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The People That Time Forgot

Chapter 6
After dinner I rolled a cigaret and stretched myself at ease upon a pile of furs before the
doorway, with Ajor's head pillowed in my lap and a feeling of great content pervading
me. It was the first time since my plane had topped the barrier- cliffs of Caspak that I had
felt any sense of peace or security. My hand wandered to the velvet cheek of the girl I
had claimed as mine, and to her luxuriant hair and the golden fillet which bound it close
to her shapely head. Her slender fingers groping upward sought mine and drew them to
her lips, and then I gathered her in my arms and crushed her to me, smothering her mouth
with a long, long kiss. It was the first time that passion had tinged my intercourse with
Ajor. We were alone, and the hut was ours until morning.
But now from beyond the palisade in the direction of the main gate came the hallooing of
men and the answering calls and queries of the guard. We listened. Returning hunters, no
doubt. We heard them enter the village amidst the barking dogs. I have forgotten to
mention the dogs of Kro-lu. The village swarmed with them, gaunt, wolflike creatures
that guarded the herd by day when it grazed without the palisade, ten dogs to a cow. By
night the cows were herded in an outer inclosure roofed against the onslaughts of the
carnivorous cats; and the dogs, with the exception of a few, were brought into the village;
these few well-tested brutes remained with the herd. During the day they fed plentifully
upon the beasts of prey which they killed in protection of the herd, so that their keep
amounted to nothing at all.
Shortly after the commotion at the gate had subsided, Ajor and I arose to enter the hut,
and at the same time a warrior appeared from one of the twisted alleys which, lying
between the irregularly placed huts and groups of huts, form the streets of the Kro-lu
village. The fellow halted before us and addressed me, saying that Al-tan desired my
presence at his hut. The wording of the invitation and the manner of the messenger threw
me entirely off my guard, so cordial was the one and respectful the other, and the result
was that I went willingly, telling Ajor that I would return presently. I had laid my arms
and ammunition aside as soon as we had taken over the hut, and I left them with Ajor
now, as I had noticed that aside from their hunting-knives the men of Kro-lu bore no
weapons about the village streets. There was an atmosphere of peace and security within
that village that I had not hoped to experience within Caspak, and after what I had passed
through, it must have cast a numbing spell over my faculties of judgment and reason. I
had eaten of the lotus-flower of safety; dangers no longer threatened for they had ceased
to be.
The messenger led me through the labyrinthine alleys to an open plaza near the center of
the village. At one end of this plaza was a long hut, much the largest that I had yet seen,
before the door of which were many warriors. I could see that the interior was lighted and
that a great number of men were gathered within. The dogs about the plaza were as thick
as fleas, and those I approached closely evinced a strong desire to devour me, their noses
evidently apprising them of the fact that I was of an alien race, since they paid no
attention whatever to my companion. Once inside the council-hut, for such it appeared to
 
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