the space on the cement is crowded. The markets, thus, tend toextend into the canal itself. The only fully floating market authorized by theCouncil of Captains occurs in a lakelike area near the arsenal. It is called thePlace of the Twenty-Fifth of Se'Kara, because of the monument there, rising fromthe water. On the twenty-fifth of Se'Kara in Year One of the Sovereignty of theCouncil of Captains, the year 10,12 °C.A. Contasta Ar, from the Founding of Ar,a sea battle took place in which the fleet of Port Kar defeated the fleets ofCos and Tyros. The monument, of course, commemorates this victory. The marketforms itself about the monument. That year, incidentally is also regarded assignificant in the history of Port Kar, because it was in that year that, as itis said, a Home Stone consented to reside within the city.

"Please," said Samos.

I looked at the benches. Most of them were smooth, and, on many, the darkvarnish was all but worn off. Slave girls are normally transported nude.

"Please," said Samos.

"I'm sorry," I said. I closed the window slats by moving one of the slats. Theycan be most easily closed, of course, by moving the narrow, vertically mounted,central wooden lever, but this lever, as would be expected, is on the outside.

The window is designed to be opened and shut from the outside. Too, it can belocked shut, and normally is, from the outside, when cargo is within. As I haveearlier indicated the slave girl is normally transported in total ignorance ofher destination. Keeping a girl in ignorance is commonly thought useful in hercontrol and management. Too, it helps her keep clearly in mind that she is aslave. Curiosity is not becoming in a Kajira is a common Gorean saying. The girllearns quickly that it is not her business to meddle in the affairs of hermaster but, rather, to be beautiful, and serve him, abjectly and totally.

"I do not wish too many to know of our early morning journey," said Samos.

I nodded. We were well known in Port Kar. There was little point in provokingthe populace to idle speculations.

"We are passing another market," I said.

"Verr milk, Masters! ' I heard called. "Verr milk, Masters!"

I opened the slats a tiny crack. I wished to see if she were pretty. She was, inher tunic and collar, kneeling on a white blanket, spread on the cement, withthe brass container of verr milk, with its strap, near her, and the tiny brasscups. She was extremely lightly complexioned and had very red hair.

"Verr milk, Masters," she called. Slaves may buy and sell in the name of theirmasters, but they cannot, of course, buy and sell for themselves because theyare only animals. It is rather for them to be themselves bought and sold, as themasters might please.

"Will you make a report of this morning's business to the Sardar?" I asked.

"A routine report of all such contacts is to be made," said Samos.

"Do you expect the Sardar to take action?" I asked.

"No," said Samos.

"That, too, is my speculation," I said.

It is their custom in most such matters to let matters take their course.

"True," I said.

"Are you interested?" asked Samos.

"I was curious to hear your view," I said. "It coincides with mine, as I hadthought it would."

"Why do you ask?" asked Samos.

"I was curious," I said.

"Oh," said Samos.

We rode together for a time in silence, toward my holding, through the canals.

"I met Zarendargar, in the north," I said.

"That is known to me," said Samos.

"He impressed me as a fine commander, and a good soldier," I said.

"He is a terrifying and dangerous enemy," said Samos. "Men and Priest-Kingswould be well rid of him. Let us hope that the beasts we met this morning willbe successful in their quest."

I looked again through the tiny crack in the slats. It was near the sixth Ahn.

Small boats now moved about on the canal. Most were propelled by the swayingmovement of a steering oar. Some, larger boats and light galleys, such as mightbe used in the Tamber Gulf or, abroad, on Thassa, were being rowed from thwarts.

These vessels were singly or doubly ruddered. In negotiating the canals theirlong, sloping yards were lowered, being then fully or partially inboard, ineither case being aligned with the keel. This was in accord with an ordnance ofPort Kar.

"The Council of Captains must meet in two days," said Samos. "It is proposedthat the Sa-Tarna quay in the south harbor be extended. What division of thiswill be borne by public expense remains moot. Too, if this license be granted,an exploitable precedent may be set. Already there is talk among the merchantsin rep-cloth and the lumber and stone merchants."

We were now passing an open slave market. The merchant was chaining his girls onthe broad, tiered, cement display shelves. One girl lay on her stomach, on herelbows, her head down, the heavy iron collar on her neck visible beneath herhair; a short, weighty chain of thick dark links connected this collar, by itscollar ring, to a wide, stout ring, anchored deeply in the cement, almostbeneath her chin; the chain was no more than six inches long; I gathered thatshe was being disciplined; another girl, a blonde, sat on her shelf with herknees drawn up, her ankles crossed, her arms about her knees; I saw her chaindescend from her collar, disappear behind her right leg, and then reemerge frombehind her right thigh, thence running to the ring to which she was attached;another girl, a long-haired brunet, on all fours, faced me, with glazed eyes,seemingly uncomprehendingly regarding the enclosed barge as it passed by in thecanal; she had just been chained; it is common to put a woman on all fours forneck chaining; the slaver stepped away from her; neck chaining, incidentally, iscommon in a market for female slaves, as it is for she-sleen; several girls,standing, awaited their chaining, in turn, on the tiers; I could see the small,incisive brand marks on their left thighs, high, just below their left hips,they were in ankle coffle, their left ankles chained together; more than one ofthem shaded her eyes against the morning sun; it would be a long day for most ofthem, chained in the sun, on the hard, granular surfaces of the hot cementshelves.

"These issues," said Samos, "are subtle and complex."

The women were chained nude, of course, for that is the way that slave girls arecommonly displayed for their sale, particularly in low markets, and, indeed,even in a private sale from one of the purple booths in the courtyard of a richslaver there will come a time when the slave, even an exquisite, high slave,must put aside her silks and be examined raw, as though she were a common girl.

The Gorean male is a practiced and wary buyer. He wishes to see, fully andclearly, and preferably at his own pace, and leisure, what it is for which he isconsidering putting out his hard-earned money.

"I think that I would favor granting the license," said Samos, "but that I wouldalso insist on the restriction of the subsidy to such an amount that an attackby every mercantile sub caste in Port Kar on the public coffers will not beencouraged. That seems to me reasonable. The various sub castes, it seems to me,should be expected, on the whole, to rely on their own resources. Direct councilsupport, for example, has never been petitioned by the Slavers."

I considered the Barrens. They are not, truly, as barren as the name wouldsuggest. They are barren only in contrast, say, with the northern forests or thelush land in river valleys, or the peasant fields or meadows of the southernrain belts. They are, in fact, substantially, vast tracts of rolling grasslands,lying east of the Thentis Mountains. I have suspected that they are spoken of asthe Barrens not so much in an attempt to appraise them with geographicalaccuracy as to discourage their penetration, exploration and settlement. Thename, then, is perhaps not best regarded as an item of purely scientificnomenclature but rather as something else, perhaps a warning. Also, calling thearea the Barrens gives men a good excuse, if they should desire such, for notentering upon them. To be sure, the expression "Barrens' is not altogether amisnomer. They would be, on the whole, much less arable than much of the otherland of known Gor. Their climate is significantly influenced by the ThentisMountains and the absence of large bodies of water. Prevailing winds in thenorthern hemisphere of Gor are from the north and West. Accordingly asignificant percentage of moisture-laden air borne by westerly winds is forcedby the Thentis Mountains to cooler, less-heated air strata, where itprecipitates, substantially on the eastern slopes of the mountains and thefringes of the Barrens. Similarly the absence of large bodies of water in theBarrens reduces rainfall which might be connected with large-scale evaporationand subsequent precipitation of this moisture over land areas, the moisturebeing carried inland on what are, in effect, sea breezes, flowing into lowpressure areas caused by the warmer land surfaces, a given amount of radiantenergy raising the temperature of soil or rock significantly more than it wouldraise the temperature of an equivalent extent of water.

The absence of large bodies of water adjacent to or within the Barrens also hasanother significant effect on their climate. It precludes the Barrens fromexperiencing the moderating effects of such bodies of water on atmospherictemperatures. Areas in the vicinity of large bodies of water, because of thedifferential heating ratios of land and water usually have warmer winters andcooler summers than areas, which are not so situated. The Barrens, accordingly,tend to be afflicted with great extremes of temperature, often experiencingbitterly cold winters and long, hot, dry summers.

"Another possibility," Samos was saying, "would be a loan to the Sa-Tarnamerchants, at a reduced rate of interest. Thus we might avoid the precedent of adirect subsidy to a sub caste. To be sure, we might then encounter resistancefrom the Street of Coins. Tax credits would be another possible incentive."

At the edge of the Thentis Mountains, in the driest areas, the grass is short.

As one moves in an easterly direction it becomes taller, ranging generally fromten to eighteen inches in height; as one moves even further east it can attain aheight of several feet, reaching as high as the knees of a man riding a kaiila.

On foot, it is easier to become lost in such grass than in the northern forests.

No white man, incidentally, at least as far as I know, has ever penetrated tothe eastern edge of the Barrens. Certainly, as far as I know, none has everreturned from that area. Their extent, accordingly, is not known.

"The issues are complicated," said Samos. "I do not know, truly, how I shouldcast my vote."

Tornadoes and booming, crashing thunder can characterize the Barrens. In thewinter there can be blizzards, probably the worst on Gor, in which snows candrift as high as the mast of the light galley. The summers can be characterizedby a searing sun and seemingly interminable droughts. It is common for many ofthe shallow, meandering rivers of the area to run dry in the summer. Rapidtemperature shifts are not unusual. A pond may unexpectedly freeze in En'Karalate in Se'Var, a foot or two of snow may be melted in a matter of hours. Suddenstorms, too, are not unprecedented. Sometimes as much as twelve inches of rain,borne by a southern wind, can be deposited in less than an hour. To be sure,this rain usually runs off rapidly, cutting crevices and gullies in the land. Adry river bed may, in a matter of minutes, become a raging torrent. Hail storms,too, are not infrequent. Occasionally the chunks of ice are larger than the eggsof vulos. Many times such storms have destroyed flights of migrating birds.

"What do you think?" asked Samos.

I once shared paga with Zarendargar," I said.

"I do not understand," said Samos.

We felt the barge turn slowly in the canal. Then we heard oars being drawninboard on the starboard side. The barge, then, gently, struck against alanding, moving against the leather coils tied there.

"We are at my holding," I said.

I rose from the low bench and went to the door and opened it, emerging near thestern of the barge. Two of my men were holding mooring ropes, one from the bowof the barge and one from the stern. I climbed to the rail of the barge andascended from thence to the surface of the landing.

Samos, below me, came to the interior threshold of the cabin door.

"It has been an interesting morning," he said.

"Yes," I said.

"I shall see you at the meeting of the Council in two days," he said.

"No," I said.

"I do not understand," said Samos.

"Zarendargar is in great danger," I said.

"We may rejoice in that," said Samos.

"The Death Squad is already on Gor," I said.

"It would seem so," said Samos.

"How many do you think there are?" I asked.

"Two," said Samos.

"Surely," I said, "there would be more." I did not think only two Kurii would besent to dispatch one such as Zarendargar.

"Perhaps," said Samos.

"I once shared paga with Zarendargar," I said.

Samos stepped forth onto the deck of the barge, at the stern. He looked up atme, startled. It seemed no longer was he concerned that our camaraderie of themorning might be noted. "What madness do you contemplate?" he whispered.

"Surely Zarendargar must be warned," I said.

"No!" said Samos. "Let him be slain as expeditiously as possible!"

"I do not think, in such a case, Kurii are inclined to slay expeditiously," Isaid.

"It is none of your affair," said Samos.

"Those affairs are mine which I choose to make mine," I said.

"White men are not even allowed in the Barrens," said Samos.

"Surely some must be," I said, "if only to effect the graces and utilities oftrade."

I looked over the low roof of the barge's cabin to the canal beyond. A hundredor so feet away there was the small boat of an urt hunter. His girl, the rope onher neck, crouched in the bow. This rope is about twenty feet long. One end ofit is tied on her neck and the other end is fastened on the boat, to the bowring. The hunter stood behind her with his pronged urt spear. These men serve animportant function in Port Kar, which is to keep down the urt population in thecanals. At a word from the man the girl, the rope trailing behind her, dove intothe canal. Behind the man, in the stern, lay the bloody, white-furred bodies oftwo canal urts. One would have weighed about sixty pounds, and the other, Ispeculate, about seventy-five or eighty pounds. I saw the girl swimming in thecanal, the rope on her neck, amidst the garbage. It is less expensive and moreefficient to use a girl for this type of work than, say, a side of tarsk. Thegirl moves in the water, which tends to attract the urts and, if no mishapoccurs, may be used again and again. Some hunters use a live verr but this isless effective as the animal, squealing, and terrified, is difficult to drivefrom the side of the boat. The slave girl, on the other hand, can be reasonedwith. She knows that if she is not cooperative she will be simply bound hand andfoot and thrown alive to the urts. This modality of hunting, incidentally, isnot as dangerous to the girl as it might sound, for very few urts make theirstrike from beneath the surface. The urt, being an air-breathing mammal,commonly makes its strike at the surface itself, approaching the quarry with itssnout and eyes above the water, its ears laid back against the sides of itslong, triangular head. To be sure, sometimes the urt surfaces near the girl andapproaches her with great rapidity. Thus, in such a situation, she may not havetime to return to the boat. In such a case, of course, the girl must depend forher life on the steady hand and keen eye, the swiftness, the strength andtiming, the skill, of the urt hunter, her master. Sometimes, incidentally, amaster will rent his girl to an urt hunter, this being regarded as useful in herdiscipline.

There are very few girls who, after a day or two in the canals, and then beingreturned to their masters, do not strive to be completely pleasing.

"You need not warn Zarendargar," said Samos. "He knows he will be sought. Thatwe have, in effect, on the authority of one of the very beasts to whom we spokethis morning."

"He may not know that the Death Squad has landed on Gor," I said. "He may notknow that they are aware of his general location. He may not know with whom itis that he will be dealing."

"These things are his concern," said Samos, not yours."

"Perhaps," I said.

"Once," said Samos, "he sent you forth upon the ice, to be slain by anotherKur."

"He did his duty, as he saw it," I said.

"And now you would render him succor?" asked Samos.

"Yes," I said.

"He might slay you, instantly, if he saw you," said Samos.

"It is true he is an enemy," I said. "That is a risk I must take."

"He may not even recognize you," said Samos.

"Perhaps," I said. This was, I supposed, a danger. Just as human beings oftenfound it difficult to distinguish among various Kurii, so, too, many Kurii,apparently, often found it difficult to distinguish among various human beings.

On the other hand, I was confident that Zarendargar would know me. I had nodoubt but what I would recognize him. One does not forget a Kur such asHalf-Ear, or Zarendargar, one who stood above the rings, a war general among theKurii.

"I forbid you to go," said Samos.

"You cannot do that," I said.

"In the name of Priest-Kings," he said, "I forbid you to go.

"My wars are my own," I said. "I choose them as I please."

I looked beyond Samos to the boat and urt hunter in the canal. The girl climbed,shivering, into the bow of the boat, the wet rope on her neck. In the bow of theboat, crouching there, nude and shivering, she coiled, in careful circles, inthe shallow, wooden rope bucket beside her, the central length of the rope, thatbetween her neck and the bow ring. Only then did she reach for the thick woolenblanket, from the wool of the hurt, and clutch it, shuddering, about her. Herhair, wet, was very dark against the white blanket. She was comely. I wonderedif she were being rented out for discipline, or if she belonged to the urthunter. It was not easy to tell.

Most Gorean slave girls are comely, or beautiful. This is easy to understand. Itis almost always the better looking women who are taken for slaves, and, ofcourse, in breeding slaves, it is commonly only the most beautiful of femaleslaves who are used, these usually being crossed, hooded, with handsome malesilk slaves, also hooded. The female offspring of these matings, needless tosay, are often exquisite. The male offspring, incidentally, and interestingly,to my mind, are often handsome, strong and quite masculine. This is perhapsbecause many male silk slaves are chosen to be male silk slaves not because theyare weak or like women, but because they are not; it is only that they are men,and often true men, who must serve women, totally, in the same fashion that aslave female is expected to serve a free master. To be sure, it is also true,and should be admitted in all honesty, that many male silk slaves are ratherfeminine; some women prefer this type, perhaps because they fear true men; fromsuch a silk slave they need not fear that they may suddenly be turned upon, andtied, and taught to be women. Most women, however, after a time, find this typeof silk slave a banality and a bore; charm and wit can be entertaining, but, intime, if not conjoined with intellect and true masculine power, they are likelyto wear thin.

The feminine type of male silk slave, incidentally, for better or for worse, isseldom selected for breeding purposes. Gorean slave breeders, perhaps benightedin this respect, prefer what they take to be health to what they think of assickness, and what they take to be strength to what they deem weakness. Somefemale slaves, incidentally, have a pedigreed lineage going back through severalgenerations of slave matings, and their masters hold the papers to prove this.

It is a felony in Gorean law to forge or falsify such papers. Many Goreansbelieve that all women are born for the collar, and that a woman cannot be trulyfulfilled as a woman until a strong man puts it on her, until she finds herselfreduced to her basic femaleness at his feet.

In the case of the bred female slave, of course, she has been legally andliterally, in anyone's understanding, bred to the collar, and in a fullcommercial and economic sense, as a business speculation on the part of masters.

The features most often selected for by the breeders are beauty and passion. Ithas been found that intelligence, of a feminine sort, as opposed to thepseudomasculine type of intelligence often found in women with large amounts ofmale hormones, is commonly linked, apparently genetically, with these twohitherto mentioned properties. There are few male slaves with long pedigrees.

Goreans, though recognizing the legal and economic legitimacy of male slavery,do not regard it as possessing the same biological sanction as attaches tofemale slavery. The natural situation, in the mind of many Goreans, is that themaster set/slave relation is one, which ideally exists between man and woman,with the woman in the property position. Male slaves, from time to time, canreceive opportunities to win their freedom, though, to be sure, usually insituations of high risk and great danger. Such opportunities are never accordedto the female slave. She is totally helpless. If she is to receive her freedomit will be fully and totally, and only, by the decision of her master.

"You are, then, seriously, considering going to the Barrens?" asked Samos.

"Yes," I said.

"You are a foolish and stubborn fellow," said Samos.

"Perhaps," I said. I lifted the roll of kailiauk hide I carried. "May I keepthis?" I asked.

"Of course," said Samos.

I handed it to one of my men. I thought it might prove useful in the Barrens.

"You are fully determined?" asked Samos.

"Yes," I said.

"Wait," he said. He went back to the door of the enclosed cabin and re-enteredit. In a moment he re-emerged, carrying the boxlike translator, which we badbrought from the tam complex. "You may need this," said Samos, handing it to oneof my men.

"Thank you, Samos," I said.

"I wish you well," he said.

"I wish you well," I said. I turned away.

"Wait!" he said.

I turned back to face him.

"Be careful," he said.

"I will," I said.

"Tarl," he said, suddenly.

I turned back to face him, again.

"How is it that you could even think of doing this?" he asked.

"Zarendargar may need my assistance," I said. "I may be able to aid him."

"But why, why?" he asked.

How could I explain to Samos the dark affinity I shared with one whom I had metonly in the north, and long ago, with one who, clearly, was naught but a beast?

I recalled the long evening I had once spent with Zarendargar, and our lengthy,animated conversations, the talk of warriors, the talk of soldiers, of thosefamiliar with arms and martial values, of those who had shared the zest andterrors of conflict, to whom crass materialisms could never be more than themeans to worthier victories, who had shared the loneliness of command, who hadnever forgotten the meanings of words such as discipline, responsibility,courage and honor, who had known perils, and long treks and privations, to whomcomfort and the hearth beckoned less than camps and distant horizons.

"Why, why?" he asked.

I looked beyond Samos, to the canal beyond. The urt hunter, with his girl andboat, rowing slowly, was taking his leave. He would try his luck elsewhere.

"Why?" asked Samos.

I shrugged. "Once," I said, "we shared paga."

3 I Receive Information; I Will Travel Northward

"Perhaps this one?" asked the merchant.

"I am trying to locate the whereabouts of a trader, one called Grunt," I said.

The blond-haired girl, nude, kneeling, shrank back against the cement wall. Hersmall wrists were bound tightly behind her, to an iron ring fastened in thewall.

"She is not without her attractions," said the merchant.

"Do you know where this fellow, Grunt, may be found?" I asked.

Another girl, also blond, a long chain on her neck, also fastened to a ring inthe wall, had crept to my feet. She then lowered herself to her belly before me.

She held my right ankle in her small hands and began to lick and kiss softly atmy feet. I felt her mouth and small, warm tongue between the straps on mysandals. "Please buy me, Master," she whispered. I will serve you helplessly andwell." The difference between slave girls are interesting. The first girl was afresh capture, clearly. She had not yet even been branded. The other girl,clearly, had already known the touch of a master.

"I think he has ventured north, along the perimeter," said the merchant.

"Buy me, I beg you, Master!" whispered, the girl at my feet.

I looked to the girl kneeling at the wall. Swiftly she put down her head,reddening.

"That one," said the man, indicating the girl at the wall, "was, formerly free.

She was taken only five days ago. Not yet, as you note, is her thigh evenmarked."

"Why not?" I asked. Usually a girl is marked within hours of her capture. It isusually felt that, after her capture, there is little point in permitting anypossibility that she might be confused with a free woman.

"I want her deeply and cleanly branded," he said. "An iron master travels amongseveral of the smaller border towns. He is good at his business and has anassortment of irons, ranging from lovely and delicate to rude and brutal."

I nodded. It was not unusual for the border towns, along the eastern edge of theThentis mountains, to be served by itinerant tradesmen and artisans. There wasoften too little work for them to thrive in a given town but an ample employmentfor their services and goods in a string of such towns. Such tradesmen andartisans commonly included some five to ten towns in their territory.

"Do not fret, little beauty," said the man to the girl. "You will soon beproperly marked."

The girl lifted her head, and looked at me.

"You see," said the man, "she is already curious as to the touch of a man."

I see," I said.

"What sort of brand would you like, little beauty?" asked the man. "Have nofear. Whatever brand you wear, I guarantee, will be unmistakable and clear."

She looked up at him. With the back of his hand he lashed her head to the side.

She then looked up at him, again, frightened. Blood was at her lip. "Whateverbrand you wish for me, Master," she said.

"Excellent," said the man. He turned to me. "That is her first, full, verbalslave response. She has had, of course, other sorts of slave responses andbehaviors before this, such things as squirmings, strugglings, cringings, painand fear, and behavioral presentations and pleadings, making herself pretty andholding herself in certain ways, presenting herself as a helpless, desirablefemale, trying to provoke the interest of attractive men."

The girl looked at him with horror, but I saw, in her eyes, that what he hadsaid was true. Even unbranded, she was already becoming a slave.

"Please, Master. Please, Master," begged the girl at my feet.

"What sort of brand would you like, my dear?" asked the man of the girl at thewall. "Have no fear. I am now permitting you to express a preference. I shallthen, as it pleases me, accept your preference, or reject it."

Her lip, now swollen, trembled.

"Would you like a lovely and feminine brand," he asked, "or a rude and brutalbrand, one fit for a pot girl or a tendress of kaiila?"

"I am a woman, Master," she said. "I am feminine."

I was pleased to hear this simple confession from the girl, this straightforward, uncompromising admission of the reality of her sex. How few ofthe women of my old world, I thought, could bring themselves, even to theirlovers, to make this same, simple admission. What a world of difference it mightmake to their relationships, I speculated. Yet this admission, nonverbally, wassurely made, and even poignantly and desperately, by many women of my old world,despite the injunctions and conditionings against honesty in such mattersenjoined by an antibiological, politicized society. I hoped that upon occasion,at least, these admissions, these declarations, these cries for recognition andfulfillment, whether verbal or nonverbal, might in his kindness, be heeded by amale.

It is an interesting question, the relation between natural values andconditioned values. To be sure, the human infant, in many respects, seems to belittle more than a tabula rasa, a blank tablet, on which a society, whethersensible or perverted, may inscribe its values. Yet the infant is also ananimal, with its nature and genetic codings, with its heritage of eons of lifeand evolution, tracing itself back to the combinations of molecules and thebirths of stars. Thus can be erected conflicts between nature and artifice,whether the artifices be devised or blind. These conflicts, in turn, producetheir grotesque syndromes of anxiety, guilt and frustration, with theirattendant deleterious consequences for happiness and life. A man may be taughtto prize his own castration but somewhere, sometime, in the individual or in themaddened collectivity, nature must strike back. The answer of the fool is theanswer he has been taught to give, the answer he must continue to defend andbeyond which he cannot see, an answer historically deriving from an ethosfounded on the macabre superstitions and frustrated perversions of lunatics, ananswer now co-opted to serve the interests of new, grotesque minorities who,repudiating the only rationale that gave it plausibility, pervert it to theirown ends. The sludge of Puritanism, with its latent social power, bequeathedfrom one generation to the next, can serve unaccustomed masters. The onlypractical answer to these dilemmas is not continued suppression and censorship,but a society, a world, in which nature is freed to thrive. It is not a healthyworld in which civilization is nature's prison. Nature and civilization are notincompatible. A choice need not be made between them. For a rational animal eachcan be the complement and enhancement of the other. For too long has the worldbeen under the domination of the grotesque and insidious. One fears mostly theymay begin to believe their own lies. They think they herd sheep. It is possible,unbeknownst to themselves, they walk with wolves and lions.

The merchant regarded the girl at the wall. Under his gaze she straightenedherself. "Yes," he said. "I see that you are feminine. Accordingly, you will beappropriately branded."

"Thank you, Master," she said.

"It will be the common Kajira mark," he said, "indicating that you arebeautiful, but only another slave girl."

"Thank you, Master," she said. I thought the cursive Kef, sometimes referred toas the staff and fronds, beauty subject to discipline, would look well upon herthigh.

"I am already branded, Master," said the girl at my feet. She looked up at me.

It was true. She wore the Kef high on her left thigh, just under the hip. Thisis the most common brand site for a Gorean slave girl.

"She bellies to you," said the man. "She likes you."

"Perhaps you have warned her that if she does not belly to the first man in themarket she is to be whipped," I smiled.

"No" chuckled the man, "but it is true that I have denied her the touch of a manfor two days." The sexual relief of a slave girl, like her clothing and herfood, is also something under the total command of the master.

The girl whimpered in frustration. "No, Master," she wept. "You are the sort ofman to whom I would belly naturally. To see you is to want to belly myselfbefore you."

"Master," said the girl at the wall, addressing me, "if I were not bound, I,too, would belly myself before you."

"Excellent!" said the merchant. "This is the first time she has spoken so.

Apparently you are the sort of man she regards as a desirable master."

I said nothing. A girl in a market knows she is to be sold. Accordingly she willoften try to influence a man she finds attractive to buy her. If he does not buyher, she knows she may be bought by one who is worse. Most girls, of course,prefer to be bought by a man who is exciting and attractive to them, one whomthey would find irresistible, one whom they would desire to serve, rather thanby one who is gross and disgusting to them. To be sure, as slave girls, theywould have to serve either perfectly. The decision as to whether the girl is tobe purchased or not is, of course, in the final analysis, totally the man's Inthis respect the girl must wait, and is absolutely helpless. In this respect shehas as little personal control over her fate as an inanimate, displayed objectin an emporium on Earth.

The girl at the ring pulled against the bonds on her small wrists, leaningtoward me. The girl at my feet looked up at me. I felt the chain on her neckacross my right foot.

"Have they names?" I asked the merchant.

"No," said the merchant, "I have not yet named them."

"The trader. Grunt" I said, "you speculate has ventured northward?"

"Yes," said the man.

I kicked back the girl at my feet. Whimpering, she crawled back to the wall,where she lay curled at its foot, watching me. The other girl, fastened by thewrists to the ring, shrank back against it. She looked at me with horror andfear, but, also, with another expression in her eyes, as well, one offascination and awe. I think then she realized a little better than before whatit might be to be a slave. She would be subject to discipline. Our eyes met. Isaw in her eyes that she now realized that she, like any other slave girl, was,and would be, under total masculine domination. She shuddered, and looked down.

I saw her tremble with fear and pleasure. I saw that she, properly trained,would make some man a superb slave.

"The next town northward is Fort Haskins," I said. This lay at the foot of theBoswell Pass. Originally it had been a trading post, maintained by the HaskinsCompany, a company of Merchants, primarily at Thentis. A military outpost,flying the banners of Thentis, garrisoned by mercenaries, was later establishedat the same point. The military and strategic importance of controlling theeastern termination of the Boswell Pass was clear. It was at this time that theplace came to be known as Fort Haskins. A fort remains at this point but thename, generally, is now given to the town which grew up in the vicinity of thefort, primarily to the west and south. The fort itself, incidentally, was twiceburned, once by soldiers from Port Olni, before that town joined the SalerianConfederation, and once by marauding Dust Legs, a tribe of red savages, from theinterior of the Barrens. The military significance of the fort has declined withthe growth of population in the area and the development of tarn cavalries inThentis. The fort now serves primarily as a trading post, maintained by thecaste of Merchants, from Thentis, an interesting recollection of the origins ofthe area.

"It will be my conjecture," said the man, "that he whom you seek, the trader,Grunt, is bound not for Fort Haskins, but for Kailiauk."

"Ali," I said. I should have guessed that. Kailiauk is the easternmost town atthe foot of the Thentis mountains. It lies almost at the edge of the Ihanke, orBoundary. From its outskirts one can see the markers, the feathers on their tallwands, which mark the beginning of the country of the red savages.

"I trust that you do not desire to kill him," said the man.

"No," I smiled.

"You do not wear the garb of the dark caste, nor do you have the black daggerpainted upon your brow."

"I am not an Assassin," I said.

"Grunt is a peculiar fellow, and secretive, but, I think, inoffensive."

I do not wish him harm," I said. "And I thank you for your help."

"Are you on foot?" asked the man.

"Yes," I said. I had sold my tarn two days ago and begun to make my waynorthward on foot. The Kurii from whom we had obtained the story hide must, inturn, have obtained it from an operative somewhere in this area. I thought toattract less attention on foot than as a tarnsman.

"If you wish to contact Grunt, I advise you to do so promptly. It is EnKara, andhe will soon be entering the Barrens.

I attempted to press a tarsk bit into his hand, but he pushed it back.

"I have done nothing," he smiled.

"My thanks," I said. I turned to go.

"Fellow," said he.

"Yes?" I said, turning again to face him.

"A slave wagon is leaving on the north road at noon," be said. "it could takeyou as far as Fort Haskins."

"My thanks," I said.

"It is nothing," he said.

I glanced again at the two blond slave girls. I glanced first at the onekneeling by the wall, her wrists bound to the ring behind her. In her bonds, shehad learned she was a woman. It is difficult for a woman, stripped and bound,and owned by a man, not to be aware of her femininity. These symbols of, andexpressions of, nature, are not hard to read. She understands them, and fullyand well. I glanced then to the other girl, she lying by the wall, looking atme, the chain on her neck. Her psychophysiological distress, that of a slavegirl, was clearly almost intolerable. Perhaps her master would give her to oneof his attendants for the night. The desperation of her needs might then, for atime, be assuaged, until, in a few Ahn, irresistibly and compellingly, theywould again arise within her. I glanced then again to the first girl. I smiled.

She, too, once properly branded and collared, would come to know such needs.

She, too, internally and subjectively, would come to know what it was, fully, tobe a female slave.

"I wish you well," I said to the man.

"I wish you well," he said.

I then turned, and left.

4 We See Smoke; We Encounter Soldiers

I thrust my shoulder against the giant wooden wheel of the slave wagon.

I heard, ahead, the crying out of the driver, the snapping of his long whip overthe backs of the two draft tharlarion harnessed to the wagon.

"Pull, lazy beasts!" he cried.

Knee deep in the mire I thrust, slipping, against the thick wooden wheel.

The wheel moved and the wagon, groaning, creaking, lurched upward and rolledforward.

I waded about the wagon and then attained the graveled surface and, running,caught up with the wagon, and drew myself up to the wagon box, beside thedriver.

"Why do you wish to find Grunt?" asked the driver, a young man with shaggy hair,cut short across the base of his neck.

"I am searching for something which may be in the Barrens," I said.

"Stay out of them," warned the young man. "It can be death to enter them."

"Grunt comes and goes, as I understand it," I said.

"Some, merchants and traders, are permitted, by some of the tribes," said theyoung man.

"Of all," I said, "I have heard that he is most welcome in the Barrens, andtravels furthest within them."

"That may be true," said the fellow.

"Why is that, I. wonder," I said.

"He speaks some Dust Leg, and some of the talk of other tribes," said thefellow. "Too, he knows sign."

"Sign?" I asked.

"Hand talk" said the young man. "It is the way the red savages of differenttribes communicate among one another. They cannot speak one another's languages,you know."

"I would suppose not," I admitted.

Hand sign, I suspected was the key to the capacity of the tribes to unite andprotect their territories against outside encroachment, that and what theycalled the Memory.

"Various traders, I suspect, know Hand Sign," I said.

"Several," said the young man.

"But, too, he knows some of the tribal languages," I said.

"Not so much," said the young man. "A few words and phrases. The savages comesometimes to the trading points. We learn something of one another's talk. Notmuch."

"Communication is largely conducted in Sign, then," I said.

"Yes," said the young man. He stood then and cracked the whip again over thebacks of the tharlarion. Then, again, he sat down.

"If various traders know Sign and some, too, have some smattering of some ofthese languages, what makes Grunt so special? Why is it he alone who ispermitted to venture so deeply into the Barrens?"

"Perhaps the savages feel they have nothing more to gain from Grunt," laughedthe young man.

"I do not understand," I said.

"You will," he said.

"Can we see the boundary from here? I asked. We were now at the crest of ahill.

"Not clearly, but it is out there," he said, pointing to our right. "See," heasked, "the low hills, the grassy hills, at the horizon?"

"Yes," I said.

"They are on the other side of the boundary," he said.

"When do we arrive at Fort Huskiness?" I asked him.

"Tomorrow morning," he said. "We will camp tonight."

"Master," said a soft, feminine voice, from behind timidly, "may a lowly slavespeak?"

"Yes," said the young man.

The wagon carried ten girls. The common Gorean slave wagon has a long bed,surmounted with rectangular frame, usually covered with blue-and-yellow canvas.

A long, solid, heavy metal bar, hinged near the front, and locked in place atthe rear, runs the length of the bed. The girls enter the wagon at the rear,crawling, their ankles chained, the bar between their legs. When the bar islocked in place their ankles, thus, are chained about it. This arrangement,while providing perfect security, permits them considerable latitude ofmovement. They may, for example, sit, or kneel or lie in the wagon bed, confinedonly by the chaining on their ankles. Here, however, near the perimeter, suchluxuries were seldom available. The wagon on which I rode had, obviously,originally been intended for the transportation of sleen. It was little morethan a sleen cage, of heavy, wooden poles, lashed together, its rear gatefastened with a chain and padlock, set a flat wagon bed. Because of the natureof the cage the 7 girls imprisoned within it were bound hand and foot.

"Our bonds are cruelly tight, Masters," said the girl. "We beg that they may beloosened, if only slightly."

The young man turned about, angrily, on the wagon box, and regarded the girl,who shrank back, on her knees, bound hand and foot, behind the bars.

"Be silent, Slave Girl," he said.

"Yes, Master!" she said.

"Rejoice that I do not stop the wagon and haul you out, each of you, and giveyou ten lashes apiece," he said.

"Yes, Master!" said the girl, struggling to move back on her knees from thebars.

"Yes, Master. Yes, Master!" said several of the other girls.

The young man then turned about, and gave his attention to the road and thetharlarionI smiled. The men of the perimeter do not pamper their slaves. Indeed, not evena blanket had been thrown into the wagon bed to soften the blows of thespringless cart, or to shield the flesh of the bound beauties from the splinteryroughness of the sturdy planks on which they rode. It is common, of course, bothin civilized areas and along the perimeter, to transport female slaves nude.

"It is interesting," I said, "that you do not have an armed escort."

"You are not a highwayman, are you?" he asked.

"No," I said.

"Women are generally cheap along the perimeter," he said.

"Why should this be?" I asked. That seemed to me surprising.

"The perimeter has been stable for over a century," he said. "Accordingly womenare generally no more scarce here than elsewhere."

"But why should they be cheap?" I asked.

"The savages," he said. "They raid in the south and sell in the north. They raidin the north and sell in the south."

I nodded. The perimeter was thousands of pasangs long. There were variousoutlying farms, and many settlements and villages.

"Do they sell all the items garnered in their flesh harvests?" I asked.

"No," he said. "They take some with them, back into the Barrens."

"What do they do with them there?" I asked.

"I do not know," laughed the young man. "Doubtless they put them to good use."

"Doubtless," I agreed. The red savages, I had no doubt, could find many usefulemployments for helpless, white female slaves.

"At what time tomorrow morning should we arrive at Fort Haskins?" I asked.

"I am scheduled to deliver my freight to Brint, the Slaver, at half past theninth Ahn," he said. "You may, of course, wish to leave the wagon before that."

I nodded. It would be pointless to stay longer than necessary with the wagon. Iwould stay with it until it reached its destination only if that destination layon the road to Kailiauk.

"What is to be done with these slaves?" I asked. "Are they to be sold in FortHaskins?"

"I think they are to be shipped west over the Boswell Pass," he said, "toThentis and, from thence, to be distributed to western markets."

"They had better be given something to wear," I said, "if they are to be carriedover the pass."

"They will be tied in hides," said the young man. "Because the trading hides arecheap in places like Fort Haskins and Kailiauk."

"There is another reason, a recent reason, why girls are so cheap in this area," said the young man.

"What is that?" I asked.

"Barbarians," he said.

"Barbarians?" I asked.

"Yes," he said, "unskilled, untrained, raw, luscious little beasts, many of whomcan speak almost no Gorean."

"Where do they come from?" I asked.

"I do not know," he said. "The source for their delivery to be somewhere in thevicinity of Kailiauk. They are not good for the market."

This information intrigued me. The delivery points for the slavers league withKurii shifted about on the surface of Gor. This practice, doubtless, wasintended to aid them to detection by Priest-Kings.

"Are these barbarians commonly shipped west over the Boswell Pass?" I asked.

"Almost never," said the young man. "They are generally taken south and,apparently, transported over the southern passes."

This new information confirmed my suspicions that these were indeed the fruitsof slaving on Earth. If they were transported over the Boswell Pass they might,eventually, come to the attention of Clark of Thentis, a slaver of Thentis, hadrendered services to Priest-Kings.

"Interesting," I said. The vicinity of Kailiauk, with its nearness to theBarrens, seemed a remote and useful place for a delivery point. Too, this mightexplain how the story might have come to the attention of Kurii. They might havean agent in Kailiauk, or in its vicinity.

"It is said that such barbarians, properly tamed and trained, make excellentslaves," said the young man.

"I am glad to hear that," I said.

"But I would not want to own one," said the young man.

"Have you ever owned one?" I asked.

"No," he said.

"Then you should not speak so soon," I said.

"That is true," he said, laughing.

I myself thought the young man did not know what he was missing. Earth girls,brought to Gor after years of sexual starvation on Earth, finding themselvessuddenly subjected to total domination, finding themselves absolute slaves, evento the market and the whip, the brand and the collar, the touch of an insolentmaster, finding themselves given no choice but to release and manifest theirdeepest and most and beautiful, most profound, most hitherto hidden femalenature often made the most grateful, rapturous and perfect of slaves.

"Still," said the young man, "they are not good for the market."

"That may be true," I said. It seemed to me not unlikely that an influx ofbarbarian females, in a given area, at a given time, might depress prices. To besure, the slavers in league with the Kurii usually distributed these girlsthrough out various markets. This made the females more difficult to trace backto their delivery points and, of course, tended, on the whole, to improve theprices one could receive for them.

"It will soon be time to camp," said the young man.

"The slaves, I trust," I said, jerking my head back toward the lovely, boundinmates of the wagon, "are on their slave wine."

"Yes," laughed the young man.

"Please, Master," begged the girl who had spoken earlier to the young man,"when we camp, tie my neck to a tree and untie my ankles. "I desire to serveyou."

"No, I!" cried another girl. "I!" cried another.

The young man laughed. He saw the girls desired to placate him. But, too, ofcourse, to be honest, he was a handsome fellow, and they were bound femaleslaves. Carting such freight about does not pay high wages but there are fringebenefits connected with such work. If the girls are not virgins such a teamstercommonly has his pick of the load.

"My neck, too, can be tied to a tree, and my ankles, too can be untied, Master," said another of the girls, addressing me. She was a luscious blonde.

I slapped the wood of the wagon box with pleasure.

"Look!" said the young man, suddenly, pointing to our right. "Smoke!"

Almost at the same moment he rose to his feet and cracked his long whip over thebacks of the tharlarion. Grunting, they increased their lumbering pace.

Twice more he cracked his whip. The girls, in the back were suddenly quiet. Igripped the edge of the wagon box. To our right, in a long, sloping valley, sometwo or three pasangs from the road, there were three narrow, slowly ascendingcolumns of smoke.

"Faster! Har-ta!" cried the young man to the tharlarion.

"Surely we must stop," I said. "Perhaps we can render assistance."

"It is too late," he said, "by the time you can see the smoke. Everyone here, bynow, would be dead, or taken."

One of the girls in the back cried out in fear. Naked, bound slaves, they wereabsolutely helpless.

"Nonetheless," I said, "I must make inquiries."

"You will do so then by yourself," said the young man.

"Agreed," I said. "Stop the wagon."

"Riders!" said the young man. Ahead, on the road, there was a rolling cloud ofdust. He jerked the tharlarion back. Grunting they scratched at the gravel ofthe road. They tossed their snouts in the nose straps. The young man lookedwildly about. He could not turn the wagon on the narrow road. The girlsscreamed, squirming in their bonds.

"They are soldiers," I said. I stood on the wagon box, shading my eyes.

"Thank the Priest-Kings!" cried the young man.

In moments a troop of soldiers, lancers and crossbowmen, mounted on kaiila,reined up about us. They wore the colors of Thentis. They were covered withdust. Their uniforms were black with sweat and dirt. The flanks of theirprancing kaiila were lathered with foam. They snorted and, throwing back theirheads, sucked air into their lungs. Their third lids, the transparent stormmembranes, were drawn, giving their wild, round eyes a yellowish cast.

"Dust Legs," said the officer with the men. "The road is closed. Whither are youbound?"

"Fort Haskins," said, the young man.

"You cannot remain here, and it would be dangerous to go back," said theofficer. "I think you are best advised to proceed to Fort Haskins as quickly aspossible."

"I shall do so," said the young man.

"It is unusual, is it not, for the Dust Legs to be on the rampage?" I asked. Ihad understood them to be one of the most peaceful of the tribes of the Barrens.

Indeed, they often acted as intermediaries between the men of the settlementsand the wilder tribes of the interior, such as the Yellow Knives, the Sleen andKaiila.

"Who are you?" asked the officer.

"A traveler," I said.

"We do not know what has stirred them up," said the officer. "They have taken nolife. They have only burned farms and taken kaiila."

"It is perhaps a warning, of some sort," I said.

"It would seem so," said the officer. "They did not, for example, attack atdawn. They came openly, did their work unhurriedly, and withdrew."

"It is very mysterious," I said.

"They are a peaceful folk," said the officer, "but I would be on my way, andwith dispatch. Sleen or Kaiila may be behind them."

One of the girls in the back whimpered in terror.

The officer, slowly, rode around the wagon, looking through the wooden bars atour bound cargo. The girls shrank back under his gaze, bound, inspected slaves.

"I would be on my way as soon as possible," said the officer. "I would notexpect even Dust Legs to resist this cargo."

"Yes, Captain!" said the young man. The officer took his mount to the side andthe soldiers, too, drew their kaiila to one side or the other. The young manthen stood up, shaking the reins with one hand and cracking the whip with theother. "Move, move, you beasts!" he cried. The tharlarion lumbered into motionand the slack was taken up in the traces, and the wagon, creaking, lurchedahead. The girls were as quiet as tiny, silken field urts in the presence offorest panthers, being conducted in their cage between the ranks of thesoldiers. In a few Ehn we were more than a pasang down the road. It was lonely,and dark. There was whimpering, and sobbing, behind us.

"The slaves are terrified," I said.

"We shall not camp," said the young man. "We shall press on through the night. Ishall, stop only, from time to time, to rest the tharlarion."

"That is wise," I said.

"It is not like the Dust Legs," he said.

"That, too, would be my understanding of the matter," I said.

5 I Throw Stones on the Road to Kailiauk

I stepped aside, to the side of the road. It had rained early this morning. Theroad was still muddy. The men, some afoot, some on kaiila, with the clank ofweapons and the rattle of accouterments, filed past me. I looked into the eyesof some of them. They were mercenaries. Yet they belonged to no mercenarycompany I recognized. Doubtless they had been hired here and there.

They wore various uniforms, and parts of uniforms, and carried an assortment ofweapons. Some of them, I suspected, might even be men without a Home Stone. Theywere moving northward, as I was. They, I speculated, were bound for kailiauk. Itook it there were about a thousand of them. This was unusually large for amercenary force. It would require a considerable amount of money to hire andsustain such a force.

In the center of the road, approaching, between, and with, the lines, drawn bytwo tharlarion, was an ornately carved, two-wheeled cart. An officer, a beardedfellow with plumed cap, perhaps the captain of the mercenary company, besidethis cart. On a curule chair, fixed on the high cart, under a silken canopy,proud and graceful, bedecked with finery, garbed in the ornate Robes ofConcealment, sat a woman. Chained by the neck to the side of the cart, clad inrags, was a red youth.

"Hold!" said the woman, lifting her small, white-gloved hand as the cart drewnear to me.

"Hold!" called the officer, turning his kaiila and lifting his hand.

"Hold! Hold!" called other officers. The lines stopped. The woman lowered herhand.

She regarded me. "Tal," she said.

"Tal, Lady," said I to her.

With one hand, nonchalantly, she freed her outer veil. Her features, then, wereconcealed but poorly by the second veil, little more thin a wisp of diaphanoussilk. She did this, apparently, that she might speak to me more easily. Shesmiled. I, too, smiled, but inwardly. A master might have given such a veil to aslave as a joke. She was a vain woman. She wished me to see that she wasstunningly beautiful. I saw that she might make an acceptable slave.

"I see that you carry a sword," she said.

"Yes, Lady," said I.

"Who are you?" she asked.

"A traveler, a swordsman," I said.

"This is the Lady Mira, of Venna," said the bearded officer. "I am Alfred,captain of this company, mercenary of Port Olni." Venna is a resort town west ofthe Voltai, north of Ar. Port Olni is located on the north bank of the OlniRiver. It is a member of the Salerian Confederation.

"Apparently you do not wish to reveal your name," said the woman.

"The name of a lowly fellow, such as myself," I said, "could surely be of nointerest to so fine a lady."

"Are you a bandit?" she asked.

"No, Lady," said I.

"Can you use the blade hung at your hip?" she asked.

"After a fashion, Lady," I said.

"We are hiring swords," she, said.

"My thanks, Lady," I said. "I do not wish to take fee."

"Draw your weapon," said the officer.

I drew the blade quickly, smoothly, and stepped back. When a Gorean tells you todraw your blade, it is generally not wise to spend a great deal of timediscussing the matter. He may have something in mind.

"Attack him," said the officer to one of the men nearby.

Our blades had not crossed twice before the point of sword was at the fellow'sthroat.

"Do not kill him," said the officer hastily.

I resheathed my blade and the fellow white-faced, backed away.

"A silver tarsk a month," said the officer. This was a handsome sum. I was sureit was more than most of the men about me were receiving.

"Whither are you bound, Captain," I asked, "and on what business!"

"We are going to Kailiauk, and are then going to enter the Barrens," he said.

"There are tribes to be subdued."

"I do not understand," I said.

"Surely you have heard of the depredations which took place yesterday?" heasked.

"Your forces were surely assembled before yesterday," I said.

He laughed. I supposed such forces might indeed enter the Barrens and wreak somehavoc, perhaps falling upon some Dust-Leg villages. Too often it seems it is thepeaceful and innocent who are slaughtered. In this a lesson may be found that itmay not be prudential to be either too peaceful or too innocent. One does notsurvive with wolves by becoming a sheep. That is only a short cut todestruction.

"There are thousands of savages in the Barrens," I said.

"These men are professionals," he said. "One such mercenary is worth a thousandhalf-naked savages."

I heard laughter about me.

"They will flee," he said, "at the very sound of our drums."

I said nothing.

"Too long has the perimeter held," he said. "We shall advance it, to the east.

The banners of civilization are in our grasp."

I smiled. I wondered if barbarisms were civilizations which were not one's own.

"Are you going to take a woman into the Barrens?" I asked. "Surely you cansurmise what the red savages would do with such a woman?"

"I am perfectly safe, I assure you," laughed the Lady Mira. I wondered what shewould feel like if she found herself naked and bound with rawhide, lying at thefeet of lustful warriors.

"The Lady Mira is of the Merchants," said the officer. "She has been empoweredto negotiate hide contracts with the conquered tribes."

"Who is this?" I asked, indicating the red youth, in chained by the neck to theside of the cart.

"Urt, a Dust Leg, a slave," said the officer. "We purchased him in the south. Hecan speak with Dust Legs, and knows sign."

The boy looked at me, with hatred.

"How long was he a slave?" I asked.

"Two years," said the officer.

"From whom was he originally purchased?" I asked.

"Dust Legs," said the officer.

"It seems unlikely they would sell one of their own tribe," I said.

"They are savages," said the officer.

"You are not a Dust Leg," I said to the boy.

He did not respond to me.

"You will trust your translations to such a fellow?" I asked.

"Our clearest speech," said the officer, "will be with steel."

"You have many men," I said. "Your expedition must be very expensive. Had itbeen mounted by several cities I think I would have heard of it. Whence comesthe gold for these numerous and manifold fees?"

The officer looked at me, angrily.

"We are sustained by the merchant council," said the woman. "Our papers are inorder."

"I see," I said.

"Seldom," said the officer, "have I seen steel move as swiftly, as deceptively,as yours. My offer stands. Rations and a silver tarsk, one for each month ofservice."

"Rations, and a golden tarsk," said the woman, looking down at me. Over her veilof light silk her eyes shone. She had made the offer without consulting theofficer. She had obviously much authority and power. I wondered what she wouldlook like, if reduced to helpless bondage,"My thanks, Lady," I said. "But I am in my own service."

"A position might be found for you, even in my intimate retinue," she said.

"I am in my own service," I said.

"Move on!" she called, lifting her gloved hand, and sitting angrily back in thecurule chair.

I stepped to the side of the road.

"Forward!" called the officer, lifting his arm. The lady looked at me, angrily,her gloved hands now clutching the arms of the curule chair. Then she lifted herhead and looked directly ahead. "Ho!" called the officer. His arm fell. Thelines of mercenaries then moved forward, with the wagon in their midst,northward, toward Kailiauk. I withdrew to the side and sat in some shadows,among rocks, to observe the lines. I estimated the number of men, and,carefully, counted the supply wagons. My conjectures were warranted. Consideringthe game presumably available in the Barrens there were several more wagons inthe lines than would have seemed called for.

When the lines and wagons had passed I emerged from the rocks and, at adistance, followed them toward Kailiauk.

The merchants of Port Olni, of course, would not be sustaining the enormousexpense of such an expedition. They were not intimately involved in the hidetraffic and, if they had been, as merchants, their procedures, initially, at anyrate, would have been mercantile and not military. They would surely have tried,at least in the beginning, to work through local traders or, say, Dust Legsthemselves. I had, in my mind, no doubt as to what source on Gor had both themotivation and resources to mount such an expedition. Similarly I had littledoubt as to who were the occupants of certain of closed wagons in the lines.

On the road to Kailiauk I threw back my head and laughed heartily. I, TarlCabot, had been approached by agents of Kurii, and asked to take fee! I hadlittle doubt that Kog and Sardak, and others like them, scratched impatiently,twisted, uncomfortably, anxious to get on with their work, in wagons ahead ofme. Such close confinements, voluntary and self-imposed, would surely be almostintolerable for them. I admired their discipline. I hoped that it would holdout. It was nice to know where they were.

I bent down and picked up a rock, and tossed it ahead of me, down the road. ThenI continued on again, toward Kailiauk.

One additional thing I had noted about the forces ahead of me. There had been noslave wagons in the lines, nor, chained in throat coffle, trudging in the dustbehind the supply wagons, any slave girls. That I took to be the doing, and atribute to the power, of the Lady Mira of Venna. As a free woman she doubtlesshated slave girls, the lascivious, shameless sluts who drove men wild with suchdesire for them. Too, doubtless it pleased her vanity to be the only woman amongso many men. I had seen her features, concealed by only a wisp silk. I wonderedwhat she might look like in dancing silk and a steel collar, perhaps kneelingbefore me, the shadow of my whip falling across her body. I thought then shemight not seem so proud, not as a humbled, owned slave. The Kurii, I grantedthem, almost always chose female agents of incredible beauty. This is so, Igather, that when they have served their serious purposes, there is alwayssomething else that may be done with them.

I spun another rock down the road, after the lines and wagons.

I should not have demonstrated the skill with the sword that I had, I supposed.

Indeed, I had resolved, as a part of a disguise, to pretend to only modest skillwith the weapon, unless it proved necessary to do otherwise. As soon as the twoblades had touched, however, I had seen what could be done, and had done it. Thematter was reflexive as much, or more, than rational. The steel, as is often thecase, had seemed to think for itself. But I did not regret what I had done. Ichuckled. Let them see, said I to myself, the skill of one who had once trainedin the martial courts of Ko-ro-ba. I laughed. I wondered what these agents ofKurii would if they had known that Tarl Cabot had been in their midst. But theywould have no reason to suppose him in the vicinity of the Barrens. They wouldknow only that they had encountered one who, obviously, was not unaccustomed tosteel.

Once again I thought of the Lady Mira of Venna. Yes, I thought, she would lookwell, like any other beautiful woman, stripped and collared, crawling to thefeet of a man.

6 Kailiauk

I looked down into the broad, rounded, shallow pit, leaning over the waist-highwooden railing. In the pit, about five feet below the surface of the ground,there were nineteen girls. They wore wrist and ankle shackles, their wristshaving some six inches of play and their ankles some twelve inches of play. Theywere also chained together by the neck. None of them stood, for such a girl, insuch a pit, is not permitted to stand, unless given an express order to do so.

The pit was muddy, for it had rained in the morning. They looked up, some ofthem who dared to do so, at the men looking down at them, from about thecircular railing, assessing their qualities as females. Did they look into theeyes of their future masters? They had not yet even been branded.

"Barbarians," said the fellow next to me.

"Clearly," I said.

"There are two other pits," said the fellow. "Did you see them?"

"Yes," I said. "I have already perused their contents." It is pleasant to seenaked, chained women, either slaves or those soon to be slaves.

I had spent a night on the road and had arrived in Kailiauk, hungry and muddy,yesterday, shortly after the tenth Ahn, the Gorean noon. Indeed, I had heard thestriking of the time bar, mounted on the roof of the Administrator's store, as Ihad approached the town's outskirts. In Kailiauk, as is not unusual in the townsof the perimeter, the Administrator is of the Merchants. The major business inKailiauk is the traffic in hides and kaiila. It serves a function as well,however, as do many such towns, as a social and commercial center for manyoutlying farms and ranches. It is a bustling town, but much of its population isitinerant. Among its permanent citizens I doubt that it numbers more than fouror five hundred individuals. As would be expected it has several inns andtaverns aligned along its central street.

Its most notable feature, probably, is its hide sheds. Under the roofs of theseopen sheds, on platforms, tied in bundles, are thousands of hides. Elsewhere,here and there, about town, are great heaps of bone and horn, often thirty ormore feet in height. These deposits represent the results of the thinnings ofkailiauk herds by the red savages. A most common sight in Kailiauk is the comingand going of hide wagons, and wagons for the transport of horn and bones. Thenumber of kailiauk in the Barrens is prodigious, for it affords them a splendidenvironment with almost no natural enemies. Most kailiauk, I am sure, have neverseen a man or a sleen.

The Barrens are traversed by a large number of herds. The four or fivebest-known herds, such as the Boswell herd, he for whom the Boswell Pass isnamed, and the Bento herd and the Hogarthe herd, named after the first white menwho saw them, number, it is estimated, between two and three million beasts. Thetremors in the earth from such a herd can be felt fifty pasangs away. It takessuch a herd two to three days to ford a river. It has occasionally happened thatenemy tribes have preyed on such a herd at different points and only afterwards,to their chagrin and amusement, realized their proximity to one another. Besidesthese major herds there are several smaller, identifiable herds numbering in thehundreds of thousands of animals. Beyond these, as would be expected, are manysmaller herds, the very numbers of which are not even calculated by the redsavages themselves, herds often range from a few hundred to several thousandanimals.

It is speculated that some of these smaller herds may be subherds of largerherds, separating from the major herd at certain points during the season,depending on such conditions as forage and water. If that is the case then thenumber of kailiauk may not be quite as large as it is sometimes estimated. Onthe other hand, that their numbers are incredibly abundant is indubitable. Theseherds, too, interestingly enough, appear to have their annual grazing patterns,usually describing a gigantic oval, seasonally influenced, which covers manythousands of pasangs. These peregrinations, as would be expected, tend to take aherd in and out of the territory of given tribes at given times. The same herd,thus, may be hunted by various tribes without necessitating dangerous departuresfrom their own countries.

The kailiauk is a migratory beast, thusly, but only in a rather special sense.

It does not, for example, like, certain flocks of birds, venture annually inroughly linear paths from the north to the south, and from the south to thenorth, covering thousands of pasangs in a series of orthogonal alternations. Thekailiauk must feed as it moves, and it is simply too slow for this type ofmigration. It could not cover the distances involved in the times that would benecessary. Accordingly the herds tend not so much to migrate with the seasons asto drift with them, the ovoid grazing patterns tending to bend northward in thesummer and southward in the winter. The smell of the hide sheds, incidentally,gives a very special aroma to the atmosphere of Kailiauk. After one has beenthere for a few hours, however, the odor of the hides, now familiar andpervasive, tends to be dismissed from consciousness.

"Some of them are quite pretty," said the fellow next to me, looking down intothe pit, his elbows on the railing.

"Yes," I said. We stood within the compound of Ram Seibar, a dealer in slaves.

It is a reasonably large compound, for he also handles kaiila. It is, I wouldestimate, something over three hundred feet square, or, say, a bit less than atenth of a pasang square. It contains several slave pits but only three were nowoccupied. It also contains several larger and smaller wooden structures,primarily holding areas, barracks for men and various ancillary buildings. Theentire compound is enclosed by a wooden palisade. On the largest building, themain sales barn, about seventy feet wide and a hundred and twenty feet inlength, there flies the pennon of Seibar, a yellow pennon on which, in black,are portrayed shackles and a whip.

"Do you know Grunt, the trader?" I asked the fellow.

"Yes," said he.

"Is he in the vicinity?" I asked.

"I do not know," said the man.

I had sought this fellow in the various inns and taverns of Kailiauk. I couldfind no one who seemed to know of his whereabouts. Indeed, I had begun todespair of finding him.

This morning, at the Five Horns stables, in Kailiauk, I had bought two kaiila.

Bridles, a saddle, various sorts of gear, supplies, and trading goods, too, Ihad purchased in the town, at the store of Publius Crassus, of the Merchants,who is also Kailiauk's Administrator. Too I had purchased a short bow, modeledon the sort used by the savages, fit for clearing the saddle, and a quiver oftwenty sheaf arrows.

In my opinion one of the mistakes of the white cavalries of the perimeter areaswas their reliance on the crossbow, which is primarily an infantry weapon. Itdoes, of course, have various advantages. It has considerable striking power, itmay be kept ready to fire almost indefinitely, and, for most men, it is easierto fire with accuracy from the saddle than the straight bow. It will also, atshort ranges, penetrate most of the hide shields used by the red savages.

Its major disadvantage is its slowness in rate of fire. The cavalry crossbowdoes have an iron stirrup in which the rider, without dismounting, may inserthis foot, thus gaining the leverage necessary for drawing the cable back withboth hands. If the rider is right handed he usually inserts his right foot inthe stirrup and leans to the right in drawing the cable; this procedure isreversed, of course, usually, if the rider is left handed. While this procedurepermits the rider to reload without dismounting and tends to improve, at somecost to striking power, the bow's rate of fire, it still provides, in myopinion, no adequate compensation for the loss of rapidity of fire. I think itnot unlikely that the red savage could discharge three to five shafts in thetime a single quarrel could be set in the clumsier weapon. In my opinion, if thecrossbow, of the lighter, more quickly loading type, had proved to be a superiormissile weapon in the typical combats practiced in the Barrens the red savageswould have had recourse either to it, or to something analogous to it. But theyhave not.

I opted, accordingly, taking them for my authorities in the matter, for a weaponsimilar in design to theirs, one which had, apparently, proven its usefulness inthe abrupt, sudden and fierce engagements characteristic of war on the vastgrasslands of the Barrens. Unable to find Grunt, I feared I must enter theBarrens alone. Already, early this morning, the Lady Mira of Venna, and Alfredof Port Olni, with their mercenaries, had left Kailiauk.

The fellow leaning on the rail turned to look at me. "Why do you wish to findGrunt?" he asked.

"I wish to enter the Barrens," I said.

"It is madness to do so," said he.

I shrugged.

"It is unfortunate you did not come to Kailiauk a month ago," he said.

"Why is that?" I asked.

"Settlers, armed, with two hundred wagons, crossed the Ihanke," he said. "Men,women, children. There must have been seven or eight hundred of them. You couldhave accompanied them. There is perhaps safety in such numbers."

"Perhaps," I said. Such a. party, however, I knew must travel slowly. Also, itwould be impossible to conceal its trails and movements.

"You are a big fellow," he said, "and seem quick, and strong. Why did you notsign articles with the troops who left this morning?"

I did not respond to him.

"It was the largest mercenary band ever to leave Kailiauk," he said. "You shouldhave gone with them."

"Perhaps," I said.

"I'm chained! I'm chained!" wept one of the girls in the pit below. She knelt,nude, in the mud. With her small hands, her tiny wrists in their close-fittingmanacles, she seized the chain attached to the collar on her neck. She jerked ittwice against the back of her neck. It cut at the back of her neck. "I'mchained," she wept, disbelievingly. "Where am I? What has become of me? Whereare my clothes? Who are these men? How is it that they dare to look at me? Inwhat place do I find myself?"

"They cannot even speak Gorean," said the man beside me.

"Barbarians," I said.

"Yes," he said. The girl had spoken in English. This had confirmed my surmise asto their origin. I had come to Seibar's market out of curiosity. I had heard hewas the major dealer in Kailiauk for barbarian slaves. I did not know, but Isuspected that he himself was not in league with Kurii, but merely purchasedwholesale lots of such girls from one or more of their agents. Such girls, Igathered, from my conversations with the teamster with whom I had ridden to FortHaskins, were sold at various points along the perimeter. I had, earlier in theafternoon, on one of my purchased kaiila, scouted the terrain north and south ofKailiauk. In my ride I had come to one place, sheltered among small hills, inwhich I had found scorched grass and several, rounded six-inch-deep impressionsin the earth. It had been there, I speculated, that one of the steel ships ofthe Kurii had landed. Also there were wagon tracks leading away from the area,toward Kailiauk. I was less fortunate, at various small camps and outlyingfarms, in obtaining information as to the possible whereabouts of a white tradernamed Grunt. I did not approach the Ihanke, nor did I wish to do so, ifpossible, until I knew exactly what I was doing. I did not know, for example,even if it were guarded or not.

"Even if such girls understood Gorean," said the fellow next to me, amused,"they could probably not even understand what was required of them. Theyprobably do not even know the hundred kisses."

"They could be taught," I said.

"That is so," he laughed.

"Stand aside, Gentlemen, if you would," said a voice near us, that of a slaver'sman.

We stepped back and he, from a basket, hurled an assortment of scraps, such ascrusts of bread and rinds of fruit, into the muddy pit. It was the refuse, thegarbage, I gathered, from a meal of the slaver's men.

In the pit the girls regarded the refuse with horror. Then I saw the small,chained hand of one reach forth toward a piece of roll. She picked it up andthrust it in her mouth. Another girl then reached to a bit of fruit. Anotherthen snatched at a gravy-sopped wedge of yellow Sa-Tarna bread. Then, in aninstant, in their chains, they scrambled in the mud after the garbage, twistingand shrieking, caught and restricted in their chains, scratching, and rollingand fighting, for the least of the tidbits cast to them by a free man.

"They are slaves," said the man near me, as we returned to the railing.

"Yes," I said. Too, I saw that their education had begun.

"There is better stock inside, I hear," said the man, "hidden away until thetime of the sale, some even in the barbarian garments in which they werecaptured."

"That is interesting," I said.

"But they, too," said the man, "will learn to take food on their belly."

"Of course," I said. Then I turned away from the railing. I was angry that I hadnot been able to locate Grunt, the trader. In the morning, with or without him,I would enter the Barrens.

7 Ginger

"Barbarians! Barbarians for sale!" called the fellow, standing on the circularwooden platform, outside the opened gate of the large, palisaded enclosure.

From within I saw a nude woman, her hands tied behind her back, being draggedforth, each arm in the charge of a slaver's man.

"Barbarians for sale!" call the fellow on the platform. He was a gross,corpulent fellow, and wore a long, opened, soiled shirt of blue-and-yellow silk.

His leather trousers were fastened with a wide, triply buckled belt. To thisbelt was fastened a substantial, beaded sheath, apparently containing a stout,triangular-bladed dagger. He wore, too, kaiila boots, with belled, silver heelpoints, kaiila goads. In his hand there was a long, supple kaiila quirt of blackleather, about a yard in length. His hair was bound back with strands oftwisted, blue-and-yellow cloth. His caste, even in the town of Kailiauk, wasthat of the slavers.

The woman, her hands tied behind her, each arm in the rude grasp of the slaver'sman, was thrust to the height of the platform, beside the corpulent fellow.

"In addition to our stock of fine merchandise," called the corpulent fellow, "wehave just received a new lot of barbarians!"

These would be the same girls of whom I had seen several this afternoon, in theslave pits within the compound. I had come again, in the evening, after supper,to the compound of Ram Seibar. I thought I might look in on some of the sales.

Afterwards I might go to a tavern, to have a cup of paga and see if I could renta girl to take to my room for the night, to return her in the morning.

"They have not yet been picked over," said the man. "This little plum, juicywith pleasures for a master," he said, indicating the girl on the platform withhim, with a gesture of his kaiila quirt, "is one of the sorriest of the lot."

This, in my opinion, was not true. I thought she would have ranked rather highamong the girls. To be sure, the most luscious merchandise, presumably to besold rather late in the evening, had probably not even been put in the pits.

"Display her, Lads," said the fellow. The two slaver's men thrust the womanforward, toward the crowd, and bent her backwards. She whimpered.

"And this is one of the worst of the lot," said the fellow. The two slaver's menturned the woman first to one side, and then to the other. "Meat so fresh thatit has not yet even been marked!" said the fellow. "That is enough, Lads," hesaid. They then turned the woman about and dragged her down the steps and backinto the compound. "If you would see more," said the man to those of us gatheredabout, about the outdoor platform, "you must come within. Within you may buyher, and others like her, from the side blocks. Too, even more lusciousmerchandise you may seek from the central block in open bidding!" I wondered ifthe woman knew that she was, in all likelihood, to be soon branded. In mostGorean cities it is illegal to offer an unbranded woman in a public sale. Thisis presumably in deference to the delicacy and sensibilities of free women. Thebrand draws a cataclysmic gulf between the Gorean free woman, secure in herarrogance, beauty and caste rights, and the stripped, nameless, rightlessslaves, suitably vended as the mere lovely beasts they are in the flesh marketsof this primitive, gorgeous world. Unbranded women, of course, may be soldprivately, for example, as fresh captures to slavers, or, say to men who havespeculated that they might find them of interest.

"Barbarians! Barbarians for sale!" now continued to call the fellow on thewooden platform outside the gate to the compound of Ram Seibar. "In addition toour usual stock of fine merchandise, we have just received a new lot ofbarbarians. They have not yet been picked over. They will be put up for salewithin the Ahn. Step within, Noble Gentlemen, and examine our offerings.

Patronize the house of Ram Seibar! Free drinks! No purchase necessary!"

I felt a small tug at my sleeve, and then felt my arm delicately held. I felt asoft cheek pressed against my arm. "Master," whispered a voice. I looked down,and the girl, with loose, auburn hair, looked up. She smiled. "Accompany me toRandolph's tavern," she said. "I will give you much pleasure." About her throat,narrow, sturdy and closely fitting, was a steel collar. I stepped back, that Imight see her better. She wore a short, fringed, beaded shirtdress. This camehigh on her thighs. It was split to her waist, well revealing the sweetness andloveliness of her breasts. It was belted upon her with a doubly looped, tightlyknotted rawhide string. Such a string is more than sufficient, in its length,and in its strength and toughness, to tie a woman in a number of ways. She wasbarefoot. About her left ankle there was, about two inches high, a beaded cuff,or anklet. Her garb was doubtless intended to suggest the distinctive,humiliating and scandalously brief garment in which red savages are sometimespleased to place their white slaves. One difference, however, must surely benoted. The red savages do not use steel collars. They usually use high, beadedcollars, tied together in the front by a rawhide string. Subtle differences inthe styles of collars, and in the knots with which they are fastened on thegirls' necks, differentiate the tribes. Within a given tribe the beading, in itsarrangements and colors, identifies the particular master. This is a common way,incidentally, for warriors to identify various articles, which they own.

"It is my hope that Master will find Ginger pleasing," she said.

"Ginger?" I asked.

"Master?" she asked.

"Are you a barbarian?" I asked.

"Once, Master," she whispered. "But I have been trained. I am no longer astranger to my collar."

"Watch out!" cried a man.

"Oh!" cried the girl. I seized her and pulled her from the place where shestood. Two kaiila thundered past.

"Make way!" we heard. "Make way!" There was then the thudding of the clawed padsof kaiila, several of them, almost upon us. "Ho! Ho!" called their drovers,riding behind them, swirling their coiled rawhide ropes in the air. I and theothers backed against the wall of the compound of Ram Seibar. The kaiila,perhaps a hundred and fifty of them, thundered past. I did not think such beastsshould be run through the streets, but it sometimes pleases their drovers to doso. It had happened more than once since I had been in Kailiauk. The kaiila werepresumably from the northern ranches and would be sold in Kailiauk, and in thetowns to the south.

"It is needless for that to be done in that fashion," said a fellow near me.

"There are shorter routes to the corrals and the wired pastures."

"Individuals are sometimes injured," said another man.

"The tavern girls live in terror of them," said another fellow.

I looked down at the girl in my arms. I saw that what he said was true. Thispleased me. It was fitting that slave girls lived in terror of free men.

"They do not come that often to Kailiauk," said a fellow, cheerfully.

"When they come," said another, "it is with a thirst for paga and the wenches ofthe taverns."

"Who can blame them?" said another.

The kaiila ranches, I supposed, were remote, desolate places. Land, which issuitable for farming, and in proximity to towns, is seldom, along the perimeter,put to the uses of grazing.

"They are generally good fellows," said another man.

"They spend their money freely," added another.

"That is a point in their favor," said another.

"A point in our favor," said another.

"Some are dangerous and cruel." said another man.

"Let us hope there will be no killings," said another.

Killings among such men, hot-tempered and aflame with paga, I supposed mightoccur not infrequently. Too often, I suspected, a suspicion of cheating atstones or disks, or a dispute over a slave, might lead to the flash of steel,the sudden movement of a knife.

"You saved me, Master," said the girl, holding to me.

"Perhaps to some extent," I said, "I have protected the investment of yourmaster." It is well to help a slave keep clearly in mind that she is only anarticle of property.

"He had me cheaply," she smiled.

"Perhaps I should not have bothered," I said.

"But I am worth more now," she said.

"Oh?" I said.

"Return with me to the tavern of Randolph," said she. "I will show you." Shethen pressed her body against me, closely and lasciviously, and helplessly, inthe manner of the female slave, that of the woman who knows herself completelysubject to the will of men. She then put her arms about my neck and, standing onher toes, lifting her lips to mine, kissed me. I then, by the arms, held herfrom me. "You kiss well, Slave," I told her, "Thank you, Master," she said.

"Is it true that you are a barbarian?" I asked.

"Yes, Master," she said. "I was sold, even, from the house of Ram Seibar."

"When?" I asked.

"Eighteen months ago," she said.

"You are now no stranger to your collar," I said. The kiss of a slave girl isunmistakable.

"No, Master," she said.

"The central street seemed busy tonight," I said. "I find it hard to believethat you have been sent forth to solicit business, the evening being such as itis, for the tavern of Randolph."

She looked at me, suddenly, frightened.

The fellow on the platform, at that time, began again to address the crowd.

"Barbarians! Barbarians for sale!" he called. "Enter now. The sales begin in afew Ehn. Buy at the house of Ram Seibar! Barbarians for sale, cheap and pretty!"

"Solicit elsewhere," I told her.

"Please, Master," she said.

"If you do not wish to use her," said a fellow standing nearby, "do you mind mytaking her?"

"Of course not," I said.

"Lead me to the tavern of Randolph," said the man to the girl.

"Master!" said the girl to me.

"Do you dawdle to obey, Slave?" inquired the man.

"No, Master," she cried, turning white, "no!"

"Precede me," he said.

"Yes, Master," she said.

"As a slave girl," he said.

"Yes, Master!" she said. With a sob she began to precede him, and as a slavegirl.

"Barbarians for sale! Barbarians for sale, cheap and pretty!" called the fellowon the platform.

I then went through the gate and entered the compound of Ram Seibar.

8 Grunt

I turned my attention from the apparently lovely young woman, though she wasfully clothed, who was strung up by the wrists near the central block. Herankles had also been crossed and bound, a slaver's trick to accentuate the sweetcurvatures of her hips and legs. A thong also ran from over the bonds on herankles to an iron ring a few inches below her feet. This tends to prevent unduemovement on the rope.

A distinction must be drawn between the side blocks and the central, or main,block, in a vending area. I shall describe the situation, specifically, as itexists in the sales barn of Ram Seibar. It is not untypical of the arrangementsin many such places, particularly in outlying areas. To be sure, there is, itseems, from market to market, and from city to city, an almost infinite varietyof ways in which women may be, and are, displayed and sold. This is notsurprising since the institution of female slavery, on Gor, is both extremelysuccessful and quite ancient.

In the central hall of the sales barn of Ram Seibar, which is open to thepublic, there are twenty-one blocks. Twenty of these are subsidiary blocks, orside blocks. These occur, aligned, ten to a side, along the walls, to the leftand right, as one enters. They are spaced rather evenly, in order not to suggestdistinctions among them. Too, they are placed a few feet out from the walls. Atone's convenience, then, one may walk entirely about them. They are about a yardhigh and five feet in diameter. In the center of each there is an iron ring. Thecentral block, which must be ascended by stairs, lies at the far end of the hallas one enters, opposite the door. It is about seven or eight feet in height andsome twenty feet in diameter. Girls are seldom auctioned from the side blocks.

Occasionally fixed prices are set on them. If this is the case the price isusually written on their body, either with a grease pencil or a lipstick.

Usually, however, of course, they find themselves being bargained for. The girlusually hopes that her master will pay enough for her to convince him that sheis of at least minimal value, and will not pay so much that he will be angrywith the merchant, for in such a case he is almost certain to take hisdissatisfaction out on her lovely hide. "Side-block girl," in the argot of theslave girl, like "pot girl' and "kettle-and-mat girl," is a term ofdisparagement. It must be admitted there is more prestige in being auctionedfrom a major, or central, block than there is in being casually purchased from aside block. One might as well be sold off a slaver's public shelf, in a city, orout of a cage, or kneeling in the mud outside a village, from a "slaver'snecklace." To be sure, a girl who is once sold off a side block may, in time,her femininity blossoming under the discipline of the whip and the harshtutelage of masters, become a treasure, a slave so beautiful and desirable thatmen will pay fortunes to have her at their feet. I wandered over to the leftwall to look at some of the side blocks.

"I shall take this one," I beard a fellow say, and so simply was the girl sold.

She was one of the few girls on whom Ram Seibar had set a fixed price. It waswritten on her back in lipstick, forty copper tarsks. She was one of the few whohad been freshly branded. Her wrists were crossed and bound before her, in cruelloops of rawhide, and, by a tight loop encircling her body, cutting into herflesh, held tightly before her. Ibis was to prevent her from tearing at thebrand. Hers were stained with tears. She, like the other girls on the sideblocks, was fastened on her block. Uniformly they wore collars and chains, thechains some five feet in length and attached to the block rings. She saw moneychange hands. She knew she had been sold. She looked at her master, andshuddered. She saw that he was handsome.

When one girl was sold from a block a new one was put in her place.

"How can you sell an unbranded woman?" asked a fellow of a slaver's man,indicating a freckled, fairly complexioned, red-haired barbarian kneelingfrightened on a nearby block, the palms of her hands down on the wood. The blackiron of her collar, and the chain, contrasted nicely with the lightness andtexture of her skin.

"Is she worth fifty tarsks to you?" asked the slavers "Yes," said the fellow, slowly.

Immediately the slaver's man removed a long piece of rawhide, about four feet inlength, from his belt. He took the girl's hands behind her, and, crossing themwith one end of the rawhide, fastened them tightly, together. He then looped therawhide about her belly, jerked it tight, and tied it to her bound wrists. Thegirl looked behind herself, frightened, her hands fastened closely at the smallof her back. With a key he opened the girl's collar and placed it, with itschain, on the block. He then seized the girl by the arms and slid her from theblock, into the waiting arms of an attendant. "Fifty tarsks for this freckled,little she-tarsk," he said. "This will be the buyer," he said, indicating thefellow who had expressed an interest in the girl. The attendant nodded and,throwing the girl over his shoulder, left.

"Pick her up in ten Elm, at the front entrance," said the slaver's man to theprospective buyer. "She will be branded."

The man nodded, and turned away.

I smiled to myself at the artifice involved in this transaction. The sale,technically, would not take place until after the young woman was branded. Iwatched her being carried out through a side entrance. I wondered if she knewshe were being carried to the iron. This lot of barbarians, which I guessed asbeing in the neighborhood of seventy or eighty girls, had been, as nearly as Icould determine, delivered only last night or this morning. Even now themajority of them had not been marked. This was a function, of course, of thebrief amount of time they had been in the possession of Ram Seibar. It takestime to bring an iron to branding heat and the iron, of course, its head sinkingand searing, burning, into the girl's flesh, marking her, loses heat rapidly. Agiven iron, accordingly, must be reheated before being reapplied. This situationis further complicated by the fact that the iron, normally, is cleaned followingeach application, a procedure which further reduces its heat. The cleaning isimportant for the precision and clarity of the next marking. Thus, in effect,each girl is marked with a new, fresh iron.

The most common brand site in a Gorean slave girl is the outer side of the leftthigh, closely beneath the hip. In this brand site the identificatory mark isthus placed high enough to be covered by the brief cloth of a common slave tunicand is available for convenient and immediate inspection if the tunic is lifted.

The time it takes to brand several women can be reduced by the common expedientof heating several irons, but most iron masters will not work with more than twoor three irons at a given time. Similarly, in a given house, normally only onefellow, at a time, attends to the branding. The rapidity with which the girlswere being placed on sale, incidentally, is not unusual at the perimeter. Thisis, I think, in part a response to buyer pressure and, in part, the result of anunwillingness on the part of most perimeter slavers to devote time, or muchtime, to such niceties as diet, exercise and training. They reason, I suppose,that the master can manage, feed and train the girl, once he owns her, accordingto his own pleasures.

"I shall take this one," said a short, stocky, broad-shouldered fellow, in awide-brimmed hat. "She has strong legs. Have her branded and put with theothers."

The slaver's man nodded. They did not even discuss price. I gathered that alimited-lot price must have been agreed upon earlier, perhaps with Ram Seibarhimself. The slaver's man did not seem hesitant to deal with him. I gathered hewas well known in the area. He had bought more than one girl. Though the girlshe purchased were comely, he did not seem, particularly, to be interested inthat. He seemed to be buying them for some other reason.

As one girl, a branded one, was sold from a block down the way another girl, ablonde, was brought forward and flung on her hands and knees on the vacatedblock. A slaver's man then locked the collar on her, with its chain, running tothe block ring. She looked about herself, frightened. A fellow reached forth totouch her thigh. She struck at his hand and scrambled back. "Don't! Don't!" shecried, in English. Almost instantly a slaver's man, a whip raised, was upon her.

The men about the block stepped back, watching, as she, on her side, andtwisting, writhed under her lashing. The slaver's man then folded back theblades of the whip, under their clip, and hooked the whip, by its butt ring, onhis belt. He then knelt her on the block, posing her. When the fellow againreached forth to touch her she did not resist. She had learned that she was thesort of woman whom men might touch when and as they pleased.

She contrasted interestingly with another girl, an auburn-haired girl, on thenext block. The auburn-haired girl, cooperating and without the leastresistance, assumed various postures and attitudes, following the indications ofthe various men about her block. She even permitted herself, without the leastresistance, to be posed, and by hand, for their interest. She knelt now on theblock, back on her heels, her knees spread, her back straight, her head back,her hands behind the back of her head. I had little doubt but what the situationof both of these girls would become even more clear to them once they werebranded.

"Noble Sirs!" called a voice, that of the fellow in the soiled blue-and-yellowshirt who had, earlier, been advertising the sale outside the compound. "NobleSirs," he called. "We are ready for the final auction of the evening!"

This announcement was greeted with a murmur of interest and the men in the hallbegan to move toward the front of the room, to the vicinity of the centralblock. It was near the central block that the fully clothed, apparently lovelyyoung woman was strung up by the wrists. She, it seemed, had been saved forlast. During the course of the evening, from time to time, at irregularintervals, some fifteen or sixteen girls had been offered, in open bidding, tothe crowd. Some of these, at least initially, had been clothed, though often inlittle other than panties and a brassiere. I had stayed to see this woman soldfor I was curious to see if she was as beautiful as the delicate lineaments ofher face suggested. She was a fairskinned, slender, willowy girl. She appearedto be sweetly breasted, with a small waist and lovely, flaring hips, doubtlessnestling a luscious love cradle. She had, small wrists and ankles. They wouldlook well in shackles. I saw that her eyes, when she opened them, in pain andterror, to look out on the crowd, were blue. Her hair was red, and bound back,rather severely, with a ribbon. She squirmed a moment in the bonds, and thenhung still, near the central block. Her body, from what I could see of it, andjudge of it, showed promise. It might prove adequate, I speculated, even forthat of a pleasure slave.

I glanced back, and particularly to the left, at some of the side blocks. Theside blocks were now deserted, the men having drifted forward, except by theiroccupants, now forgotten, kneeling or crouching upon them, their necks in theircollars, fastened by their chains to the block rings. I smiled to myself. Someof the merchandise looked angry; no longer were they the centers of attention;they, though naked and chained, and on slave blocks, had been simply put frommind; they must remain behind, alone, precisely where they were, chained, whilemasters chose to ignore them, bestowing their attention on an item of at leasttemporarily greater interest. Already the merchandise was exhibiting the vanityof slaves. But let them rest content for, when the auction was done, mendoubtless would drift back to their perusal; they would then be again subjectedto the close scrutiny of masters; they would then be examined again, andclosely, to see if they might be of any interest.

"I believe we are ready to proceed," called the gross, corpulent fellow in thesoiled blue-and-yellow shirt. With his kaiila quirt he indicated the suspendedgirl. "We have here the last item to be put up for auction this evening, afairskinned, red-haired barbarian beauty."

"We do not know if she is a beauty or not," called a man. "Strip her! ' "But I hasten to assure you," continued the slaver's man, giving no heed to thefellows enthusiastic contribution, "that the market will remain open for yetanother Ahn following this auction. You are then invited to reconsider with aneye for prospective purchase the trinkets and baubles strewn forth for yourdelectation upon our side blocks."

"On with it!" cried a man. "Let us see her!"

"We have saved this barbarian beauty for last," said the slaver's man. "She willmake a fitting conclusion to the auctions of this evening, such a splendidevening at the house of Ram Seibar! Behold her! Is your interest not whetted?"

I could see, by glancing around, that the interest of several of the men wasindeed whetted.

"Even clothed," laughed the auctioneer, "is your interest not whetted?"

"That it is!" laughed more than one man.

"Let us see her!" called another.

That the woman was being sold last in the auctions does not indicate, per se,that she was the most beautiful. On the other hand, it was undeniable that shewas quite beautiful. Several of the girls I had seen auctioned off during thecourse of the evening, incidentally, had been quite extraordinary.

This woman, at any rate, was surely among the most beautiful. Some of the girlsauctioned earlier had also presented to the buyers initially clothed, to oneextent the other, their clothing then being removed, sometimes sardonically andceremoniously, during the course of their sale. This was the only woman,however, who had been presented before the buyers strung up by the wrists.

"A fair-skinned, red-haired barbarian beauty," called the auctioneer, "highlyintelligent, exquisitely refined and of delicate sensibilities, a woman on herown world doubtless of class and station — but on this world, our world of Gor,only a meaningless piece of slave meat, a girl who will learn to wear a collar,a girl who will learn to serve and obey, a girl who will learn to please, a girlwho will learn that she belongs, and rightfully, to men!

"Let us see her!" called more than one man.

The auctioneer signaled to an attendant who, from aside of the hall, broughtforth a shallow copper bowl, some two feet in diameter, filled with slendercylinders of oil-impregnated wood. In a moment, with a fire-maker, of flint andsteel, he had ignited this wood. The girl looked at it. I do not think, at thattime, she clearly understood its significance.

"Let us see her!" called a man.

"But, of course!" called the auctioneer. He hung the long black kaiila quirt onhis belt.

The woman looked out on the crowd, miserably. She did not understand, fully, Iam sure, what was going to be done to her. She was a barbarian, her freedom onlyrecently terminated. She spoke no Gorean. She had been brought into the hall andstrung up so cruelly by the wrists only after completion of the earlierauctions. Too, I had little doubt that her masters had kept her ignorant oftheir occurrence. She knew little more than the fact that she was beingdisplayed before men, though for what reason and to what end, I conjectured, shescarcely dared speculate.

"Shall we begin?" inquired the auctioneer of the crowd. "Shall we see if she isany good?"

"Yes! Yes!" more than one man. I smiled to myself the auctioneer knew hisbusiness.

"But first," said the auctioneer, "behold the absurdity of these garments. Theyseem to be a cross between the garments of a free woman and those of a slave."

Most obviously, from what I could see, the woman wore an attractive officedress, of a sort, which is often implicitly prescribed, particularly by femaleexecutives, for subordinate female employees regarded as too feminine to beconsidered for the executive class. "That is very pretty, Jane. I like to seeyou wear things like that." "Yes, Miss Tabor." This is also a useful way, ofcourse, for the female executive to make it a clear to their male colleaguesthat such women, unlike themselves, are only females.

It was a long, brown, white-flecked shirred shirtdress, of some soft, smoothsynthetic material, of mid-calf length. It had small, red, round buttonssecuring the long, exciting frontal closure and appearing, too, at the cuffs. Italso had a brown, white-flecked, matching tie belt. About her throat was asingle string of pearls, doubtless simulated, or they would have been removedfrom her by her first captors. She wore stockings or pantyhose. On her feet wereblack, shiny, high-heeled dress sandals, each secured, apparently, by a single,narrow black ankle strap. The fact that she was dressed as she was led me tobelieve that the woman worked in business and that she had been taken by theslavers on her way home from work. I think she could forget about the office. Inthe future she would have other duties.

"Are these the garments of a free woman or of a slave?" asked the auctioneer.

"Of a slave," shouted men. "Remove them!"

The Goreans probably regarded them as the garments of a slave because of theirsmoothness and prettiness. Too, the shirred quality of the dress would permit itto move, and swirl, excitingly about her body, if she chose to move in certainways. Too, the lower portions of her calves and her pretty ankles were revealedby the dress. That she wore slave garments was probably also suggested to themby the transparency and sheerness of the coverings on her legs and, of course,from the Gorean view, her footwear, so slight and pretty, with the black anklestraps, was such that it would be likely to be affected only by a woman beggingfor the collar.

"She came to us this way," said the auctioneer. "I myself have not yet seenher."

"Let us see her," called a man.

"I wonder if she is any good," said the auctioneer. "Begin!" "Begin!" shoutedmen.

"Of course!" laughed the auctioneer. He then went to the suspended girl and,thrusting up the ropes on her ankles, unbuckled the narrow, ankle-encirclingblack straps of her high-heeled dress sandals. He drew them from her feet andheld them up, together, in his right hand. "Note the straps" he said. "We arefamiliar with such straps, are we not?"

Several of the men laughed. They resembled the small black straps, buckled, withwhich one occasionally binds the wrists and ankles of slaves, before, or while,one amuses oneself with them.

He then drew the large, triangular-bladed knife from the beaded sheath on hisbelt and slashed the straps and uppers of the sandals, discarding them then inthe flaming copper bowl at the side.

"She has pretty feet," he said. He then resheathed his dagger and, extending hishand, locked his fingers about the string of pearls on the girl's throat. Shecried out as he jerked them from her neck. "She has a pretty neck, too," he saidbending her head back by the hair.

"Yes," said a man.

He then released her hair and, stepping forward, again addressed himself to thecrowd. "Doubtless some Master will won find something more suitable with whichto enclose that lovely neck than a string of pearls, he speculated.

There was laughter.

«Further,» said the auctioneer, lifting the pearls, "these pearls have beenexamined. They are false. She wore false pearls.

There was an ugly response in the crowd. Goreans have a rather primitive senseof honesty.

"What should be her punishment?" asked the auctioneer.

"Slavery!" said several.

"She is already a slave," said the auctioneer, "though perhaps she does not yetknow it."

"Let the man who buys her then pay her back," said a man, "punishing her well,and lengthily, for her fraud."

"Is that agreeable?" asked the auctioneer.

"Yes, said several.

"I am better than she is," said a feminine voice beside me. I felt my arm beinggently taken. I looked down. I recalled her. I had encountered her outside thecompound of Ram Seibar, before the sale. She was a barbarian slave, and a taverngirl. Her name was Ginger. "I thought you were occupied," I said. She nibbled atmy sleeve. "He kept me for Ahn," she said, murmuringly, poutingly. "He made meserve him well."

"Excellent," I said.

"I am not now occupied, Master," she said.

"Do not listen to her, Master," purred a voice from my other side. "Come withme, rather, to Russell's tavern. I will make your night a delight." I looked tomy left. A dark-haired girl was there. She, too, obviously, was a tavern girl,but she was garbed quite differently from Ginger. The taste or business sense oftheir masters, I gathered, differed. Slaves, of course, are garbed precisely astheir masters please. "I, too, am a barbarian," she said. "I am Evelyn."

She wore a black, tight, off-the-shoulder bodice and a short, black, silk skirt,decorated with red thread and ruffles, and stiffened with crinoline. A blackribbon choker was placed behind the steel collar on her throat. A red ribbon,matching the decorations on her skirt, was in her hair. She had not beenpermitted stockings or footwear. Such things are normally denied the Goreanslave girl. Her costume, like that of Ginger, the short, fringed, beadedshirtdress of tanned skin, with the beaded anklet, intended to resemble the garbin which red masters sometimes saw fit to clothe their white female slaves, ifpermitting them clothing, suggested its heritage of other times and otherplaces. Most Gorean garments, of course, of the sorts worn by humans, trace backto terrestrial antecedents. I looked at the white bosom of Evelyn, lifted,shaped and confined in the tightness of the bodice, for the interest of masters.

What man, I wondered, would not wish to unlace or tear away that bodice, tosubject its treasures, like the woman herself, to the ravishments of his mouthand hands.

"Pay her no attention, Master," said Ginger. "Come with me to the tavern ofRandolph."

"No, with me, to the tavern of Russell," said Evelyn.

"Surely you two have sneaked in here," I said. I did not think Ram Seibar wouldwish girls soliciting in his hall, particularly during the course of a sale.

"The worst that would happen is that we would be whipped from the room," saidEvelyn.

"But across the calves," said Ginger. "That hurts."

"Yes," said Evelyn, shuddering. I gathered they had, more than once, been thuslyspeeded from the hall by wrathful attendants.

"Release me!" cried the suspended girl, hanging by her wrists, before the crowd.

"No," she said, "no!" The tie belt on her dress had then been jerked loose, itsends dangling, supported by their loops, beside her hips.

"No," she said, "no, no!" But one by one, slowly, the auctioneer's knife wascutting the buttons from the long, frontal closure of her dress. "What do youwant?" she cried. "What you doing?" Then the last button had been cut away.

"What do you think I am? What are you doing to me?" she said. The sides of thedress were then brushed back.

"I do not think she is pretty," said Ginger.

"No, I do not either," said Evelyn. "You may even be prettier than she."

"I am beautiful," said Ginger. "It is you who might even, be prettier than she,my man-hungry little slave."

"Man hungry?" said Evelyn. "I have heard how you bite your chains, how you whineto be released at night."

"It is no secret in Kailiauk," said Ginger, "the fingernail scratches in yourkennel!"

"I cannot help it if men have released my slavery," said Evelyn, tears in hereyes.

"They, too, have released my slavery," said Ginger, "and fully."

"I am more helplessly passionate than you" said Evelyn.

"No, you are not," said Ginger.

"It is well known in Kailiauk that I am a better slave than you," said Evelyn.

"I am a better slave than you," said Ginger, "Slave Slut!

"No, you are not, Slave Slut," hissed Evelyn.

"Be silent, Slave Sluts, ' I said.

"Yes, Master," said Ginger.

"Yes, Master," said Evelyn.

Beneath the dress the girl was wearing a full, knee-length slip of white silk.

The dress, then, by cutting with the knife, and ripping, was removed from her.

It, too, was then thrown on the flames, following the dress sandals and pearls.

I saw, then, that the slip had small, over-the-shoulder straps. These weresevered and then, cutting and ripping from the back, the auctioneer loosened theslip. It could now, at his least convenience, be removed from the girl. At theleft knee it had a deep cocktail slit. This interested me, suggesting that thegirl might have good slave potential. This slit, affording an exciting glimpseof the girl's calf and lower thigh, was, of course, drawn to the attention ofthe audience by the auctioneer.

I wondered why the two tavern girls, Ginger and Evelyn, had sought me out.

Obviously there were many men in Kailiauk. Indeed, at this time of the evening,it seemed strange to me that they would even be absent from the tavern. Surelythis was the time of the evening when they might be expected to be applyingthemselves to the business of making a living for their masters, performingexquisitely, chained, in their alcoves. I dismissed the matter from my mind.

"No," begged the suspended girl, "please, don't!"

The slip was then lifted away from her body.

"A silver tarsk," said a man.

"Excellent" said the auctioneer.

This seemed to me an unusually high bid for a raw, untrained barbarian slave,particularly as an opening bid. On the other hand, I had noted that girls seemedto bring high prices in Kailiauk. Several of the girls had gone from the sideblocks, for example, for prices ranging between thirty and fifty copper tarsks.

In certain other markets these girls, in their current state of barbarity andignorance, might have brought as little as seven or eight tarsks apiece. Theseprices, of course, were a function of context and time. In Kailiauk there aremany affluent fellows, rich from the trade in hide and horn, and the traffic inkaiila. Furthermore, this close to the perimeter, only a few pasangs from theIhanke, far from the normal loci of slave raidings, and slave routes, femaleslaves, particularly beautiful ones, are not abundant. Accordingly men, comingin from surrounding areas, are willing to pay high to have one in theirblankets.

The girl now wore a brassiere, a garter belt and stockings. Too, beneath thenarrow garter belt, in what was perhaps an indication of charming reserve, Icould see silken panties.

"She is not really ugly," said Ginger.

"No," said Evelyn.

The girl watched in horror as the remains of her silken slip was cast upon theflames, causing them to spring up anew. Her Earth clothing, before her veryeyes, piece by piece, was being destroyed. It was thus being made clear to herthat she was making a transition to a new reality.

"No," she said, "Please, no."

The auctioneer freed her stockings from the hooks and buttons on the four garterstraps. In a moment the auctioneer had drawn the stockings from her legs,slipping them underneath the ropes on her ankles and discarding them in theflames. Then, after viewing her for a moment, he stepped behind her. He undidthe two-hook back closure on the garter belt. This article of clothing, too,then, in a moment, was cast into the flames. She then hung before us clad only,save for the ribbon binding back her hair, in her brassiere and panties.

"Undo her hair! ' called a man.

"Yes!" called another man.

I smiled to myself. Yes, it was the exact time for the woman's hair to beunbound. The hair of slave girls, incidentally, unless shaved or shortened as apunishment, is usually worn long. There is more, cosmetically, which can be donewith long hair and such hair, too, is often useful in the performance ofintimate duties for her master. Too, of course, it can be balled and thrust inher mouth, for use as a gag, either, save when one does not wish to hear her fora time, or, perhaps, if one wishes, to silence her cries in the throes of hersubmission spasms. Too, of course, she may be bound with it.

"Of course." said the auctioneer. He then untied the hair ribbon, which hadbound her red hair back so primly. He threw it in the fire. He then fluffed herhair and brought it forward, over her shoulders. He then brushed it back, behindher back, and smoothed it. He turned her on the rope, to the left and right,that men might see the cut and fall of the hair against her back. It was pretty.

Then the auctioneer turned her so that she was, again, helplessly, exposedfrontally to the crowd.

"She is really quite pretty," said Ginger, irritatedly.

"Yes." agreed Evelyn.

"But not as pretty as I," said Ginger.

"At least not so pretty as I," said Evelyn.

I smiled. I had little doubt the suspended girl would bring a higher price thaneither of them, though they both were, admittedly, obviously full and desirablyluscious slaves.

"Two silver tarsks," said a man.

"Excellent," said the auctioneer.

The girl looked out on the crowd with fear and misery. Doubtless she hoped,against hope, that she had now been adequately dismayed to the crowd. Surely thebrutes would not dare go further. That she had been brought clothed into thehall surely argued that her dignity and pride would continue to be respected, atleast to the degree that she was now concealed. Too, had the fellow attending toher not now paused in his abusive, insolent labors? But then she glanced to theside blocks. There there were women, much like herself; they, fixed in place,wearing collars and chains, she could not help but note, were absolutely naked.

But she, surely, was different from them! She was finer, and more delicate.

Anyone could see that! Then she hung, relieved, in the ropes. The auctioneer wasconferring with an attendant, to the side. Her ordeal, as she conceived it, wasnow concluded. The exposure and disgrace which had been visited upon the othergirls was not to be her lot. She was better. She was different.

The attendant, to whom the auctioneer had been addressing himself, took hisexit.

But did the girl not know that she was not different? Did she not know that she,too, was only a slave?

"I wonder if she is beautiful," said Ginger.

"As she is now clad, it is not difficult to speculate on the matter," saidEvelyn.

"Why don't they take off her clothes, so we can see, said Ginger.

"Yes," said Evelyn.

I smiled to myself. These girls, at any rate, understood something of the natureof a Gorean market.

"Were you a side-block girl?" asked Ginger.

"No," said Evelyn. "I was auctioned."

"I, too," said Ginger.

"Were you brought in naked?" asked Evelyn.

"Yes," said Ginger.

"I was, too," said Evelyn.

"Do you think that they think she is better than us?" asked Ginger.

"Perhaps," said Evelyn. "Men are fools."

"No!" cried the suspended girl, suddenly. "Don't! Please!" The auctioneer wasbehind her.

"No" she cried. "I am a virgin I have never been seen by men!" "No!" she cried.

Her breasts were lovely. Would the last vestige of her modesty not be permittedher?

"No," she pleaded. "Please, no! ' "No!" she cried, and then hung, helpless and sobbing in the ropes.

I saw that the stripped slave was beautiful.

"Three tarsks," said a man.

"Three five," said another. This was a bid of three silver tarsks and fiftycopper tarsks. There are one hundred copper tarsks to one silver tarsk inKailiauk. The ratio is ten to one in certain other cities and towns. Thesmallest Gorean coin is usually a tarsk bit, usually valued from a quarter to atenth of a tarsk. Gorean coinage tends to vary from community to community.

Certain coins, such as the silver tarsk of Tharna and the golden tarn of Ar,tend, to some extent, to standardize what otherwise might be a mercantile chaos.

This same standardization, in the region of the Tamber Gulf and south, along theshore of Thassa, tends to be effected by the golden tam of Port Kar. Coinmerchants often have recourse to scales. This is sensible considering suchthings as the occasional debasings of coinages, usually unannounced by thecommunities in question, and the frequent practice of splitting and shavingcoins. It is, for example, not unusual for a Gorean coin pouch to contain partsof coins as well as whole coins. Business is often conducted by notes andletters of credit. Paper currency, however, in itself, is unknown.

"Four!" called out another man.

"Five!" cried out another.

"But, Gentlemen," called the auctioneer, turning the girl on the rope, turningher left thigh to the crowd, "restrain your bids! Can you not see that she hasnot yet even been branded?"

"Mark her! Mark her!" called more than one man.

On the height of the central block I saw two attendants sliding out a brandingrack. Another, its handles wrapped in heavy cloth, carried out a cylindrical,glowing brazier, from which protruded the handles of two irons. He placed thisnear the branding rack. At the same time the auctioneer freed the ankles of thegirl from the ropes. He then freed the end of her wrist rope from its ring andthe rope, sliding through the overhead ring, loosened. As it did so theattendant to whom the auctioneer had earlier addressed himself, now returned,supported the girl. I did not think she could stand. When the rope permitted itbe lifted her in his arms. Her weight was nothing for him. The auctioneer thenjerked the remainder of the rope through the overhead ring. The attendant thencarried the girl, the rope trailing beside him, to the height of the centralblock. There, with the help of another fellow, he lowered her into the heavyrack, and spun shut the sturdy vises on her left and right thighs. She had beencarried to the rack naked, her wrists bound before her. She winced, unable tomove her thighs, dismayed doubtless at the perfect tightness with, which theywere held. Her wrists were then freed of the rope and taken behind her wherethey were fastened to a sturdy metal pole, a portion of the rack, by danglingslave bracelets.

The fellow who had carried in the brazier now drew forth, holding it with twogloves, an iron. It was white hot.

The girl regarded it, wild-eyed.

"No!" she cried. "Are you beasts and barbarians? What do you think I am? Do youthink I am an animal! Do you think I am a slave!

The iron was leveled. It approached the circular aperture in the vise, throughwhich, deeply into her fair thigh, it would be thrust, and held, burning andhissing, until its work was done, until the girl was marked, and well, as slavemeat.

"You are bluffing!" she cried. "You cannot be serious!

She then learned that the intention of the iron with respect to her body wasquite real.

The vises were spun loose. Her hands were freed of the restraining slavebracelets, only then to be tied with a cord behind her. Dismayed and sobbing shewas freed of the rack and put on her knees, head down, at the auctioneer's feet.

The rack and the brazier, the iron returned to it, were removed from the centralblock. The girl then, naked and kneeling, her hands bound behind her, at theauctioneer's feet, lifted her head and looked wildly out at the crowd. She hadbeen branded.

"She does not know what has happened to her," said Ginger.

"She knows," said Evelyn.

"But she does not yet fully understand it," said Ginger.

"No," said Evelyn.

"But she will soon understand it, and fully," said Ginger, "even so stupid aslave."

"Yes," said Evelyn.

The auctioneer then removed the long, supple kaiila quirt from his belt. Twicehe struck the girl across the back. She cried out in pain. Her education had nowcommenced. No time, now, would be lost in teaching her her condition. He draggedher to her feet by the hair and bent her backwards, displaying the bow of herbeauty to the crowd.

"I have a bid of five tarsks on this slut," he called. "Do I bear more? Do Ihear more?"

"Is she trained?" called a man.

"Train her yourself," called the auctioneer, "to your own pleasures." It wasunderstood, of course, that these barbarians were not trained. They had not yetbeen taught, as far as I could tell, even the proper modes of kneeling before amaster.

"Five five!" called a man.

"Good! Good!" called the auctioneer, displaying the slave. "Do I hear more?"

"Can she speak Gorean?" called a man. I smiled. It was clearly understood thatthese barbarian slaves could not speak Gorean.

"Train her like a sleen or a kaiila, on her hands and knees," said theauctioneer. "She will soon learn what is required of her."

"Pose her!" called a man.

"In what way, Noble Sir?" inquired the auctioneer, obligingly. He then,following the instructions of the fellow, sat the girl down, near the front ofthe central block, her left leg under her, her right leg extended and flexed,her right side facing the fellow, her shoulders back, her head turned sharply tolook at him. In this way the curves of her right leg, and the lines of herfigure, are pleasantly displayed.

"Imagine her in your collar!" challenged the auctioneer.

"Kneel her!" called a man.

The auctioneer then knelt the girl near the front of the central block. Sheknelt back on her heels. Her knees were widely spread. Her back was straight,her head high.

"Five seven!" called a man.

"Five seven!" repeated the auctioneer.

"Get her on her feet, so we can see her legs!" called a man.

"Belly her!" called another.

"Make her walk!" called a man.

"Kneel her, with her head to the ground!" called another.

"Put her through slave paces!" called another.

I looked to the, side. One of the fellows there was the short, muscular fellowwho wore the low, broad-brimmed hat. I recalled he had purchased at least fouror five of the girls from the side blocks. They had been excellent females, inmy opinion, but they had not seemed to be, at least on the whole, the choicestmerchandise available to him, and for similar costs. It was almost as though hewere purchasing them for some purpose other than that for which slave girls arecommonly purchased. I did not, now, understand his apparent interest in thered-haired slave now being vended. She, surely, was the sort of woman that wouldbe purchased, at least usually, to fulfill one of the more common purposes ofslave girls.

"Men are beasts," said Ginger.

"Yes," said Evelyn.

There was the sound of a quirt lashing flesh. The red-haired girl cried out inpain.

"She does not even know what they want her to do," said Ginger.

"She is a stupid slave," said Evelyn.

"She will learn," said Ginger.

"We all learn," said Evelyn.

I had noted, during the course of the evening, that more than one of theattendants about, and the auctioneer, too, had noted the presence of the twotavern girls in the crowd. They had not taken any action, however, to ejectthem. I found this of interest. Perhaps they thought them to be with me and thatI, so to speak, was answerable for them. Again I was puzzled as to why theywould be clinging about me. As I had not volunteered to accompany one or theother of them back to her master's tavern they should have attempted, after abit, to apply their beauty and enslaved wiles to the enticement of a more likelyprospect. It was surely not their business to be standing about observing slavesales. Even now, perhaps, their masters had taken slave whips down from thewalls, curious as to their absence.

I gave my attention again to the central block. By now the red-haired beauty hadbeen put through several slave paces, such as were feasible for her, her handsbound with the cord behind her back. She now, trembling, lay on her belly,licking and kissing at the auctioneer's kaiila boots.

"Is she vital?" called a man.

The auctioneer pulled her to her feet by the hair and turned her about, facingthe crowd.

I heard some men shouting outside in the street. The two girls inched moreclosely to me.

The auctioneer, his quirt now hooked on his belt, stood behind the red-hairedgirt. He put his left hand in her hair, and pulled her head back, and placed hisright hand on her right hip. She suddenly screamed and writhed, squirming. Butshe could not free herself from his grip. "No, please!" she screamed. "No!" shesobbed. Then she cried out, "No! Oh, no!" Then she sobbed. "No! No! No! Yes!

Yes! No. No. No!" Then he released her, and she fell to her knees on the block,sobbing, crimson with shame.

"Good," said the fellow near me, he in the broad-brimmed hat.

I smiled. The lovely new slave, even freshly branded, had, in the hands of theauctioneer, betrayed herself.

"She will make a hot slut," said Ginger.

"She will not be able to help herself, no more than we," said Evelyn.

I was inclined to agree with the tavern girls. Clearly the red-haired girl hadstrong slave latencies.

"Six!" called a man.

"Six five!" called another.

"Six seven!" called another.

"Six eight!" called another.

"Six nine!" called another.

There was now a commotion at the door. We heard shouting behind us. Theauctioneer looked to the back of the room, angrily. Seven or eight men, in theboots and garb of drovers, thrust in the door. Two or three of them carriedhalf-emptied bottles of paga. Two of them had drawn swords in their hands. Thetavern girls seized my arms, trying to make themselves small, behind me. Themen, I gathered, were drovers, members probably of the same crew that I had seenarrive earlier, those who had driven their kaiila, crying out and shouting,through the streets.

"Gentlemen!" cried the auctioneer. "Do not break the peace! Sheathe your steel!

There is a sale in progress."

"There they are! ' cried a fellow, one of the drovers, pointing towards us. Hewas a young, dark-haired, rough-looking fellow. The tavern girls cried out withmisery. I shook them loose from my arms. The fellow slammed his steel into hissheath and strode towards us. Another fellow, one who looked much like him, wasbut a foot behind him. They were, I assumed, brothers.

"The Hobarts," said a man, "from the Bar Ina."

The fellow in advance seized Evelyn by the arms and shook her viciously. I wasafraid he might break her little, collared neck. "I sought you at the tavern," he said to her, angrily. "You knew we would bring stock to town this night."

"And you, little slut," snarled the other, "what of you?" He seized Ginger bythe hair with both hands and threw her cruelly to his feet. I was pleased to seethat he knew how to handle a slave. She looked up at him, her head held up toface him, her small hands futilely on his wrists, tears in her eyes. "Why wereyou not in the tavern of Randolph, awaiting me?" he demanded.

I deemed now that I better understood why the two girls had not been at theirrespective taverns, why they, it seemed, in effect, under the pretense ofsoliciting business for the establishments of their masters, had been hiding inthe sales barn of Ram Seibar. What I did not understand was why the personnel ofthe sales barn had not driven them away. The presence of two such luscioustavern girls at the sale might surely distract the attention of at least some ofthe buyers. This was the more puzzling as, in the past, I had gathered, they hadbeen, in similar situations, driven from the premises, being lashed across thecalves. This, then, was apparently not their first offense in such matters.

The first young fellow then spun Evelyn about and hurled her a few feet fromhim, toward the door. "Precede me to the tavern, Slave," he said.

"Yes, Master," she wept.

"And you," said the other, throwing Ginger to her belly toward the door, "getyour ass to the tavern of Randolph."

"Yes, Master," she said.

I saw two attendants, at the door, look at one another, tensely, uneasily. I didnot understand this reaction. What was it to them if these two women were to beconducted back to their respective taverns, there to be returned to theirintimate labors?

The first of the young fellows turned about, and glared at me. I observed thesheath. It was at his left hip. He was apparently right-handed. I observed theright hand. It did not tense to move toward the blade's hilt.

He was obviously angry. I met his gaze, dispassionately.

The girls had now sought me out, I realized, hoping that I might provide themwith some sort of shelter, or protection. I presumably seemed large, and strong.

I carried a blade. Too, I was a stranger in town and would know nothing of theHobarts, or the crew of the Bar Ina, or whoever it might be, that might beinterested in them. In their way, given my lack of knowledge in these matters,they had been trying to take advantage of me. I found this irritating. They had,of course, seriously miscalculated in this matter. As I was not intending totake them to an alcove myself I would not have afforded them, no more than anyother Gorean male, the least protection. They belonged totally to their mastersand, more generally, to men. They were slave girls. Still, it would not havepleased me if this fellow, or fellows, these drovers, thought they were takingthem away from me.

The fellow lashed out. What occurred then was done rapidly. I am not certainthat all present clearly understood what was done. I caught his wrist and,twisting it, jerked him forward and off balance, at the same time kickingforcibly upwards. I then, bending his wrist back, thrust him to the side. Theother fellow was caught with a backwards kick, his steel no more then halfwayfrom its sheath. As I had not been facing him he had apparently been taken bysurprise by this blow, by its direction, its nature and force. Untrained menoften expect assaults to occur frontally. Various options in the martial arts,of course, are available to the practiced combatant. My blade was free from mysheath before his knees began to sag. I faced the drovers then, my blade drawn.

He crumpled to the floor. Men quickly cleared space about us.

"Well done!" said the fellow in the broad-brimmed hat.

I faced five drovers, their steel drawn. Bottles were cast aside.

"The first man who attacks," said the auctioneer, from the height of the centralplatform, "is a dead man."

The drovers looked about. Attendants in the sales barn held leveled crossbowstrained on them. The short, heavy quarrels lay in their guides. The cables weretaut. Fingers rested on the triggers.

Angrily the drovers sheathed their steel. They gathered up their two fallencomrades and, supporting them, with dark looks, withdrew from the sales barn.

"The two leading fellows there," said the man with the broad-brimmed hat, "wereMax and Kyle Hobart, from the Bar Ina. They will not make pleasant enemies."

I shrugged. I resheathed my steel.

The two tavern girls, auburn-haired Ginger and dark-haired Evelyn, frightened,began to move unobtrusively toward the door.

"One moment, young ladies," called the auctioneer, pleasantly.

"We are going, Masters," said Ginger, plaintively.

"Perhaps not," said the auctioneer.

"Masters?" asked Ginger, frightened. Behind her there was the heavy ropish soundof heavy cordage being dropped. She spun about. The exit was blocked by thereticulated structure of a stout, hempen slave net. She caught with her fingersat the net, and then, frightened, looked back over her shoulder. "Masters?" sheasked.

Evelyn immediately knelt. "Please forgive us, Masters," she said. "Please do notwhip us!"

Ginger then knelt, and swiftly, beside Evelyn. "No, Masters," she said. "Pleasedo not whip us."

"Who is your master?" asked the auctioneer.

"Randolph, of Kailiauk," said Ginger.

"Russell, of Kailiauk," said Evelyn.

"No, pretty little slaves," said the auctioneer. "Your master is the house ofRam Seibar."

"Master?" asked Ginger.

"You have been nuisances long enough," said the auctioneer.

"Master?" asked Ginger, frightened.

"Two days ago you were purchased from your respective masters," said theauctioneer. "You have now, as we anticipated, effected your self-delivery."

The girls looked at one another in terror.

"Your time of being bothers to the house of Ram Seibar Is now at an end," saidthe auctioneer.

There was much laughter among the men at the rich joke played on the two slaves.

"Remove their collars," said the auctioneer to an attendant. He removed thecollars. The keys were correct. Doubtless they had been supplied by their formermasters, probably at the time of the transactions effecting their purchase.

"Get your clothes off," said the auctioneer.

Swiftly the girls complied. Ginger removed even the beaded cuff on her leftankle. Evelyn removed even the black-ribbon choker on her throat. They were thenstark naked. Both, I saw, had been well branded.

They looked about themselves, frightened.

Their clothing, with the collars, was collected by an attendant. Such articles,doubtless, would be returned to their former masters.

"We have here, for sale," laughed the auctioneer, " two of the prettiest taverngirls in Kailiauk. Should you doubt this, scrutinize them closely."

The girls shrank back. Men laughed.

"We are willing to consider any bid over a silver tarsk for them," said theauctioneer. "However, we encourage their buyers to see that their pretty, curvedasses are removed from Kailiauk."

There was more laughter.

"Can you communicate with these other slaves?" asked the fellow in thebroad-brimmed hat of the two stripped tavern girls. He indicated some of thegirls on the side blocks.

Ginger approached one of the girls. Evelyn, too, approached her.

"Do you speak English?" asked Ginger in English.

"Yes, yes! ' said the girl, startled.

"What of the others who were with you?" asked Ginger. "Can they speak English?"

"Most," said the girl, "as a second, if not a first language."

Ginger then turned to the fellow in the broad-brimmed hat. "I can communicatewith most of them, I think," she said, in Gorean. "If there is a particular girlyou are interested in I can interrogate her specifically."

The man pointed to the naked red-haired girl, her hands bound behind her, on thecentral platform.

"Do you speak English?" asked Ginger.

"Yes," said the girl, pulling at her bonds, "yes!"

"Yes," said Ginger to the man in the broad-brimmed hat, in Gorean.

He nodded. I could see that he was pleased by this. That seemed to be the womanhe was interested in having understand him, and clearly. I did not think he wasparticularly concerned, truly, about communicating with the others. The uses towhich he intended to put them, I gathered, did not require subtleties ofcommunication. His desires with respect to their performances, I gathered, couldbe adequately conveyed by such means as the boot and whip.

"What is the language in which you have been speaking to these women?" he askedof Ginger.

"English, Master," she said.

He indicated Evelyn. "Does this slave, too, know this English?" he asked.

"Yes, Master," said Ginger.

Evelyn nodded. "Yes, Master," she said.

I smiled. Two girls, doubtless, could train the red-haired barbarian morequickly than one. For example, they could work her in shifts.

"You speak English " cried the girl on the side block, the collar and chain onher throat, "what is this place and how did I come here!"

"This is the world called Gor," said Ginger, "and you were brought here byspacecraft."

"What manner of place is this," begged the girl, lifting the chain on hercollar, "and is this how they treat all women?"

"I shall not expatiate on what manner of place this is" said Ginger, "for you,yourself, shall soon learn, and well. And this is not how they treat all women.

Women on this world, most of them, enjoy a status and freedom of which you, fromEarth, cannot even conceive. Their raiment is splendid, their station is lofty,their mien is noble, their prestige is boundless. Dread them, and fear them-"

The girl looked at her, frightened.

"For you are not such a woman," said Ginger.

The girl clutched the chain, kneeling on the block.

"No," said Ginger, "you are not such a woman. You are less than the dust beneaththeir feet."

"I–I do not understand," said the girl, stammering.

"You are the sort of woman who will wear rags, said Ginger, "who will rejoiceif a crust of bread is thrust in your mouth."

"I–I do not understand," said the girl.

"You will learn the weight of bonds, the lash of the whip," said Ginger. "Youwill learn to crawl, and bend, and obey."

The girl looked at her with horror.

"You will learn that you are an animal," said Ginger.

"An animal?" said the girl, frightened.

"Yes," said Ginger, "and worth less than most animals."

"What sort of woman am I then?" asked the girl.

"Can you not guess?" asked Ginger.

The girl looked at her, terrified.

"A female slave," said Ginger.

"Let us now have a bid on the two tavern girls," called the auctioneer. "We musthave at least a tarsk apiece for them!"

The girl shook her head numbly, disbelievingly. "No," she whispered. "No."

Ginger regarded her.

"It cannot be," said the girl.

"It is," said Ginger.

"Not a female slave," said the girl. She lifted the chain, disbelievingly, onher neck.

"Yes," said Ginger.

"No!" said the girl. "No!" She clutched the chain on her neck in terror.

"Yes," said Ginger.

The girl leaped suddenly to her feet and, crouching over, with the fullness ofher small strength, began to tear wildly at the chain. "No," she cried, "not afemale slave! No!

The men watched, with interest.

Then the girl, sobbing, her small hands raw, and cut, ceased her struggles.

"I am chained," she said, numbly, to Ginger.

"Yes, you are," said Ginger, adding, "-Slave."

There was the sudden lash of the five-stranded Gorean slave whip and the girlcried out and sank down on the block, kneeling, with her head down, makingherself as small as possible. Five times did the attendant lash her beauty. Thenshe lay on her stomach on the block, sobbing, the collar and chain on her neck,her fingernails tight in the wood. "I will be good, Masters," she wept. "I willbe good."

"Do I hear a bid on the tavern girls?" asked the auctioneer.

"Five copper tarsks apiece!" laughed a man.

Ginger bit her lip, in anger. There was laughter.

"Stand straighter Slave," said a man.

Ginger straightened her body, and lifted her head.

"Miss, oh, please, Miss! ' called the red-haired girl, plaintively, on herknees, stripped, her hands tied behind her with the cord, from the centralblock.

Ginger was startled. The red-haired slave had spoken without permission. Sheturned to face her.

"Am I, too, a slave?" called the red-haired girl.

Ginger looked about, and sensed that she might respond, without being beaten.

The experienced slave girl is very sensitive to such things.

We saw the auctioneer remove the kaiila, quirt from his belt.

"Yes," said Ginger, "You are all slaves! ' "And you?" inquired the red-haired girl.

"We, too, are slaves," said Ginger, indicating herself and Evelyn. "Do you thinkfree women would be so rudely stripped and brazenly displayed? We, and theseothers, are on sale! Do you doubt that we are slaves? See our brands!" Sheturned her left thigh to the central platform. Evelyn, too, turned so that thered-haired girl might, as she could, observe her brand.

"You are branded!" said the red-haired girl. "You are only branded slaves! ' "Consider the mark burned into your own lovely hide," said Ginger.

The girl regarded her own thigh, fearfully.

"It is no different from that which we wear," said Ginger.

The girl regarded her with horror.

"It marks you well, does it not?" asked Ginger.

"Yes," said the girl, in misery.

"As ours do us," said Ginger.

"Then I, too, am nothing but a branded slave!" said the red-haired girl.

"Precisely," said Ginger.

"Then I, too, at least in theory, could be put up for sale," she said, aghast.

"Bids have already been taken on you," said Ginger. "You are up for sale."

"No!" cried the girl. "I am Millicent Aubrey-Welles, of Pennsylvania. I cannotbe for sale! ' "You are a nameless slave animal, being vended for the pleasure of Masters," said Ginger.

"I am not for sale!" cried the girl.

"You are," said Ginger. "And I, for one, would not pay much for you."

Wildly the red-haired girl tried to attain her feet but the auctioneer, his handin her hair, twisted her and threw her on her belly before him. Twice he lashedher with the quirt "Oh!" she cried. "Oh!" He then stepped away from her. Helaughed. She had squirmed well. Her body was obviously highly sensitive. Thisportended well for her quality as a slave. She lifted her head, wildly, toGinger. "I am truly to be sold?" she begged.

"Yes," said Ginger.

"Oh!" cried the girt, in pain, again quirted by the auctioneer. "Oh! Oh!" Shehad again spoken without permission. Then she lay quietly, scarcely moving,beaten, frightened, on the block. She did not care to feel the quirt again. Ithink, lying there, she now began, more fully and explicitly than she had daredbefore, to comprehend the actuality of her condition, that she might be, infact, what she seemed to be, a lashed, soon-to-be vended slave.

"What were these women inquiring of you?" inquired a man, of Ginger.

"They desired a clarification of their condition, Master," responded Ginger.

"Are they dim-witted? ' asked the fellow.

"I do not think so, Master," said Ginger. "It is only that they come from aworld which has not prepared them to easily grasp the nature of certainrealities, let alone that they might find themselves implicated in them."

"I see," said the man.

"But do not fear, Master," said Ginger, "we learn swiftly."

"That is known to me," he grinned.

Ginger looked down, swallowing hard. It was true. On Gor, girls learned swiftly.

I saw the fellow in the broad-brimmed hat, behind Ginger and Evelyn, make a signto the auctioneer.

"If there is no one here now who wishes further to examine the tavern girls,prior to their sale, I will have them removed to a holding area," said theauctioneer.

Ginger and Evelyn, startled, exchanged glances. As no one spoke, the auctioneernodded to two of the attendants. In a moment the girls, the upper left arm ofeach in the grasp of an attendant, were conducted, bewildered, through a sidedoor from the hall.

The fellow in the broad-brimmed hat, I gathered, had influence in Kailiauk. Hewas, obviously, at any rate, taken seriously in the house of Ram Seibar.

When the heavy door had closed behind the tavern girls, he said to theauctioneer, "One five apiece."

"Are there any other bids? ' inquired the auctioneer.

There was silence in the room. It interested me that there were no other bids.

"One five," agreed the auctioneer. "One five, for each."

The fellow in the broad-brimmed hat then pointed to the girl on the centralblock. This did not surprise me. I had gathered that he might be interested inher. The purchase of the two tavern girls, further, I had surmised, wasintimately connected with this interest. He wanted them, doubtless, to be usedin her training, in particular, I supposed, with her training in Gorean. Otheraspects of her training he might see fit to attend to himself. Needless to say,it is pleasant to train a beautiful woman uncompromisingly to one's mostintimate pleasures. Further, there was no doubt that the girl on the block was abeauty. Yet, in some way, I still found his interest in her somewhat puzzling.

She was, obviously, in complexion, coloration, refinement, figure and beauty,quite different from the other girls he had purchased. Perhaps he was a fellowwith wide divergence in his tastes.

"We have a bid on the slave of six nine," said the auctioneer. With his foot hemoved her bound hands a bit upward on her back. He then stood with his rightboot on the small of her back. "Six nine," he said, looking at the fellow in thebroad-brimmed hat.

"Seven five," said the fellow.

The auctioneer then removed his boot from the prone body of the slave and, bythe hair, pulled her up to her knees.

"Seven five," said the fellow.

The auctioneer then, by the hair, pulled the girl to her feet. He then, with hisquirt, indicated that the girl should suck in her gut and lift her head. She didso.

"Very well," said the fellow in the broad-brimmed hat. "Seven eight."

The auctioneer seemed hesitant.

"Seven nine, then," said the fellow.

This, I took it, was the bid the auctioneer had been waiting for. It was an evensilver tarsk, or an even hundred copper tarsks, of the sort common in Kailiauk,figured in multiples of ten, over the earlier standing bid of six nine.

"Are there any other bids?" called the auctioneer. I sensed there would not beany. Too, I did not think the auctioneer expected any. To be sure, it wasdoubtless his business to inquire explicitly into the matter.

The girl trembled, her chin obediently high.

No more bids were forthcoming. No one, it seemed, cared to bid against thefellow in the broad-brimmed hat. I found this of interest. I had not found thissort of thing before in a Gorean market.

"Deliver her to the holding area," said the auctioneer, addressing himself to anattendant near the foot of the block. The fellow, then, climbed to the height ofthe block. "She is yours," said the auctioneer to the man in the broad-brimmedhat. The attendant seized the girl by the arms. It was only then, I think, thatthe former Millicent Aubrey-Welles, from Pennsylvania, realized that she hadbeen sold. She was conducted from the surface of the block.

"That," said the auctioneer, "concludes the final auction of the evening. Permitme to remind you all that the market is not yet closed. It remains open foranother Ahn. Peruse now, if you would, in the time remaining before we close,the lovely morsels, dainties for your delectation, fastened on the slave platesto the sides. In a lesser house any one of them would doubtless be worthy thecentral block. Yet, here, in the house of Ram Seibar, in this house of prizesand bargains, no one of them is likely to cost you more than a silver tarsk!"

I glanced about, at the girls on the side blocks. A few pretended to brazenindifference. Most, however, only too obviously, were terrified. I think therewas not one among them who did not, now, understand that she was a slave. Ithink there was not one among them who did not now realize that she might soon,and totally, belong to a man.

"To the side blocks, please, Noble Sirs, ' invited the auctioneer, with anexpansive gesture of his open hand, "to the side blocks!"

The men began to drift to the side blocks. Several went toward the block of thegirl with whom Ginger had spoken. She had looked well under the attendant'swhip. Several of the girls whimpered. A woman's first sale, I suspected, isoften the hardest.

"Come with me," said the fellow in the broad-brimmed hat. He then turned about,and went through a side door.

Puzzled, I followed him.

On the other side of the door we found ourselves in a holding area, a long, shedlike structure ancillary to the main hall. It was wooden-floored and the narrowfloorboards were laid lengthwise. About every five feet a linear set of theseboards was painted yellow, thus, in effect, making long, yellow lines, parallelto the sides of the structure, on the floor. At the head and foot of theselines, also in yellow, were painted numbers.

On one of these lines, number six, there knelt, one behind the other, in tandemfashion, seven girls. They were barbarians, but they had been knelt in theposition of pleasure slaves, back on their heels knees wide, hands on theirthighs, backs straight, heads up.

You handled yourself well in the hall," said the fellow to me. "It is mysuspicion that you are no stranger to war."

"I have fought," I admitted.

"Are you a mercenary?" he asked.

"Of sorts," I said.

"Why are you in Kailiauk?" he asked.

"I am here on business," I said, warily.

"Are your pursuers numerous?" he asked.

"Pursuers?" I asked.

"You are doubtless in flight," be said. "Would you give me a hand with thesechains?" He then bent down and, from some things, his, I gathered, near onewall, he had picked up several loops of light chain, with spaced, attachedcollars. He slung these loops over his left shoulder and joined me, near thelast girl kneeling on the line.

He handed me a collar, at the chain's termination. I clasped it about the neckof the last girl on the line. It closed, locking, with a heavy metallic click.

"I am not in flight," I said.

The girl whimpered, collared and on the chain.

"I see," grinned the fellow.

"Why should you think I am in flight?" I asked.

"Skills such as yours," he said, "do not bring their highest prices in thevicinity of the perimeter." He handed me another length of chain, with itscollar.

"Oh," I said. I added the next girl to the chain. The collars had front and backrings, were hinged on the right and locked on the left. This is a familiar formof coffle collar. The lengths of chain between the collars were about three tofour feet long. Some were attached to the collar rings by the links themselves,opened and then reclosed about the rings, and some of them were fastened to thecollar rings by snap rings. Another common form of coffle collar has its hingein the front and closes behind the back of the neck, like the common slavecollar. It has a single collar ring usually on the right, through which,usually, a single chain is strung. Girls are spaced on such a chain, usually, bysnap rings. An advantage of the first sort of coffle arrangement is that thechain may, as girls are added or subtracted, be shortened or lengthened. Achain, which has been borne by fifty girls, would, of course, be impracticablyheavy for five or six. An advantage of the second arrangement is that girls canbe easily spaced on the chain, more or less closely together, and can beconveniently removed from, and added to, the chain. Which chaining arrangementis best for a given set of girls depends, of course, on the particularintentions and purposes of their master. The fellow in the broad-brimmed hat hadopted, of course, for the first arrangement. This suggested to me that heexpected girls, for one reason or another, to be subtracted from the chain.

"If you are not now in flight," he said, "I suggest that you consider itsadvisability."

I looked at him. He handed me another length of chain and a collar.

"You should leave town, and soon," he said.

I put another girl on the chain.

"Why?" I asked.

"The vanity of the Hobarts, a proud folk," he said, "was much stung this night,and before female slaves. They will come with their men, with crossbows andswords. They will want their revenge."

"I do not fear them," I said.

"When do you intend to leave Kailiauk?" he asked.

"In the morning," I said.

"Good," said he. "I would not alter my plans."

"I have no intention of doing so," I said. Martial dalliance was not germane tomy mission.

"Put her on the chain," said the fellow, handing me another collar and length ofchain.

I added a blonde to the chain. He then handed me another chain segment andcollar, unlooping it from his shoulder.

"What are you going to do?" he asked.

"I have purchased some trade goods," I said. "It is my intention to enter theBarrens."

"That is dangerous," said he.

"That is what I have heard," I said.

"Do you know any of the languages? Do you know even "No," I said.

"Avoid them, then," he said.

I then added another girl to the coffle, a shorthaired, sturdy-legged brunet.

"I am determined," I said.

The fellow lifted the girl's short, dark hair. "It will be difficult to braidthis hair," he said, "but it will grow."

I then, taking a collar and a length of chain from him, added the next girl tothe coffle. She was also a brunet.

"I am curious," I said, "as to the nature of the girls you have purchased. Theseseven, though surely outstandingly attractive, seem to me to have been ratherexceeded in beauty by several of the others, whom you did not choose to buy."

"Perhaps," he grinned. He handed me another collar, and length of chain,unloosing it from his shoulder.

"Please don't put me in a collar," said the seventh girl, looking up, tears inher eyes. She had spoken in English. She had light-brown hair. I put the collaron her throat, and locked it. She was then naught but another lovely componentin the coffle. She put back her head, and choked back a sob.

"Are you truly determined to enter the Barrens?" asked the fellow.

"Yes," I said.

"How many kaiila do you have? ' he asked.

"Two," I said, "one to ride, another for the trade goods."

"That is fortunate," said the fellow. "No more than two kaiila are to be broughtby any single white man into the Barrens. Too, no party of white men in theBarrens is permitted to bring in more than ten kaiila."

"These are rules in Kailiauk?" I asked.

"They are the rules of the red savages," he said.

"Then," said I, "only small groups of white men enter the Barrens, or else theywould be on foot, at the mercy of the inhabitants of the area."

"Precisely," said the fellow.

Two slave girls, blindfolded, their hands tied behind them, were then thrustinto the room. An attendant, holding them by the arms, brought them forward, andthen, at the indication of the fellow in the broad-brimmed hat, knelt them downover the yellow line, in front of the hitherto first girl in the coffle. Bothwere frightened. They were Ginger and Evelyn. "To whom have we been sold?" begged Ginger. "Where are we being taken?" begged Evelyn. The attendant then,with his booted foot, kicked Ginger to her side on the floor. Then he tookEvelyn's hair in his left hand and with his right hand lashed her face twice,with the palm and then the back of his hand, snapping it from side to side. Hethen knelt them again, on the line. "Forgive us, Masters," begged Ginger.

"Forgive us, Masters," begged Evelyn, blood at the side of her mouth.

I then, with materials supplied by the fellow in the broad brimmed hat, addedGinger and Evelyn to the coffle.

"The three of them, together," said the attendant, "come to ten nine. The otherwill be brought forward in a moment."

I saw the coins change hands.

The small wrists of Ginger and Evelyn pulled futilely at their bonds.

In a moment, as the attendant had suggested, the red-haired girl was introducedinto the room.

"She is a beauty," I said to the fellow in the broad brimmed hat.

"That she is," he said, "and, beyond that, it is the sort of girl she is. Shewill make a superb slave."

The girl, then, half stumbling, was brought forward. Rudely she was thrust downto her knees, where the fellow in the broad-brimmed hat indicated, at the headof the coffle. To her horror her knees were kicked apart. Her chin was thenpushed up. In a moment she was fastened with the others.

I looked down at the red-haired girl. The man in the broad-brimmed hat liftedher hair, displaying it to me. "It is long enough to braid," he said.

"If one wished it," I said. I myself tended to prefer, on the whole, long, loosehair on a slave, tied back, if at all, with a headband or, behind the head, witha cloth or string.

He let her hair fall back, down her back.

"She would bring a high price," I said, "in almost any market with which I amfamiliar."

"I will be able to get five hides of the yellow kailiauk for her," said the man,"Oh, no, Master!" cried Ginger, suddenly, dismally. "No. Master! ' protestedEvelyn. "Please, no! Please, no'

The man in the broad-brimmed hat bent down and, one after the other, untied thewrists of Evelyn, Ginger and the red-haired girl. Ginger and Evelyn weretrembling, half in hysteria. Yet they had presence of mind enough to place theirhands, palms down, on their thighs. The palms of the red-haired girl, forcibly,her wrists in his grasp, were placed on her thighs. When her left hand wished tostray to her brand he took it and placed it again, firmly, palm down, on herthigh.

"Yes, Master," whispered the girl, in English. I was pleased to see that she wasintelligent. A fresh brand is not to be disturbed, of course.

The fellow in the broad-brimmed hat then removed the blindfolds from Ginger andEvelyn. "Oh, no!" wept Ginger. "No, no!" wept Evelyn. "Not you, please!" Theyregarded who it was who owned them, in dismay, and with horror. Yet, I think,but moments before, surely they had sensed, and surely feared, who he might be.

Their worst fears had now seemed confirmed. I did not understand their terror.

He seemed to me a genial enough fellow. "Sell us, beloved Master!" beggedGinger. "Please, Master," begged Evelyn, "we are only poor slaves. Take pity onus! Sell us to another! ' "Make us pot girls!" begged Ginger. "Shackle us! Sendus to the farms!" "We are only poor slaves," wept Evelyn. "Please, please,Master, sell us to another! We beg you, Beloved Master. Sell us to another!"

"The house of Ram Seibar," said the fellow, amused, "wishes you both taken fromKailiauk."

Several of the other girls now, I noted, were frightened and apprehensive. Thered-haired girl, too, seemed frightened. They could not understand Gorean butthe terror of the other slaves was patent to them. None of them, I noted, to mysatisfaction, had dared to break position. Already, I conjectured, they hadbegun to suspect what might be the nature of Gorean discipline.

"Master!" wept Ginger.

"Please, Master!" wept Evelyn.

"Position," snapped the man in the broad-brimmed hat.

Immediately the girls knelt back in the coffle, back on their heels, their kneeswide, their hands on their thighs, their backs straight and heads lifted. Seeingthis, the other girls, too, behind them, hurriedly sought to improve theirposture. The red-haired girl, who could not see behind her, from the sound ofthe command, and the movements in the chain, reaching her through the backcollar ring, fearfully sensing what was going on, straightened herself as well.

"These two girls, the second and third," I said, indicating Ginger and Evelyn,"seem quite disturbed to discover that you are their master."

"It surely seems so," granted the fellow in the broad brimmed hat.

"Why should they regard you with such terror," I asked, "more than seemsnecessary on the part of a slave girl with respect to her master?" It is naturalfor a slave girl, of course, to regard her master with a certain trepidation.

She is, after all, an animal, who is owned by him, over whom he has total power.

The rational slave girl will almost never intentionally displease her master.

First, it is just too costly to do so. Secondly, for reasons that are sometimesobscure to men, these having to do with her being a female, she seldom desiresto do so.

"I do not think that it is I, personally, whom they regard with such terror," hegrinned.

"What then could be the source of such terror?" I asked.

"Who knows what goes on in the heads of pretty little slaves," he said.

"You seem evasive," I observed.

"Perhaps," he admitted.

"Your coffle," I said, "is striking, an assemblage of chained beauties. Yet Ithink there seems a rather clear distinction between the first three girls andthe last seven, and, if I may say so, between the first and the second two."

"Yes," he said, "that is true. Observe the last seven girls. Do you know theirnature? Do you know what they are?"

"What?" I asked.

"Pack animals," he said. "They are pack animals."

"I thought they might be," I said. The fellow's itinerary now seemed clear tome. No more than two kaiila, I remembered he had said, may be brought in by anygiven white man.

"And the first girl," I asked, "is she, too, to be a pack animal?"

"She, too, will serve as a pack animal," he said, "as will they all, but,ultimately, I have a different disposition in mind for her."

"I see," I said.

"She will be worth five hides of the yellow kailiauk to me," he said.

"Then you will make a splendid profit on her," I said.

"Yes," said he. A robe of yellow kailiauk, even in average condition, can bringas much as five silver tarsks.

I looked at the red-haired girl in the coffle, the former MillicentAubrey-Welles. She did not even know she was the subject of our conversation.

"And what of these other two?" I asked, indicating Ginger and Evelyn.

"By means of them I can communicate with the red-haired girl," he said. "Intheir barbarous tongue they can make clear to her, and quickly, the nature ofher condition, and the efficiency, intimacy and totality of the services thatwill be required of her. Too, they can teach her some Gorean, which will keepthem all busy, and help me train her."

"I see," I said.

He adjusted the remainder of the chains and collars on his shoulder. He had notcome to the sales barn, apparently, knowing exactly how many girls he wouldpurchase. It is difficult to anticipate such things accurately, of course,particularly when buying in lots. Much depends on what is available and whatturns out to be the going prices, on a given night. "The treks can be long," hesaid.

"Treks?" I asked.

"Yes," he said.

"I note," I said, "that all of these girls are barbarians, even the second andthird girl. Why have you not purchased some Gorean girls for your pack train?"

"For pack animals it is surely more appropriate to use meaningless barbariansthan Gorean girls," he said.

"Of course," I granted him.

"But there is, of course," he grinned, "another reason, as well."

"What is that?" I asked.

"These barbarian girls will march along in their coffle as ignorant and innocentas kaiila," he said.

"Whereas?" I asked.

"Whereas," he grinned, "Gorean girls might die of fear."

Ginger and Evelyn moaned.

"These slaves," I said, indicating the two former tavern girls, "seem nottotally ignorant."

"Even these slaves," he said, indicating Ginger and Evelyn, ",who seem sotransfixed with terror, do not even begin, I assure you, to have any idea as towhat might lie before them."

The two girls shuddered. Their will, of course, was nothing. They, like theanimals they were, must go where their masters pleased.

"I take it that you, with your pack train, intend to enter the Barrens," I said.

"Yes," said he.

"Tomorrow morning?" I asked.

"Yes," said he.

"You are, then, a trader?" I asked.

"Yes," he said.

"I have sought along the perimeter for one named "Grunt'," I said.

"That is known to me," he said.

"None seemed to know of his whereabouts, or clearly", I said.

"Oh? ' he said.

"I found that unusual," I said.

"Why?" he asked.

"This fellow, Grunt," I said, "is presumably a well-known trader. Does it notseem strange, then, that no one would have a clear idea as to his location?"

"That does seem a bit strange," agreed the fellow.

"It is my thought," I said, "that this fellow, Grunt, has many friends, that heinspires loyalty, that these friends desire to protect him."

"If that is so," he said, "then this Grunt, in at least some respects, must be alucky man."

"Do you know him?" I asked.

"Yes," he said.

"Do you know where he is?" I asked.

"Yes," he said.

"Do you think you could direct me to his whereabouts?" I asked.

"I am he," he said.

"I thought so," I said.

9 We Cross the Ihanke

"It is here," said Grant, turning about on his kaiila. "See the wands?"

"Yes," I said. We were now some two pasangs east of Kailiauk.

"Here is one," said Grunt, "and there is another, and another."

"I see," I said, shading my eyes.

The grass was to the knees of the kaiila. It came to the thighs of the slavegirls, in brief one-piece slave tunics, of brown rep-cloth, with deep cleavages,in throat coffle, bearing burdens on their heads.

The wand before us was some seven or eight feet high. It is of this height,apparently, that it may be seen above the snow, during the winter moons, such asWaniyetuwi and Wanicokanwi. It was of peeled Ka-la-na wood and, from its top,there dangled two long, narrow, yellow, black-tipped feathers, from the tail ofthe taloned Herlit, a large, broad winged, carnivorous bird, sometimes in Goreancalled the Sun Striker, or, more literally, though in clumsier English,Out-of-the-sun-it-strikes, presumably from its habit of making its descent and. strike on prey, like the tarn, with the sun above and behind it. Similar wands Icould see some two hundred yards away, on either side, to the left and right.

According to Grunt such wands line the perimeter, though usually not in suchproximity to one another. They are spaced more closely together, naturally,nearer areas of white habitation.

Grunt now turned back on his kaiila to look out, eastward over the broad grassesand low, rolling hills. The terrain beyond the wands did not appear muchdifferent from the terrain leading up to them. The hills, the grass, the archingblue sky, the white clouds, seemed much the same on both sides of the wands. Thewands seemed an oddity, a geographical irrelevance. Surely, thrust in the earth,supple in the wind, with the rustling feathers, they could betoken nothing ofsignificance. The wind was fresh. I shivered on the kaiila.

For those who might be interested in such things, we came to the wands in theearly spring, early in Magaksicaagliwi, which is the Moon of the ReturningGants. The preceding moon was the Sore-Eye Moon, or Istawicayazanwi. Because ofits uncertain weather, the possible freezes and storms, and its harsh winds,this month had been avoided by Grunt. The next moon was Wozupiwi, the PlantingMoon, which term, in the context, I find extremely interesting. It seems to makeclear that the folk of the area, at one time, were settled, agriculturalpeoples. That, of course, would have been before the acquisition of the kaiila,which seems to have wrought a local cultural transformation of the firstmagnitude. One often thinks of a hunting economy representing a lower, in somesense, stage of cultural development than an agricultural economy. Perhaps thisis because, commonly, agriculture provides a stabler cultural milieu and can,normally, support larger populations on less territory. A single human being canbe agriculturally supported by less than an acre of land. The same human being,if surviving by hunting, would require a territory of several square miles.

Here, however, we seem to have a case where peoples deliberately chose thewidely ranging, nomadic hunting economy over an agricultural economy. Themobility afforded by the kaiila and the abundance of the kailiauk doubtless madethis choice possible, the choice of the widely ranging hunter, the proud andfree warrior, over the farmer, denied distant horizons, he who must live at themercy of the elements and in bondage to his own soil.

Grunt sat astride his kaiila, a lofty, yellow animal, looking eastward, outbeyond the wands. Behind him there was a pack kaiila, laden with goods. A thongran from the pierced nose of the beast to a ring at the back of his saddle. I,too, was astride my kaiila, a black, silken, high-necked, long fanged beast. Tomy saddle, too, was tethered a pack kaiila. Various goods were borne by our packanimals, both of the four-legged and two-legged varieties. My goods were allladen on my pack kaiila. Grunt's goods, on the other hand, of course, weredistributed over his eleven beasts of burden, the kaiila and the ten other packanimals. My goods, substantially, consisted of blankets, colored cloths,ribbons, mirrors and beads, kettles and pans, popular in the grasslands, hardcandies, cake sugar and chemical dyes. Grunt carried similar articles but he, aswell, as I had not, carried such items as long nails, rivets, hatchets, metalarrowheads, metal lance points, knife blades and butcher knives. The knifeblades and long nails are sometimes mounted in clubs. The blades, of course, mayalso be fitted into carved handles, of wood and bone. The rivets are useful infastening blades in handles and lance shafts. The metal arrowhead is aconvenience. It is ready-made and easy to mount. It is not likely to fracture asa stone point might. Similarly it makes dangerous trips to flint-rich areasunnecessary. The butcher knives are usually ground down into a narrow, concaveshape. They do not have the sturdiness for combat. They are used, generally, forthe swift acquisition of bloody trophies.

I saw Grunt straighten himself in the high-pommeled saddle. He lifted the reins.

He kicked back with his heels, suddenly, smiting the animal in the flanks. Itstarted, and then, in its smooth, loping stride, crossed the line of the wands.

Grunt rode some twenty yards ahead, and then pulled back the kaiila, twistingits head back with the reins, wheeling it about to face us. He loosened thelong, coiled whip fastened with a snap strap at the right of his saddle, androde back towards us, along the right side of the coffle of barefoot, scantilyclad, neck-chained beauties. "Hei! Hei!" he called. He cracked the whip in theair, twice. He then rode about the rear of the coffle, and advanced, on hiskaiila, along its left side. He was right-handed.

"We are women, and only helpless slaves!" cried out Ginger. "Please, Master, donot take us across the line of the wands!"

"Reconsider, Master, we beg of you! ' cried out Evelyn.

"Hei! Hei!" cried Grunt.

"Please, no, Master!" cried out Ginger.

"Please, no, no, Master! ' cried out Evelyn.

Then the whip lashed down. More than one girl cried out with pain. Then the whipfell, too, on Ginger and Evelyn. They screamed, struck.

"Hei! Hei!" called Grunt.

"Yes, Master!" wept Ginger.

"Yes, Master!" wept Evelyn.

"Hei! Hei!" urged Grunt.

The coffle, then, to the snapping of the whip, led by the terrified red-hairedgirl, the former Millicent Aubrey-Welles, from Pennsylvania, began to moveahead. Ginger and Evelyn, in their places, stumbled forward, red-eyed and almostnumb with terror. Other girls, smarting from the pain and feeling the jerking ofthe chain on their collars, weeping, followed, they, too, in their appropriateplaces, precisely where their master wished them, places made clear by theircollars and chains. Only Ginger and Evelyn, I surmised, had any inkling as tothe nature of the place into which they were being taken, and they, too, in thefinal analysis, were only barbarians. They, too, at least as yet, would not beable to understand where they were being taken, what was being done to them, notfully, not yet in its full meaning. I thought it just as well that the girls,even Ginger and Evelyn, were substantially ignorant. This made it easier tomarch them across the line of the wands. I watched the girls, the burdens ontheir heads, their necks chained, moving through the tall grass. They were nowcrossing the line of the wands. I wondered if they could even begin to suspectthe terrors into which they were entering. Yes, I thought to myself, it isbetter this way. Let them, for the time, remain ignorant. They would learn soonenough what it might mean, in such a place, in the place of the kailiauk and thehigh grasses, to be a white female.

Grunt, on his kaiila, had now taken his place at the head of the line, the packkaiila behind him.

I looked at the red-haired girl, first in the coffle, the burden' balanced withher small hands on her head. Grunt, I knew, had some special disposition in mindfor her. Yet, now, she, like the others, served as a mere pack animal, one ofthe beasts of his coffle, bearing his goods.

No white man, I recalled, was to bring more than two kaiila across the line ofthe wands. No group of white men was to bring more than ton kaiila across thatseemingly placid boundary.

The red-haired girl looked well in the coffle, moving in the grass, the chain onher neck, in the brief slave tunic. So, too, did the others. Slave girls arebeautiful, even those who must serve as mere beasts of burden. Grunt, Irecalled, in urging his coffle forward, had not struck the lead girl, his lovelyred-haired beast, with the lash, as he had several of the others. He had chosen,for some reason, to spare her its stroke. This was, I suspected, because be hadsomething more in mind for her than a burden and a place in the coffle. He had,clearly, something else in mind for her. He was apparently willing to take histime with her, and to bring her along easily and gently, at least for a time.

This was, perhaps, because she seemed already to understand that it would be herbusiness to please men, and that she was a slave. She would have to understandlater, of course, what it was to be a slave, fully. That would be time enoughfor her to feel the boot and the whip.

"It is here," Grunt had said.

I looked again ahead, out beyond that seemingly placid boundary, out beyond thewands.

I checked my weapons. Then I, too, urged my kaiila forward. In a few moments Iand my pack kaiila, too, had crossed the line of the wands.

"It is here," Grunt had said.

I pulled up the kaiila and looked behind me. Now I, too, had crossed thatboundary marked by the supple-feathered wands. I saw the feathers moving in thewind. Now I, too, had crossed the Ihanke, Now I, too, was within the Barrens.

I urged my kaiila forward again, after Grunt and the coffle. I did not wish tofall behind.

10 I See Dust Behind Us

"You are aware, are you not," I asked Grunt, "That we are being followed?"

"Yes," he said.

It was toward the noon of our second day in the Barrens.

"I trust that their intentions are peaceful," I said.

"That is unlikely," he smiled.

"Are we not yet in the country of the Dust Legs?" I inquired. This was aperimeter tribe, which, on the whole, was favorably disposed towards whites.

Most trading was done with Dust Legs. Indeed, it was through the Dust Legs thatmost of the goods of the interior might reach civilization, the Dust Legs, ineffect, acting as agents, and intermediaries. Many tribes, apparently, would notdeal on a face-to-face basis with whites. This had to do with the hatred andsuspicion fostered by that tradition called the Memory. Too, it was oftendifficult to control their young men. Although small trading groups werewelcomed in the country of the Dust Legs, such groups seldom penetrated the moreinterior territories. Too many of them had failed to return. Grunt was unusualin having traded as far east as the country of the Fleer and the Yellow Knives.

Too, he had entered, at least once, the country of the Sleen and the Kaiila.

Some of these territories, apparently, had scarcely been penetrated since thedays of the first white explorers of the Barrens, men such as Boswell, Diaz,Bento, Hastings and Hogarthe.

"Yes," said Grunt.

"Why, then, do you conjecture that their intentions may be hostile?" I asked.

"They are not Dust Legs," he said.

We wheeled our kaiila about, and the coffle stopped. The girls put down theirburdens, gratefully. We observed the dust in the distance, some pasangs acrossthe prairie.

"They are, then," I speculated, "Fleer or Yellow Knives."

"No," he said.

"I do not understand," I said.

"Observe the dust," he said. "Its front is narrow, and it does not behave asthough raised by the wind."

"The wind direction, too," I said, "would be incorrect."

"Accordingly," said Grunt, "you conjecture that the dust is raised by the pawsof running kaiila."

"Yes," I said.

"In that you are correct," he said. "What else do you note?" he asked.

"I do not understand," I said. I was growing apprehensive. It was early in theday. I had little doubt but what the distant riders could overtake us, andeasily, before nightfall.

"It is so obvious," said Grant, "that you have noted it, but have not consideredits significance."

"What?" I asked.

"You can detect that dust," he said.

"Yes," I said, "of course."

"Does that not seem to you of interest?" he asked.

"I do not understand," I said.

"To raise dust like that, in this terrain," said Grunt, "you must ride acrossdraws, rather than avoid them, and you must ride in a cluster, where the dustwill rise, cloudlike, rather than rise and fall, in a narrow line, swiftlydissipated by the wind."

"What are you telling me?" I asked.

Grunt grinned. "If we were being followed by red savages," he said, "I do notthink that you, with your present level of skills, would be aware of it"

"I do not understand," I said.

"That dust," he said, "does not rise from the paws of the kaiila of Dust Legs,nor of Yellow Knives nor Fleer. It is not raised, at all, by the kaiila of redsavages. They would not ride so openly, so carelessly, so stupidly. They wouldavoid, where possible, grassless, dry areas, and they would ride at intervals,in single file. This arrangement not only obscures their numbers but lowers andnarrows the dust line."

"White men, then, follow us," I said.

"I thought they would," said Grunt.

"They cannot be white men," I said. "Observe the front of dust. That must beraised by fifteen or twenty kaiila."

"True," smiled Grunt. "They are fools."

I swallowed, hard. A law, imposed on white men entering their lands by redsavages, had been violated.

"Who are they?" I asked.

"I have had trouble with them before," smiled Grunt. "I have been waiting forthem."

"Who are they?" I asked.

"They want you," he said. "I thought they would follow this time. You are thebait."

"I? ' I asked.

"You came with me of your own free will, did you not?" he asked.

"Yes," I said, irritably.

"Accordingly," he grinned, "you cannot blame me."

"I am not interested in blaming anyone," I said. "I would just like to know whatis going on."

"They will also be interested in the second and third girls," he said.

I looked to Ginger and Evelyn, lying in the grass, exhausted, their burdensbeside them.

"They are the Hobarts," I said, "and the men from the Bar Ina.

"Yes' said Grunt.

"You said they would not make pleasant enemies," I said.

"They will not," he said.

"We cannot outrun them with the girls," I said. "We must make a stand." I lookedabout, swiftly, for high ground or shelter.

"No," said Grunt.

"What, then, are we to do? ' I asked.

"We shall continue on, as we were," said Grunt. "We shall not even suggest, byour behavior, that we are aware of their approach."

"I do not understand," I said.

"To be sure," said Grunt, "we should waste little time." He then rode his kaiilaabout the coffle of girls, cracking his whip, viciously. Several cried out infear. They had already felt that whip, through the thin brown cloth of theirslave tunics or across the backs of their legs. "Hei! Hei!" called Grunt. "Onyour feet, you stupid sluts, you luscious beasts! Up! Up! Burdens up! Burdensup! Have we all day to dally? No, my luscious beasts, no! Burdens up! Burdensup!" The girls scrambled to their feet, struggling to lift their burdens. Thewhip cracked again and a girl cried out with pain, one more tardy than the rest.

Then she, too, gasping, tears in her eyes, stood ready in the coffle, the burdenbalanced on her head. "On!" said Grunt, with a gesture of his whip, wheelingabout on his kaiila. "On!" With the sound of chains and collars, and somefrightened sobbing, the neck-shackled beauties again took up the march.

I drew my kaiila alongside that of Grunt. "I think we must either run," I said,"abandoning the girls and the goods, or stop, and make a stand."

"I do not think we should make a stand," said Grunt. "We could kill the kaiilaand use them, in effect, as a fort and shelter, but, even so, we would beseverely outnumbered."

I said nothing. I feared his assessment of the situation was only too sound.

"If we were red savages," said Grunt, "we would run. Then, hopefully, when thepursuers were strung out, over pasangs, we would turn back on them and, two toone, one engaging, the other striking, finish them off. If this did not seempractical we might separate, dividing our pursuers, and meet later at aprearranged rendezvous, thence to return under the cover of darkness to recover,if possible, what we had lost."

"That is interesting," I said. "Indeed, that seems a sensible plan. Let us putit immediately into effect.

"No," said Grunt.

"Why not?" I asked.

"It is pointless," he said.

"Why is it pointless?" I asked.

"It is pointless," he said, "because we are in no danger."

I looked back at the approaching dust. "We are not in danger?" I asked.

"No," said Grunt, not looking back. "It is they, rather who are in danger, gravedanger."

"I think," I said, angrily, "that we are fools."

"No," said Grunt, quietly. "It is they who are the fools."

11 Slave Instruction; It Seems We Are No Longer Being Followed

"You seem apprehensive," said Grunt.

"They should have caught up to us by now," I said.

I stood at the edge of our small camp, in a few trees, nestled beside a smallstream. It was the late afternoon.

"No," said Grunt. "Put it from your mind."

I turned back to the camp.

Ginger and Evelyn had been freed from the coffle, to gather wood and cook, andattend to the chores of the camp. The collars and chains had been rearranged onthe other girls, in such a way that, by an alternation of the position of snaplocks and chain segments, a free collar was now at each end of the coffle. Thesecollars had then been fastened about two small trees, thus confining the girls,other than Ginger and Evelyn, to the line between the two trees. Last night thecoffle had been taken four times about a small, sturdy tree and then the collarof the first girl had been fastened to the collar of the last girl. That, too,would be, I supposed, the procedure tonight. There are many ways to keep a lineof girls in place overnight, of course. A common way is to bind their wristsbehind their backs and then place them on the ground, supine, the head of one tothe feet of the other. A given girl, then, by thongs on her collar, is tied tothe left ankle of the girl on her left, and to the right ankle of the girl onher right; similarly, the girl on her left is thonged, by thongs passing abouther collar, to the given girl's left ankle, and the girl on the given girl'sright is thonged, by thongs passing about her collar, to the right ankle of thegiven girl.

"I am first girl," said Ginger, walking back and forth before the line of girls,kneeling before her, a switch in her small hand, "and Evelyn is second girl."

She indicated Evelyn. She spoke in English, a language held in common by the newbarbarian slaves. Five spoke English natively; three were American, includingthe red-haired girl, and two were British; two of the other girls were Swedish,and the last girl, with the short, dark hair, was French. "You will addressmyself, and Evelyn, as Mistress," she said. "You will learn your lessons well,both those of the language and of service."

The girls looked at one another.

"This is a switch," said Ginger, lifting the supple switch. She then struck oneof the girls, one of the Swedish girls, with a stinging, slashing blow at theside of the neck.

"This is a switch," repeated Ginger.

"Yes, Mistress," said the red-haired girl, swiftly. I was pleased to see thatshe was quite intelligent. "Yes, Mistress," said the other girls. "Yes,Mistress!" said the Swedish girl, tears in her eyes.

"Evelyn and I," said Ginger, "do not intend to do all the work of the campalone. In time, some of you, at least, will be freed to assist in our labors.

The girls, quickly, glanced at one another.

"Little fools!" laughed Ginger. "You are all little fools! Kneel straighter,little fools!"

Quickly the girls complied.

"Do not think of escape," she said. "There is no escape for you."

Several of the girls reddened.

"Consider your garb," said Ginger. "It is distinctive. It is that of a slave."

Several of the girls looked down at the scanty, revealing cloth in which theybad been placed.

"Similarly, you are barbarians," said Ginger. "Even as you learn the language ofmasters, your accent will continue to betray you. Similarly, even should youlearn to speak flawlessly such things as the fillings in your teeth and thevaccination marks on your arms will continue to mark you as barbarian. So, too,will such things as the fact that you have no Home Stone and no caste, and willbe ignorant of a thousand things known to any Gorean. No, do not think that youcan easily shed your barbarian origin."

Some of the girls looked at her, angrily.

"Too," said Ginger, "thrust up your tunics. Examine your left thighs!

The girls did so.

"You are marked," said Ginger. "You are branded."

The girls smoothed down their tunics, some of them with tears in their eyes.

"So," said Ginger, "put all hopes of escape from your mind. It is a meaningless,foolish dream, inappropriate in a Gorean slave girl. There is no one here tosave you. There is no place to go, nowhere to run. If you should seem to escape,you will be picked up by the first man who finds you, who will then return youto your master, for punishment, or keep you for his own slave. You, there! Onyour belly!"

The Swedish girl, frightened, she who had been struck previously, twisted in thecoffle chain and put herself on her belly. The girls on her left and rightknelt, frightened, heads low, collar chains taut, looking at her.

Ginger went to the girl and thrust up the tunic. "See these tendons," she asked,"at the back of each knee?"

"Yes, Mistress," said more than one, girl.

She laid the switch, cool and green, across the tendons. The Swedish girlshuddered.

"It is a common punishment for a runaway girl," said Ginger, "that these tendonsare severed. The girl, then, can never stand again, but must, if she ispermitted to live, drag herself about by her hands. Sometimes such girls aregathered up by masters and used as beggars, on street corners."

Several of the girls cried out with fear.

Ginger then rose to her feet and stepped away from the Swedish girl, who then,frightened, smoothing down her tunic, together with the girls on her left andright, resumed her original kneeling position.

"You are barbarians," said Ginger. "You have been brought to Gor to be slaves,and that is what you are, and it is all that you are. Do not forget it!"

"No, Mistress," said more than one girl.

"In most cities and towns," said Ginger, "you would even find your pretty necksfastened in locked, steel collars."

"Like animals! ' protested a girl.

"You are animals," said Ginger, "and the sooner you understand that, the easierit will be for you. You are beautiful, owned animals."

Several of the girls shuddered.

"And he who owns you," said Ginger, "he to whom you belong, is your master."

"Would he be our total master?" asked the red-haired girl, looking at me.

"Yes, your absolute and total master," said Ginger.

I gave no sign that I had understood the red-haired girls question.

"But how can we be slaves?" asked a girl.

"Your question is stupid and foolish," said Ginger. "You are slaves. It is assimple as that. Do not be misled by the myths and rhetorics of your formerworld. Indeed, even on that world slavery exists. Slavery, as you will learn, isa very real institution, and, further, it is one in which you are profoundlyimplicated. You are totally and legally, as well as in practical fact, theproperty of your master."

The girl shrank back, in horror.

"My lessons for you today," said Ginger, "are basically quite simple. I thinkthey may be grasped even by intellects such as yours, those of slave girls.

First, you are slaves, and that is all you are, nothing more, only slaves.

Second, do not even think of escape. There is no escape for you. Slaves you are,my dears, and slaves you will remain.

More than one of the girls, her head in her hands, shrank back, weeping.

It seemed to me that Ginger had certainly spoken bluntly to the new barbarianslaves, but, still, I felt, on the whole, it had been appropriate for her to doso. It is kindest, I think, in the long run, to proceed rather along the linesthat she had. The sooner a new slave's delusions are dispelled the better it is,normally, for all concerned.

"Come now, my pretty slaves," said Ginger, "kneel straight. Back straight, headsup. Back on your heels there! Spread those pretty knees. Yes, that is the waymen like it. Put your hands, palms down, on your thighs. Good. Good Excellent!

The girls now knelt in the coffle as pleasure slaves.

"Mistress," said a girl.

"Yes, pretty slave," said Ginger.

"You speak of men," said the girl.

"Yes," said Ginger. "You are female slaves. You now, in a general sense, belongto men."

Several of the girls looked at her, frightened.

"Doubtless you were taught many idiotic things about both yourselves and men onyour old world. Doubtless, in your hearts, perhaps late at night, in bed, or inthe morning, or at odd, lonely moments, in spite of your educations andconditionings, your trainings, you recognized the falseness of these teachings."

I saw that several of the girls looked very frightened. I saw that theyunderstood, only too well, what Ginger was saying.

"You would understand, or sense, at such times," said Ginger, "the meaning ofyour slightness, your beauty and your needs. You would have understood that youwere yearning women, in effect without men. You would have understood thensomething of the grand themes of nature, of dominance and submission, and yourown obvious, natural place in such an organic scheme. At such times, perhaps, ifyou dared, you might have longed for the hands of a master on you, amagnificent, ruthless male who could fulfill you, who would put you to his feetand own you, who would answer your deepest needs, who would command you, whowould dominate you, absolutely, and ravish you for his merest pleasure, and athis least whim, who would force from you, to your joy, the totality of love andservice you were born to bestow."

The girls looked at her, terrified.

"On this world," said Ginger, "there is no dearth of such men and you, my dears,are female slaves."

"Are we not permitted resistance?" asked a girl.

"No resistance is permitted," said Ginger, "unless it be the master's will. Thatis a subtle point. You will have to learn to tell when the master desiresresistance, that he may crush it mercilessly, and when he does not."

Several of the girls swallowed, hard.

"As female slaves," said Ginger, "you will be, as a general rule, a rule onwhich your very life may depend, absolutely docile, totally obedient, and fullypleasing."

"We would have to be anything, and do anything, then, fully," said a girl, "thatwe are commanded."

"Yes," said Ginger, "and with the utmost talent, skill and perfection that youcan muster."

"Mistress," said the red-haired girl.

"Yes," Red-haired- Slave," said Ginger.

"Is the slave girl also," asked the red-haired girl, "at the sexual mercy of hermaster?"

"Absolutely, and fully, and in every way," said Ginger.

Several of the girls gasped, shrinking back in their chains.

"You will learn," said Ginger.

"Yes, Mistress. Thank you, Mistress," said the red-haired girl. She looked atme, and then, quickly, shyly, put her head down. In the brown slave tunic, withthe chain on her neck, she looked almost demure.

"Feed them," said Ginger.

Evelyn then threw each of the girls a piece of meat, throwing it to the grassbefore them. She removed these pieces of meat from the slender greenwood spit onwhich they had been roasted.

"Do not use your hands," warned Ginger, slapping the switch in her left palm.

"Yes, Mistress," said more than one of the girls.

I watched them, kneeling, leaning forward, palms down on the grass, heads down,eating at the meat.

"A pretty lot," said Grunt, behind me.

"Yes," I said.

The red-haired girl, eating at the meat, looked up at me, and then, shyly, againlowered her head.

"See that girl," asked Grunt, "the one with red hair?"

"Yes," I said.

"She is a virgin," he said.

"Oh?" I said.

"Yes," he said, "I tested her body this morning."

"I see," I said. I recalled that the girl, in the sales barn, had proclaimed hervirginity. It had been done in the throes of the misery of her sale, when shehad pleaded not to be brazenly exposed to the buyers. Her pleas, of course, hadnot been heeded.

"It is unfortunate," I said, "that she is a virgin."

"Why?" asked Grunt.

"Because she is quite pretty," I said.

"I do not understand," he said.

"Her virginity will doubtless improve her price," I said.

"Not in the Barrens," he said.

"No?" I asked.

"No," said Grunt. "They take virginity seriously only in their own women."

"I see," I said.

"If you were going to buy a she-tarsk," asked Grunt, "would its virginity matterto you?"

"No," I said, "of course not."

"If she pleases you," he said, "you may have her, or any of the others, if youwish."

"Thank you," I said.

"What are slaves for?" he asked.

"True," I grinned.

"If you take her, however," he said, "take her, the first time, withgentleness."

"Very well," I said.

"It will be time enough later for her to learn what it is to be a true slave," he said.

"I understand," I said.

Grunt then turned away.

"Grunt," I said. He turned about. He still wore the broad brimmed hat. I hadnever seen him without it.

"Yes," he said.

"The Hobarts," I said, "the men who were following, what of them?"

"If they were still following us," he said, "they would have arrived by now."

"Yes," I said.

"So they are no longer following," he said.

"I am prepared to believe that," I said.

"So put the matter from your mind," he said.

"What became of them?" I asked.

"It is time to sleep now," he said.

"What became of them?" I asked.

"We shall make a determination on that matter in the morning," he said. "In themeantime, let us sleep."

"Very well," I said.

12 I Learn Why We Are No Longer Being Followed; We Add Two Members to our Party

We saw a small gray sleen, some seven or eight feet in length, lift up its head.

We urged our kaiila down the slope, into the shallow declivity between two lowhills.

My stomach twisted. We had smelled this before we had come upon it.

The sleen permitted us to approach rather closely. It was reluctant to leave itslocation. There were insects on its brown snout, and about its eyes. Its lowerjaw was wet.

"Hei!" cried Grunt, slapping the side of his thigh.

The beast seized another bite and, whipping about, on its six legs, with itsalmost serpentine motion, withdrew.

"It is clean work," said Grunt, "the work of Dust Legs." This tribe I knew, inits various bands, was regarded as the most civilized of the tribes of theBarrens. In the eyes of some of the other tribes they were regarded as littlebetter than white men.

"This is clean work?" I asked.

"Relatively," said Grunt.

I sat astride the kaiila, surveying the scene. I counted some twenty-one bodies.

They were stripped. There were no kaiila. Insects swam in the air above severalof the bodies. One could hear their humming. Two jards, fluttering, fought in atopened abdominal cavity. Several yellow fleer stalked about and some perched onmotionless limbs. Saddles and clothing cut to pieces, lay strewn about.

I moved the kaiila slowly among some of the bodies threading a path betweenthem. It stepped daintily. It hissed and whined, uneasily. I did not think itwas at ease in this place.

"I see no kaiila," I said to Grunt, "no weapons. I see little of value."

"It was taken," said Grunt.

I looked down at the slashed bodies. Arrows, had apparently been pried loosefrom the flesh, that they might be used again.

"Are things usually done in this fashion?" I asked Grunt.

"This is not bad," said Grunt. "This is the work of Dust Legs."

"They are the friendly fellows," I said, "the congenial, pleasant ones."

"Yes," said Grunt.

The tops of the skulls, and parts of the tops of the skulls, in the back, ofseveral of the bodies were exposed. It was here that the scalp and hair, in suchplaces, had been cut away. These things could be mounted on hoops, attached topoles, and used in dances. They could be hung, too from fringes, lodge poles,and parts of them, in twisted or dangling I could decorate numerous articles,such as shields and war shirts.

"I do not understand all the cutting," I said, "the slashing, the mutilation."

"That sort of thing," said Grunt, "is cultural, with almost all of the tribes.

The tradition is an ancient one, and is largely unquestioned. Its origins aredoubtless lost in antiquity."

"Why do you think it is done?" I asked.

"There are various theories," said Grunt. "One is that it serves as a warning topossible enemies, an attestation of the terribleness of the victors as foes.

Another is that the practice is connected with beliefs about the medicine world,that this is a way of precluding such individuals from seeking vengeance later,either because of inflicted impairments or because of terrorizing them against asecond meeting."

"Surely leaving a litter behind like this," I said, "Might serve as a warning."

"True," said Grunt, "but, too, I think it is generally under stood that thissort of thing produces fear not so much as a desire for revenge, at least amongthe savages themselves."

"Your second theory you take most seriously, then?" I asked.

"Not really," said he. "If ones objective was really to terrorize or to inflictvengeance-precluding injuries, then it seems that the corpses, regularly, wouldbe blinded, or have the hands and feet cut off. On the other hand, thoseparticular injuries are very seldom inflicted."

"Why, then, do you think it is done?" I asked.

"I think," said Grunt, "that it is done in the joy and lust of victory, that itventilates powerful emotion, that it expresses vengeance and hatred, and,indeed, pleasure and life, and that it is done, too, to show contempt for theenemy and to humiliate him, thereby demonstrating one's own superiority."

I regarded Grunt "In short," said Grunt, "it is done because it elates them and fills them withpower and joy"

"I see," I said.

"Surely you are familiar, as I suspect you are, with such carnage, with suchpractices? ' he smiled.

"Yes," I said, "I am." I was a warrior.

"I thought so," said he.

I turned my kaiila to face Grunt.

"Let us not, then, feel so superior to these gentle and kindly folk," he said.

"Very well," I said.

Grunt laughed.

I looked about. "It is a good thing we did not bring the girls", I said.

"It was for this reason," said Grunt, "that I left them in the camp!

I nodded. They, beautiful, frightened, half-naked slaves shackled by the neck inthe Barrens, did not need to see this. Let them not be concerned, at least asyet, with what might be the fate of an enslaved white female in such a world.

"There is not enough wood about to bum these bodies," I said. "We shall have tobury them.

"They are to be left as they are*" said Grunt. "It is the usual way of theBarrens."

We turned our kaiila about to leave this place.

"Help," we heard. "Please, help.

Grunt and I looked at one another.

"Over here," said Grunt. He moved his kaiila to our left, and turned it.

He looked down, from the lofty saddle. He smote his thigh, and laughed. I urgedmy kaiila to his side.

Below us, half concealed in the tall grass, on their backs, lay the two fellowsI recognized as the brothers, Max and Kyle Hobart. They were stripped and theirhands were thonged behind their backs. They could not rise to their feet. Eachwore a crude, single-position, greenwood leg-spreader.

"It is a present to me, from my friends, the Dust Legs," laughed Grunt, "theleaders of those who followed us."

"A thoughtful present," I said. "Now they are yours."

"And a rich joke it is, too," laughed Grunt. "See?"

"Yes," I said. Max and Kyle Hobart wore leg-spreaders. These are commonlyreserved by the red savages for their white female slaves. They woresingle-position leg-spreaders. One ankle, by thongs threaded through a piercedend, is fastened tightly to one end of the sturdy spreader. The other ankle isthen pulled to a corresponding position at the other end of the pole where, bymeans of another thong passed through another hole, drilled at that point in thespreader, it is fastened securely in place. More sophisticated spreaders haveseveral positions. In the simplest case a series of holes is drilled in the poleand the girl's ankles are merely fastened on the pole at whatever separation themaster desires. In more sophisticated devices, two, or even three, poles orboards are used, which can slide apart, and are fastened at given points by pegsor thongs. In this latter sort of device the girl's ankles, fastened at the farends of the pole or board, need not be untied and retied. One may then, inaccordance with one's moods, and at one's convenience, regulate the distancebetween them.

These spreaders may be used in a variety of ways, of course. Sometimes they areused for the wrists, the pole or board then usually behind the girl's back. Too,they may be used in concert with other devices. In the lodges of WarriorSocieties, for example, as a portion of the amusements accompanying a feast, agirl may be richly used in one, her hands tied behind the back of her neck, inthe draw cords, looped once or twice about her neck, of the sack drawn over herhead. In this way she fears all the men of the society for she does not know whoit was who was the most cruel to her. Too, she regards all the men of thesociety with mixed feelings of sensual uneasiness, for she does not know whichone among them it was who made her yield most ecstatically, most abjectly, as aslave. This is thought good by the men for the camaraderie of the society. To besure, eventually she is usually awarded to one or another of the societymembers. This will usually be either to he who was most cruel to her or to hewho made her yield most abjectly, most rapturously. She will learn which it iswhen she, in the privacy of his ownlodge, after her labors, is ordered to his furs. Not unoften, incidentally, itturns out that these two fellows are the same that he who most cruelly andeffectively dominated her as a master is also he to whom she yielded mostabjectly as a slave.

"Please," said the fellow called Max Hobart.

"Please," said he called Kyle Hobart.

"You are stripped," said Grunt.

"They took our clothing," said Max Hobart.

"You wear leg-spreaders," laughed Grunt.

"They put us in them!" said Kyle Hobart.

"As though you might be women," said Grunt.

"Yes," said Max Hobart, squirming. He tried to rise. He could not, of course, doso.

"Thus do the Dust Legs demean you," said Grunt, "treating you as no more thanwomen. ' "Please," moaned Max Hobart.

"Please," begged Kyle Hobart. "We are helpless!"

Grunt, moving the reins of the kaiila, pulled the beast's head away. I followedhim. The kaiila in the area of the perimeter, those ridden by white men, aregenerally controlled by a headstall, bit and reins, in short, by a bridle, notby a nose rope, as is cultural in the Tahari. Different areas on Gor givewitness to the heritage of differing traditions. The bridle used by the redsavages, incidentally, usually differs from that used by the white men. The mostcommon form is a strap, or braided leather tie, placed below the tongue andbehind the which two reins, or a teeth, tied about the lower jaw, from singledouble rein, a single loop, comes back over the beast's neck. The jaw tie,serving as both bit and headstall, is usually formed of the same material as thereins, one long length of material being used for the entire bridle.

"Wait!" begged Max Hobart. "Wait!"

"Do not go! ' begged Kyle Hobart.

"We will die, if left here!" cried out Max Hobart. "We have been tied by redsavages! We cannot free ourselves!

Grunt stopped his kaiila. "Exposure on the prairie, to die of thirst, or hunger,or of the predations of animals, is what they deserve," be said.

I shrugged. The decision in this matter seemed to me his.

"Please!" cried out Max Hobart, plaintively.

"Yet, perhaps I could spare them this horror, ' mused Grunt. "It wouldinconvenience me little to do so."

"I do not suppose the Dust Legs would object," I said.

"They left them in my keeping," said Grunt.

"That is true," I said. "What are you going to do?"

"Cut their throats," said Grunt.

"I see," I said.

He brought his kaiila back to where the two men lay bound in the grass. Ifollowed him. He tossed me the reins of his beast and, drawing his knife from abeaded sheath, slipped from the saddle to the ground. In an instant he crouchedbeside Max Hobart and, holding the fellow's hair in his left hand, had his bladeacross his throat.

"No!" whispered Max Hobart, hoarsely. "No! Don't kill me! Please, do not killme!"

"Have mercy on us!" begged Kyle Hobart.

Grunt looked up at me.

"In this way, of course," said Grunt, "I get nothing from them."

"A poor bargain from the point of view of a merchant," I observed.

"Do you think they might have some worth?" asked Grunt.

"Perhaps to someone," I said.

"They seem two stalwart, handsome lads," said Grunt. "I might, from someone, beable to get something for them."

"That seems to be possible," I said.

Max Hobart lay back in the grass, gasping, the knife removed from his throat.

Grunt, from his saddlebags, removed two collars. He joined them, by means ofsnap locks, with a length of chain. He then put them on the necks of Max andKyle Hobart" Slave collars! ' gasped Max Hobart.

"Yes," said Grunt. Grant looked up at me. "Their wrists are adequately thongedfor now," he said. "Later, in the camp, we shall provide them with propermanacles."

I nodded.

"Are you going to make us slaves?" asked Max Hobart.

"For the time you may account yourselves mere prisoners," said Grunt.".'It iswhen you are purchased that you will be truly slaves."

"Do not put us in your coffle," begged Max.

"You will be put at the end of the coffle," said Grunt.

"You would chain us behind slave girls?" asked Max.

"You will surely admit that you are the least desirable of the elements in thecoffle. Accordingly, you will be chained in the position of "last girls."

Max moaned, lying in the grass.

"I assure you," said Grunt, "our friends, the red savages, both men and women,will find that quite amusing."

"Please," begged Max.

"But do not fear," said Grunt, "you will not be expected to bear burdens."

Max regarded him, miserably.

"It is the women who are the pack beasts, who will bear the burdens," saidGrunt.

Max nodded, numbly.

"You will discover that there are some advantages to bringing up the rear of thecoffle," said Grunt. "You may then, for example, observe the women before you,bearing their burdens. You are not, however, to so much as touch them, eventhough they are slaves. Do you understand?"

"We understand," said Max, miserably.

"Yes," said Kyle.

Grunt looked about and found some shreds of shirts, which, cut to pieces, layabout in the grass. He tied some of these pieces together and bound them aboutthe hips of the Hobarts. They regarded their new garments, decided for them byGrunt, with dismay.

"We are not slave girls," protested Max.

"The red savages, as you may not know," said Grant to me, though doubtless hewas speaking primarily for the benefit of the Hobarts, "are rather strict aboutthe privilege of wearing the breechclout."

"Oh?" I said.

"Yes," said Grunt. "It is not permitted to women, even to their own women, nor,of course, is it permitted to slaves.

"I understand," I said. The breechclout of the Barrens, incidentally, consistsof a single piece of narrow material. This may be of tanned skin but, notunoften, is of soft cloth. It is held in place by a belt or cord. It commonlygoes over the belt or cord in the back, and down and between the legs, and thencomes up, drawn snugly tight, over the belt or cord in the front. In coolerweather it is often worn with leggings and a shirt. In warmer weather, in camp,it is usually the only thing that a male will wear.

"For a slave, or a prisoner, to wear a breechclout might be regarded aspretentious or offensive," said Grunt, "an oversight or indiscretion calling fortorture or, say, for being set upon by boys on kaiila, with war clubs."

"I understand," I said.

The Hobarts looked at one another. Their garments, like those of female slaves,would not be permitted a nether closure.

Grunt cut the thongs binding the ankles of the Hobarts to the leg-spreaders. "Onyour feet," he said.

They struggled to their feet, chained together by the neck.

Grunt mounted to the high saddle of his kaiila. He looked down on them. "You aremy prisoners," he said, "totally, and when sold will be slaves. You will beperfectly docile and totally obedient. At the least sign of refractoriness orinsubordination on the part of either one of you, both will be slain. Is thatclear?"

"Yes," said Max, miserably.

"Yes," said Kyle.

"That way lies our camp," said Grant, pointing. "Move!

The two Hobarts, stumbling, the chain on their necks, proceeded in the directionindicated.

I turned about in the saddle to view once more the torn, bloodied grass, themotionless figures, the insects and birds, where, yesterday, in brief compass,carnage had touched the prairie.

"Come along," said Grunt.

"I am coming," I said.

He rode after the Hobarts.

In a moment I had urged my kaiila after him.

When he reached the Hobarts he unhooked his whip from its saddle ring and,throwing it out behind him, and then bringing it forward, he lashed them.

"Hurry!" he called. "Har-ta! Faster! Faster! Har-ta! Har-ta!"

They hurried on before him, stumbling and gasping, helplessly herded, driven,responding to his will and the imperious strokes of his whip, neck-chained andbound, his enemies. I smiled. It is pleasant to have one's enemies in one'spower.

I did not look back.

13 Blankets and Bonds; I Do a Favor for Grunt

I lay on one elbow.

When she reached my vicinity she knelt down, in the brief brown slave tunic.

She trembled. She did not speak.

I regarded her for a time. Her head was down.

I then lay back on my blankets, on the grass. I put my hands under the back ofmy head, on the folded saddle blanket beneath my head. The kaiila saddle and thekaiila quirt lay to one side. I looked up at the stars, and the three moons ofGor. It is difficult to convey the majesty of a Gorean night in the Barrens,because of the vastness of the sky and the depth of the blackness, and thecontrasting brightness of the stars. The large extents of wilderness on thesurface of Gor and the absence of large-scale artificial illuminations, ofcourse, permit starlit nights, almost anywhere, to manifest themselves with asplendor that would be almost breath-taking to one accustomed to the drab,half-gray, polluted, semi — illuminated, dim, nocturnal atmospheres of Earth. Inthe Barrens, however, and in places such as the Tahari, probably because of therelative levelness of the terrain, horizon-to-horizon, these effects seem evenmore accentuated, even more stupendous, more spectacular, more unbelievable andastounding.

I did not speak to the girl. I did not wish to hurry her. I let her continue tokneel there in the grass, a few feet from me.

I heard one of the kaiila moving about on its tether, biting at the grass,pawing the turf.

I continued to regard the stars.

"Master," she said.

"Yes," I said. She had spoken in Gorean.

"I have been sent to your blankets," she said.

I rose on one elbow, to regard her. Her lower lip trembled. She looked verylovely, in the brief brown slave tunic. Her throat was bare, having beenreleased from the collar in the come.

"I have been sent to your blankets," she whispered.

"I understand," I said.

She tried, with her small fists, to pull together the sides of the tunic, toprotect, as she could, the rounded, interior contours of her softness from thegarment's apparently thoughtless disclosure. I smiled. Did she not know it was aslave's garment? Did she not understand the statement that was made by thatdeep, V-shaped, plunging division in the tunic, terminating only at her belly,that the woman who ware it was owned by men, that she was a slave?

At a gesture from me she removed her hands from the sides of the garment andplaced them on her thighs.

She then knelt there in the grass, and I looked at her.

She put her head down, not meeting my eyes. She, a new slave, was not yet usedto being looked at, truly looked at, as a woman, by a Gorean master.

I continued to regard her.

I found her reserve charming.

She lifted her head, frightened.

At as little as a snapping of my fingers, she must strip herself and hurrynaked, licking and kissing, to my arms.

It is pleasant to own women.

"I do not know what to do, or what to say," she moaned, to herself, in English.

We had now been five nights in the Barrens. This woman, and the others, tutoredby Ginger and Evelyn, had now picked up a smattering of Gorean. I was pleasedwith her progress in the language, and it seemed to me the best of her chainedpeers. Yet it was still, of course, piteously limited. The phrase which she hadrepeated more than once, "I have been sent to your blanket," for example, hadnot been spoken as a slave girl in full cognizance of its meaning, humbly makingit clear that her nearness to the male was not illicit, and begging him toconsider her for his pleasure-use, but rather as though it might have beenspoken by rote, merely a set of words committed to memory, and as though she wasdesperate not to forget it or mispronounce it. She had doubtless learned thephrase by repetition, from Ginger or Evelyn. Still, doubtless, they would alsohave taught her its meaning, or at least as much of its meaning as could beabsorbed by a raw Earth slave in her present stage of training. She doubtlessthus understood its meaning, but did not, presumably, understand it in its fullmeaning, as what it might mean, fully, to present herself as a Gorean slave girlfor the pleasure of a master.

"I cannot even speak your language," she said, miserably in English. "I amstupid. I cannot remember anything. It is all gone from me!"

I saw that in her terror the little Gorean that she knew had eluded her.

"Forgive me, Master," she then said, suddenly, in Gorean. "Forgive me, Master.

Forgive me, Master."

I was pleased to, see that she could remember at least that much Gorean.

She put her head down, trembling.

I saw that I would not be able, at least for the time, to communicate with herin Gorean. Obviously the Gorean she knew was largely unavailable to her now andit was, moreover, extremely limited anyway in her current stage of linguisticdevelopment.

"Forgive me, Master," she wept, in Gorean.

I smiled. That simple phrase had doubtless on many occasions, though not always,saved many stripped, collared slaves from fearful punishments.

Her shoulders shook. Her head was down.

It is not necessary, of course, to be able to communicate verbally with a womanto teach her that she is a slave. Women are highly intelligent. They quicklyunderstand such as the chain and the whip. Indeed, much may be done with meansso simple even as the stroke of a hand, the twisting of an arm, the manner inwhich her body is penetrated. Yes, she can learn much, even before she haslearned to speak your language.

I considered the girl kneeling in the grass, trembling. I glanced to the nearbykaiila saddle, and the quirt. I could always strip her and throw her on herbelly or back over the polished leather of the saddle. I might then, with theaid of the quirt, and caressing her, begin to induce in her some modicum ofunderstanding concerning her condition.

"I have been sent to your blankets, Master," whispered the girl, in Gorean,lifting her head.

She was not yet ready for the saddle and the quirt, I saw. Yet, if I assessedher correctly, I thought, it would not be long. She was good slave stuff.

I beckoned to her, gently.

Timidly the girl, on her hands and knees, crawled to me through the grass. Ithen took her in my arms and, gently, put her to her back beside me. She wastense. She made as though to lift her lips to me, timidly, but I put my handover her mouth. She looked up at me, frightened. My band was tight over hermouth. She was held motionless. She could not begin to speak.

"I speak your language," I said to her, very quietly. Her eyes widened. I hadspoken in English. I did not let her speak. "This is not particularlyimportant," I said, "but you are not, without my permission, to speak of it toanyone. Do you understand?"

She nodded her head, as she could, my hand tight over her mouth. I then removedmy hand from her mouth.

"You speak English," she said, wonderingly.

"Yes," I said.

"Is it your intention to rescue me, and the other girls?" she whispered. "Oh!" she said. Her head was forced back, my hand under her chin, my fingers tight atthe sides of her jaw.

"Where is your collar?" I asked.

"In the coffle," she said. In the coffle, what?" I asked.

"In the coffle Master!" she said.

"What are you?" I asked.

"I am informed I am a slave," she said, my hand tight under her chin. "Oh!" shesaid, her head forced farther back, my grip tightened.

"What are you?" I asked.

"A slave!" she said, tensely. "I am a slave, Master! ' "Do you think, now," I asked, "that you are to be rescued?"

"No, Master," she said. "No, Master! ' "There is no rescue for you," I said, "nor for the other on your chain."

"No, Master," she said. "We are slaves."

"Does it disturb you to speak of your slavery in your native language?" I asked.

"No, Master," she said.

I looked down into her eyes. She averted her gaze. "Why did you think I mightconsider rescuing you?" I asked.

"Were you not once of Earth?" she asked.

"Once," I said.

"Surely then," she said, "You must be sensitive to our plight, imbonded women ofEarth."

"Women of Earth have often been imbonded," I said. "Bondage is no novelty forthe Earth female. Her fittingness for the collar has long been recognized. OnEarth at this very moment many women are held in public bondage, and manyothers, it is difficult to conjecture their number, serve in secret bondages.

Too, throughout the course of human history, in the past, as well as today, manywomen have found themselves enslaved. Your predicament, or plight, if youplease, is thus far from unique. You, and those with you, are merely anotherhandful of slaves, imbonded females, merely new and fresh instances of ahistorically familiar commodity.

"Yes, Master," she said.

I removed my hand from her throat and face. She gasped, fearfully, but did notstir from my side. Her breasts heaved, under the thin rep-cloth of the slavetunic.

"You may now begin again," I said. "Return to your original position. You mayspeak in English."

"Yes, Master," she whispered. Fearfully she then crept from my side. In a momentshe knelt as she had before, a few feet from me, in the grass" Master," she said.

"Yes?" I said.

"I am a slave girl," she said. "I have been sent to your blankets."

"Excellent," I said. "You are a pretty slave.

"Thank you, Master," she said.

"Approach, Slave," I said.

"Yes, Master," she said, and, on her hands and knees, crawled to my side.

I then took her in my arms and, as I had before, put her to her back, beside me.

"I am a virgin," she said.

"I know," I said. "The results of your body's testing, shortly after yourpurchase, were made known to me by Grunt, your master."

"Yes, Master," she said.

"Such information is public among Masters," I said.

"Yes, Master," she said.

I held the cloth of the slave tunic, moving it between my fingers. "This isthin, flimsy cloth," I said.

"Yes, Master," she said.

"It reveals you well," I said.

"Yes, Master," she said.

"And you have pretty legs," I said.

"Thank you, Master," she said.

"You are tense," I said.

"Forgive me, Master," she said.

"Do you know what is to be done to you tonight?" I asked.

"I am to be deflowered," she said.

"That is a ridiculous expression," I said. "It is absurd. Rather, you are to beopened, an act which, in the case of a slave, is in the interest of all men."

"Yes, Master," she said.

"This is unlikely to be painful," I said, "but, if it is, the pain will bebrief, and the soreness will be temporary."

"I understand," she said.

"If you should prove unusual in some respect, although this is extremely rare,"

I said, "we can, tomorrow, grind one of Grunts trading knives into a lancet."

"I understand," she shuddered. This seemed to me better than leaving the matterto the red savages. They tend to be impatient in such respects, even with theirown women. A homemade lancet, sterilized in boiling water, seemed to mepreferable to a sharpened kailiauk bone or a whittled lodge peg.

"But your penetration is, obviously," I said, "only a mere technicality."

"Obviously," she said, I thought a bit ironically.

"But," I said, "beyond that incidental triviality, do you understand why youhave been sent to my blankets, what the purpose is from your point of view, whatis the purpose on which you are to be intent?"

"Yes, Master," she said.

"What?" I asked.

"I am to please you with my body," she said.

"You do not understand," I said.

"Master?" she asked.

"That is far too limited," I said. "You are to please me with the wholeness ofyour womanhood, in the fullness of your slavery."

"The Gorean master, then," she said, "would desire, and own, all of me."

"Yes," I said.

"I had hoped it might be so," she whispered.

"What?" I asked.

"Nothing, Master," she whispered.

"It is only on your former world, if anywhere," I said, "that a man isinterested only in a woman's body. "Yes, Master," she said.

"And I doubt that," I said, "even on that muchly perverted dismal orb."

"Yes, Master," she said.

"To be sure," I said, "the bodies of women are not without interest, and theylook well in slave chains."

"Yes, Master," she said.

"But you must understand that what wears the chains, so curvaceous, beautifuland helpless, is the whole woman."

"I understand, Master," she said.

"You do not have a name yet, do you?" I asked.

"No," she said. "My master has not yet named me."

"What was your former name?" I asked.

"Millicent Aubrey-Welles," she said. "Oh!" she said. "Your hand!"

"Do you objects?" I asked.

"No," she said. "I am only a slave. I may not object."

"That is an unusual name," I said. My hand rested, softly, on her left thigh.

"Such names are not unusual in the social stratum which once was mine," shesaid.

"I see," I said.

"My family is from the upper classes, the very upper classes, of my world."

"I see," I said.

"I now lie beside you in a slave tunic," she said. "But I am an upper-classgirl, a very upper-class girl. You must understand that."

"Once you were," I said.

"Yes, Master," she said.

"You are now only a nameless slave," I said.

"Yes, Master," she said.

I smiled.

"I was a debutante," she said.

"I understand," I said.

"We are used to consolidate family alliances," she said, and are given asawards, in matings to energetic young men, often rising in our fathers' companies."

"A form of slavery," I said, "but without the honesty of the collar."

"Yes," she said, bitterly.

"Women have often been used for such purposes," I said.

"My aunt told me that it was all that I was good for," she said.

"Your aunt was mistaken," I said.

She gasped. My hand moved higher on her thigh.

She controlled her breath. My hand, now, was again still.

"We, of course," she said, "would be permitted our clubs, our activities, ourparties, our affairs."

"Yes," I said.

"But it would be a meaningless existence," she said, "meaningless." "Oh!" shesaid.

My fingers now rested on her brand. "What is this?" I asked.

"My brand." she said.

"You must be a slave," I said.

"Yes, Master," she said.

"Your existence on Gor," I said, "you will find far from meaningless. You willfind it quite meaningful, I assure you."

She shuddered.

"It is rather something else which you will find is meaningless on Gor," I said.

"What, Master?" she asked.

"You, yourself," I said.

"Me?" she asked.

"Yes," I said, "for you will be only an article of property, a meaningless,purchasable trinket, a worthless bauble, an owned woman, a slave."

She looked at me with horror.

"Surely you are aware that you may be purchased or sold, or bartered, or givenaway, or commanded, as men please, that you are naught but an imbonded woman, atotally meaningless slave?"

"Yes, Master," she moaned.

"Did you wear a white gown, of ankle length, when you were presented as adebutante?" I asked.

"Yes, Master," she said.

My hand was now tight upon her brand. "Say," I said, "I am now naught but abranded slave on Gor."

"I am now naught but a branded slave on Gor," said the girl.

I moved my hand upward, to her hip, and to the sweetness of her waist at thehip.

"Your hand is high beneath my tunic, Master," said the girl "Do you object?" I asked.

"No, Master," she said. "I am a slave. I may not object,"

"The clothing in which you were exhibited to the buyers," I said, "which wasremoved for their interest, in your sale, did not seem to me the clothing of adebutante. It seemed to me rather the clothing of a girl, and a certain sort ofgirl, who works in an office."

"I wished to avoid the imminent and obvious fate of the debutante," she said,"to be bartered, for position and power on the marriage market."

"This was the occasion, doubtless, in which your aunt expressed her view thatsuch, in effect, was all you were good for."

"Yes!" she said. "Oh!" she said.

"You have lovely curves," I said.

"Are you warming me for my taking?" she asked.

"They would bring a high price," I said.

She moaned.

"Your aunt," I said, "surely had a very limited conception of your utilities. Itprobably never even entered her ken, for example, that you might one day be ascantily clad, branded slave."

"Master?" asked the girl.

"On the other hand," I said, "she knew you very well, and, in some way, may havebeen touching on something of importance."

"I do not understand," said the girl.

"I do not mean to insult you, a girl from Earth," I said, "but you an obviouslyextremely feminine. You have, doubtless, a large number of female hormones inyour body."

"Master?" she asked.

"Your aunt was then, perhaps, trying to convey to you that your most congenialand appropriate destiny, what might be best for you, what might be most naturalfor you, would be for you to find yourself naked in the arms of a man."

"As little more than a slaver she asked.

"As perhaps no more than a slave," I said.

"I cannot help it that I have a feminine face, that I have feminine body," shesaid. "I cannot help it that I am feminine nine" Why would you want to help it?" I asked.

"It is wrong to be feminine!" she said.

"That is obviously false," I said. "What is your next point?"

"I know that I am feminine," she wept. "I have known for years, from my desiresand feelings, even from before the interior truths of my reality manifestedthemselves so unmistakably, so unrepudiably, in my body, shaping and curving mefor the destiny of the female, and for the lustful, appraising eyes of men."

I regarded her, not speaking.

"I am afraid to be feminine!" she said.

"Why?" I asked.

"Because," she wept, "I sense that it is, ultimately, to be the slave of men."

"You desired to prove your aunt wrong," I said.

"Yes," she said. "I would prove that I was independent, that I was capable, thatI could achieve success on my own. My talents would be obvious. I would be hiredpromptly. I would be rapidly advanced. I would become a female executive. Thatwould show my aunt! That would show myself! That would show men!"

"What happened?" I asked.

"I took money and left home," she said. "I scarcely informed my family as to mydecision or whereabouts. I went to a great city. It is called New York. I rentedexpensive quarters. Confidently, I sought a significant position business."

"And then?" I asked.

"Alas," she said, ruefully, "I found my credentials sorely lacking. I could findno work of the sort in which I was interested.»

"I see," I said.

"After weeks of misery and frustration," she said, "I contacted my family. Aposition was immediately arranged for me.

"I see," I said.

"It was not, however, at all, what I had hoped for," she said. "I became, ineffect, the secretary to a female executive, her "girl' in the office. She tookcharge of me and, in effect, prescribed my mode of dress and behavior."

"It was largely due to her, then," I said, "that you wore the attractivegarments you did, when you were stripped for the buyers at the house of RamSeibar?"

"Yes," she said, "and she even prescribed that the pearls I wore must besynthetic, as being more befitting than real pearls a girl in my position."

"I see," I said. "Did you protest this?"

"I did not wish to lose my job," she said.

"I see," I said. I was pleased to learn that she had not worn the false pearlsof her own volition. That would surely mitigate her culpability in the matter,at least to some extent, in Gorean eyes. She had, of course, agreed to wearthem. That they might regard as important. That agreement, of course, had beenformed, in a sense, under duress. The Goreans, on the whole a fair folk, woulddoubtless take that into consideration. The degree of duress might be regardedas significant. The matter was surely subtle. Grunt, in any case, as I knew him,would not be interested in punishing her for that action, as it had taken placewhen she was free. That life was behind her now. Her whippings, now, doubtless,would be functions of such things as whether or not she was sufficientlypleasing as a female slave. Still, I would inform Grunt of this development. Hewould find it of interest. Masters find almost everything about their slaves ofinterest. Too, it would please him.

"And so," she said, "I continued to run her errands, to answer her telephone ina pretty voice, to do her biding, to bring her her coffee, to address herdeferentially, to smile at her clients and walk in a certain way past them."

"I understand," I said.

"Doubtless she enjoyed having me do this," she said, bitterly, "my station insociety having been so superior to hers."

"Perhaps," I said. "I do not know."

"It was to be made clear to all her colleagues," she said, angrily, "that I wasonly a girl, fit for lowly labors and being pleasing to her superiors. Clearly Iwas a different sort of woman from her! ' "Perhaps you were," I said.

"Dressed as I was, forced to behave as I was," she said, "how could men see meas executive material?"

"Doubtless it would be difficult," I said.

"Yes," she said.

"You are very feminine," I said, "perhaps you are not executive material."

She squirmed, angrily.

"She well used my femininity, my meaninglessness, MY prettiness," she said, "tohighlight, to point up and accentuate, by contrast, her own quite differentimage, that of strength and competence, of decisiveness, of command, ofauthority and power."

I have seen such women naked," I said, "in a collar, kissing the feet of men."

"Oh?" she said.

"But they are not so beautiful as you," I said.

She was silent.

"Do you feel that your treatment by her was motivated by some insecurity on herpart, by fear for her position or status, that she may have seen you as athreat?"

The girl was silent for a moment. Then she said, "No, I do not think so."

"That is interesting," I said.

"I could not have begun to compete with her," she said.

"You were not that sort of woman," I said.

"No," she said.

"Do you think she disliked you, or hated you?" I asked.

"I don't think so, really," she said, slowly.

"Can you conceive it possible that she may have seen you rather more as youwere, than as you saw yourself?"

"Master?" she asked.

"She may have dressed you as she did," I said, "and treated you as she did, andmade you do the things you did, for a very good reason."

"Why?" she asked.

"Because you are feminine," I said.

She was angrily silent.

"Did you enjoy doing the things you were told?" I asked. "Did you enjoyobeying?"

"Sometimes," she whispered.

"Did you object, truly, to the clothing you were expected to wear?" I asked.

"No," she said, "not truly. I like pretty clothes, and the, eyes of men on me."

"As a Gorean slave girl," I said, "you will often find the eyes of men on you,though whether or not you will be permitted clothing will be a function of thedecision of your master."

"Yes, Master," she said.

"How were you taken?" I asked.

"After work," she said. "It was dark. I was driving back to my building. Istopped at a red light. Suddenly, to my horror, a narrow chain was looped aboutmy throat. "Drive as I direct, said a male voice, from behind me. I could notscream. The chain was tight. I was terrified. He had been hidden in the car,behind the back seat. He tightened the chain a quarter of an inch. I could notbreathe. I realized he could, if he wished, strangle me in an instant. A carhonked behind us. "The light has changed, be said. He relaxed the chain,slightly. "Continue on this street, he said, "in the outside lane, at a speednot exceeding twenty-five miles an hour. I pulled away from the intersection.

"You will obey all my directions, he said, "immediately and to the letter, andyou will address me as "Sir." " "Yes, I whispered. The chain tightened. "Yes,Sir, I whispered, fighting for breath. The chain then relaxed, slightly."

"You were already being taught to obey, and to treat men with respect," I said.

"Yes, Master," she said. " "Do not try anything foolish" he said, "such asstalling or damaging the vehicle, for I can slay in an instant, before I make mydeparture. "Yes, Sir, I said. "You may look in the rear-view mirror, if youwish. He said. "You have my permission. I looked in the rear-view mirror,terrified. About my throat, closely looped, was a narrow golden chain. It wascontrolled by two narrow wooden handles, in his hands."

"It was a girl-capture chain," I said. "It is to be distinguished sharply fromthe standard garrote, which is armed with wire and can cut a throat easily. Thestandard garrote, of course, is impractical for captures, for the victim, ineven a reflexive movement, might cut her own throat."

"Whatever it was," she said, "it was very effective. It controlled meperfectly."

"Of course," I said. "That is why it is used."

"In a few moments, the man made an adjustment in the chain, spinning one of thewooden handles. He could the control it with one hand. He tightened it, halfchoking me and then released it, slightly. He had well displayed his power overme. He then released it a bit more. "That's better, isn't it, Baby? he asked.

"Yes, Sir, I said. "Good," he said, "we have a long drive ahead of us. We thendrove on, I terrified, he giving me directions. From other can it would haveseemed merely that a man, leaning forward, perhaps smiling, perhaps conversingwith me, was in the back of my vehicle. If any saw the slender golden chainabout my throat they did not, doubtless, conjecture its significance."

"He was not masked?" I asked.

"No," she said.

"A mask would have aroused suspicion," I said.

"Yes," she said. "Do not fear to look upon my face, you wish, he said, "foryou will not see it again, after you have been delivered. "Delivered! Iexclaimed. "Yes, he laughed, "delivered, my pretty goods. We then drove on. Helet me engage in what, I suppose, are the standard threat and pleas of thecaptured girl, but, then, when he grew we of this amusement, he stopped me. Aslight pressure on chain sufficed. We then continued to drive on. The terrainbecame more remote, more desolate. Soon we were driving on graveled roads. Thenwe were driving on dirt roads, dark and lonely lined with trees. I grasped verylittle of what was going on. I was terrified. The chain was on my throat. Thebeams from the headlights seemed wild on the road ahead of me. "Slow down here, he said, "and pull into those trees, an stop. I obeyed his commands. I switchedoff the car lights and turned off the car engine. I had delivered myself, thoughto whom, or what, or for what I had no idea. He took me from the car by thechain and soon I was in the hands of other men. He left, dropping the chain,with its handles, in the pocket of his jacket. I was thrown to my stomach in thegrass. My hands were fastened behind me in some sort of metal restrainingdevice. It was snug, and inflexible. My ankles were crossed and tied togetherwith a short piece of rope. A metal anklet of some sort was fastened on my leftankle.

"A girls identificatory anklet," I said. "It is removed after her delivery toGor."

"A boxlike device was then placed near my head," she said. "It was hinged at oneend and, on the other side, where it opened, there were matched, semicircularopenings. My head then, by the hair, was placed in this box, and it was closed,enclosing my head, and shutting snugly about my neck. This opening was thenfurther closed by wrapping thick cloth about my neck and thrusting it up, sothat it filled the space between my neck and the edges of the now closedsemicircular openings."

"Interesting," I said.

"My head enclosed in the box," she said, "I heard a car being driven away. Itwas doubtless my own, driven by the fellow with the chain."

"That is quite likely," I said. "He would wish to have means to return to thecity and, of course, it would be important to abandon or dispose of the car farfrom the scene of the abductors' rendezvous."

"And I must remain behind," she said, bitterly.

"Of course," I said. "You were then only a delivered capture."

"A gas was then entered into the box," she said. "I tried to struggle. A man'sfoot held me in place. I lost consciousness I awakened, I do not know how muchlater, in a grassy field on this world, chained by the neck with other girls."

"Interesting," I said. "I do not know, but you may have been stored for a fewdays, perhaps even a few weeks."

"Stored?" she asked.

"Yes," I said, "perhaps hibernated. Then, when the order was complete, it couldhave been shipped in its entirety."

"You speak of me as though I might be an object," she said, "a mere commodity."

"You are," I said.

"Yes, Master," she said.

I thrust the slave tunic up and then, pulling her to a sitting position, Ipulled it off, her arms rising, over her head.

"Do you object?" I inquired.

"No, Master," she said. "I may not object. I am a slave."

I cast the scanty garment to the side, on the grass.

"Lie down," I told her, "on your back, with your arms at sides, the palms ofyour hands up, facing the moons of Gor."

"Yes, Master," she said.

"Lift your left knee, slightly," I told her.

"Yes, Master," she said.

I stood and looked down at her.

"I now lie exposed before you, as a slave, Master," she said.

"Is that fitting and proper?" I inquired.

"Yes, Master," she said.

"Why?" I asked.

"Because I am a slave," she said.

"The answer is correct, and suitable," I said.

"Yes, Master," she said.

"Are you a new slave?" I asked.

"Yes, Master," she said.

"That is incorrect," I said.

"Master?" she asked.

"The only sense in which you are a new slave," I said, "is that it has not beenlong since your legal imbondment."

"Master?" she asked.

"For years, you have been a slave," I said, "only one who was not yet properlyowned, a technicality recently remedied on Gor."

She looked up at me.

"This is what, implicitly, in effect, your aunt was recognizing," I said,"though perhaps not fully consciously. It seems to have been recognized evenmore clearly by your former superior, the female executive. She dressed you, andtreated you, did she not, as, in effect, a slave?"

"Yes," said the girl, angrily.

"I think," I said, "in spite of other possible considerations and advantageswhich might have been involved in her behavior attitudes, she was trying to bekind to you, trying make it clear to you what you were, trying to encourage youto be true to your own nature."

"Perhaps!" said the girl, angrily.

"You like pretty clothes, do you not," I asked, "and like to be attractive tomen."

"Yes!" she said.

"On Gor," I said, "as opposed to your world, It is customary to enslave slaves."

She looked up at me, angrily.

"On Gor," I asked, "have you been branded, and enslaved."

"Yes, Master," she said.

"Why?" I asked.

"Because I am a slave?" she asked. "Yes," I said.

She turned her head, angrily, to the side.

I looked down at her. She was exquisitely beautiful. I did not doubt but thatGrunt could get five hides of the yellow kailiauk for her.

"Look at me, Slave," I said.

She regarded me, quickly. "Yes, Master," she said.

"Slaves such as you, on Earth," I said, "not legally imbonded, often use theirbeauty to their own advantage. It opens doors. It smoothes ways. It makes thingseasy for them. They use it to further careers, to buy wealth, and to belittleother women."

"Yes, Master?" she whispered.

"But here, on Gor," I said, "Things are quite different."

"Yes, Master," she said.

"Here, on Gor," I said, "your beauty is owned, and fully, as are you."

"Yes Master," she said.

"To whom does your beauty belong, on Gor?" I asked.

"To the master," she said.

"Yes," I said, "and it is he, not you, my dear, who will decide what is to bedone with it, fully, and how it is to be used."

"Yes, Master," she said.

"Your palms," I said, "have them facing upward, to the moons of Gor."

"Yes, Master," she said.

"Have you had your slave wine?" I asked.

"Ginger, one of my Mistresses," she said, "forced me to drink a bitter beverageby that name."

"Why has your Master, Grunt, sent you to my blankets?" I asked. "Why has hehimself not seen fit to open your slave's body to the pleasures of men?"

"I do not know, Master," she said.

I crouched down beside the naked body of the former Miss MillicentAubrey-Welles, who had been a debutante, now that of a mere slave, supine on myblankets.

"What are the duties of a slave?" I asked.

"They are complex, and manifold, Master," she said.

"Speak generally," I said.

"We are to be absolutely docile," she said, "totally obedient and fullypleasing."

"Are there any qualifications to that?" I asked.

"No, Master," she said, "There are no qualifications. We are slaves.

"And are you prepared to fulfill the duties of a slave?" I asked.

"Yes, Master," she said, "and I must, Master, for I am a slave.

"The answers are correct, and suitable, Slave," I said.

"Thank you Master," she said.

"I am to take your virginity," I said. "You understand that?"

"Yes, Master," she said.

"Would you prefer that your virginity would have been taken from you while youwere a free woman?" I asked.

"No," she said, "rather as a will-less slave, as I am now subject to thedecision and imperious will of a strong master."

I held my hand, opened, a bit above her left breast. She arched her back,pressing that marvelous, lush contour of her enslaved softness against my hand.

I did not move my hand. She lay back, tears in her eyes. "You well know how tohumiliate a slave, Master," she said. I smiled. The test had been an interestingone.

"Do you think, in time, you will prove to be a hot slave?" I asked.

"Hot?" she asked.

"Yes," I said, "responsive, sexually vital, owned, helplessly and uncontrollablypassionate."

"I do not know, Master," she said. "What if I do not?"

"Then you will presumably be slain," I said.

She shuddered with terror.

"But do not fear," I said. "Most masters are patient. You will, most likely,have a month or more in which to develop the appropriate secretions and spasms!

She looked at me, with misery.

"I do not think it is anything to worry about, really," I said. "Most girls,under the circumstances, find very little difficulty in becoming passionatefemale slaves. Too, the entire Gorean milieu contributes to the development ofpassion in the female slave. She is dressed in a certain way, for example; sheis commonly collared; she is subject to discipline; her performances arecommanded, and subject to scrutiny and improvement, and so on. The main thing isto attempt to be fully pleasing to the Master, in every way. Too, you willcommonly have a gauge of your progress; if your master is not pleased you willbe beaten or whipped."

"I see, whispered the girl.

"I have seen girls such as you before," I said. "They commonly develop into thehottest of slaves."

She trembled, frightened.

"Remember," I said, "it will be to your advantage to be a hot slave, and,indeed, the hottest slave you can be. This will make you more pleasing to yourmaster, and to those to whom he, at his caprice, consigns you."

"Yes, Master," she said.

"The true wonder in these matters," I said, "and what seems most delightful tome, is the way, gradually, the girls heat begins to develop from within, untilshe is transformed, in effect, into a needful slave. She is then, of course, notonly legally and physically at the mercy of men, but needfully, as well."

"How much a slave she would be then!" exclaimed the girl.

"No one claims that the Gorean slave girl has an easy lot," I said.

"How piteous to be such a girl! ' she said. "Surely men would have mercy onher!"

"Perhaps," I said, "if she is sufficiently beautiful, and sufficientlypleasing."

"Do you think I will develop such passion?" she asked, frightened.

"Yes," I said.

"Do you think, then," she asked, "that men might be moved to show me mercy?"

"You already begin to sense what you might become, do you?" I asked.

"Yes," she whimpered.

"It is a good sign," I said.

"Do you think that if I became such a girl, Master, men might show me mercy?" she asked.

"Perhaps," I said, "if you were sufficiently beautiful, and sufficientlypleasing."

"I would try to be both," she said.

"You are a slave, aren't you?" I asked.

"Yes, Master," she said.

"I think it likely that you would be shown mercy, at least upon occasion," Isaid. "But you, yourself, in a few weeks, will better know the answer to yourquestion."

"In a few weeks?" she asked.

"Yes," I said, "when you find yourself on your knees at the feet of a man, oron your belly, crawling to him, to lick his feet, to beg his least touch."

I then, gently, began to caress her. In a few moments, interestingly, she beganto moan.

"I am a slave," she whimpered, looking up at the stars, the Gorean moons.

"You may now request your fulfillment," I informed her.

"I request my fulfillment, Master," she said.

"I will be gentle with you this time," I said, "but sometimes, you mustunderstand, you will be used quite differently, for example, with contempt orscorn, or brutality, or cruel indifference, or, perhaps, with ruthless power."

"Yes, Master," she said.

"Similarly," I said, "you will learn to serve in whatever position your masterdictates and in whatever garb, or lack of garb, he pleases."

"Yes, Master," she said.

"And sometimes, too," I said, "You may have to serve in bonds, even cruel bonds,such things as thongs, and cords and chains."

"Yes, Master," she said.

"And sometimes, too," I said, "Willessly, even though your back and legs maystill sting from his lash."

"Yes, Master," she said.

"You will learn to serve him whenever, wherever and however he wishes," I said.

"Yes, Master," she said.

"And perfectly," I said.

"Yes, yes, Master," she said.

"For he is the Master, and you are the Slave," I said.

"Yes, Master she said.

"For you are nothing, and he is all," I said.

"Master," she whispered.

"Are you now prepared to be opened?" I asked.

"Yes, Master," she said.

I looked down into her eyes.

"Open me, Master," she said. "Open me, I beg you, as a slave, for the pleasuresof men!"

"Very well," I said, and then, as she cried out softly, I opened her, a namelessslave, who had once been Miss Millicent Aubrey-Welles, from Pennsylvania, adebutante, for the pleasures of men.

"Please, do not put me back so soon with the others, Master," she begged.

"It is nearly morning," I said.

"Please, Master," she said. She clutched me beneath the blankets, pressing herwarm, vulnerable softness against me "Please," she begged. The blood on theinterior of her left thigh had now dried. When it was fresh I had taken some onmy finger and forced it into her mouth, and onto her tongue forcing her to tasteit. "Yes, Master," she had whimpered. I had also traced the common Kajira mark,the common slave-girl mark that which was the same as her brand, on her thigh inthe blood, and had then smeared its residue down and onto her left calf. In themorning I wanted to make sure that the other girls in the coffle were perfectlyclear on how she had spent the night and what had been done to her.

"Perhaps," I said.

"Thank you, Master," she whispered, happily.

I put out my hand, to the side. The grass was cold with dew. It was still dark.

She kissed me, softly. "How incredible do I find my current reality," she,marveled. "Suddenly, it seems, I find myself a slave, and naked in the blanketsof a master, on a world far from my own."

I said nothing.

"And only, it seems, a common slave," she said.

"Your reality is precisely what it seems," I assured her "You are a slave, andonly a common one."

"Yes, Master," she said.

"Your brand should tell you that," I said.

"I am not familiar with Gorean brands," she said.

"Yours is a common slave brand," I said. "It marks most property girls. Youshare it with thousands."

"I was of high station on my own world," she said, petulantly "Here, on Gor," I told her, "Your station, your status, your prestige, are gone,taken with your name and freedom. Here you are only another slave, anotherdomestic" I behaved as one, didn't I?" she asked, rolling onto her back, looking up atthe dark sky.

"It was fitting and proper," I told her.

"How shamed I am," she said.

"Of your responsiveness?" I asked.

"Yes," she said.

I smiled. The third and fourth time I had used her she had yielded almost as aslave.

"I cannot help it," she said, "that I am responsive in the arms of a master."

"You are not supposed to help it," I said.

"I suppose if I had not been responsive," she said, "you would have beaten me. "Yes," I said.

"Truly?" she asked.

"Yes," I said.

"I betrayed myself," she said.

"Let us think clearly about this matter," I suggested.

"Your assertion might be construed as meaning that you had committed sometreason against yourself, or, perhaps, as meaning merely that you had revealed,or manifested, yourself. Let us consider, first, the matter of treason. A freewoman might, possibly, feel that she had betrayed herself, in this sense, if shehad so yielded to a man as to supply him with some perhaps subtle hint as to thelatency of her slave reflexes. A slave girl, on the other hand, cannot committreason against herself in this sense, for she is a slave. To commit this typeof treason one must have a right, say, to deceive others as to one's sensuality,to conceal one's sexuality, and so on. The slave girl, an owned animal, underthe command of her master, does not have this sort of right. Indeed, she has norights. Accordingly, she cannot commit this sort of reason Her legal statusprecludes its possibility. She may, of course, rationally, fear the consequencesof her responsiveness being discovered, thus increasing, perhaps to her terror,in a slave culture, her desirability. Similarly she may lie or attempt to lie,about her responsiveness, but she is then of course, merely a lying slave and,when found out, Will be treated accordingly."

"Such treason, then," she said, "can be committed only by a free woman."

"Yes," I said. "It is a luxury not permitted to the slave."

"It is a function only of the free woman's right to lie, and defraud, others?" she asked.

"Yes," I said. "It is possible, of course, for the slave, subjectively,psychologically, to feel that she has committed this treason, for she may,mistakenly, be still regarding herself implicitly, as a free woman."

"But she cannot, in fact, have committed it, because she is a slave?" asked thegirl.

"Yes," I said.

"I understand, Master," she said, bitterly.

"You see," I said, "you were still regarding yourself, implicitly, at least atthe moment, as a free woman, or, perhaps better, more narrowly, as retaining atleast one of the rights of a free woman."

"I am not to be beaten, am I, Master?" she asked.

"Not at the moment, at least," I informed her.

"Thank you, Master," she said.

"The second sense in which you might have intended your remark about betrayingyourself, though I think it was not the sense in which you did intend it, wouldbe the innocent sense, quite appropriate for a slave girl, of revealing ormanifesting significant aspects of your nature. In this sense, of course, aslave girl has no alternative other than to betray herself. She is under anobligation, and a quite harsh and strict one, to release, manifest and reveal,fully, and in all its depths and facets, the profundities of her nature, thefundities of her femaleness."

"Yes, Master," she said.

"I think now," I said, "it is time to chain you with the others."

"You can just take me and chain me with them, can't you?" she said, angrily.

"Yes," I said.

"You took my virginity," she said. "Does that not mean anything to you?"

"No," I told her.

"It was, after all," she said, "only the virginity of a slave!"

"Precisely," I said.

She squirmed angrily.

"Are you angry?" I asked.

"Am I permitted anger?" she asked, warily.

"I will permit it, for now," I said.

"Yes," she said, I am angry."

"Your concern is not well-warranted," I said. "Your having was merely theungating of a slave, her breaching, her opening, an unimportant prefatorytechnicality in the history of her bondage."

"Of course!" she said.

"Would you be so concerned about a boar's opening of she-tarsk?" I asked. Shehad seen animals of this sort in streets of Kailiauk, in the dawn of the dayfollowing her sale, when she and the others had been marched out towards theIhanke. They are used, not unoften, in small Gorean towns, to scavenge garbage.

Ginger and Evelyn had identified the animals for them. They had also informedthem that, many towns, such an animal might, in a market, bring than theythemselves.

"I am the she-tarsk!" she said. "I am the slave!"

"Do you think that you are important?" I inquired.

"No, Master," she said.

"There, you see," I said.

"Yes," she said, "I see." She lay back, angrily.

There was a narrow rim of light in the east now. The air was still damp, andchilly.

"Do you respect me?" she asked.

"No," I told her.

She gasped, in misery.

"Kiss me," I told her, "fifty times, and well."

"Yes", Master," she said, and began to kiss me about the face and neck. Icounted the kisses. There were fifty of thenThen she lay down beside me.

"You used me well, earlier," she said.

"You are a mere slave," I said. "It is simple to use a mere slave well."

"Doubtless girls such as myself are often well used," she said.

"Yes," I said.

"And, we must submit, unquestioningly, to even our most brutal usage," she said.

"Of course," I said. "Are you distressed?"

"No, Master," she said. "Not really. It is only that I am not used to being ananimal, a slave."

"I understand," I said.

"In your use of me," she said, "you did not give me not even for your use ofme."

"No," I said.

"Was that deliberate?" she asked.

"Yes," I said.

"A clever way to make clear to me that I was only fondled animal, helpless inyour arms.

I did not speak.

"I can scarcely begin to cope with my feelings," she said "They are so troubled,so tumultuous."

"Speak," I said.

"I must lie there," she said. "I could not escape. I must submit!"

"Yes," I said.

"I was controlled. I was owned!"

"Yes," I said.

"I was powerless," she said. "How you dominated me!"

"You were used with great gentleness," I said, "though also, to be sure, withfirmness and authority, as befits a slave As for domination, you cannot yet evenbegin to suspect what it is for a woman to be dominated by a master."

"She would be so owned," she whispered.

"Yes," I said.

"Can you understand my feelings of utter helplessness, and humiliation?" sheasked.

"I think so," I said.

"I have other feelings, as well," she whispered.

"What?" I asked.

"I cannot believe how I yielded in your arms," she whispered.

"You are merely a slave who yielded," I said. "You have not yet begun to learn,as a slave, what is the nature of true slave yieldings."

"Doubtless I will be taught," she said.

"You are beautiful," I said. "It is not unlikely."

"I had never dreamed that sensations such as you induced in me could exist," shewhispered.

"They were largely the result of your own initial responsiveness," I said, "plusthe fact that you realized you were I a slave. They cannot even form a soundbasis, I would suppose, on which you could begin to even remotely conjecture thenature of the feelings and sensations which lie before you. Beyond thesensations which you have hitherto experienced lie infinite horizons."

"I am afraid," she said.

"To your feelings of humiliation and helplessness, then, I said, "we may alsoadd the emotion of fear."

"But I have other emotions, other feelings, too, Master," she said.

"Oh?" I asked.

"Yes, Master," she said.

"What?" I asked.

"Eagerness," she said, "pleasure, curiosity, excitement, sensual arousal, adesire to please, a desire to serve, a desire to be owned and mastered, a desireto be true to my basic and radical femaleness."

"I see," I said.

"Never before tonight," she said, "have I, now only a nameless slave, felt somuch in contact with my femininity. I have learned tonight that being a woman isa real thing to be. It is not a biological triviality. It is not aninsignificant, regrettable concomitant of a genetic lottery. It is somethingreal and important in itself, something precious and wonderful" I agree," I said.

"And it is not to be a man," she said.

"No," I said. "I do not think so."

"Strange," she said, "that I should have learned this only stripped, and in thearms of a master, and on a world far from my own."

Oft is not strange that you should learn this on a world far from your own," Isaid, "for your world is like a distorting lens, perverting even the mostconspicuous lineaments of biological reality, nor is it strange that you shouldlearn it as a stripped slave. Your stripping, particularly as it was done by aman, or at the command of a man, should put you in touch with certain femalerealities, such as your beauty, and its softness, and its subject ability tomale domination; it should also, through exposure, and through various, subtleskin stimulations, heighten your vulnerability and sensitivity; this will enableyou to feel more keenly and enable you to understand, more clearly, certainbasic truths, such as the differences between men and women, and that you,whatever you are, are not a man."

"Yes, Master," she said.

"Lastly, and most importantly," I said, "you find yourself a slave. Femaleslavery is the institutionalized expression, in a civilization congenial tonature, of the fundamental biological relationship between the sexes. In theinstitution of female slavery we find this basic relationship recognized,accepted, clarified, fixed and celebrated. A civilization, you see, need notinevitably be a conflict with nature. A rational, informed civilization caneven, in a sense, refine and improve upon nature; it can, so to speak, bringnature to fruition. Indeed, a natural civilization might be the naturalflowering of nature itself, not an antithesis to nature, not a contradiction tonature, not a poison nor a trammel to it, but a stage or aspect of it, a formwhich nature itself can take.

"I fear even to understand such thoughts," she said, "let alone consider whetheror not they might be true."

"Consider the case of the female slave," I said. "She was once a primitive,brutish female, innocent of legalities but, in effect, owned. She is now,commonly, a collared, imbonded beauty, properly marked as merchandise,effectively displayed and marketed, and owned in the full right of law."

"Yes, Master," said the girl.

"Who can doubt but what here civilization, as nature's refinement or expression,has wrought an improvement?"

"Surely, no one, Master, ' whispered the girl.

"Too, you will note that civilization has increased the control of the girls andthe effectiveness of bondage, the marking, the identification of masters, thepapers of sale, and so on. Escape, then, for all practical purposes, becomesimpossible."

"Yes, Master," she said.

"And you are such a girl," I said.

"Yes, Master," she said.

"I am now going to put you with the others," I said. I stood up, thrusting theblankets to one side. She drew her legs up, feeling the coldness of the air. Ilooked down at her, she looking up at me. She was very beautiful.

"I am at your feet," she said.

"How do you feel?" I asked.

"Very feminine, very female," she said.

"How do you explain these feelings?" I asked.

"That I am a woman, at the feet of a strong man," she said, "one who dominatesme, one who masters me, one whom I must obey."

"You do not speak like a woman of Earth," I said.

"I have learned much on Gor," she said, "and I have learned much this night."

I looked down at her, arms folded.

She put out her fingers, touching the dark blankets. Then, spinning, she lookedup at me. "It is where we belong, isn't it, Master?" she asked.

"Yes," I said.

"I have always known it in my heart," she said, "but I never thought it wouldcome true."

I went to pick up her tunic. I felt the blades of wet, cool grass cut at myankles. I tossed her the tunic. She knelt, holding it. It was tiny, in herhands. On it, dark and wet, moist in its fibers, were the marks of dew.

She clutched the tunic, looking at me. She did not draw it on.

"I am no longer a virgin, Master," she said.

"That is known to me, I assure you," I said.

"I am now only a full and opened slave," she said, "no different from othergirls, one, like them, readily available at the master's least desire."

"Yes," I said.

"I am not sore, Master," she said.

I nodded.

"But that does not make any difference, does it?" she asked.

"No," I said.

"Master," she whispered.

"Perhaps now you should garb yourself," I said.

"This is garb?" she asked, smiling, holding out the tunic. "It is scarcely ascanty rag."

"It leaves little doubt as to your charms," I admitted.

"It does not even have a nether closure," she said.

"It is not supposed to," I said. "Do you know why?"

"That I may be reminded that I am a slave," she smiled, "that my vulnerabilitymay be heightened, that I may be invaluable to masters."

"Ginger and Evelyn have taught you that," I said.

"They have taught us many things," she said.

"What about intimate secrets of slave love-making?" I asked.

"No, Master," she said.

"The little she-sleen are doubtless guarding such secrets from you," I said. "Ishall speak to Grunt in the morning. It will not prove to be in their interestto persist in this particular reticence."

"Yes, Master," she said, frightened.

"They will teach you, and the other jewels on the coffle, all they can, andquickly," I said. "Failure will be cause for severe discipline."

"Yes, Master," she whispered.

"An ignorant free woman is a commonplace," I said. "An ignorant slave is anabsurdity."

"You mean I am actually to be taught how to please man, trained?" she asked.

"Yes," I said, "trained, as the lovely animal you are."

She looked at me, frightened.

"And I advise you to learn your lessons well," I said.

"Yes, Master," she said.

"You are doubtless familiar, from your former world, with arts such as sewingand cooking, commonly thought appropriate for women," I said.

"Of course, Master," she said.

"Can you cook and sew?" I asked.

"No, Master," she said. "Such arts, I thought, were for lower women."

"You will learn them," I said.

"Yes, Master," she said.

"But beyond such arts as cooking and sewing, arts commonly thought appropriatefor women, arts with which you are familiar, there are, obviously, many otherarts. It should thus come as no surprise to you that among these other should becertain delicate, delicious and intimate arts, particularly appropriate to thefemale slave."

"I suppose not, Master," she said.

"You are not a wastrel free woman," I said. "You are a slave. You must earn yourkeep."

She trembled.

"Why do you think you were purchased?" I asked.

She put her small hand before her mouth, fearfully.

"Take your hand away from your mouth," I said. "I would see the lips of theslave."

Swiftly she lowered her hand.

"Straighten your back," I said.

She did so.

"The free woman," I said, "lies down, and waits to see what will happen. Thefemale slave kneels beside her master, and begs to please him. The free womandeems it sufficient that she should exist, the slave girl, on the other hand, isexpected not only to exist, but to excel; indeed, she fears only, commonly, thatshe may not be sufficiently marvelous for her master. It is little wonder thatmost men find the free woman, in her inertness, her ignorance and arrogance,boring. It is little wonder that most men prefer to order her rival to theirfurs, the helpless, collared, curvaceous, lascivious, feminine slave."

"I was once a free woman," said the girl.

"There is hope for the free woman," I said. "She may put in a collar, andstripped, and made subject to the whip. She may then, enslaved, be trained, too,for the pleasure of men."

"Yes, Master," whispered the girl.

"Training, then, should not come as a surprise to you," I said. "It is quitenatural for female slaves to be given training."

"Yes, Master," she said.

"Expect, then, to be trained," I said.

"I shall, Master," she said.

I regarded her.

Suddenly she flung herself on her belly across the dark blankets. She reached tomy left ankle and holding it with her small hands, began to kiss at my foot.

"Slaves may beg to please their masters, may they not?" she asked.

"Yes," I said.

"I beg to please my Master," she said. Her lips were warm and soft on my foot.

"I am not your master," I said.

"All free men are my masters," she said, "as all free women are my mistresses."

"That is true," I granted her.

"I beg to please you, as my Master," she said, "and, indeed, tonight, in theseblankets, you are my master, for it is you who have opened me and to whom I havebeen consigned in these hours for your pleasure."

It was true. I was her current use-master. In these hours, in my blankets, shemust be to me as my own slave. In these hours, in my blankets, for all practicalpurposes, I owned her.

I felt her tongue.

"Consider me," she whispered, "for your renewed pleasure."

It is pleasant, as you might well imagine, receiving such attentions from awoman. It is particularly pleasant, I assure you, when she is a slave, for thenshe is owned, and you in do with her what you wish.

"Please, Master," she begged.

"Perhaps," I said.

"Slaves such as I are not trained only by women, are we, Master?" she asked.

"No," I said. "Many Goreans believe that the finest of slave trainers are men,and that only a man with a whip, and total power over a woman, can properlyteach her to be slave."

"Do you have a whip, Master?" she asked.

"My belt will do," I told her.

"Yes, Master," she said.

"But, in my opinion," I said, "This is over simple. I believe that other women,particularly if they are slaves themselves can be superb slave trainers. Manyslave houses, of course, maintain both male and female trainers. My own theorythat if a girl is to have but one trainer, it is doubtless best for that trainerto be a man, for the girl, in her bondage, is a] most certain to have to relateprimarily to men, to please placate and serve them, and so on. On the otherhand, I think it is also undeniable that a girl can learn much from anothergirl, one who has survived, and is surviving, as a slave."

"Surviving? ' she asked.

"Yes," I said, "for the slave girls who are not pleasing are commonly killed."

She put the side of her head fearfully down on my foot.

"Be pleasing," I told her.

"Yes, Master," she said.

"But most girls," I said, "not only survive as slaves, but thrive as slaves."

"Master?" she asked.

"Yes," I said. "You may find this hard to grasp now, but most girls, as you willlearn, once they discover its authenticity and inescapability, blossom joyously,submitted, in their bondage; in it they occupy their place in nature; in it,subject to the authority and power of strong men, owned and mastereduncompromisingly as mere slaves, they obtain their deepest biologicalself-realization, their ultimate fulfillment. In it, in their place in nature,they become women, as outside of it, they cannot. As the true woman is the trueslave, no woman can become a true woman who is not a true slave."

"Men and women, then," she said, "are not the same."

"No," I said. "Men are the masters. Women are the slaves. Your world has taughtboth sexes to strive for what are, in effect, masculine, or neuteristic, values.

This produces unhappiness and frustration for both sexes. Hormonally normalwomen find it difficult or impossible to achieve happiness through the adoptionof, in effect, transvestite values. Similarly this perversion of valuescomplicates or precludes, for the glandularly normal male, the achievement of anatural biological fulfillment. Both sexes, then, frequently fail to obtainhappiness, or fall far short of the happiness of which they are both capable,that happiness which is a consequence of maintaining a biological fidelity totheir separate natures."

"The lies, the hypocrisies, the pretensions of pseudo-masculinity will not bepermitted to me on Gor, will they, Master?" she asked.

"Not in the least," I told her, "for you are a slave."

"Yes, Master," she said.

"Does this displease you?" I asked.

"No, Master," she said.

"Does it please you?" I asked.

"Yes, Master," she said.

"Even the girl who does not have a female trainer," I said, "will often seek outmore experienced girls, to beg them for their intimate counsels and theirsecrets of love and beauty. Sometimes she purchases these by such tiny gifts, offood and such, as may be within her province, or by performing portions of theother's labors, and so on. Indeed, much of the chitchat of slave girls, in theirgatherings, has to do, in one way or another, with the pleasing of masters."

It is in our best interest to fulfill our duties well," she said.

"But the best trainers you will have," I said, "will be your particular masters,and yourself. There is a specific magic, so to speak, and chemistry, betweeneach master and each slave. Each master is different, and, so, too, deliciously,is each Slave. Each master will train his own girl according to his owninterests and tastes, and each girl, in the private and intimate context of theparticular master/slave relation, by means of her intelligence and imagination,owned, will train herself to be his special slave, specifically and personally."

"I understand, Master," she said.

"But, even given the uniqueness of each bondage relation," I said, "there arestill certain common denominators in all such relations, which must not be lostsight of, such as the legal status of the slave, that she is, ultimately, onlyan article of property, that she is liable to discipline and punishment, andthat she is totally subject to the will of the master."

"Yes, Master," she said.

"But beyond this," I said, "Beyond the concern with an individual master, youwill learn, more generally, how to be pleasing to men. You may be sold to astranger, or given to one, or fall into the hands of a stranger, or group ofstrangers. You may know little or nothing of your master, or masters, other thanthe fact that he holds total power over you, and he may know little or nothingof you, other than the fact that your lovely hide is marked with the brand ofthe female slave. You thus begin again, anew, your struggle to convince a masterthat there may be some point in keeping you about, that there may be some pointin putting a bit of gruel in a bowl, or hollowed stone, for you, or thrusting acrust of bread in your mouth. You attempt to convince him of this, of course,even though he is unknown to you, even though he is a total stranger to you, byserving him, and superbly, as a female slave. Do you understand what I amsaying?"

"Yes, Master," she said, "that I must learn, in general, how to be pleasing tomen."

"Yes," I said, "this any slave girl must learn, such things as the kisses, thetouches, the squirmings, the thousand submissions."

"Yes, Master," she whispered.

"But, do not fear," I said, "Such modalities are not learned in vain. They willbe required of you even by a love master, and, indeed, he will doubtless requirethem from you with a harshness, an amplitude and exactness far beyond that of amore casual owner."

"But, why, Master?" she asked.

"Because you are," I said, "in the final analysis, as he will wish you toremember, only his slave. Too, do you think he would require less from you, alove slave, than from some more common girl chained at his feet?"

"No, Master," she said.

"Are you silent?" I asked.

"It seems strange to think of serving a love master with the same proficiencieswith which I must serve any other man, as a mere slave," she said.

"Your skills and talents are surely as much, or more, at his disposal, as theyare at the disposal of any other male," I said.

"True," she said.

"Do you object?" I asked.

"No, Master," she said. "I would want to serve my love master, to the best of myability, with whatever skills or talents I might have."

"And he would see that you do so," I said.

"Yes, Master," she said. Suddenly she sobbed.

"What is wrong?" I asked.

"I am so frightened," she said. "This world terrifies me, and on it I am only anaked slave. I do not know what to do. I am afraid. I am so ignorant. I knownothing. I am so frightened. I am only a slave."

"You speak truly, ignorant slave," I said. Did she expect me to comfort her?

She turned her head to the side, and laid her left cheek on the blankets at myfeet. "Please put your foot on my neck, Master," she said.

"I did so, with just enough pressure that she could feel its weight, and that ofmy body.

"You could now," she said, "with one motion of your foot, kill me."

"Yes," I said.

"Please do not kill me, Master," she said. "Instead, take pity on me, I beg ofyou, and find me pleasing."

I took my foot from her neck. "I shall inspect you," I told her. "You may kneelbefore me."

Swiftly she rose from her stomach to kneel before me.

"Knees wide," I told her, "back on heels, stomach in, head high, hands onthighs, shoulders back, breasts thrust out."

I moved her hair back, behind her shoulders, and smoothed it out. It would not,thus, interfere with my view. I appraised her, slowly, carefully. "It is notimpossible," I told her, at length, "that a man might find you pleasing."

"Make me please you," she begged.

"Rather," I said, "I shall permit you to beg to please me, and as a slave."

"I beg to please you, Master," she said.

"As a slave?" I asked.

"Yes, Master," she said, "I beg to please you and as a slave."

"But you are untrained," I said, scornfully.

"Train me," she begged, tears in her eyes.

I regarded her, dispassionately.

"Train me, Master," she begged. "Train me, please, Master!"

"Take your hair from behind your left shoulder," I said, "and hold it before,and against, your lips. Part of the hair keep before your lips and against them.

Another part of the hair, the center strands, take back between your lips, sothat you can feel it on the soft interior surfaces of your lips. A portion ofthis same hair take then back against your teeth, and a portion of that back,between the teeth. Now purse your lips and, while remaining kneeling, rise fromyour heels, and lean forward, gently and submissively."

And thus began the training of a nameless slave on the plains of Gor.

In a few moments I thrust her back to the blankets.

"Do I train well, Master?" she asked.

"Yes," I said, "Pretty slave. You are an apt pupil, and you train well."

She snuggled against me.

"It is a tribute to your intelligence," I said.

"Thank you, Master," she said.

"And to your genetic predisposition to slavery," I said.

"Yes, Master," she said.

A woman's acquisition of slave arts follows a steep learning curve, far beyondwhat would be expected was the template, or readiness, for these arts notintrinsic to her nature. She learns them far too swiftly and well not to be, ineffect, a born slave.

"Oh!" she said, and then I again took her.

This time the slave squirmings of her, though inchoate and rudimentary, wereunmistakable.

"How long has it been since you were a virgin?" I asked.

"A thousand years," she smiled. "I think perhaps ten thousand years."

"Do you feel now less than you were before," I asked, "less important, somehowless significant?"

"No," she said, "I feel ten thousand times more important, more significant,than I was before."

"Virginity, as I understand it, in English," I said, "is sometimes spoken of asthough it might be something which could be lost. In Gorean, on the other hand,it is usually conceived of as something which is to be outgrown, or superseded."

"Interesting," she said.

"What, in English," I asked, "is a woman who is not a virgin?"

She thought for a moment. "A nonvirgin, I suppose," she said.

"This type of distinction is drawn in various ways in Gorean," I said. "Theclosest to the English is the distinction between "glana' and "metaglana. "Glana' denotes the state or virginity and "metaglana' denotes the statesucceeding virginity. Do you see the difference?"

"Yes," she said, "in Gorean virginity is regarded as a state to be succeeded."

"Another way of drawing the distinction is in terms of "falarina', and" profalarina. "Profalarina' designates the state preceding falarina, which isthe state of the woman who has been penetrated at least once by a male."

"Here," she said, "the state of virginity is regarded as one which looks toward,or has not yet attained, the state of falarina."

"Yes," I said. "In the first case, virginity is seen as something to besucceeded, and, in the second, it is seen as something which is conceived of asmerely antedating the state of falarina. It takes its very meaning from the factthat it is not yet falarina."

"Both of these situations are quite different from the English said. "InEnglish, as I see now, interestingly, virginity is spoken of as a positiveproperty, and nonvirginity, in spite of its obvious and momentous importance,and even its necessity, presumably, for the continuation of the species, seemsto be regarded as being merely the absence of a property, or the privation of aproperty."

"Yes," I said. "It is as though the whole spectrum were divided into the blueand the nonblue. Properly understood the nonblue is every bit as real, and iseven more extensive and variegated than the blue."

"Yes," she said.

"It is thus that pathological conceptions, ingrained in common speech, canproduce distorted notions of reality," I said…"I understand, Master," she said.

"In Gorean, as not in English," I said, "the usual way, however, of drawing thedistinction is in terms of "glana' and "falarina. Separate words, these, areused for the separate properties or conditions. Both conditions, so to speak,are accorded a similar status. Both are regarded as being equally real, equallypositive, so to speak."

"Yes, Master," she said.

"Sometimes, metaphorically, in English, however," I said, "a distinction isdrawn between the virgin and the woman, a distinction which is almost Gorean intone. Strictly, of course, in English, one might be both a woman and a virgin."

"Do Goreans speak freely of these things?" she asked.

"Free persons do not commonly speak freely of them," I said. "For example,whether a free woman is glana or falarina is obviously her business, and no oneelse's. Such intimate matters are well within the prerogatives of her privacy."

"Such matters, however, I suspect," she said, "are not within the prerogativesof a slave's privacy."

"No," I said. "Such matters are public knowledge about slaves, as much as thecolor of their hair and eyes, and their collar size."

"And my most intimate measurements?" she asked.

"Public knowledge," I assured her, "if anyone should be interested."

"What privacy am I permitted, then?" she asked.

"None," I told her.

"And what secrets?" she asked.

"None," I told her.

"I see," she said.

"You perhaps now understand, a little better than before; I said," What it willbe to be a slave."

"Yes, Master," she said.

"Your opening, for example, is not to be kept a secret," I said.

"The blood you smeared on my leg will see to that," she smiled.

"Do you fear the criticism, the derision, or ridicule, of the other girls?" Iasked.

"I fear only," she said, "that I may not have sufficiently pleased my master."

"Excellent," I said.

"As they, too, soon shall fear," she said.

"Yes," I said. I wondered if she knew how truly she spoke. The girls on a chain,once opened and made to serve, usually begin to compete among themselves, andsoon, to see who can serve the masters best, and those who do not enterearnestly into this competition, it might be mentioned, are usually the first tobe fed to sleen.

"I was glana," she smiled. "Now I am falarina."

I put my hand, forcibly, over her mouth. Then I removed it from her mouth. "Suchexpressions," I said, "are commonly to be spoken of, and by, free persons. Theyare not to be applied to slaves, any more than to tarsk sows."

"Yes, Master," she said.

"You were white silk," I said. "Now you are red silk."

"We are not even entitled to the same words as free persons in such matters?" she asked.

"No," I told her.

"I understand, Master," she said, tears in her eyes.

"Even here, however," I said," you will note that both words suggest a similarstatus. Both notions are equally positive, both properties are conceived of asbeing equally real."

"That is true," she said.

"To be sure," I said, "white in the context of "white-silk girl' tends less tosuggest purity and innocence to the Gorean than ignorance and naivety, and alack of experience. "Red, in the context of "red-silk girl, on the other hand,connotes rather clearly, I think, experience. One expects a red-silk girl, forexample, not only to be able to find her way about the furs, but, subject to thewhip, owned and dominated, perhaps chained, to prove herself a sensuous treasurewithin them."

"I am red-silk," she said. "Have me."

"Perhaps," I said. I began to touch her, gently.

"Ohhh," she said, "yes."

"Do you like that?" I asked.

"Must I respond to such a question?" she asked.

"Yes," I said.

"Yes, Master," she said. "I like it." She closed her eyes. "Oh, yes," she said,"I like it."

"Master," she said, looking up at me.

"Yes," I said.

"More than once tonight," she said, "you have mentioned binding, or chaining."

"Yes," I said.

"I would fear to be bound or chained," she said.

"All the more reason to bind or chain you," I said.

She shuddered.

"Master," she said.

"Yes," I said.

"Why would you bind a woman who is a slave?" she asked. "She knows that there isno escape for her. She is not going to run away. She knows that you may do withher as you please."

"It holds her in a given position," I said, "for your leisured work upon herbody."

"That is true," she said.

"But the primary reasons," I said, "are, as you might suspect, psychological,both from the point of view of the master and the slave. She, chained, or bound,is helpless. She knows that she might, at the master's whim, be slit like alarma. This increases her terror, her vulnerability, her desire to be foundpleasing. This makes her feel more slave like and, accordingly, more ready torespond to the touch of the master. From the master's point of view, of course,this is also stimulating. It is pleasant for a man to have absolute power over awoman, to have her bound or chained in a position of his choosing, and to knowthat she must submit to whatever be chooses to do to her. In this situation theequations of nature, those of dominance and submission, are intensified. This isfelt by both the master and the slave. Too, to be sure, there is, forphysiological reasons also, commonly, some boosting of the female's responses,as the result of the binding, the restraint. The orgasmic spasms, somewhatrestricted, or, perhaps better, channeled, regulated and controlled, confinedwithin the parameters set by the master, must then seem more intense, moreconcentrated."

"I see," she whispered.

"But the main thing, in my opinion," I said, "is the psychological effect on thewoman, the bringing home to her, I in clear, forcible and undeniable terms, thereality of her situation, that she is helpless, that she is at his mercy, thatshe, regardless of her will, is now his to do with as he pleases, that she isowned, that she is his slave, and that he is her master."

"I would be terrified to be bound," she said.

I saw that she wished to be bound.

I continued to caress her.

"Master," she whispered.

"Yes," I said.

"Bind me," she whispered.

"Do you beg it?" I asked.

"Yes," she whispered. "I beg to be bound."

"Kneel," I told her, "quickly."

Swiftly then did she kneel, and looked at me, frightened.

"I have changed my mind," she said.

"Do not break position," I told her.

"Yes, Master," she said.

I went to my saddlebags, with the kaiila saddle, and withdrew two fairly shortlengths of soft, pliant, braided black leather, each about twenty-five inches inlength.

I pulled back her right wrist a bit and tied it to her right ankle. I left herabout six or seven inches of slack between wrist and ankle. "This is a commonopen-legged tie," I said. "It is not good for general security, but it is agood, and familiar, slave tie." I then fastened her left wrist to her leftankle, as I had done with her right wrist and-ankle. "When finished with you," Isaid', "I might simply bind your wrists behind you and tie your ankles together.

That is a familiar and effective security tie. If you had not been sufficientlypleasing I might pull up your bound ankles and tie them to your wrists. Yourneck, of course, might always be tied to a stake, or bound to a tree."

I then stood up and stepped back, to observe my handiwork. "An advantage of thistie," I said, "is that a girt may kneel in it comfortably for hours, perhapsbeside a master's chair, while he works, and is not yet ready for her."

She pulled a little, almost surreptitiously, at the leather on her wrists,leading back to her ankles.

"Is this all?" she asked, timidly.

"I see that there are potentialities of this tie which, as yet, you have notdiscerned," I said.

I then took her by the hair and threw her forward on the blankets, on her belly.

"Struggle," I told her.

She did so, helplessly. Then she ceased her struggles.

"An interesting perspective on a woman," I said. "Too, bound in this positionshe is seldom in doubt as to the fact that she is a slave. Too, in time, it canbe quite painful." She groaned, and I, mercifully, thrust her to her side. Shelooked up at me, frightened. "Whereas this tie," I said, "is not good forgeneral security, it is quite adequate for specific security, namely, securityin a specific situation, in this case, in the presence of the master or akeeper. For example, under observation, you cannot very well employ your righthand in the attempt to undo the knot on your left ankle. If the tie, of course,is accomplished with chains, then it is also adequate for a general security, anaesthetic and delicious general security, a chain neck leash being added,naturally, to restrict movement." I then put her on her back. Her knees weredrawn up and her hands held helplessly at her sides. "Now," I said, "I think youcan see one of the main virtues of this, tie. The woman is quite helpless,absolutely, and there is not the least impedance to the master's approach."

She seemed to shrink back in the bonds.

"Please, untie me," she said.

I thrust apart her knees.

"Oh!" she said.

I held her knees apart, not permitting her to close them.

"I do not want to be tied like this!" she cried. "I did not know it would belike this. I am too helpless! Please, untie me! Free me! Loosen my bonds! Do notkeep me tied like this! No! Please!"

I regarded her.

She looked at me in fear. She squirmed, helplessly.

"What do you know of me?" I asked her.

"Nothing," she said, "only that you are my master."

"What might I do to you?" I asked.

"Anything," she said.

I withdrew my hands, permitting her to close her knees, which she did,immediately, clenching them fearfully together.

"You have tied me like a pig," she said.

"The pig," I said, "is not a Gorean animal. To be sure, you are trussed ratherlike a she-tarsk."

"You have tied me, then," she said, "like a she-tarsk!"

"Do not flatter yourself," I said, "that you enjoy a status as high as eitherthat of the pig or she-tarsk. Your status is lower than that of either. It isthat of the female slave."

"You have bound me, then," she said, "as a slave!"

"Now you speak the truth," I informed her.

"What are you going to do with me?" she asked.

"Whatever I wish," I said.

She moaned. She pulled weakly at her wrist tethers, fastening her wrists to herankles.

"Do you begin to sense now," I asked, "what it might for a woman to be bound bya man?"

"Yes, Master," she whispered.

"Can you escape?" I asked.

"No, Master," she said.

"Are you powerless?" I asked.

"Yes, Master," she said. "I am powerless, totally."

"What will be done to you?" I asked.

"I do not know! ' she wept. "I am helpless. I am a slave. I am at your mercy. Itis you who will decide what is to be done with me."

"Perhaps I will whip you, lashing you with my belt," I said. "Perhaps I willkick you, again and again. convincing you of your worthlessness. Perhaps I shallkneel across your body, slapping you, methodically, again and again, until youbeg for mercy. Perhaps I shall merely, for my amusement, beat you senseless."

"Please, Master, no," she said.

"Perhaps it shall be the quirt," I said. "Perhaps I shall us the quirt on you,lengthily, as on a recalcitrant she-kaiila."

"No, Master," she said. "Please, no, Master! ' "Are you recalcitrant?" I asked.

"I am not recalcitrant," she said. "I am docile, and obedient. I am ready toplease you, and I desire to please you."

"Perhaps I will butcher you," I said. "Perhaps I will take you.

She looked at me, in horror.

"Would you prefer to be butchered or taken?" I asked.

"Taken, Master," she said. "I beg to be taken."

"The taking of a free woman," I asked, "in which, to some extent, her dignity,pride and status are respected, or the taking of a slave?"

"I am a slave, Master," she said. "I beg that of a slave."

I looked at her knees, clenched closely together. "Spread your knees apart,widely," I told her.

"Yes, Master," she said.

"Now beg," I told her.

"I beg," she said.

In moments it was necessary to thrust her hair, balled and wadded, into hermouth, and I put my hand, too, over her mouth. Her eyes were wild. She kickedwildly at the pliant, braided black leather, again and again. Then, mercifully,I unbound her limbs and I let her straighten her trembling in the blankets. Withone finger I pulled the wet hair from her mouth. She was gasping, andshuddering. I held her closely for a few minutes that she might, while thuswarmed and sheltered, make some adjustment to this new dimension, which she haddiscovered in her being.

"What was it?" she whispered.

"It was a small one," I reassured her.

"What was it?" she whispered.

"It was the first, I think, of your slave orgasms," I said. I then rose from herside and threw her the tiny slave tunic. "Put it on," I said. She did so, and Ithen lifted her gently in my arms and carried her to the chain. I put her downthere, on her side, softly, in the grass. When I lifted the opened collar toplace it about her throat, she put her hands on my wrists, and softly kissed myhands. She looked at me, her eyes wondrous, and soft.

"I did not know it could be like that," she said.

"It was only a small thing," I said.

"There could be more?" she asked.

"You have not yet begun to learn what it can be, to be a slave," I said.

She looked at me, frightened.

I then snapped the collar about her throat.

"Do you know, ultimately," I asked, "Who will prove to be your one besttrainer?"

"No, Master," she said.

"You, yourself," I said, "the girl, herself, eager to please, imaginative andintelligent, monitoring her own performances and feelings, striving lovingly toimprove and refine them. You yourself will be largely responsible for makingyourself the superb slave you will become."

"Master?" she asked.

"The collar," I said, touching it, "is put on from without, but what itencircles, the slave, comes from within."

"Master?" she asked.

Slavery," I told her, "true slavery, comes from within, and you, my lovelylittle red-haired beast, I assure you, as was evidenced by your behavior andperformances this night, are a true slave. Do not fight your slavery. Allow itfreely and spontaneously, candidly, sweetly and untrammeled, to manifest itself.

It is what you are."

"Yes, Master," she said.

"It, too," I said, "will save you many bouts with the lash."

"Yes, Master," she said.

I then turned about and left her, on the chain. "Master!" she called, but I didnot turn back. She would stay there, on the coffle, where I bad put her. She wasonly a slave.

I returned to my blankets and lay down again, to sleep for a few Ehn before thecamp began to stir.

Nothing of importance had transpired. I had merely done a favor for Grunt, myfriend, opening a slimly bodied, red-haired girl for him, one of his slaves.

To be sure, she was pretty, and first on the coffle.

14 It is a Good Trading; Pimples; I Learn Something of the Waniyanpi; CornStalks; Sign; Grunt and I Will Proceed East

The red-haired girl cried out in pain and fear, struck from her knees back inthe grass by the plump, scornful woman of the red savages, a sturdy-leggedmatron of the Dust Legs. She looked up at her in terror. Slave girls know thatthey have most to fear from free women.

"Wowiyutanye!" hissed the Dust-Leg woman at the frightened girl lying on herside in the grass before her.

"Yes, Mistress," said the girl in Gorean, uncomprehendingly.

The men at the trading point scarcely paid them any attention.

I sat nearby, a blanket spread out before me, on which I had spread out variousof the trade goods, mostly mirrors, dyes and beads this afternoon, which I hadbrought into the Barrens.

The Dust-Leg woman threw the girl to her right side in the grass and pulled upthe tunic on her left thigh. The girl, terrified, did not resist. "Inahan!" called the Dust-Leg woman to the others about, pointing to the brand on thegirl's thigh. "Guyapi!"

"Ho," said one of the men, agreeably. "Inahan," agreed another.

"Winyela!" announced the woman.

"Inahan," said more than one man.

"Cesli!" said the woman scornfully to the girl.

"Please do not hurt me, Mistress," said the girl, in Gorean.

"Ahtudan!" cried the woman at her, angrily, and then she spat upon her.

"Yes, Mistress," said the red-haired girl. "Yes, Mistress!" She then pulled upher legs and looked down, into the grass.

The Dust-Leg woman turned away from her and came over to where I sat behind theblanket. She beamed at me. The Dust Legs, on the whole, are an affable,openhearted and generous people. They tend to be friendly and outgoing.

"Hou," said the woman to me, kneeling before the blanket.

"Hou," said I to her.

It is difficult not to like them. Most trading is done with them. They tend tobe the intermediaries and diplomats of the western Barrens.

The woman opened a rectangular hide envelope, a parfleche, slung on a strap overher shoulder. In it were various samples of beadwork and some small skins. Sheput some of these things on her edge of the blanket.

"Hopa," I said, admiringly. "Hopa."

She beamed, her teeth strong and white in her broad, reddish-brown face.

She pointed to a small mirror, with a red-metal rim. I handed it to her.

I glanced back. Behind us and to the side the red-haired girl, timidly,frightened, had resumed a kneeling position. I do not think that she hadpersonally offended the Dust-Leg woman. I think it was rather that the Dust-Legwoman simply did not entertain any great affection for white female slaves. Manywomen of the red savages, in spite of the wishes of their men, do not approve ofsuch soft, curvaceous, desirable trade goods being brought into the Barrens.

The Dust-Leg woman carefully examined the small mirror. I looked beyond her, toa few yards away; where several kailla of the visiting Dust-Legs, were tethered.

There, with the animals, a two-legged one, and lovely legs they were indeed,doubtless by the paws of her master's beast. She wore a brief garment offringed, tanned skin, rent and stained, doubtless a castoff from some freewoman's shirtdress, shortened to slave length. She was wet with sweat and darkwith dust. Her hair, which was dark, was wet, and tangled and matted. Her legs,bloodied and muchly scratched, were black with dust and sweat. Here and thereone could see where the trickle of perspiration had run through the dust. On herthighs where she had rubbed her hands the dust was streaked in wet smears. Shehad been run beside her master's kaiila and apparently not slowly.

Grunt was engaged in conversation with four or five of the Dust-Leg men. Then herose to his feet, and went to his stores, to bring forth a fine hatchet.

The female slave of the Dust Legs, kneeling by the kaiila, wore a beaded collar,about an inch and a half in height. It was an attractive collar. It was lacedclosed, and tied snugly shut, in front of her throat. The patterns in thebeading were interesting. They indicated her owner. Similar patterns are used bygiven individuals to identify their arrows or other personal belongings. It isparticularly important to identify the arrows, for this can make a difference inthe division of meat. It is death to a slave, incidentally, to remove such acollar without permission. Furthermore the collar is fastened by what is, ineffect, a signature knot, a complex knot, within a given tribal style, whosetying is known only to the individual who has invented it. It is thus, for mostpractical purposes, impossible to remove and replace such a collar without themaster, in his checking of the knot, by untying and retying it, being able totell. Suffice it to say, the slaves of the red savages do not remove theftcollars. The girl kept her head down. She apparently was not being permitted toraise her eyes at the trading point. She might, thus, if the master wished, havecome and gone from the trading point without having seen anything or recognizedanything, unless perhaps the grass between her knees and the paws of hermaster's kaiila. Gorean slaves, incidentally, wherever they may be found, say,in the cities or in the Barrens, are generally kept under an iron discipline. Itis the Gorean way.

"Two," said the Dust-Leg woman, in Gorean, holding up two fingers. She indicatedthe mirror, now lying before her, and two beaded rectangles, drawn from herparfleche. This type of beadwork is popular in curio shops in certain Goreancities, far from the perimeter; it may also be fashioned by leather workers intovarious crafted articles, such as purses, pouches, wallets, belt decorations;envelopes and sheaths. Interestingly this type of article is more popular awayfrom the perimeter than near it. It is not merely that it is more common nearerthe perimeter but, I think, that it serves as a reminder, near the perimeter, ofthe reality and proximity of the red nations, whereas these same nations, ortribes, far from the perimeter tend to be regarded not only as remote but asalmost mythical peoples. The ear-splitting cry of a Kaiila warrior, for example,has seldom awakened a good burgher of Ar from his slumbers.

"Five," I suggested to the Dust-Leg woman. I recalled that Grunt had, two daysago, at another trading point, received five such rectangles for a similarmirror. I smiled when I made this suggestion to the Dust-Leg woman. In suchtrading, it is a good idea, on both sides, to smile, a great deal. This makesthe entire exchange, if one takes place, a good deal more pleasant for bothparties. Not only are tensions eased but vanities are less likely to becomeinvolved in the trading. It is easier, if one is smiling, to get a little lessthan one would like, or to give a bit more than one might otherwise choose to.

Concessions, thus, for both sides, are less like defeats and more like favorsbestowed on friends. In the long run, this increases the percentage of mutuallysatisfactory bargains, and the individual who has found dealing with yousatisfactory, of course, is more likely to deal with you again. He becomes, ineffect, a customer. It is better to make less profit on a customer and have himcome back than make a higher profit and not see him again. These, at any rate,were the sentiments of Grunt, who seemed popular with the Dust Legs, and, as faras I can tell, they are substantially sound.

I glanced again to the white female slave of the Dust Legs, kneeling, eyes down,in her beaded collar, by the kaiila. I thought if she were washed and combed shemight not be unattractive. It was easy to see why Dust-Leg men might find suchgoods of interest. It might be pleasant to have such a lovely animal about, tocook one's meat, to keep one's lodge and please one, humbly and obediently, inthe furs. I could also see why Dust-Leg women could view such a commodity withdistaste and contempt. How could they, free, begin I compete with a slave? Howcould they even begin to do it unless they, themselves, also became slaves?

"Two," said the Dust-Leg woman.

"Five," I said. My interest in the Barrens, of course, was not in trading. Asfar as I was concerned I might have give the woman the mirror. On the otherhand, I realized, and Grunt had made it clear to me, too, that one must notinsult the red savages nor deal with them unrealistically, particularly in thelight of other traders and merchants who might follow me. If I gave away goods,or traded them too cheap this would suggest that I was delivering cheap orinferior merchandise, an inference it would not be in our interest for redsavages to draw. Too, if they thought the goods sound, they might think they hadbeen paying too highly for them in the past, or expect that future dealers woulddeal with them similarly, which, of course, they not be likely to do, nor beable, realistically, to afford to do.

One of the Dust-Leg men was examining, with great care the hatchet which Grunthad shown him. Grunt excused himself and rose to his feet. One does not hurryred savages in their perusals of products.

Grunt went again to his stores and brought forth some packages, wrapped in waxedpaper. "Canhanpisasa," said Grunt. "Canhanpitasaka. Canhanpitiktica." He thenbegan pass out, to the Dust-Leg men and women about, pieces candy, lumps of cakesugar and flakes of dried molasses. The woman with whom I was dealing, too,received a palmful of molasses flakes. She smacked her lips. Grunt and she thenexchanged what I took to be appropriate civilities and compliments.

She pointed to Grunt. "Wopeton," she said. "Akihoka, Zontaheca."

I looked at Grunt. I knew one of his names among red savages was Wopeton, whichmeans Trader, or Merchant.

"She says I am a skillful and honest fellow," he said.

"Hopa! Wihopawin!" he said to her.

The plump woman doubled over, laughing. "Hopa', I knew meant "pretty' or" attractive'.

"Wawihaka! Wayaiha!" she laughed.

"I told her she was a pretty woman," said Grunt, "and now she is teasing me. Shesays I am a joker, one who makes others laugh."

"Two," said the Dust-Leg woman to me.

"Five," I said to her.

Grunt looked about, the sweets in his hand. He saw a red youth near the men,sitting together. He motioned him to come closer. The lad wore a shirt, leggingsand a breechclout, so much perhaps because he was visiting at a trading point.

Grunt offered him some of the sweets. The young man shook his head, negatively.

He was eyeing the red-haired girl.

"Ah!" said Grunt. Then he turned to the red-haired girl "Strip," he told her.

Swiftly, unhesitantly, a slave, frightened, she did so. "Be flattered," saidGrunt to her. "Our young visitor finds you of greater interest than some bits ofmolasses." He then put his boot squarely in her back and thrust her forward, onher belly, before the young man. "Please him," he said.

"Master?" she asked.

"Rise to your knees before him," he said. "Remove his breechclout with yourteeth. Attempt to interest him in you."

"Yes, Master," she wept. But it would not be the first time she had pleased oneof Grunt's visitors.

Grunt watched the girl struggle to her knees. He replaced the sweets, wrappingthem, carefully in his pouch.

The girl looked up, frightened, at the red youth.

"Four," I said to the Dust-Leg woman. I supposed I should have actually set myoriginal price higher. Already I would obtain less for the small mirror thanGrunt had for a comparable item the day before yesterday.

"Winyela," said the Dust-Leg woman, in disgust, glancing behind me to thered-haired girl.

I glanced back. Frightened, and humbly, and delicately she was pleasing theyouth. I had little doubt but what he would find her of interest.

"Winyela," said the Dust-Leg woman, and spat into the grass, A few yards away, near the kaiila, the white slave girl of the Dust Legs kepther head down, not daring to raise it.

Grunt had now gone back to the coffle, where most of his girls huddled together,the chain on their necks, and removed Ginger, and Ulla and Lenna, the twoSwedish girls, from the chain. All of the girls in the camp, with the exceptionof the red-haired girl, had now been named. In each case their former Earth namehad been put on them, but now, like a brand, by their master's decision, as aslave name. The two Americans, beside the red-haired girl, were Lois and Inez;the French girl was Corinne; the two English girls were Priscilla and Margaret.

That the red-haired girl had not been named as yet was not a function of thefact that either Grunt or myself saw any difficulty with Millicent as a slavename. The former debutante's name seemed to us quite suitable for a slave'sname. It was rather that he did not yet wish her to be named. She was tocontinue, for the time, as a nameless slave. The object of this was to lower herstanding in the camp, and to assist in her training. Granting her in hospitalityto various of his guests had a similar object. Grunt now came forward, Ulla andLenna bent over, one on each side of him, their hair in his hands. Gingerfollowed, a pace or two behind. Five of his girls were, now, not in the coffle,four of these being the red-haired girl, and Ginger, and Ulla and Lenna. Theother was the English girl, Margaret, whom he had put naked, her legs pulled up,under a kailiauk hide, on the grass.

Grunt threw both of the girls to their knees near the sitting men. He thenjerked their tunics from them. "Bring your hair forward, over your breasts," hesaid. "Cover yourselves, as best you can." His commands were translated, rapidlyand expertly, by Ginger. The two girls complied immediately. They coveredthemselves, as they could, with their hair. They crossed their hands and coveredtheir breasts. They clenched their knees together. They put their heads down.

The seated men laughed. It amused them to see slaves in such postures. Did theythink they were free women, before captors? Yet, too, I think there were fewthere who were not aroused seeing the women in this position. Such a position,in its pathetic pretense to modesty, begs to be rudely terminated; it taunts themaster, in effect, to the ensuing and uncompromising exposure of the slave. Sucha position, if prolonged more than a few moments, can become a nuisance orinconvenience to the master. It is, thus, seldom lengthily tolerated. Itsprimary value, and there is little other reason for permitting the slave toassume it, is to lead her to believe, and hope, that she may be accorded sometiny particle of dignity or respect, an illusion which then, to her shame andhumiliation, may be totally shattered by the master.

Grunt then drew in the grass, with the heel of his boot, a circle, some ten feetor so in width.

He then looked to the Dust Legs. One of the men stood up and pointed to Ulla.

Grunt then ordered her to stand in the circle, orders conveyed by Ginger, which,frightened, half crouched over, she did.

I saw that the red youth now had the red-haired girl on her back in the grass.

"Resist, to the best of your ability," said Grunt to Ulla. She nodded her head,frightened, hearing the translation from Ginger.

The Dust Leg then, with a rawhide thong, stepped into the ring in the grass.

Ulla tried to resist him, as best she could, but, in a moment, bruised andvomiting, he not having been gentle with her, she was on her belly in the grass,her hands being jerked behind her and tied. He then put her on her back on thegrass, pulling her up so that she rested on her elbows. He kicked her legsapart.

"Eca! Eca!" said the other men.

"Eca!" agreed Grunt, heartily.

"You, Lenna, my dear, now," said Grunt. "Into the circle! Fight! Fight!"

Ginger translated this, but I think Lenna needed little in the way oftranslation.

Clearly Lenna did not wish to be abused, as had been Ulla. On the other hand sheknew she must obey, and to the best of her ability.

Another red warrior leaped into the circle, a bit of rawhide thong loosely inhis mouth. Lenna struck wildly out at him and he seized her wrist turning herabout and thrusting her wrist high and painfully behind her back. She screamed.

I feared be would break her arm. Then he kicked her feet out from under her andshe was on her belly. He then seized her by the hair with both hands and yankedher up on her knees and bent her backwards, until her head was at the grass,exhibiting the bow of her captured beauty for his fellows. Then he threw herforward, again, on her belly, and, in a moment, kneeling across her body, hadlashed her wrists tightly behind her body. He then, like his fellow, turned herto her back, pulled her up, so that she rested on her elbows, and, standing up,over her, kicked her legs apart, too. Ulla and Lenna, together, then, lay in thecircle, up on their elbows, their legs kicked apart. The second fellow hadhandled Lenna even more rapidly, I thought, than had the first fellow handledUlla. Both girls had been speedily vanquished, and both now, helpless, laytrussed, their legs symbolically spread, at the feet of their conquerors.

"Eca!" said the men. "Eca!" commended Grunt. "Eca!"

"Remember," said Grunt to the helpless Ulla and Lenna, "you are to be totallypleasing to masters. You are never, unless commanded to do so, to resist oroppose them in any way. Your hands could be cut off or you could be tortured andkilled."

"Yes, Master," said the girls, fearfully, in Gorean, following Ginger'stranslation.

Ulla looked at the man who had vanquished and bound her. Lenna regarded the manwho had served her similarly, and with such dispatch. Neither of them, I think,had expected to be made so helpless so quickly, and with such strength. Lennaand Ulla exchanged glances and then looked away from one another, reddening,shamed. They had been well bound, as women, and as slaves. Doubtless they werewondering what it would be like to be owned by such men.

Grunt then sat down and began to talk with the other men, not the two stillstanding, as though nothing had happened, as though it had been only a bit ofsport with two imbonded sluts, only an amusement for the entertainment of hisguests.

One of the standing men pointed to Ulla, and said something. The other pointedto Lenna, and, too, said something.

"Oh?" asked Grunt, innocently.

I smiled to myself. It is hard for a man to subdue and bind a naked womanwithout wanting her. I thought Grunt would get an excellent price for the twobeauties.

The red-haired girl, whimpering, was still lying beneath the red youth, clutchedin his arms. She looked at me, frightened. He was again, eagerly, at her body.

She had well succeeded, it seemed, as her master had desired, in arousing hisinterest. He had turned her about, roughly, curiously, this way and that, fromtime to time, caressing her and examining her, and making her please him. Therewas some blood at her mouth, where, once or twice, he had cuffed her. I saw herhands, half wanting to grasp him, half wanting to thrust him back. He wasspeaking to her in Dust Leg, slowly and clearly. "Yes, Master," she whimpered,in Gorean. "Yes, Master." It amused me that the youth, like so many individualsto whom only one language is familiar, so familiar that it seems that all humansmust, in one way or another, be conversant with it, seemed to think that thegirl must surely understand him if only he would speak slowly enough and withsufficient distinctness. Grunt, of course, might have helped her, but he wasengaged in business. I, myself, though I had acquired a few words of Dust Leg,had little more idea, specifically, of what the youth was saying than the girldid. His tone of voice suggested that he was not commending her on her beauty, apastime on which the masters are inclined to waste little time with their whiteslaves, but ordering her to do something. "Relax," I told the girl. "Let looseof yourself. Feel. Yield."

She looked at me, frightened.

"You are a slave," I told her. "Yield, and yield fully-and as a slave."

She then, gratefully, clutched the youth, and put her head back, rapturouslysobbing and shuddering.

I then saw that my presence, interestingly, had had an inhibiting influence onher. She bad been on the brink of yielding, a nerve's width away, but had beenfighting her feelings and herself, apparently shamed to yield as a slave toanother man in my presence.

She cried out with pleasure, clutching the red youth.

"Winyela," said the Dust-Leg woman, scornfully.

Slave girls must yield, and fully, to any man. Their entire mental set, so tospeak, in the furs, is oriented toward providing the master with marvelouspleasures, and, in their own case, to feel as richly and deeply as possible,and, in the end, in an uncompromised and delicious capitulation, submittingfully to their master, to obtain the surrender spasms of one who is merely avanquished woman, naught but an owned and degraded slave. This is quitedifferent from the mental set taken by the free woman to the furs, of course,with attendant deleterious consequences for the free woman, in so far as anywoman could be called free who is not surrendered and owned. The free woman isexpected to pervert her nature in the furs, behaving as a cultural identicalrather than as what she is by nature, the servant and slave of her master. It islittle wonder that the free woman, concerned with her putative identically, herstatus, her image, her dignity and pride, is often inhibited and sexually inertin the furs. The Goreans say that if one has never had a slave one has never hada woman. Similarly there is a secret saying, among Gorean men, that no female isa woman, who has not been made a slave. The free woman, often, fears to feel.

The slave, on the other hand, fears not to feel, for she may then, in alllikelihood, be punished. The same frigidity which may be accounted a virtueamong free women, figuring in their vanity competitions, how well they canresist men, is commonly among slaves an occasion for the imposition of severediscipline; it can even constitute a capital offense. The degraded slave haslittle choice but to yield, and yield well. An interesting question arises as towhether a woman, permitted her own will in the matter, as a slave is not, can beforced to yield. There are two answers to this question, and the divisionbetween the answers is primarily a function of the time involved. Within a givenamount of time, say, half of an Ahn, some women can resist some men. On theother hand, there will be some men whom they cannot resist and to whom, despitetheir will in the matter, they will find themselves uncontrollably yielding.

Given a longer amount of time, however, any woman may be made to yield, whethershe wishes to or not, by any man. Sometimes, after such a yielding, she is thencollared. "Resistance is now no longer permitted," he tells her. "Yes, Master," she says. She now knows that she, as a slave, must open herself to feeling, andeven seek it avidly, even knowing whence it leads, to the acknowledgment of themale as her master, and of her as his slave.

Behind me the red-haired girl was whimpering with pleasure in the arms of thered youth.

"Winyela," snorted the Dust-Leg woman, contemptuously.

"Four," I said, recalling her attention to our bargaining.

"Two," she said, eyeing the mirror.

"Four," I said.

"Three," she said, suddenly, beaming, the fine, strong teeth bright in herbroad, reddish-brown face.

"Three," I agreed. I saw she wanted the mirror.

I gave her the mirror and she gave me the three beaded rectangles. She then roseup, well pleased, and took her leave. I folded up the blanket with the goods,and the beaded rectangles, within it. I had certainly not driven a difficultbargain. Grunt, two days ago, had received five such articles for a similarmirror. I should, I supposed, have set my original price higher.

I looked to my right and I saw the two red warriors tying beaded collars on thenecks of Ulla and Lenna. Kailiauk robes lay on the grass. Earlier today Grunthad fashioned a travels for his pack kaiila. Such a device, the poles crossingover the withers of the kaiila, reduces the animal's speed but makes it possiblefor it to transport a heavier weight. Travels are common, particularly in themovements of camps, among he red savages. Travois, I suspected, would be heavilyladen by the time Grunt was ready to return to Kailiauk.

I glanced to where the kaiila of the Dust Legs were located. The girl there, thedark-haired girl in the beaded collar, still knelt as she had been placed, atthe paws of her master's kaiila. Her head was still down. She did not look up.

She was under excellent discipline.

Between where the men sat and the coffle, a bit to the right, was the spread-outkailiauk robe under which Grunt had put Margaret, naked, her legs drawn up. Shehad been under the robe for hours. It would be hot under the robe, in the sun,and there would be insects in the grass. I grinned. I think she was learning herslavery. It was a clever trick on Grunt's part. Certainly the Dust- Legs who,like most red savages, are an inquisitive, observant folk, would be curious asto the precise nature of the goods which lay beneath that robe. Clearly it was awoman. Was Grunt trying to hide her?

I saw leather thongs put on the necks of Ulla and Lenna, the beaded collarsthrust up to admit them. These thongs were then tied to the high pommels of thekaiila saddles. Such saddles are not uncommon among the red savages, though theyare commonly used for visiting, trading and ceremonial journeys. The hunting andwar the red savage commonly rides bareback. The thongs were some seven or eightfeet in length and the red savages knelt Ulla and Lenna down, their bands stilltied behind them by the forepaws of their kaiila.

One of the red savages was now walking over to the kailiauk robe beneath whichlay Margaret.

The red youth now rose from the side of the red-haired girl, adjusting hisbreechclout. He then indicated that she should roll onto her stomach, which shedid. He then slapped her twice, commending her. Her hands clutched at the grass.

He then sauntered away.

I walked over to her. "It seems I have served my purpose," she whispered,angrily, in English.

"One of your purposes," I said, "for the time being." I spoke to her in English.

She rose to her hands and knees, and looked up at me. She put down her head,reddening. She looked up again, angrily, and then, again, put down her head,blushing. "Why did you make me yield?" she asked.

"You wanted to," I said. "And, besides, as a slave, you must yield."

She did not speak.

"Are you angry?" I asked.

"Yes," she said.

"I heard you cry out, and whimper with pleasure," I said.

"It is true," she said. "I did want to yield. How terrible I must be."

"Such feelings," I said, "such desires to yield, are not only permitted of theslave, but required of her."

"Required?" she said.

"Yes," I said. "Do not confuse yourself with a free woman. You are quitedifferent from her."

"And as a slave," she said, "I had to yield. I had no choice, did I?"

"No," I said. "The slave must yield, and fully."

"How can you respect me?" she asked.

"Assume the belly position, and kiss my feet, Slave," I said.

She did so.

"What now was your question?" I asked.

"How-how can you respect me?" she asked, half choking.

"I do not," I told her. "Do you know why?"

"Yes, Master," she said.

"Why?" I asked.

"Because I am a slave," she said.

"True," I said.

"How strong are the men of this world," she said, wonderingly. "How they own,and dominate us. How, before them, can we be anything but women?"

"Your question about respect was stupid," I said. "Perhaps you should belashed."

"Please do not lash me, Master," she said.

I turned to leave. "Master," she said.

"Yes," I said.

"Tonight," she said, "I beg to be taken from the coffle for your pleasure."

"Tonight," I said, "I think I may be more in the mood for Lois or Inez, orperhaps Priscilla. We shall see. And tonight, in the coffle, you will be bound,hand and foot. Perhaps that will teach you to ask stupid questions."

"Yes, Master," she said.

I then went over to the kailiauk hide where one of the Dust Legs was standing.

Grunt had joined him there. Grunt seemed reluctant to lift the hide.

"Hou," I said to the Dust Leg.

"Hou," said he to me.

"Ieska!" called one of the Dust Legs, rising to his feet, where the men had beensitting. This was another of the names by which Grunt was known in the Barrens.

It literally is one who speaks well. Less literally, it is used as a generalexpression for an interpreter.

Grunt excused himself and went to see what the man wanted. He was the fellow whohad been looking at the hatchet. The fellow was holding up three fingers, andthen he pointed to the dark-haired girl kneeling by the kaiila.

In an instant she had been summoned, and she hurried to him, as she could, withher head down, following the sound of his voice. When she reached her master andGrunt her master put his hand under her chin and thrust up her head. She lookedabout, startled, wildly, now permitted to regard surroundings. She saw the otherkaiila, the men, Grunt, myself, the girls in the coffle. Then she was strippedand knelt naked, before Grunt. He had her rise and turn slowly, her back arched,her hands behind the back of her head, before him. Then he again knelt her.

"Tarl," called Grunt to me. I went to him, and he tossed me his whip. "See ifshe whips well," he said.

The girl looked up at me, frightened.

"On your hands and knees," I told her.

She assumed this posture.

Much can be told of the responsiveness of a girl by how she moves beneath thewhip.

I would give her three lashes. After all I was not whipping her, but testingher.

I would not strike her with my full strength, but, on the other hand, she mustknow clearly that she had been struck.

How else could the test prove significant?

She cried out, thrown to her belly by the first stroke. I then administered thesecond stroke. She cried out in misery and turned to her side, pulling up herlegs. I then struck her a third time and she cried out again, sobbing, andpulled up her legs even more.

I thought she moved well beneath the whip. She obviously felt it, keenly.

"On your hands and knees," said Grunt. He then, as she shuddered, felt her, sherecently impressed with the might of men over her, she freshly lashed.

"Good," said Grunt.

She became Grunt's for three hatchets. She was, after all, only a white femaleslave and they were fine hatchets.

"Ieska! Wopeton!" called the fellow by the kailiauk hide.

We left the dark-haired girl on the grass, where she had been lashed, and thenpurchased.

The Dust Leg requested that the kailiauk hide be thrown aside. Grunt, a shrewdfellow, appeared to demur, and, indeed, even invited the fellow to examine theother girls on the coffle. The fellow, however, scarcely cast a glance at them,but they shrank back, under even so cursory an examination, fearing to belong toa red master. He did look for a longer moment at the red-haired girl but Gruntsaid something to him, and he turned from her again to speculate on what mightlie concealed beneath the kailiauk hide. Grunt apparently did not wish torelease the red-haired girl in a common sale. He had, it seemed, anotherdisposition in mind for her. I remembered he had speculated that he would getfive hides of the yellow kailiauk for her. No, she had not been brought along,marched into the Barrens, as a mere beast of burden. He had something else inmind for her.

One or two of the other Dust Legs now came over to where lay the kailiauk hide,concealing Margaret, the stripped English girl. The first Dust Leg was nowshowing signs of impatience. He was no fool. It was clear to him that Grunt, ifhe truly, seriously, wished to hide a girl, would presumably cache her, boundand gagged, out of sight, perhaps in a slit trench a pasang or so away. As itwas, the kailiauk hide was presumably a device to arouse the interest of apossible buyer. The Dust Leg doubtless realized this. Further, he doubtlessrealized that his interest, in spite of the obviousness of this stratagem, waspiqued. I could not blame him, accordingly, for feeling some irritation orresentment. I hoped Grunt knew what be was doing. He had already, in his trickwith Ulla and Lenna, in my opinion, been treading on dangerous ground. Suddenlythe Dust Leg, Grunt speaking to him, broke out in laughter. It took me a momentor so to understand what was happening, but, in an Ehn, it became quite clear.

The Dust Leg, if interested, was to bid, sight unseen, on what lay beneath thekailiauk hide. The whole thing was, in effect, a joke and a gamble. The matternow put in a clearer light, the Dust Leg, and his fellows, were delighted. Hetried to walk about and peep beneath the hide and Grunt, with great apparentearnestness and seriousness, hurried about, tugging down the hide at the edges.

Red savages, on whole, are fond of jokes and gambles. Their jokes, to be sure,might sometimes seem a bit eccentric or rude to more civilized folk. A favoritejoke, for example, is to tell a young man that his kaiila offer to the parentsof his prospective woman has been refused, thus plunging him into despair, untilwith roars of laughter, he is informed that it has been accepted. This type ofthing, incidentally, does not count, culturally, as a violation of truthtelling, a practice which the red savages take with great seriousness. Gambling,too, is of interest to the savages. Common games are lots, dice and stoneguessing. Betting, too, may take place in connection with such things as thefall of arrows, and the appearance and movements of animals, particularly birds.

Kaiila races, perhaps needless to say, are very popular. An entire village islikely to turn out to watch such a race. What was going on, further, could notbe clearly understood unless it is understood that the Dust Legs knew andrespected, and liked, Grunt. Such a game they would not have played with astranger. Theoretically, one supposes, a high bid might be made on what layconcealed beneath the hide and then the hide, the bid accepted, might bewithdrawn to reveal a wench as ugly as a tharlarion, but the Dust Legs knew, inthe practical context, that Grunt would not do this to them. They understood, inthe context, that he would be sure to put something not only good, but verygood, beneath that hide. Similarly, since bids are almost always lower on anunseen commodity, he would be, in effect, making them a gift. The Dust Legrefused, with great drama, to go higher than two hides for what lay beneath thehide. Grunt, he made it clear, must now either accept or reject that offer. Itwas, of course, accepted, and Grunt, with some flair, threw off the hide.

Margaret, suddenly exposed, cried out with fear. She blinked against the lightand made herself, lying on her side, as small as possible. Curled naked on thegrass, revealed, terrified, owned, she was exquisite. The two friends of theDust Leg shouted out with pleasure and, striking him about the shoulders andback, congratulated him on his good fortune. Margaret cringed at their feet. TheDust Leg, more than pleased, tried to get Grunt to accept at least one extrahide for the girl, but this, of course, Grunt magnanimously refused to do. Abargain struck was, after all, a bargain to be adhered to. He was, after all,was he not, a merchant? Margaret was jerked to her knees and the Dust Leg tiedhis beaded collar on her throat. He then bound her small wrists tightly beforeher body with a long thong and, pulling her to her feet, led her away, by thefree end of the thong, followed by his friends, to his kaiila.

"They are very pleased," I said to Grunt.

"I think so," he said.

We watched the Dust Legs mounting up now, most of them, both men and women,preparing to take their leave. Ulla and Lenna were now on their feet, theirhands still tied behind their backs, their neck thongs tied to the high,decorative pommels of their masters' saddles. Their masters regarded them. Theythen slapped the girls' naked flanks with possessive pleasure, as though theymight have been kaiila. They then climbed to theft saddles, leaving the girlsafoot, naked, neck-thonged, near theft stirrups. The girls looked up at theirmasters with fear and then, as the kaiila moved, hurried along beside the loftyanimals, the grass to their thighs. I had little doubt but what they would soonbe taught their duties, both those outside the lodge and those within it. I thensaw Margaret, looking wildly over her shoulder, being drawn along, by the thongon her wrists, at the side of her own master's beast. She, too, would doubtlesssoon receive instruction on the modalities of pleasure and service to be exactedby a red master of a female slave, and one who was merely white.

We watched the Dust Legs moving away, across the grasses.

"It was a good trading," I said.

"I think so," said Grunt. "We were all, I think, well satisfied."

"Do you think the two fellows with Ulla and Lenna are sufficiently pleased?" Iasked. "You did, it seems, maneuver them to some extent."

"I do not think they minded being maneuvered," he said. "Did you not see howthey struck the girls on their flanks, so possessively, so pride fully, sogood-naturedly? They are more than enough pleased to have such girls on theirtethers, to lead them home, to add them in with their kaiila and other stock."

"You are right," I said.

"Take this one to the stream," he said, indicating the dark-haired girl we hadacquired for the three hatchets, she lying on the grass near us, "and see thatshe has a bath."

"I will," I said. "What are you going to do?"

"We will make camp here," he said.

"Here?" I asked.

"There is water nearby," he said, "and wood."

"You are going to stay for a time at the trading point?" I asked. This puzzledme. This was the last trading point in the territory of the Dust Legs. It didnot seem to me likely that more Dust Legs were to be expected, certainly not forsome time. I myself was anxious to move eastward.

"For tonight," he said.

"We could make five pasangs before dark," I said.

"We will camp here tonight," he said.

"Very well," I said.

He went over to the girl lying in the grass. "Womnaka, Amomona," he said.

"Womnaka, Wicincala."

"Ho, Itancanka. Ho, Wicayuhe," she said.

"She speaks Dust Leg," he said. "She then will also be conversant with Kaiila.

These are two closely related languages, or, better, two dialects of a singlelanguage. Fleer is also related to them, but more remotely."

"She responded to your commands earlier," I said. "She must know Gorean, too."

"Do you speak Gorean?" he asked. She might, after all, know only certaincommands, much as might a sleen.

"Yes, Master," she said.

"I shall attend to the camp," said Grunt, looking about. "See that she has abath at the stream."

"All right," I said.

"Do not hurry with her," he said. "There is no hurry in returning."

"All right," I said. Grunt was looking about, scanning the surroundinggrasslands. Then he went to the coffle, where Ginger was waiting. He would freecertain of the girls and set them about their duties. We would make camp, itseemed, early this day.

I looked down at the girl at my feet. She looked up at me. I kicked her. Shewinced. "On your hands and knees," I said.

"Yes, Master," she said.

I indicated to her the direction of the stream.

"Yes, Master," she said.

She would crawl to it. She was a slave.

"You whipped me well," she smiled, kneeling in the shallow stream, pouring wateron her body.

"You whip well," I commended her.

"Thank you, Master," she said.

The sexually responsive woman whips well. This is probably a function of thehigh degree of her skin sensitivity and the depth and vulnerability of herfeelings, tier sensitivity and responsiveness make her peculiarly helpless underthe lash. She who writhes best under the lash, so say the Goreans, writhes bestin the furs.

"The water," I said, "has wrought quite a transformation in you." She was now,substantially, cleaned. Most of the dust and blood, the grime, the dirt andsweat, had been washed away. Her dark hair, wet now, seemed very dark, veryshiny. She knelt in the water, removing tangles and snarls from her hair.

"No longer, at least," she said, "Am I womnaka."

"What is that?" I asked.

"Master does not speak Dust Leg or Kaiila?" she asked.

"No," I said.

"It is something which exudes much odor," she laughed.

"What did Grunt, who is your master, the fellow in the broad-brimmed hat, callyou? I asked.

"Wicincala'," she said, "which means "Girl', and "Amomona', which means "Baby' or "Doll'."

"I see," I said. I myself prefer the application of such expressions not toslaves, but to pretentious free women, to remind them that they, in spite oftheir freedom, are only women. They are useful, by the way, in making a freewoman uneasy, their use suggesting to her that perhaps the male is consideringshortly enslaving her. In speaking to a slave I prefer expressions such as" Slave' or "Slave Girl', or the girl's name itself, she understanding clearly,of course, that it is only a slave name. "And what did you call him?" I asked.

"Wicayuhe', "Itancanka'," she said, "words which mean Master."

"I thought so," I said.

I sat on the bank, watching her work with her hair. She was now combing it out,with her fingers. She would not yet be entitled, of course, to use the commonbrush and comb slotted for the use of the coffle. The other girls, unless themasters intervened, would vote on whether or not she was to be granted its use.

This is a way of encouraging a new girl to congenial and to participateequitably in the work. One negative vote will keep the brush and comb from a newgirl. The suspension of brush-and-comb privileges is also used, upon occasion,by the first girls as a disciplinary measure, within the coffle. Otherdisciplinary measures practiced among girls themselves involve such things asbonds, the control of rations and switchings. Girls, thus, under the control offirst girls, reporting to the masters, commonly keep a good order amongthemselves. All, of course, including the first girls, are in all thingssubject, ultimately, to the total authority of the master.

"Ginger!" I called.

Ginger, in a moment, came running to the stream.

"Bring the comb and brush," I told her.

"Yes, Master," she said. Her authority, as that of any slave, could be overruledby any free person.

In a few moments Ginger returned with the comb and brush. "Give her the comb," Isaid. I, myself, took the brush, which I placed beside me. Ginger waded into thestream and gave the comb to the new girl. "You do not yet have generalcomb-and-brush privileges," she informed her. "Unless, of course, the mastersorder it," she added.

"Yes, Mistress," said the new girl, bowing her head to her.

Ginger returned to the bank and, somewhat mollified, turned to regard the newgirl, who was now combing her hair with the comb of kailiauk horn.

"She is rather pretty," said Ginger.

"I think so," I said. She was slim, and beautifully shaped.

"She might be worth four hides," said Ginger.

"Perhaps," I said. Ginger then took her leave.

I regarded the girl. She was looking at me, slowly combing her hair.

"Thank you for permitting me the use of the comb and, perhaps later, the brush," she said.

"It is my pleasure," I informed her, truthfully.

I regarded her. She was quite beautiful, and her beauty was a thousand timesmore exciting than that of a free woman, for she was a slave.

"Master examines me with candor," she said, shyly.

"You are a slave," I said.

"Yes, Master," she said. One might, in the case of a free woman, in deference toher modesty or dignity, avert one's gaze from her beauty. This consideration, ofcourse, is seldom, if ever, accorded to a slave. One may examine her slowly andwith care, and with attention to detail, and, if one feels she deserves it, withopen and unconcealed admiration. It is not unusual for a Gorean male, who tendsto be uninhibited in such matters, to clap his hands, or strike his thigh, orshout with pleasure, upon seeing a bared slave. These responses, which might bethought embarrassing or inappropriate in the case of a free woman, may fittinglybe accorded, of course, to slaves, who are only lovely animals. Even in the caseof free women, the Gorean male, incidentally, disdains to feign disinterest infemale beauty. He, for better or for worse, has not been made a victim of theglandular suppression and life-shortening psychosexual reductionism inflicted,in varying degrees, on so many males in more pathological cultures. Hiscivilization has not been purchased at the price of his manhood. His culture hasnot been designed to deny nature, but, startlingly perhaps, to some minds, tofulfill it.

She continued to comb her hair. She turned her head to the side, slowly drawingthe comb through it. "Do I detect," she asked, "that Master may not find a slavefully displeasing?"

"No," I said. "I do not find you fully displeasing."

"A slave is pleased," she said.

I smiled.

"Do you think I might be worth four hides?" she asked.

"Whether you are or not might easily be determined," I said.

"Of course, Master," she laughed. "I am a slave."

"You now look quite different from what you did when you were purchased," I toldher.

"It is difficult to remain fresh and presentable," she said, "when run throughbrush at the side of a kaiila, a thong on one's throat."

I nodded.

"I trust," she said, "that I shall not be so served in this camp."

"You, and the others," I said, "will be treated precisely as we please, in allthings."

"Yes, Master," she said, quickly. She stopped combing her hair.

"Continue to groom yourself, Slave," I said.

"Yes, Master," she said.

"What was your name among the Dust Legs?" I asked.

"Wasnapohdi," she said.

"What does that mean?" I asked.

"Pimples," she said.

"You do not have any pimples," I said.

"Master may have noticed that my thighs are not marked," she said.

"Yes," I said.

"I am not one of those girls from the towns, who has been branded," she said.

"Oh, do not fear," she laughed, "that we are not well understood as slaves. Inthe camps, and among the tribes our red masters keep women such as I in ourcollars, to remove one of which without permission is death."

I nodded.

"And, too," she said, "What could a white woman in the Barrens be but a slave?"

"True," I said.

"We are thus, in our way, well marked," she said.

"Yes," I said.

"I was born Waniyanpi, in one of the Waniyanpi enclosures of the Kailiauk," shesaid, "the product of a forced mating, between parents unknown even tothemselves, parents selected and matched by the red masters, parents who, eventhough they were Sames, were forced to perform the Ugly Act, hooded and underwhips, on the day of Waniyanpi breeding."

"There is much here I do not understand," I said. "What are Waniyanpi? Who arethe Kailiauk?"

"Many of the tribes permit small agricultural communities to exist within theirdomains," she said. "The individuals in these communities are bound to the soiland owned collectively by the tribes within whose lands they are permitted tolive. They grow produce for their masters, such as wagmeza and wagmu, maize, orcorn, and such things as pumpkins and squash. They are also to furnish laborwhen required and may be drawn upon, at the whim of their masters, forindividual slaves. When one is taken from the enclosure one ceases to beWaniyanpi and becomes a common slave, an ordinary slave, one owned by anindividual master. Usually daughters are taken, for the red masters find thempleasing as slaves, but sometimes, too, young men are taken. The word" Waniyanpi' itself means literally "tame cattle'. It is an expression applied tothe collectively owned slaves in these tiny agricultural communities. TheKailiauk is. a tribe federated with the Kaiila. They speak closely relateddialects."

"Do the parents come from within the same community?" I asked.

"No," she said. "For the day of breeding the men, hooded and in coffle, aremarched between the small communities. On the day of breeding they are led tothe selected women, already hooded, tied and awaiting them. The breeding takesplace in the wagmeza fields, under the eyes of the masters."

"You spoke of an Ugly Act?" I said. I did not like the sound of that. Itreminded me of a distant and sick world, the world of tittering, ofembarrassment and dirty jokes. How much more honest are the whips and collars ofGor?

"The Sames," she said, "disapprove of all sexual relations between human beings,and particularly between those of different sexes, as being demeaning anddangerous."

"I can see where some might regard sexual relations between partners of oppositesexes as being demeaning for the woman," I said, "for in such relations she isoften handled, owned and put in her place, but, on the other hand, if shebelongs in her place, and it is her natural destiny to be owned and handled, itis not clear, ultimately, how this sort of thing can be demeaning for her.

Rather, it seems it would be fully appropriate. Indeed, treating her in anyother way, ultimately, would seem to be far more demeaning. But how can suchrelations be regarded as dangerous?"

"They are not regarded as being dangerous to health," she said, "but as beingdangerous to the Teaching."

"What is the Teaching?" I asked.

"That men and women are the same," she said. "That is the central tenet of theWaniyanpi."

"Do they believe it?" I asked.

"They pretend to," she said. "I do not know if they really believe it or not."

"They believe men and women are the same," I marveled. "Except," she smiled,"that women are regarded as somewhat superior."

"Their beliefs then," I said, "seem not only to be obviously false but actuallyinconsistent."

"Before the Teaching one must surrender one's reason," she said. "To scrutinizeit is a crime. To question it is blasphemy."

"It lies, I suppose," I said, "at the roots of Waniyanpi society."

"Yes," she said. "Without it Waniyanpi society would collapse."

"So?" I said.

"They do not take the disintegration of their society as lightly as you do," shesmiled. "Too, you must understand the utility of such a view. It constitutes anexcellent philosophy for slaves."

"I am not even sure of that," I said.

"It, at least," she said, "gives men an excuse not to be men."

"That seems true," I granted her.

"It helps them to remain Waniyanpi," she said. "They are thus less likely toattract the attention, or excite the anger, of their red masters."

"I understand," I said. "I think I also understand why, in such a society, thewomen are regarded as somewhat superior, as you put it."

"It is only that they are implicitly regarded as superior," be said.

"Explicitly, of course, all subscribe to the thesis of sameness."

"But why are the women regarded, implicitly, as superior?" I asked.

"Because of the contempt felt for the men," she said, "who will not assert theirnatural rights. Also, if men refuse the mastery, someone must assume it."

"Yes," I said.

"There are always masters," she said, "whether one pretends it is not so, ornot."

"In the hands of women," I said, "the mastery becomes an empty mockery."

"Mockery has no choice but to assert itself," she said, "when reality isforesworn"

I was silent "The Waniyanpi communities are sources of great amusement to the red masters," she said.

I thought of what is sometimes spoken of by the red savages as the Memory.

"I understand," I said.

The red savages doubtless found their vengeance a sweet and fitting one. Howalmost incomprehensibly cruel it was, how horrifying, how brilliant andinsidious.

"The Teachings of the Waniyanpi," I said, "were doubtless originally imposed onthem by their red masters."

"Perhaps," she said. "I do not know. They may have been invented by theWaniyanpi themselves, to excuse to themselves their cowardice, their weaknessand impotence."

"Perhaps," I admitted.

"If one is not strong it is natural to make a virtue of weakness."

"I suppose so," I said. I then speculated that I had perhaps judged the redsavages too harshly. The Waniyanpi, it then seemed likely, may have betrayedthemselves, and their children. In time, of course, such teachings, absurdthough they might be, would come to be taken for granted. In time they wouldcome to be sanctioned by tradition, one of humanity's most prized substitutesfor thought.

"You, yourself," I said, "Do not seem much infected by the lunacy of theWaniyanpi."

"No," she said. "I am not. I have had red masters. From them I have learned newtruths. Too, I was taken from the community at an early age."

"How old were you?" I asked.

"I was taken from the enclosure when I was eight years old," she said, "takenhome by a Kaiila warrior as a pretty little white slave for his ten-year-oldson. I learned early to please and placate men."

"What happened?" I asked.

"There is little more to tell," she said. "For seven years I was the slave of myyoung master. He was kind to me, and protected me, muchly, from the otherchildren. Although I was only his slave, I think he liked me. He did not put mein a leg stretcher until I was fifteen." She was then silent. "I have combed myhair," she said.

"Come here," I said, "and, kneel here." She rose from the water, it drippingfrom her body, and came and knelt on the grass, on the bank of the small stream,where I had indicated. I took the comb from her and laid it to the side. I thentook the brush and, kneeling behind her, began to brush out her hair. It is notunusual for Gorean masters to comb and groom slaves, or ornament thempersonally, much as they might any animal that they owned.

"We were gathering berries," she said. "Then I saw him, suddenly, almostangrily, cutting a stick, and notching it with his knife. Too, he had thongs. Iwas afraid, for I had seen other white slaves put in such devices. He turned toface me. His voice seemed loud, and full, and husky. "Take off your dress," besaid, "and lie down, and throw your legs widely apart." I began to cry, but Iobeyed him, and quickly, for I was his slave. I felt my ankles lashed tightly tothe stick, the stick behind them. I had not realized that he had grown sostrong. Then he rose to his feet and looked down at me. I was helpless. Helaughed with pleasure, a man's laugh, who sees a woman tied before him. I wascrying. He crouched down beside me. Then, suddenly, scarcely before I understoodwhat I was doing, I opened my arms to him, overcome suddenly by the stirrings ofmy womanhood. He embraced me. I began to sob again, but this time with joy. Thefirst time it was finished almost before we realized it. But he did not leaveme. For hours we remained among the tiny fruit, talking and kissing, andcaressing. Later, near dusk, he freed me, that I might gather berries for him,and feed them to him. Later I lay on my belly before him and kissed his feet.

That night we returned to the village. That others in the village mightunderstand what had happened, he did not permit me to ride behind him, on hiskaiila. He tied my bands behind my back and marched me at his stirrup, a thongon my neck tied to the pommel of his saddle. Two children had left the camp thatmorning. What returned to it that night were a master and his claimed whiteslave. I was very proud. I was very happy."

"What then happened? I asked. I stopped brushing her hair.

"I loved my master," she said, "and I think that he, too, cared for me."

"Yes?" I said.

"That it seemed he had grown fond of me brought ridicule on him from hiscomrades," she said. "To this sort of thing, as you might not know, red savages,in their tribal groups, are extremely sensitive. To allay these charges he, inhis anger, would berate me publicly, and even beat me in the presence of others.

At last, to put an end to the matter, and perhaps fearing these charges might betrue, be sold me to an older man, one from another village. After that I hadmany masters, and now I have yet another."

I then began again to brush her hair. "Was it the lad who gave you the namePimples?" I asked.

"Yes," she said. "I was given the name at puberty and, for some reason, it wasnever changed. Red masters commonly give such names to their white slaves,trivial names that seem fitting for slaves. My first year as the slave of myyoung master I was not even given a name. I was referred to only as Wicincala,or "Girl. I was later called "Wihinpaspa', which means lodge-pin or tent-pin,probably because I was little and thin. Then later, as I have mentioned, I wascalled "Pimples', "Wasnapohdi', which name, partly because of habit, and partlybecause it amused my masters, was kept on me."

"You are neither little nor thin," I said, "and, as I have earlier remarked, youdo not have pimples."

"Perhaps I might bring four hides," she laughed.

"It is not impossible," I said. "Do you think your first master would recognizeyou now?" I asked.

"I do not know," she said. "I would suppose so."

"Do you remember him?" I asked.

"Yes," she said. "It is difficult to forget the first man who tied you."

"Do you love him? I asked. I laid the brush aside.

"I do not know," she said. "It was long ago. He sold me."

"Oh," she said, her hands now thonged behind her back. She tensed.

"Did your red masters teach you well what it is to be a slave?" I asked.

"Yes, Master," she said.

I tightened the knots on her wrists.

"Do you think your lot will be easier with us?" I asked.

"I do not know, Master," she winced.

"It will not be," I assured her.

"Yes, Master," she said.

I bent down and kissed her on the side, on one of the long welts raised by thewhip stroke, one of the blows in virtue of which she was assessed.

"You struck me with great force," she said.

"No, I did not," I said.

She shuddered. "You are then very strong," she whispered.

I turned her about, and put her on her back, before me. I knelt beside her andsniffed her belly. "Again," I said, "you are womnaka."

"I am only a slave," she said. "Does it please you, or displease you, that I amunable to resist you?"

"It does not displease me," I said. I then touched her.

"Oh," she cried, eyes closed, squirming helplessly, rearing half upward,trussed, then falling back. She looked at me, wildly.

"You are indeed a slave," I told her.

"Yes, Master," she said.

"Do you beg to be had?" I asked.

"Yes, Master," she said. "Yes, Master!"

"First," I said, "You will earn your keep. You will be put to work."

"Yes, Master," she said.

I then pulled her to her knees and lay then on one elbow, indolently, watchingher. She then, on her knees, her hands bound behind her, with her hair, hermouth and body, need fully and desperately, began to please me. In a short whileI took her and threw her beneath me.

Aiii!" she sobbed. "I yield me your slave, my Master!" She was superb. Iwondered if the lad who had been her former master, and who now must be a man,and had sold her, had any idea as to the wonder, the surrendered, curvaceous,obedient, orgasmic triumph, which his little Lodge-Pin or Pimples, now aravishing, helpless beauty, had become. Had he any notion of this it wasdifficult to imagine that he would be able to rest until he had once againfastened his beaded collar on her throat. Clearly she was now the sort of womanfor whom men might kill.

"Am I worth four hides, Master?" she asked, gasping.

"Five," I assured her.

She laughed, and kissed me happily.

"This is Wagmezahu, Corn Stalks," said Grunt. "He is Fleer."

"Hou," said Corn Stalks.

"Hou," said I to him.

"Is the new slave satisfactory?" asked Grunt.

"Quite," I said.

"Good," he said.

I sat back, cross-legged, away from the fire. I now understood why Grunt hadbeen scanning the plains. I now understood why he had wished to remain at thetrading point. He had, doubtless, been waiting for this Fleer. This was also,doubtless, the reason he had encouraged me to take my time with the new girl,which I had, that they not be disturbed. Although the Fleer speak a languageclearly akin to Kaiila and Dust Leg there bad often been strife among them.

Thusly the Fleer had waited before coming to the camp. If the Dust Legs knew ofhis presence in their country they had not chosen to do anything about it,perhaps in deference to Grunt.

Grunt and the Fleer spoke largely in sign, this being easier for them than theattempt to communicate verbally.

I sat back from the fire, watching them closely. It was now late at night. Grunthad shortened the coffle by two collars and chain lengths. I had put the newgirl in Margaret's place, after Priscilla and before the Hobarts. This was theposition of "Last Girl," which, fittingly, not counting the Hobarts, she wouldoccupy, being the newest girl on the coffle. Coffle arrangements, incidentally,are seldom arbitrary. One common principle of arrangements is in order ofheight, with the tallest girls coming first; this makes a lovely coffle.

Sometimes, too, coffles are arranged in order of beauty or preference, the mostbeautiful or the most preferred girls coming first. Coloring and body type canalso be important. It is for such reasons, perhaps, that the coffle is sometimesspoken of as the slaver's necklace. Sales strategies, too, can enter into theformation of a coffle, as, for example, when a girl is put between two plainergirls to accentuate her beauty, or a superb girl is saved for last, and manyother considerations, as well, can enter into the formation of a coffle. Whenone sees a chain of beauties, fastened together, say, by the neck, or the leftwrist or left ankle, it is well to remember that their locations on that sturdy,metallic bond, keeping them precisely where the master wishes, are seldom likelyto be merely fortuitous. After I had carried the new girl to the chain and puther on the grass, locking the collar on her, I went to the red-haired girl and,as I had earlier promised her, bound her hand and foot. She had asked a stupidquestion, one pertaining to respect. She would spend the night tied.

"Is the new girl pleasing?" she had asked me, reproachfully.

"Yes," I said.

"More pleasing than I?" she asked, lying at my feet, her hands tied behind her,her ankles crossed and bound, her neck in the coffle collar.

"Yes," I said. "She is an experienced slave. You are only a new slave. You havemuch to learn."

"Yes, Master," she said.

I then, for good measure, gagged her. She must learn that she was a slave.

Corn Stalks, after a time, took his leave. Before he left Grunt gave him somehard candy and a fine steel knife.

"You seem moody," I said to Grunt. He had returned to the fire, and sat beforeit, not speaking.

"It is nothing," he said.

"I should like to learn some Dust Leg," I said.

"I will teach you some, as we ride," he said.

"If I learn some Dust Leg, I should be able, to some extent, to communicate withKaiila," I said.

"Very easily," said Grunt, "for they are much the same, and, too, you would beable to make yourself understood to the Kailiauk, and, to some extent, to theFleer."

"I have heard little of the Kailiauk," I said.

"They are not well known west of the perimeter," he said. "Their country lies tothe south and east of that of the Kaiila."

"Mostly," I said, "you spoke to Corn Stalks in sign."

"Yes," he said. "It is easier for us." He looked at me. "To learn sign," hesaid, "would probably be more useful to you, all things considered, thanlearning a smattering of Dust Leg."

"Teach me sign," I asked.

"To be sure," he said, "it would be wise for you to learn some Dust Leg orKaiila. There is no substitute for being able to converse with these people intheir own language. Sign, as far as I know, is common to all the tribes of theBarrens."

"Why are they called Dust Legs?" I asked.

"I do not know," said Grunt, "but I think it is because they were the last ofthe major tribes to master the kaiila. Afoot, they were much at the mercy of theothers. Their heritage as traders and diplomats may stem from that period."

"It is an interesting hypothesis," I said.

"I can teach you hundreds of signs in a short time," said Grunt. "It is a verylimited language, hut in most situations it is quite adequate, and, because manyof the signs seem so appropriate and natural, it can be easily learned. In fouror five days you can learn most of what you would need of sign."

"I would like to learn something of Dust Leg and Kaiila, and also sign," I said.

"I will be pleased to help you," said Grunt.

"Grunt?" I asked.

"Yes," he said.

"After I came to join you," I said, "Corn Stalks didn't stay long."

"He does not know you," said Grunt.

I nodded. Goreans, in general, not merely red savages, tend to be wary ofstrangers, in particular those who speak other languages or come from otherterritories or cities. There is only one word in Gorean, incidentally, forstranger and enemy. To be sure, the specific meaning intended is usually clearin the context. Goreans are not unaware that there may exist such things asfamiliar enemies and friendly strangers.

"He did not do trading, as far as I know," I said.

"No," said Grunt. "We talked. He is a friend."

"What is the sign for a red savage?" I asked.

Grunt rubbed the back of his left hand from the wrist to the knuckle with hisright index finger. "The general sign for a man is this," he said. He held hisright hand in front of his chest, the index finger pointing up, and raised it infront of his face. He then repeated the sign for the red savage. "I am not clearon the specific rationale for the sign for the savage," he said. "You will note,however, that the same finger, the index finger, is used in the sign, as in thesign for man. The origins of some of these signs are obscure. Some think thesign for the red savage has a relation to the spreading of war paint. Othersthink that it means a man who goes straight or a man who is close to the earth,to nature. Doubtless there are other explanations, as well. This is the sign forfriend." He then put his first two fingers together and raised them upward,beside his face. "It probably means two men growing up together."

"Interesting," I said. "What does this mean?" I put the middle fingers of myright hand on my right thumb, extending the index and little finger. Thissuggests a pointed snout and ears.

"You have seen Dust Legs make that sign," he said. "It means a wild sleen. It isalso used for the Sleen tribe. Do you know what this means?" He then spread theindex finger and the second finger of his right hand and drew them from the leftto the right, in front of his body.

"No," I said.

"That is the sign for a domestic sleen," he said. "You see? It is like thespread poles of a travois, which might be drawn by such an animal."

"Yes!" I said.

"What is this?" he asked, drawing his right index finger across his forehead,from left to right.

"A white man?" I asked.

"Yes," he said. "Good."

"It is like the line of the brim of a hat, across the forehead," I said.

"Good," he said, "And this?" With the fingers of both hands slightly curved, hemade downward motions from the top of his head to the shoulders. It was asthough he were combing hair.

"A woman?" I asked.

"Good," he said. "Good. And this?"

"A white woman?" I asked.

"Yes," he said. He had traced a line with his right index across his forehead,from left to right, and had then opened his hand and moved it downward, towardhis shoulder, in the combing motion. "What do you think this means?" he asked.

He then made the combing motions with his hand, then lowered his head and lookedat his left wrist, which he grasped firmly in his right hand, the left wrist,the weaker wrist, helpless in the grip of the stronger.

"I am not sure," I said.

"The second sign indicates bondage," he said.

"A female slave?" I asked.

"Yes," said Grunt, "but, more generally, it is another sign which may stand forany white woman, and is often used in this way."

"The same sign then," I said, "that sign, stands for both white woman and femaleslave? "Yes," he said. "It is the most common way of referring to a white woman. Yousee, in the Barrens, all white women are regarded as being female slaves. Ourfriends of the plains divide white women into those who have already, properly,been imbonded, and those who, improperly, have not yet been imbonded."

I considered the nature of women, and their desirability. "That distinctionmakes sense to me," I said. "But are there no women of the red savagesthemselves who are slaves?"

"Of course, there are," said Grunt. "They are fond of carrying off women of theenemy to make their own slaves. Surely you can imagine how pleasant it is forthese fellows to be served, and as a slave, by one of the enemy's women."

"Of course," I said.

"Such a woman may be designated as follows," he said, "by use of the sign woman,followed by the sign for the red savages, followed by a bondage sign."

"I see," I said. He had illustrated his words with the sign.

"If the context is clear," he said, "the signs simply for a female slave may beused."

"I understand," I said.

"Here is another way of designating a white woman or a female slave," he said.

He then made the sign for woman, followed by a downward striking motion, asthough holding a switch. "Sometimes, too," he said, "when the context is clear,this sign alone may be used." He then spread the first and second fingers of hisright hand arid laid them over the index finger of his left hand. "You see?" heasked. "It is ankles bound on a leg stretcher."

"I see," I said.

"The meanings in these signs are clear," he said, "the weaker who is held by thestronger, she who is subject to the whip, and she whose ankles may be spread ather master's pleasure."

"Yes," I said.

"What is this?" asked Grunt. He held his left hand with the palm in, before hischest, and placed the index and second finger of his right hand astride the edgeof his left hand.

"A rider?" I asked.

"Kaiila," he said. Then, holding his hands as he had, he rotated his hands intiny circles, as though the kaiila were in motion. "That is to ride," he said.

"I see," I said.

"What is this?" he asked. He placed his left fist in front of his mouth andsliced between it and his face with the edge of his opened right hand.

"I do not know," I said.

"Knife," be said. "See? One holds the meat in one's hand and clenches it betweenthe teeth, too. Then one cuts a bite from the meat, to eat it, thus the sign forknife."

"Good," I said. "And what does this mean?" I drew an imaginary line across mythroat with my right index finger. I had seen Corn Stalks make this sign in histalk with Grunt.

Grunt's eyes clouded. "It is the sign for the Kaiila," he said, "the CutthroatTribe."

"Oh," I said.

"You may have seen this sign," said Grunt. "It is an interesting one." He thenheld his fists in front of his chest, his thumbs almost touching, and thenspread his fingers out, horizontally.

"I have no idea what it means," I said.

"Does it remind you of nothing?" be asked. He repeated the sign.

Suddenly the hair on the back of my neck rose. "It is like men breaking out ofcolumns," I said, "fanning out, to take up positions for battle."

"Yes," said Grunt. "It is the sign for soldiers." He then added to it the signfor riding, that of the kaiila in motion.

"Kaiila soldiers," I said. "Cavalry."

"Yes," said Grunt, soberly. He then held both fists close to his chest, with thebacks of his hands down and the index fingers curved. He then made a forward,circular motion.

"Wheels?" I said. "Wagons."

"Yes," said Grunt.

These last signs had been used by Corn Stalks. Grunt knew that I had seen them.

"I do not mean to pry," I said.

"It is all right," said Grunt.

"We need not continue," I said.

"It is all right," said Grunt.

I held my hands near the ground, with my fingers curved upward and slightlyapart. I then swung my bands out in a small, upward curve.

"Grass," said Grunt.

I held my right hand, palm down, even with my shoulder, and lowered it, until itwas about eighteen inches from the ground.

"Height," said Grunt. "High. High grass. Summer."

The Summer solstice had taken place a few days ago.

I folded my arms, the right arm resting on top of the left. I then raised bothhands until my fingers pointed skyward.

"The spreading of light," said Grunt. "Day. Light."

I repeated the gesture twice more.

"Three days," said Grunt. "Three days ago, we may suppose."

I raised my hands in front of my body, my fingers slightly curved. I then sweptmy hands together in a looping curve.

"Many," said Grunt. "Much. Plenty."

I rubbed the back of my left hand from the wrist to the knuckle with my rightindex finger.

"Red savages," smiled Grunt. "Fleer," he then said. "Kaiila, Sleen, YellowKnives, Kailiauk."

I had smote my hands slowly together three times. It was like the beating ofwings. It now stood, I saw, for the Fleer tribe. The fleer is a large, yellow,long-billed, gregarious, voracious bird of the Barrens. It is sometimes alsocalled the Corn Bird or the Maize Bird. I had then drawn my finger across mythroat. That stood for the Kaiila, the Cutthroat tribes. The sign for the Sleentribe had been the same as that for the sleen, the resting of the middle fingersof the right hand on the right thumb, extending the index and little finger,this suggesting the animal's pointed snout and ears. The sign for the YellowKnives had been the sign for knife, followed by the sign for fleer. I laterlearned the sign for knife alone would suffice for this tribe. In the compoundsign fleer presumably occurs as a modifier in virtue of the bird's coloration.

Adjectives in sign commonly, though not always, follow the noun, so to speak.

This arrangement is doubtless to be expected, for it reflects a commongrammatical feature of the spoken languages of the red savages. The word" mazasapa', for example, literally means "black metal'. "Maza' is the word for" metal' and "sapa' is the word for "black'. We would translate the expression,of course, as "iron'. The sign for Kailiauk, as I had expected, was to hold upthree fingers, suggesting the trident of horns adorning the shaggy head of thislarge, short-tempered, small-eyed, lumbering ruminant.

"You have an excellent memory," said Grunt. I had been, of course, as best Icould, reconstructing portions of the conversation which I had earlier seen takeplace between Corn Stalks and Grunt.

I held my hands in front of my body, with the palms facing one another, with theleft hand a bit ahead of the right. I quickly brushed the right palm pass, theloft palm.

"Fast," said Grunt. "Quick. Hurry."

I held my left hand before my body, palm out, with my index and second fingersspread, forming a "V." I held my right band at my fight shoulder, the indexfinger pointing up. I then, quickly, brought my right index finger down,striking into the space between the index finger and second finger of my lefthand.

"Kill," said Grunt, soberly. "Hit. Strike."

I followed this with the sign for many, and then the signs for white man andwhite woman, and for soldiers, and kaiila soldiers, or cavalry.

"Yes," said Grunt "What is this sign?" I asked. I cupped my right hand close to the ground, myfingers partly closed. I then raised it a few inches from the ground, with ashort, wavy motion.

"It is the sign for fire," said Grunt. "Flames."

"It preceded this sign," I said. I then held my fists close to my chest, withthe backs of my own hands down, my index fingers curved. I then made theforward, circular motion, indicative of turning wheels. "This latter sign, as Irecall," I said, "Signifies wagons."

"It does," said Grunt. "Yes."

I was then silent. I did not feel much like speaking. I listened to the crackleof the fire.

"A wagon, or wagons, of course," said Grunt. "The specific meaning depends onthe context. It is the same with my signs."

"I understand," I said.

"Three days ago, or some three days ago," said Grunt, "a party of red savages,consisting of Kaiila, Yellow Knives, Sleen, Fleer and Kailiauk fell suddenlyupon a wagon train and a column of soldiers, both infantry and cavalry. Wagonswere burned. There was a massacre."

"I think I know the parties," I said. "The first left Kailiauk sometime before Ireached it. They were settlers. The second must have been the mercenaries ofAlfred, a captain, from Port Olni. He left Kailiauk shortly before we did."

Alfred, not stopping to trade, and moving swiftly, not slowed by a coffle ofslaves, had, it seemed, made contact with the settlers. Doubtless they wouldhave welcomed his presence. I wondered as to the fate of the settlers andsoldiers, and if any survived. Alfred had seemed to me as though he might be agood commander. He would not have been familiar, however, I speculated, with thewarfare of the Barrens. He had perhaps rated his red foes too lightly. He hadperhaps discounted their possible numbers or skills.

I thought of the squarish wagons, which had been with the soldiers, doubtlessconcealing the beasts of Sardak and Kog. There had been seventeen such wagons.

If these beasts had been destroyed I might, perhaps, consider leaving theBarrens. Zarendargar, then, would be safe, at least until another such forcemight be sent against him. Perhaps Priest-Kings, through their agents, mightmonitor towns such as Fort Haskins and Kailiauk.

I thought, too, briefly, of the red-savage youth, Urt, the red slave, supposedlya Dust Leg, who had been with the soldiers. If the red savages had found him inhis chains, fastened to a white man's wagon, they might have chosen, withamusement, to leave him there, to die. I thought, too, of the lofty, veiled LadyMira of Venna. No doubt now, she no longer wore her veils. I did not think thered savages would have killed her. There are better things to do with suchwomen. Doubtless she would have been stripped, a thong perhaps on her neck, andassessed as casually as a tethered kaiila. If her captors found her of interest,perhaps they would give her a chance, albeit perhaps only a slim one, to striveto save her life, by absolute and total submission, and pleasingness, as aslave.

I did not fail to note, incidentally, that several, often mutually hostiletribes, had cooperated in the attack, with its attendant destruction andkilling. The Memory, as it is called, and their hatred for the white man, hadtaken priority, as it commonly did, over their bloody and almost continuousintertribal differences. The red savages, I speculated, if they wished, withtheir numbers, and their unity, conjoined with an approximate technologicalparity in weapons, should be able to hold the Barrens indefinitely against whiteintrusion.

"It is a horrifying thing," said Grunt, almost numbly.

"Yes," I said. "What does this mean?" I asked. I placed my right hand against myheart, with the thumb and fingers pointing down and slightly cupped.

"Heart," said Grunt.

I then lowered my hand toward the ground. I had seen Corn Stalks do this, afterhis account of the battle, if battle it had been.

"The heart is on the ground," said Grunt "My heart is on the ground. I am sad."

I nodded.

"My heart, too," said Grunt, "is on the ground. I, too, am sad."

I nodded. "Do you think there were survivors?" I asked.

"In actions of this sort," said Grunt, "our friends of the plains are seldominclined to leave survivors, but perhaps they did, perhaps, say, some children,to be herded to Waniyanpi camps, to be raised with Waniyanpi values, suitablefor slaves, or, say, perhaps, some females whose exposed curvatures at theirfeet they might have found acceptable. Who knows? They are the victors. It woulddepend on their whim."

"What of a red slave of white men? I asked.

"Male or female?" asked Grunt.

"Male," I said.

"I do not think I would give much for his chances," said Grunt.

"I thought not," I said.

"We should perhaps turn back," mused Grunt I did not speak.

"It will be dangerous to move eastward now," he said. "The blood of the youngmen will be high. The killing lust may yet be with them."

"They have done, surely," I said, "what they purposed. They have enforced theirlaws, against both the innocent and the guilty. They will now be returning totheir tribal areas."

"Smaller parties can be more dangerous than larger parties, at such a time," said Grunt "The larger party has done its work and is returning to its home,presumably under the command of a blotanhunka, a war-party leader, usually afellow of mature and experienced judgment. He exerts control; he commandsrestraint. The smaller party may consist of young men, insufficientlydisciplined, urging one another on to yet another hazard or feat, fellows whoare unwilling for the fun to be over, fellows who are eager to try for yet onemore killing, fellows who wish to obtain yet one more trophy."

"Such, you fear, might linger in the area?" I asked.

"Sometimes they are even left behind," said Grunt, "to track survivors who mighthave hidden in the grass."

"But we were not of the attacked parties," I said.

"One might hope, of course," said Grunt, "that they would be sensitive to suchdistinctions."

"We have not broken the laws," I said.

"We are white," said Grunt.

"I must move eastward," I said. It was important for me to determine the fate ofthe Kurii who had been with the mercenaries.

"Grunt," I said.

"Yes," he said.

"It is my understanding, gathered along the perimeter, that you are unusualamong traders, that you, of all of them, have penetrated most far into theBarrens, and know them best of white men."

"Perhaps," said Grunt. "It is hard to tell about such things."

"It was for this reason that I sought you out," I said.

He regarded me, not speaking.

"I have something among my stores, which I would show you," I said. "I suspectthat it is something which you have seen, or that you have seen similar thingsand are familiar with their origins."

"I shall be pleased to look at it," he said.

I returned to the fire in a few moments, and, on the dirt, in the light of theflames, spread the hide which Samos and I had obtained in the ruined tarncomplex some four pasangs from the northeast delta gate of Port Kar.

"It is a story hide," said Grunt.

"Can you read it?" I asked.

"Yes," he said.

"But you are not reading it," I said. I noted that he did not, with his eye orfinger, trace the spiraling account painted on that almost-white, softly tannedsurface.

"I have read it," he said. "Where did you get it?"

"Near Port Kar," I said.

"Interesting," be said.

"Why?" I asked.

"It is so far away," he said. "It is in the delta of the Vosk."

"This hide, I gather," I said, "has passed through your hands."

"Last fall," he said, "I obtained it from Dust Legs. They, in turn, had it fromKaiila."

"Do you know from what band of Kaiila?" I asked.

"No," he said.

"To whom did you sell the hide?" I asked.

"To Ram Seibar, in Kailiauk," he said.

"It all fits!" I said.

"You are not a trader," said Grunt. "What is your true business in the Barrens?"

I pointed to the painting of the two feathers near the beginning of thenarrative. "The painter's name," I said, "seems to have been Two Feathers." Irecalled that Kog had surmised this, in his interpretation of the hide.

Grunt shrugged. "That is not necessarily the case," he said, "at all. The twofeathers may be a talisman, or a luck sign. They may indicate a place. Theycould even indicate that the hide's painter has two coups, each coup beingmarked by one feather."

"I see," I said. This was indeed unwelcome news. Suddenly my task, and theBarrens, seemed far more formidable.

"It is easier to interpret sign, which can occasionally be difficult, than tointerpret a story hide. The conventions on the hide, and its meanings, are oftenmore idiosyncratic, more personal."

"Do you often deal in story hides?" I asked.

"No," said Grunt. "To encounter one among trade goods is quite uncommon."

"Ram Seibar paid well for this, did he not?" I asked.

"He paid a double tarn, of gold," said Grunt.

"He seemed anxious to obtain it?" I asked.

"He did not even bargain," said Grunt. "Yes."

I nodded. For such a coin one might easily buy five girls.

"What is your business in the Barrens?" asked Grunt.

"Do you see this beast?" I asked. I pointed to the image on the representationof a shield, that painted at the conclusion of the hide's account. It was theimage of a Kur, the left ear half torn away.

"Yes?" Grunt.

"I seek it," I said.

He regarded me.

"No," I said. "I am not mad."

"That is a beast of a medicine vision," said Grunt. "It is not a real beast."

"It is real," I said. "I do not know, beyond that, whether or not it occurred ina medicine vision."

"I have never seen such a beast," said Grunt.

"They are not indigenous to the Barrens," I said.

"You think it is now in the Barrens," said Grunt.

"I am sure of it," I said. "And I think, too, that there may be several others,as well." I did not know what had been the fate of the Kurii who had been withthe mercenary captain, Alfred, of Port Olni. It was possible, of course, thatthey had been destroyed in the attack on his column and the wagon train.

"Are you a hunter?" asked Grunt.

"In my way," I said.

"The Barrens are large," said Grunt.

"Do you think the hide is Kaiila?" I asked.

"I obtained it from Dust Legs, who obtained it from Kaiila," he said. "Whetheror not it is originally Kaiila, I do not know."

"I must venture to the country of the Kaiila," I said. "To do so, you will haveto pass through Fleer country, and the lands of Sleen and Yellow Knives," hesaid.

"As far as I know, I have not broken their laws," I said.

"You are white," said Grunt. "You may be attacked at their pleasure, whether ornot you have broken their laws."

"I understand," I said.

"You are leaving in the morning?" he asked.

"Yes," I said.

"You understand the dangers?" he asked.

"I think so," I said.

"I will accompany you," he said.

"You need not do so," I said.

"It is already summer," said Grunt "I did not come this far to turn back."

"You, too, would go eastward, then?" I asked.

"Yes," he said.

"Is it your intention to go to the land of the Kaiila?" I asked.

"Yes," said he. "I have business there. I was there last summer."

"Have you a bargain to keep?" I asked.

"Yes," he said, "and it is important that I keep it. It is important that Imaintain my integrity with these people, that I speak, as it is said, with astraight tongue."

"When are you to be there?" I asked.

"In Kantasawi," he said, "the moon when the plums are red." This was the moonfollowing the next moon, which is known variously as Takiyuhawi, the moon inwhich the tabuk rut, or Canpasapawi, the moon when the chokecherries are ripe.

"Will this give you time to return to Kailiauk?" I asked. Otherwise he wouldhave to winter in the Barrens. The red savages themselves sometimes found itdifficult to survive the long and severe winters, particularly if the huntingwas poor.

"Two moons will be sufficient to return to Kailiauk," said Grunt, "If one doesnot stop for trading." The two moons he had in mind, as I later learned, wereCanwapegiwi, the moon in which the leaves become brown, and the moon knownvariously as Wayuksapiwi, the Corn-Harvest Moon, or Canwapekasnawi, the moonwhen the wind shakes off the leaves. The autumnal equinox occurs in Canwapegiwi.

"What is important about Kantasawi?" I asked.

"It is the moon during which the Bento herd enters the country of the Kaiila. Itis a time of the gathering of the Kaiila, of great hunts and dances."

"I would welcome your company," I said. I did not question him further on thenature of his business with the Kaiila.

"It is then decided," said Grunt. "We shall leave, and together in the morning."

"Good," I said.

The girls, in their neck shackles, of course, did not know of our decision, norof what might be involved in it. This was appropriate, for they were merelyslaves.

"On the way to the country of the Kaiila, I would like to examine the field ofthe killings, the massacres," I said.

Grunt looked at me, puzzled.

"I have determinations to make there," I said.

"It is not far from here," he said.

"I thought not," I said.

"It will not be pleasant," he said.

I nodded. Yet I must determine if Kurii were among the fallen, and, if possible,their number.

"Tonight," said Grunt, getting up, "you may use Priscilla, if you wish."

"No," I said, "not tonight."

15 The Fleer

"Here," said Grunt, pointing down from the saddle of the lofty kaiila, "you seethe wagon tracks, the ruts?"

"Yes," I said. We found them where they had emerged from a small stream. Thetracks were several days old.

"It will not be far now," he said.

"You have seen the smoke?" I asked. I referred to the slow liftings of smoke,rising from low buttes, behind us and to our left, and before us, and to theright. The distance between the two fires was probably some ten to fifteenpasangs.

"Yes," said Grunt, "but its intent is not hostile, as I read it. It is, rather,informational. It is doing little more than marking our passage."

Such signals are common on the plains, but perhaps not so common as mirrorsignals. The code in mirror signals, conveyed by the pacing and number offlashes, is very similar to that of the smoke signals. The signals,incidentally, are not a substitution cipher, for the languages of the redsavages, not being written languages, in any conventional sense, do not have astandardized alphabet or syllabary. The signals, of which there are some fiftyor sixty, have conventionalized meanings, such as "We are Kaiila', "Who areyou? ,' Go back', "we have counted coup' and "we are returning to camp'. Thecommon smoke signal is produced by placing greenery, such as branches, leaves orgrass, on a fire. The smoke produced is then regulated in its ascent by theaction of a robe or blanket, the manner of its releasing being a function of theconventions involved. At night such signals can be conveyed by the number andplacement of fires, or by a single fire, alternately revealed and concealed bythe action, again, of a robe or blanket. Other common signaling methods,incidentally, involve such things as the use of dust cast into the air, themovement of robes and the motions imparted to a kaiila.

"I do not care to be under surveillance in this fashion," I said.

"In a way it is heartening," said Grunt. "You see, they are letting you see thatyou are under surveillance. If their intentions were hostile, or immediatelyhostile, they would not be likely to be so open about the matter."

"That is true," I admitted.

"As I read the smoke," he said, "it is saying that a small party of white men ismoving eastward. The smoke on the right is merely acknowledging the receipt ofthis message."

"I hope you are right," I said.

"That would be the customary reading," said Grunt "To be sure, the customarymeanings are sometimes rearranged to conceal the true meaning. For example, amessage which commonly means that kailiauk have been sighted may, byprearrangement, be understood to communicate an intention of attack to acollaborative force."

"Marvelous," I said, bitterly.

Grunt shrugged. "These people," he said, "must survive with one another."

"Hold!" said Grunt, suddenly, tensing.

The rider had appeared very suddenly, over a small rise in front of us, sometwenty yards away. He reined in his kaiila. Dust swept about the paws and legsof the beast.

"Do not reach for your weapons," said Grunt. "He is Fleer," he added.

"How do you know?" I asked.

"The hair," said Grunt, "is won in the high pompadour, combed back."

"Like Corn Stalks," I said. The fellow's hair came down his back, flowing evenover the spine of the kaiila. He was riding bareback. He carried a long,feathered lance, and a small, round shield, a war shield, on which wereinscribed medicine signs.

The fellow moved his kaiila down the slope towards us.

"Be careful," said Grunt. "He has made two killings and has counted severalcoup. The scarlet circles on the feather indicate killings, the red marks on hislegs, and on the nose of the kaiila, show coups."

The Fleer reined in his kaiila a few feet from us. Grunt relaxed in his saddleand smiled, broadly. He raised his right hand to the side of his face, the indexand middle fingers extended upwards and held together, the other fingers closed.

"He has no saddle," said Grunt. "His body, and that of his kaiila, is stillpainted with coup marks. Undoubtedly he took part in the action of a few daysago."

Grunt then, still smiling, clasped his left hand with his right, and shook it.

This, too, is used by some tribes as a sign for friend.

"Kodakiciyapi," said Grunt. "Hou, Koda. Hou, Mitakoda." "Peace, friendship, hadsaid Grunt, "Greetings, friend. Greetings, my friend, in Dust Leg. He thenadded, in Kaiila, for good measure, substantially the same message. "Hou, Kola.

Hou, Mitakoda. Olakota. Wolakota." "Greetings, Friend. Greetings, my friend.

Peace, Peace, Friendship.

The fellow regarded us, not speaking, either verbally or in sign.

I was not certain that Grunt was wise in addressing him in the dialect of theKaiila, for the Fleer and Kaiila are hereditary enemies. On the other hand,interestingly, the many affinities between their languages suggest a commonancestor. The distinction between dialects and languages, as the dialecticaldivergencies increase, can become, at times, almost arbitrary. Most people, forwhat it is worth, regard Fleer and Kaiila as different languages. Certainly theFleer and Kaiila do, and few see much profit in arguing the point with them.

"Wopeton," said Grunt, pointing to me. "Wopeton," he said, pointing to himself.

This is the word in both Dust Leg and Kaiila for a trader, or merchant.

The fellow did not drop his lance into the attack position, grasping it firmly,anchoring it under his right arm.

"Do not move," said Grunt.

The fellow then, kicking back with his heels into the flanks of his kaiila,moved his beast about us, and our party.

"Stand straight," called Grunt to the coffle, which now, in our pause, had putdown its burdens. "Keep your heads up, but do not meet his eyes. It is you whoare the merchandise, the beauties, the slaves, not he. It is not yours toexamine, but to be examined, not yours to consider, but to be considered."

I thought Grunt was wise not to have the girls look into the eyes of the Fleerwarrior. Such an exchange of glances, or looks, can be like an electric shock,an encounter almost fearfully significant. Who knows what each might recognizein the eyes of the other? Does she see in his eyes that he is one such as mightbe her master? Does he see in her eyes that she is one who could not help butacknowledge herself, and soon, despite what she might now take to be herdesires, his helpless and natural slave? Sometimes, at as little as a meeting ofeyes, masters and slaves know one another. "I must have her. She is mine," hetells himself. "I belong to him. I am his slave," her heart whispers to her.

This matter of eye contact is interesting and has many facets. One of the mostinitially frightening and disturbing things to Earth women brought to Gor asslaves is the way Gorean men look at them. They are not used to being looked atas women, truly, with appraisal, desire and ownership. This tends, in thebeginning, when they are still new to their collar, to confuse and frightenthem, but also, of course, as it will continue to do, and even more powerfully,to stimulate them. It is the first time that they have found themselves in theorder of nature, and as what they are, and it is the first time that they havefound themselves being looked at, frankly, and honestly, within the order ofnature, and as what they are, females, appropriate objects of male predation anddesire. This recognition of her femaleness, and this joy in release andself-discovery, often comes as a stunning revelation to the Earth female. Neveragain, once having discovered this, does she retreat to the conditioned idealsof neuterism and pseudomasculinity, nor, indeed, even if she desired to do so,would her masters permit it. Sometimes in training, incidentally, or as adiscipline or punishment, the slave is not permitted to look into the eyes ofthe master. Indeed, sometimes, in training, she is not permitted to raise hereyes above the belt of the trainer. Also, it must be recognized that many slavesoften, and perhaps all slaves sometimes, find it difficult to look into the eyesof the master. He, after all, holds total power over them and they fear todisplease him. What if he should interpret her gaze as suggesting the leastinsubordination or insolence? Are they truly prepared to have the soles of theirfeet lashed or to live on bread crusts for the next five days? But, on the otherhand, there is, on Gor, in circles of the mastery, no discouragement, commonly,of eye contact between masters and slaves.

Indeed, in the deep and profound relationships of love and bondage, such eyecontact is usually welcomed and encouraged. What can be understood of theglances of masters and slaves by those who have been united only in lesserrelationships? Too, to be sure, from the practical point of view, it is usefulfor a girl to be able to look into the eyes of the master. In this way she maybe able to better read his moods, and desires, and, accordingly, be able thebetter to serve him, in the process perhaps saving herself a few cuffings andbeatings, such as might be garnered by a less alert, more slothful, laxer girl.

To be sure, all girls, upon occasion, are cuffed or beaten. This is good forthem, and helps to remind them that they are slaves. Beauty in a slave girl,incidentally, and most slaves are beautiful, for this is the sort of woman thattends to be enslaved, does not excuse poor service. The most beautiful girl mustserve with the same perfection as the lesser girl. Gorean masters areuncompromising on this point.

From the point of view of the master, too, not only is it pleasant to look intothe eyes of a slave, but there are certain practical advantages attached todoing so. For example, one might, in her eyes, read desire, and thus order herto perform an act which she, even though a slave, might not have dared to beg toperform, or, say, by looking into her eyes, one might determine if she has beenup to something or has neglected something to which she should have attended.

Has she been into the sweets? Has she, perhaps gossiping and dawdling with theother girls, been amiss in the discharge of her duties? Perhaps the shopping hasnot yet been done? Perhaps the laundry has not yet been finished? Suchinfractions call for discipline. But perhaps, in lieu of discipline, the masterwill accept the performance of desperate placatory services on the part of theoffending slave. The decision is his. I would, incidentally, advise the slave tobe superb.

The Fleer warrior stopped his kaiila by Priscilla, the second to the last girlon the coffle, and lifted up her chin with the iron point of his lance. It was atrade point, some nine inches long, socketed, with two rivets.

He then backed his kaiila away from her.

Priscilla had not met his eyes, as Grunt had advised them.

Grunt did not want to do business with the Fleer. He wished only to traverse thearea in peace.

The kaiila snorted and threw up its head, and squealed, its mouth wrenched bythe jerking back of the jaw rope.

On its nose were red lines, coup marks, matching those on the warrior's legs.

Its eyes were outlined with wide circles of black paint. On its left forequarterwas drawn a zigzag line, indicating lightning. On its right forequarter therewere five inverted "U's." Its right ear bore a V-shaped notch. On its left flankthere was an opaque red circle with a waving red line descending from it also onthe left flank, and on the right flank, too, there was a black, horizontal line,with a semicircular, curved blue line above it. The coup marks and the inverted" U's" were exploit markings. The inverted "U's" indicated kaiila stolen from theenemy, the mark itself being a stylized convention whose heritage, I did notdoubt, might be traced back to another animal, and another world and time. Thecircles painted about the eyes and the line of lightning on the left forequarterwere signs in the medicine of war. The medicine use of the circles was to enablethe beast to see clearly and far and that of the line to impart to its motionsomething of the same suddenness, the same swiftness and power, as attends themovement of lightning, that dread natural phenomenon, itself. The opaque circlewith the wavy line descending from it was a wound mark, the location of the markindicating a former wound site, the redness standing for blood, of course, andthe descending line for bleeding. I did not know the meaning of the notched ear,if it had a meaning, or of the other marks on the animal's flanks.

The Fleer moved his kaiila about, on the other side of the coffle, so that hemight look at the girls, one by one. None of them, as Grunt had advised, met hiseyes. They kept their beads high, and looked ahead, knowing themselvesscrutinized as the pretty, meaningless beasts they were.

"Our friend," said Grunt to me, "is a member of the Blue-Sky Riders, a warriorsociety of the Fleer."

"One should be careful of such fellows?" I asked.

"I would think so," smiled Grunt "You are gathering this membership from the marks on the kaiila's flanks?" Iasked.

"Yes," said Grunt, "the dark line of the earth, the overarching dome of the bluesky."

"I see," I said. Most tribes had several warrior societies. These societies hadmuch influence within the tribes and, on an alternating basis, to preclude anyone society from becoming predominant, a good deal of power. Their members wereexpected to set an example in the war and the hunt.

"I do not think he means us harm," said Grunt. "He is merely curious."

Warrior Societies in the tribes have many functions. They are a significantcomponent of tribal existence. Such societies, on an alternating basis, do suchthings as keep order in the camps and on the treks. They function, too, asguards and police. It is part of their function, too, to keep the tribesapprised as to the movements of kailiauk and to organize and police tribalhunts. Such societies, too, it might, be noted, are useful in various socialways. They provide institutions through which merit can be recognized andrewarded, and tribal traditions freshened, maintained and renewed. They preservemedicine bundles, keep ceremonies and teach histories. It is common for them togive feasts and hold dances. Their rivalries provide an outlet for intratribalaggression, and the attendant competitions supply an encouragement for effortand a stimulus to excellence. Within the society itself, of course, the membersprofit from the values of alliance, camaraderie and friendship. Needless to say,each society will have, too, its own medicines and mysteries.

I watched the Fleer, carefully. How intricate, actually, is the structure andgovernance of a tribe.

"The ear of his kaiila is notched," I said to Grunt. "Is that an eccentricmutilation or is it deliberate, perhaps meaningful?"

"It is meaningful," said Grunt. "It marks the kaiila as a prize animal, oneespecially trained for the hunt and war."

The girls continued to look ahead. They wisely avoided direct eye contact withthe appraising warrior, thus perhaps precipitating an encounter crisis, inwhich, perhaps because, of misconstrual or misinterpretation, he might feelprompted action. There are various ways in which a woman may look into the eyesof a man. One way, of course, is with a direct and self-assured gaze, as thoughshe might be the equal of the brute who regards her, the way of the free woman.

This is not to be recommended, of course, for a woman who is scantily clad andhas a chain on her neck. Such an insolence, at the least, would be likely to winher beauty a bout the five-stranded Gorean slave lash. Why do some women lookinto the eyes of a man in this fashion? It is an interesting question. Somethink that it is their way, perhaps even half consciously, of challenging him totheir subduing, of challenging him to make them a woman, a slave. It is notunusual for a woman, at any rate, who has looked into the eyes of a man in thatfashion to discover, later, that she is looking into his eyes in quite adifferent fashion, that whereas she once may have regarded him directly, andinsolently, she now, perhaps kneeling stripped at his feet, in a locked collar,bearing his identificatory device, lifts her eyes to his rather differently,doing so now as a mere slave girl to her master.

The Fleer backed his kaiila from Ginger, the animal almost crouching back on itshaunches.

There was blood about the jaws, and lips, of the kaiila, from where, earlier, hehad jerked back on the jaw rope. I saw the muscles within the kaiila's flanksmove beneath the paint.

"Oh!" said the red-haired girl, first in the coffle, startled as the point ofhis lance had scraped the back of the black-iron collar on her neck. Then shewas quiet. He was lifting her sheen of red hair on the point of his lance,moving it in the sun, to see it glisten and reflect the light. He was curious asto such hair. It is extremely rare in the Barrens. Grunt had not permitted herto cut it, or even to trim and shape it. That could be done later. Now he wantedit to grow, and to be, apparently, as long as possible. The Fleer let the hairfall from the lance, and then he laid the side of the metal point of the lanceon the edge of the girl's collar, the metal touching the right side of her neck.

She shuddered, but she did not otherwise move. She, a slave, was under gooddiscipline. I thought that was fortunate for her. Her movement, of course, theshuddering, this responsiveness, was revealing, and would have been to any manfamiliar with female slaves. It did not escape the detection of the Fleer.

Curious he now returned his kaiila to the position of the last girl on thecoffle, whom we were calling Pimples, the Gorean translation of her former name,originally given to her by a Kaiila master, "Wasnapohdi'. In Dust Leg,incidentally, the expression has the same meaning. I could detect, subtly, now,that Grunt was tense. He wanted the Fleer to be gone by now. I found myself,too, probably because of Grunt, growing more tense. I hoped that our reactionswould not be evident to the Fleer, who was several yards away. One by one, withthe side of the lance, the Fleer, moving along the line, touched the girls.

Pimples cried out, softly, touched on the right thigh. Then, at various places,on the calf, or the thigh, or ankle or neck, unexpectedly, not knowing wherethey would be touched, the other girls, too, were touched, Priscilla, Inez,Lois, Corinne, Evelyn, Ginger and the red-haired girl. Each of the girls couldnot help but respond in her own way to the Fleer's test, that of the unexpectedtouch of a man's weapon to her body.

"I trust he will not want any of them," said Grunt.

"I hope not," I said. We did not object to the assessment of the girls, ofcourse, for they were slaves. Their assessment was no different from theassessment of kaiila, except, of course, that somewhat different properties, onthe whole, would be under assessment What we did not want was trouble.

The Fleer backed his kaiila from the red-haired girl. With the side of his lancehe had touched her left thigh, and then, with the point of the lance, he badraised the hem of her skimpy tunic to her waist. Then, riding before her, hehad, with the point of the lance, thrust aside the sides of her tunic. She hadthen been well revealed to him. The exposed slave, the former Miss MillicentAubrey-Welles, the debutante from Pennsylvania, I saw, was quite beautiful. Inthe Barrens she might well be worth five hides of the yellow kailiauk.

We regarded the Fleer, who had now ridden his kaiila again before us.

He did not come so close to us that he could not, easily, drop his lance intothe attack position.

"Do not move," said Grunt to me, smiling at the Fleer.

The Fleer suddenly smiled broadly. He shifted his lance to his left hand, whichpleased me. He held his right hand near his body, with the palm down and thethumb close to his left breast. Then, with his right arm horizontal, he swepthis hand outward and a bit to the right This meant "good," that which is levelwith the heart. Re then pointed to the girls. He moved his fiat right hand in ahorizontal circle, clockwise, as Earth clocks move, not Gorean clocks, in frontof his chest. This meant "all," the circle being complete. He then grinnedagain.

Grunt then lifted his right band, the back of it near his right shoulder. Hisindex finger pointed forward and the other fingers were closed, with his thumbresting on his middle finger. He then moved his hand a bit to the left and, atthe same time, touching the thumb with the index finger, made a closed circle.

"Yes," had said Grunt. He then made the sign for «all» and the sign for "good," in that order. "AU is good," or "all right," he had said. He then extended hisbands in a forward direction, the palms down, and lowered them. "Thank you," wasthe meaning of this sign. He then held his hands at the level of his chest, withhis index fingers pointing forward and the other fingers closed. He drew backhis right hand, to the right, some inches, and then he brought it forward again,the index finger still extended, and moved it over his left hand. The firstportion of this sign means "time," and the second portion indicates, presumably,the forward movement of time. Literally this sign, in both its portions,indicates "future," but it is used also for "good-bye," the rationale beingperhaps similar to that in locutions such as "I'll be seeing you' or "Until wemeet again'. The sign for past, incidentally, is also the sign for "before." Thesign for "time," predictably, enters into the sign for "before," but, in thiscase, it is followed by the thrusting forth and drawing back of the right hand.

This is perhaps to suggest moving backward in time.

The Fleer grinned, and shifted his lance again to his right hand. Then,suddenly, with a wild whoop, and kicking his heels back into the flanks of hiskaiila, he raced away.

"I have always had good relations with the Fleer," said Grunt I watched the rider racing away