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Tribesmen of Gor
The Gorean Saga: Book 10
By John Norman
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 1976 John Norman
All rights reserved.
The Hall of Samos
There were bells, three rows of them, small and golden, thonged tightly about the girl's left ankle.
The entire floor of the chamber, shining, richly mosaiced, broad, reflecting the torchlight, was a map.
I watched the girl. Her knees were slightly bent. Her weight was on her heels, freeing her hips. Her rib cage was lifted, but her shoulders, relaxed, were down.
Her abdominal muscles, too, were relaxed, loose. Her chin was lifted, haughtily. She did not deign to look at us. Dark hair flowed behind her.
"There are many things I do not understand," said Samos to me. I reached for a slice of larma fruit, and bit through it. "Yet," said Samos, "I think it is important that we come to the truth in this matter."
I regarded the vast map on the floor of the chamber. I could see, high on the map, Ax Glacier, Torvaldsland, and Hunjer and Skjern, and Helmutsport, and, lower, Kassau and the great green forests, and the river Laurius, and Laura and Lydius, and, lower, the islands, prominent among them Cos and Tyros; I saw the delta of the Vosk, and Port Kar, and, inland, Ko-ro-ba, the Towers of the Morning, and Thentis, in the mountains of Thentis, famed for her tarn flocks; and, to the south, among many other cities, Tharna, of the vast silver mines; I saw the Voltai Range, and Glorious Ar, and the Cartius, and, far to the south, Turia, and near the shore of Thassa, the islands of Anango and Ianda, and on the coast, the free ports of Schendi and Bazi. There were, on this map, hundreds of cities, and promontories and peninsulas, and rivers and inland lakes and seas.
The left ankle of the girl, under the bells, the brown thong, the golden metal, was tanned.
"Perhaps you are mistaken," I told him. "Perhaps there is nothing to it."
"Perhaps," he smiled.
At the corners of the room, helmeted, with spears, stood men-at-arms.
The girl wore Gorean dancing silk. It hung low upon her bared hips, and fell to her ankles. It was scarlet, diaphanous. A front corner of the silk was taken behind her and thrust, loose and draped, into the rolled silk knotted about her hips; a back corner of the silk was drawn before her and thrust loosely, draped, into the rolled silk at her right hip. Low on her hips she wore a belt of small denomination, threaded, overlapping golden coins. A veil concealed her muchly from us, it thrust into the strap of the coined halter at her left shoulder, and into the coined belt at her right hip. On her arms she wore numerous armlets and bracelets. On the thumb and first finger of both her left and right hand were golden finger cymbals. On her throat was a collar.
I took another piece of larma fruit. "I gather," I said, "you have information?"
"Yes," said Samos. He clapped his hands. Immediately the girl stood beautifully, alert, before us, her arms high, wrists outward. The musicians, to one side, stirred, readying themselves. Their leader was a czehar player.
"What is the nature of your information?" I asked.
"It is nothing definite," he said.
"Perhaps it is not important," I suggested.
"Perhaps not," he admitted.
"Kurii, Others," I said, "following the failure of the northern invasion of native Kurii, halted in Torvaldsland, have been quiet, have they not?"
"Beware of a silent enemy," said Samos. He looked at the girl. He clapped his hands, sharply.
There was a clear note of the finger cymbals, sharp, delicate, bright, and the slave girl danced before us.
I regarded the coins threaded, overlapping, on her belt and halter. They took the firelight beautifully. They glinted, but were of small worth. One dresses such a woman in cheap coins; she is slave. Her hand moved to the veil at her right hip. Her head was turned away, as though unwilling and reluctant, yet knowing she must obey.
"Come with me," said Samos.
I swilled down the last swallow of a goblet of paga.
He grinned at me. "You may have her later," he said. "She will dance from time to time during the evening."
Samos stepped from behind the low tables. He nodded his head to cup companions, trusted men. Two briefly clad, lovely female slaves withdrew before him, kneeling, heads down, their serving vessels in their hands.
To one side, stripped, bound tightly in black leather, hand and foot, straps crossing between her breasts and circling her thighs, to which her wrists were secured, in buckled cuffs, knelt a whitish-skinned girl, blond, frightened. Her shoulders, like those of most females of Earth, were tight, tense. The tone of her body, like that of most Earth women, was rigid, defensive. Like most others she had been acculturated in a thousand subtle ways to minimize, to conceal and deny the natural, organic sweetnesses of her musculature and structure, conditioned into a dignified, formal physical neutership, the stiffness, reserve and tightness so much approved of in females in a mechanistic, industrial, technological society, in which machines govern and present the symbols and paradigms of movement, understood as repetition, measure, regularity, precision and function. Human beings move differently in a technological society than in a nontechnological society; they hold their bodies differently; a man or woman's acculturation is visible in their demeanor. Few people understand this; most view as natural motions and body positions which are the consequences of a subconsciously conditioned, mechanistic ballet, a choreography of puppets, imitating the models, the stridencies, in which they find themselves enmeshed. Yet, somewhere beneath the conditioned behavior lies the animal, which moved naturally before there was a civilization to teach it the proprieties of mechanism. It is little wonder that the Earth human, when unobserved, even the adult, sometimes throws itself on the ground and rolls and cries out, if only to feel the joy of its own movement, the unleashing of the tensions inflicted by the rigidities of the civilized restraints. Invisible chains are those which weigh the most heavily.
I looked down at the girl. She was terrified, miserable. "Tell her," said Samos, "to watch a true woman, and learn to be female." He indicated the Gorean dancer.
The girl had not been long on Gor. Samos had purchased her for four silver tarsks on Teletus, with many others, for various amounts. This was the first time out of the pens for her in his house. She wore her brand on the left thigh. A simple band of iron had been hammered about her neck by one of the metal workers in the employ of Samos. She was poor stuff, not fit for a lock collar. I probably would have sold her for a kettle girl. Yet, looking more carefully upon her, examining her with candor, as she looked away, miserable, I saw that she might not be without promise. Perhaps she could be taught. The basic characteristic expected of a Gorean woman is, interestingly, femaleness; this is, I note, certainly not the basic characteristic requested of an Earth woman; indeed, femaleness in a woman of Earth, as I recalled, was societally discouraged, it complicating the politically expedient neuterlike relationships valuable in a technologically sophisticated social structure, to which sexual relationships were irrelevant, if not inimical. Western industrialized societies on Earth optimally would be manned by metal creatures, sexless, smoothly functioning, programmed to tend, preserve and replicate the metal society. Man, on Earth, had finally succeeded, after long centuries, in creating a society in which he had no essential place; he had, at last, built a house in which he could not live, in which he had left not one room suitable for human habitation; he called it a home; in it he was a stranger; his habitat, by his own efforts, became inhospitable to him; his efficiencies, his machines, his institutions, in his hands, had at last succeeded in evicting him from his own realities; women were shamed to be women; men terrified of listening to their blood, and being men; in their plastic cubicles, amidst the hum of their machineries, men at night squirmed and wept, hating themselves, castigating themselves for not meeting the standards of a world alien to their sensate truths; let robots weep for not being men, not men weep for not being robots; the strong, the fine, the mighty, is not wicked; only the vile and small, incapable of power, speak it so; but there was little hope for the men of Earth; they feared to listen, for they might hear ancient drums.
The blondish girl put down her head. I gestured to the guard behind her. He thrust his hand in her hair. She cried out. Her head was rudely jerked up and back. She looked at me.
I pointed to the dancer.
The girl looked at her, horrified, offended, scandalized. She shuddered, and squirmed in the straps. Her fists were clenched at her thighs, beside which they were held in the cuff straps of her harness.
"Watch, Slave," I told her, in English, "a true woman." The girl's title and name had been Miss Priscilla Blake-Allen. Her nationality had been American. Then she had been branded.
She was now only nameless property in a slaver's house, no different from hundreds of other girls in the pens below.
The dancer was now moving slowly to the music.
"She is so sensual," whispered the blondish girl, in horror.
I turned to watch the dancer. She danced well. At the moment she writhed upon the "slave pole," it fixing her in place. There is no actual pole, of course, but sometimes it is difficult to believe there is not. The girl imagines that a pole, slender, supple, swaying, transfixes her body, holding her helplessly. About this imaginary pole, it constituting a hypothetical center of gravity, she moves, undulating, swaying, sometimes yielding to it in ecstasy, sometimes fighting it, it always holding her in perfect place, its captive. The control achieved by the use of the "slave pole" is remarkable. An incredible, voluptuous tension is almost immediately generated, visible in the dancer's body, and kinetically felt by those who watch. I heard men at the table cry out with pleasure. The dancer's hands were at her thighs. She regarded them, angrily, and still she moved. Her shoulders lifted and fell; her hands touched her breasts and shoulders; her head was back, and then again she glared at the men, angrily. Her arms were high, very high. Her hips moved, swaying. Then, the music suddenly silent, she was absolutely still. Her left hand was at her thigh; her right high above her head; her eyes were on her hip; frozen into a hip sway; then there was again a bright, clear flash of the finger cymbals, and the music began again, and again she moved, helpless on the pole. Men threw coins at her feet.
I looked to the blondish girl. "Learn to be a female," I told her.
"Never!" she hissed, in her harness.
"You are no longer on Earth," I told her. "You will be taught. The lessons may be painful or pleasant, but you will learn."
"I do not wish to do so," she said.
"Your will, your wishes, mean nothing," I told her. "You will learn."
"It is degrading," she said.
"You will learn," I told her.
"She is so sensual," said the girl, angrily. "How can men think of her as anything but a woman!"
"You will learn," I told her.
"I do not want to be a woman!" she cried out. "I want to be a man! I always wanted to be a man!"
She squirmed in the harness, fighting its restraints. The straps, the rings, held her, of course, perfectly.
"On Gor," I told her, "it is the men who will be men; and here, on this world, it is the women who will be women."
"I do not wish to move like that," she wept.
"You will learn to move as a woman," I told her. I looked down at her. "You, too, will learn to be sensual."
"Never," she wept, fighting the straps.
"Look at me, Slave," I said.
She looked up, tears in her eyes. "I will speak to you kindly for a moment," I said. "Listen carefully, for they may be the last kind words you will hear for a long time."
She regarded me, the guard's hand in her hair.
"You are a slave," I said. "You are owned. You are a female. You will be forced to be a woman. If you were free, and Gorean, you might be permitted by men to remain as you are, but you are neither Gorean nor free. The Gorean man will accept no compromise on your femininity, not from a slave. She will be what he wishes, and that is a woman, fully, and his. If necessary you will be whipped or starved. You may fight your master. He will, if he wishes, permit this, to prolong the sport of your conquest, but, in the end, it is you who are the slave; it is you who will lose. On Earth you had the society at your back, the result of centuries of feminization; he could not so much as speak harshly to you but you could rush away or summon magistrates; here, however, society is not at your back, but at his; it will abet him in his wishes, for you are only a slave; you will have no one to call, nowhere to run; you will be alone with him, and at his mercy. Further, he has not been conditioned with counterinstinctual value sets, programmed with guilt, taught self-hatred; he has been taught pride and has, in the very air he breathes, imbibed the mastery of females. These are different men. They are not Earthlings. They are Goreans. They are strong, and they are hard, and they will conquer you. For a man of Earth, you might never be a woman. For a man of Gor, I assure you, my dear, sooner or later you will be."
She looked at me with misery.
The dancer moaned, crying out, as though in agony. Still she remained impaled upon the slave pole, its prisoner.
"The Gorean master," I told the blondish girl, "commands sensuality in his female slaves."
She stared at the dancer, her eyes wide with misery. The hips of the dancer now moved, seemingly in isolation from the rest of her body, though her wrists and hands, ever so slightly, moved to the music.
"You cannot even move like that now," I told the blondish girl. "Yet muscles can be trained. You will be taught to move like a woman, not a puppet of wood." I grinned down at her. "You will be taught to be sensual."
Samos, with a snap of his fingers, freed the dancer from the slave pole. She moved, turning, toward us. Before us, loosening her veil at the right hip, she danced. Then she took it from her left shoulder, where it had been tucked beneath the strap of her halter. With the veil loose, covering her, holding it in her hands, she danced before us. Then she regarded us, dark-eyed, over the veil; it turned about her body; then, to the misery of the blondish girl, she wafted the silk about her, enmeshing her in its gossamer softness. I saw the parted lips, the eyes wide with horror, of the kneeling, harnessed girl, through the light, yellow veil; then the dancer had drawn it away from her, and, turning, was again in the center of the floor.
"You will learn your womanhood," I told the blondish girl. "And I will tell you where you will learn it."
She looked up at me.
"At the feet of a master," I told her.
I turned away from her and, following Samos, left the chamber.
"She will have to learn Gorean, and quickly," said Samos, referring to the blondish girl.
"Let slaves, with switches, teach her," I said.
"I will," said Samos. There was no swifter way for an Earth girl to learn Gorean, providing that candies and pastries, and little favors, like a blanket in the pens, were mixed in. Learning was closely associated, even immediately, with reward and punishment. Sometimes, months later, even when not under the switch, a girl would, upon a mistake in grammar or vocabulary, wince, as though expecting a fresh sting of the switch. Goreans do not coddle their slave girls. This is one of the first lessons a girl learns.
"You learned little from her?" asked Samos.
I had interrogated the girl when she had first come to the house of Samos.
"Her story," I said, "is similar to those of many others. Abduction, transportation to Gor, slavery. She knows nothing. She scarcely understands, now, the meaning of her collar."
Samos laughed unpleasantly, the laugh of a slaver.
"Yet one thing you had from her seems of interest," said Samos, preceding me down a deep corridor. In the corridor we passed a female slave. She dropped to her knees and put her head down, her hair upon the tiles, as we passed.
Excerpted from Tribesmen of Gor by John Norman. Copyright © 1976 John Norman. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
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