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The Telnarian Histories: Book II
By John Norman
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 1992 John Norman
All rights reserved.
"Remove her clothing," said the connoisseur.
"I see," said the connoisseur.
"She is not mine," said Julian, of the Aurelianii, speaking to the connoisseur. "I would like, as a favor, for a friend, as a surprise for him, to have her informed, enlightened."
"Trained?" asked the connoisseur.
"Well trained," said Julian.
"Until she becomes fully what she is, explicitly, manifestly, and can be nothing else?"
"One wonders," mused the connoisseur.
"It is my expectation," conjectured Julian, "that she might prove acceptable."
"That seems possible," said the connoisseur. "Is she alive?"
"I do not know," said Julian.
There was a sudden, soft, startled, involuntary, timid, shamed, helpless cry.
"Keep your hands at your sides," said the connoisseur.
There was an intake of breath. Then there was another small cry, suddenly, much like the first.
"She will moan well," said the connoisseur.
"Excellent," said Julian.
"Kneel, with your head to the floor," said the connoisseur, "She will require attention, and frequently," he said.
Julian looked down at her.
"I leave the matter then in your capable hands," said Julian. He then turned about and left."CHAPTER 2
"Look!" cried a citizen.
Fellows about him laughed.
"It is a bumpkin from an ag world," cried the citizen.
"Where did you get those frocks!" cried another."
The giant raised his hand to his forehead, and, with the back of his hand, wiped away the rage of sweat. This was not, of course, Telnaria, the home world, but was a summer world.
Flies swarmed about his face.
It was different in the cool, dark forests of his tribe, taken to be that of the Wolfungs. It was one of five related tribes, the others being the Darisi, the Basungs, the Haakons and the Otungs. The Otungs was the largest and fiercest of these five tribes. It was also considered the parent tribe of these five tribes. It had been muchly devastated, long ago, as had its brethren tribes, in wars with the empire. We may think, collectively, of these five tribes as constituting the nation. There were many such nations, composed of diverse tribes. This particular nation, in which the Wolfungs, the Otungs, and such, figure, was a nation not regarded, at that time, as one of great importance, particularly after its defeat in various wars. This particular nation was that of the Vandals. Few people, at that time, had heard of it. The etymology of the name has been elsewhere discussed. The expression 'nation' is here used advisedly, but not, I think, inappropriately. The expression 'folk' or 'people' would doubtless be more judicious but we are here dealing with political matters and in such a case it seems more apt, for our readers, to speak of "nations." Too, there is a tendency, perhaps now too ingrained to be ignored with impunity, to speak of "nations" in these matters. There are some differences, however, which are not unimportant. In particular, the relation a member of one of these tribes has to the tribe, or the people, or folk, or nation, is not to be understood as being identical to that of a citizen to his state, though there are doubtless similarities. The state, in a sense, is an artificial nation, a contrived nation, a legal construction, relying upon conventions acknowledged, and observed, a theoretically voluntary organization, though, to be sure, it may confront the citizen with all the practical irrefutability and implacable solidity of a given datum, a condition of being, a law of nature, a family or species. The relation of a citizen to a state is usually construed, at least in theory, as a contractual one, either implicitly or explicitly, as in uttering oaths of allegiance, and such. The relationship within the tribe, on the other hand, is not contractual, neither implicitly nor explicitly, no more than that of being brothers. One does not participate in a tribe, but one is of the tribe, much as one finds oneself, through traditions of blood, one of a family, or line. Tribes consist of clans, and clans of families, and thus one is speaking, here, when one speaks of tribes, of complicated and extensive networks of human relationships, and predominantly blood relationships, though in many cases of an extended and tenuous sense. The state rests upon law, and the tribe on blood. One cannot, in the ordinary course of things, cease to be a member of tribe, any more than one can cease to be the son of one's father. To be sure, certain caveats must be entered. For example, one may be accepted into a tribe, and then one is truly of the tribe; and one may be cast out of the tribe, and thus be no longer of the tribe; and one may repudiate the tribe, and thus remove oneself from it. Here, in such considerations, we find that the tribe bears analogies to, for example, the obtaining of citizenship, the loss of citizenship, the repudiation of citizenship, and such. The tribe is thus, in a sense, analogous to a biologically founded state. It is thus, actually, not simply biological, not simply a matter of blood, and, at the same time, it is more than an abstraction, a matrix of legalities, a creature of convention, profound or otherwise. There are, of course, many other differences, and many other commonalities, as well. It may be useful to mention some, as it may render more intelligible some portions of what follows. Custom is important in the tribe, and law in the state, though it is a matter of degree, for the state, too, has its customs, and some tribes, at least, have their laws, though usually the laws in such tribes are unwritten, and are the province of the law-sayers, who must, in many such tribes, memorize the law, and are responsible for reciting portions of it at gatherings, to keep it in living memory, usually a third of it at each annual gathering. Thus the men in such tribes will hear the law as a whole, from its sayers, once every three years. In many tribes, on the other hand, the court of law is the hut of the chieftain, and its statutes and codices are his whims. Better put, perhaps, in such tribes there is no law, but there is the will, the decision, of the chieftain. Citizens are often literate, while tribesmen are less often so. But, of course, there are illiterate citizens and literate tribesmen. Men who can read and write are often kept, like interpreters which, in a sense, they are, in tribes, to aid in the conduct of business, and in transactions with other communities. Although tribes are diverse, as are men, and hanis leopards, it is frequently the case that a distinction is drawn within the tribe between what we may think of as the aristocracy and the yeomen, so to speak, between the high families and the ordinary free men. In the empire, distinctions obtain between, similarly, the honestori and the humiliori, the higher, honored classes and the commonality. Within the honestori falls the patricians, which includes the senatorial class. These relationships are more volatile, and more subject to mobility, than those within the tribe. For example, one may ascend to the honestori by appointment or acceptance, an appointment or acceptance often consequent upon unusual service or merit, or, in some cases, it is rumored, consequent upon the provision of favors, moneys, and such. The coloni, or tenant farmers and laborers, fall, obviously, among the humiliori. So, too, do individuals bound to certain occupations or to the soil, whose numbers were increasing in recent times, due to the needs of the state to stabilize the population, primarily to assure a continuation of necessary services and, more importantly, a reliable, locatable tax base. Slaves need not be mentioned here, no more than cattle, and sheep, as they, too, are domestic animals, a form of livestock, some of which are quite lovely. There are many other differences, and similarities, between states and tribes, but it would be tedious, and impossible, to attempt to enumerate them in a genuinely useful manner, as the factors are numerous, and as states differ among themselves, as do tribes. A last remark or two will, however, be helpful. Some think of the tribe, or folk, or people, as having a certain mystical aura. Doubtless it does. But the reality here is doubtless far more profound than any trivially conceived mysticism could perceive, as it rests upon genetic profundities, whose origins lie in the immemorial past, long before shambling creatures began to shape stones and scratch their dreams on rocks. What may lend the tribe, or folk, or people, its somewhat mystical air is that tribality has presumably been selected for, biologically, bonded groups, mutually supportive, and such, tending to have a considerable advantage over more anarchic social aggregates. In war, for example, in times of fear and danger, would one rather have at one's side a stranger or a brother? We have spoken of the tribe as being rather like a biologically founded state. It would be more accurate, perhaps, to think of the state, or at least the successful state, as being rather like an artificial tribe. Consider the attempts to induce, artificially, a sense of tribality, of community, or brotherhood, among disparate individuals, the reliance on symbols, on conditioning, on myth, and such, anything to increase and consolidate devotion to, and loyalty toward, a given set of practices and institutions, anything to increase social bonding. And then, of course, there are the clever individuals who manage, after a time, to see what is obvious, and then exultantly denounce such tribality altogether. This is the shallow rationality, but not the deeper rationality. What is not understood is that belonging, community, tribality, such things, lie within the nature and needs of many men, and that to mock these things, or to deny him these things, and, indeed, many others which are as much a part of him as his backbone and heart, is to deny him, to rob him, of a part of himself, without which he cannot be whole or human. He who has no people, no unit, no brethren, no tribe, so to speak, no loved ones, no family, what can he be? One requires more to be a man than the ability to add and subtract with rapidity. To the side of history, forgotten, lie the bones of scoffers, and shallow mockers, together with those of the groups to whose disintegration they dutifully and gladly contributed. What can one be without a unit, without a tribe, without a people? Must one not then be more than man or less than man? Surely such a one, one so alone, if contentedly so, must be either a god, or beast. But there are other men, men alone, of course, and many of them, men with no place, no state, no tribe, those who have asked directions of gods, and failed to receive them, those who have interrogated beasts, but could not obtain guidance. They do not know who they are; they do not know if there is a place in which they belong. They are not the scoffers, the mockers. They are far from such lost, weak ones. They are strong ones, and some are terrible ones. They are rather the far walkers, the wayfarers, the searchers. It is not that they repudiate their brethren; rather, on long roads, and in distant places, they search for them, But such reflections are gloomy. Let us leave them
"Ho, behold the bumpkin!" cried a fellow, pointing to the giant.
The giant did not think it would need chains to hold the fellow. A cord would suffice, as it would with a woman.
The giant followed his companion through the streets.
Aromatic herbs, in this district, had been crushed and scattered on the stones. The emperor was now in residence, here, on this summer world, in one of the many summer palaces. Indeed, it was just that many-walled domicile, with its polychromatic, labyrinthine geodesics, which constituted the destination of the giant and his companion.
"Lout, boor!" called another fellow.
But they did not approach more closely. It was easy for them to be bold, at a distance, and, too, for the guards, a squad of nine, with rifles, who accompanied the giant and his companion through the streets. Perhaps they thought that the giant was a prisoner. But he was not such. Had that been wished, it might easily have been managed in other places, and at other times, on the first ship, for example, on which they had taken their leave from the Meeting World.
"Cur, clod!" cried a man.
The giant wondered how the fellow might stand up against an ax attack.
"It is not far now," said the giant's companion.
In this district, near the summer palace, no vehicular traffic, save for official vehicles, usually armored, was permitted. It would have been too easy to approach the walls, and the metal of the vehicles might have masked the metal of weapons, and the vehicle might have served as a launching weapon, or as the weapon itself.
The giant enjoyed walking, and movement, and running, as after bark deer in the forests, for sport. One could pursue the delicate beast for hours at a time, and then, at the end of the hunt, when they lay helpless, gasping on the leaves, lungs heaving, unable to move, eyes wild, one could kill them, or let them go. Sometimes one carried them back to the village, on one's shoulders, to pen them and see to it, later, that they were mated, thence to be released, pregnant, to the forests, later in soft glades to deliver wet, awkward fawns, destined in time to be the swiftest of the swift. The eggs of hunting birds, too, were sometimes stolen from nests, to be hatched by vardas in their coops, the hatchlings later to be trained to the wrist and thong. Many were the pastimes, and sports, of the forests. And high among them, one of the most pleasurable, was the mastery, and use, of female slaves. These, too, at the master's discretion, could be judiciously mated.
His large frame had been cramped in the seat cubicles of the snakelike limousine which had brought them from the hostelry near the port to the pomerium of the sacred district, within which lay the summer palace.
"Soil worker! Peasant!"
The giant had indeed, at one time, been a peasant, a denizen of a small village, a festung village, the festung village of Sim Giadini. It is in the vicinity of the heights of Barrionuevo. This range is located on the world of Tangara. He did not understand why the work of the peasants, or the peasants themselves, should seem so scorned here, and by such a dirty, ragged swarm. Did they not eat? Did they not owe their lives, in a sense, to the labor of such as he once was? Were they so much better than they upon whose labor they depended? Did they think it easy to guide the plow, to turn heavy soil, to harrow and disk the fields, to judge seeds, to plant properly, in suitable times and places, to toil long hours, when one's back was nigh onto breaking, to resist a relentless sun, to hope for rain, which might not come, to be so hungry at times, to have to yield the tithes to the lofty festung of Sim Giadini, almost lost in the clouds of the heights?
"Get back!" cried his companion, gesturing toward one of the bolder of the unsolicited escort. But he did not care to touch him. "It is not that they believe you are a peasant," he said to the giant. "It is merely a term of abuse."
They continued on their way.
The peasant had not been born in the festung village. He did not know where he had been born.
He had left the village after killing a man, one named Gathron, who had been his best friend. He had broken a post over his back, and watched him die, at his feet. Gathron had attacked him, and Gathron had been his best friend. This was something which the giant often remembered, that one does not always know, really, who is one's friend and who is not. The squabble had been over a woman. That, too, had never been forgotten by the giant, that it had been because of a woman that the business had come about. He regarded women as dangerous, untrustworthy, and tantalizingly delicious. They were to him as another form of life, one excruciatingly desirable, one against whom one must always be on his guard, one which must be managed, controlled, and kept strictly in its place. The place of woman, such delicious, dangerous, precious, despicable, desirable creatures, was at the feet of man, rightless and powerless. This was the decree of nature. Free, out of nature, they will bite at you, and scratch at you, and diminish you, or destroy you, owned, within nature, on the other hand, deprived of power, no longer dangerous, they find themselves suddenly with a different vocation, that of, with trepidation, and zeal, in fear of their lives, devoting themselves eagerly to your service and delight. The answer to the riddle of woman, and the key to her happiness, is the chain and whip. She must never be allowed to forget whose hand it is that holds the leather over her.
Excerpted from The Captain by John Norman. Copyright © 1992 John Norman. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
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