Escape on Venus
Escape on Venus
THE TORNADO DIED OUT IN a last few fitful gusts. The air was suddenly calm. It was like the peace of Heaven.
"You must be very tired," said Duare. "Let me take the controls. You have been fighting that storm for sixteen or seventeen hours, and you have had no sleep for two days."
"Well, neither have you; and do you realize that we've had neither food nor water since before we left Vepaja?"
"There's a river down there, and game," said Duare. "I hadn't realized before how thirsty I was-and hungry, too. And so sleepy! I don't know which I am the most."
"We'll drink and eat, and then we'll sleep," I told her.
I circled around, looking for some sign of human habitation; for it is always men that must be feared most. Where there are no men, one is comparatively safe, even in a world of savage beasts.
In the distance I saw what appeared to be a large inland lake, or an arm of the sea. There were little patches of forest, and the plain was tree dotted beneath us. I saw herds grazing. I dropped down to select my quarry, run it down, and shoot it from the ship. Not very sporting; but I was out for food, not sport.
My plan was excellent, but it did not work. The animals discovered us long before we were within range, and they took off like bats out of Hell.
"There goes breakfast," I said.
"And lunch and dinner," added Duare, with a rueful smile.
"The water remains. We can at least drink." So I circled to a landing near a little stream.
The greensward, close cropped by grazing herds, ran to the water's edge; and after we had drunk, Duare stretched out upon it for a moment's relaxation and rest. I stood looking around in search of game, hoping that something would come out of the near-by forest into which it had fled, effectively terminating my pursuit of it in the anotar.
It couldn't have been more than a minute or two that I stood there in futile search for food on the hoof, but when I looked down at Duare she was fast asleep. I didn't have the heart to awaken her, for I realized that she needed sleep even more than she did food; so I sat down beside her to keep watch while she slept.
It was a lovely spot, quiet and peaceful. Only the purling murmur of the brook broke the silence. It seemed very safe, for I could see to a considerable distance in all directions. The sound of the water soothed my tired nerves. I half reclined, supporting myself on one elbow so that I could keep better watch.
I lay there for about five minutes when a most amazing thing happened. A large fish came out of the stream and sat down beside me. He regarded me intently for a moment. I could not guess what was passing in his mind, as a fish has but one expression. He reminded me of some of the cinema stars I had seen, and I could not repress a laugh.
"What are you laughing at?" demanded the fish. "At me?"
"Certainly not," I assured him. I was not at all surprised that the fish spoke. It seemed quite natural.
"You are Carson of Venus," he said. It was a statement, not a question.
"How did you know?" I asked.
"Taman told me. He sent me to bring you to Korva. There will be a great procession as you and your princess ride on a mighty gantor along the boulevards of Sanara to the palace of the jong."
"That will be very nice," I said; "but in the meantime will you please tell me who is poking me in the back, and why?"
At that the fish suddenly disappeared. I looked around, and saw a dozen armed men standing over us. One of them had been prodding me in the back with a three pronged spear. Duare was sitting up, an expression of consternation on her face. I sprang to my feet. A dozen spears menaced me. Two warriors were standing over Duare, their tridents poised above her heart. I could have drawn my pistol; but I did not dare use it. Before I could have killed them all, on