Thursday, March 15, 2007

“A Most Excellent Philosophy”

There was a crash of splintering wood as the prow of the enemy rammed the Gregory galley amidships. Already listing crazily, she careened to the impact; and as the water poured over her port gunwale, she began to sink, leaving her passengers floundering in the river and her slaves screaming in their chains; then the other galleys moved in to pick up the survivors.

D’Arnot and Helen were dragged into the galley farthest up stream, which immediately set out for Ashair. The other members of the party had drifted down stream before they were finally picked up by a second galley. Tarzan had swum beside Magra, encouraging and supporting her, while Gregory, Lavac, and Ogabi remained nearby. Night was falling, and it would soon be dark in the narrow gorge. When they were in the craft, they saw that Thetan was already there, having been picked up before they were; but Helen and d’Arnot were not there; and the boat in which they were prisoners was out of sight around a bend in the river.

“Did you see anything of Helen?” asked Gregory, but no one had.

“I could almost wish that she drowned,” he added. “God! Why did I ever undertake this stupid venture?”

“It would have been better had we all drowned,” said Thetan. “There is no hope for those who fall into the hands of the Asharians.”

“All that has happened to us so far,” said Tarzan, “is that we have gotten wet. Wait until something really bad happens before you give up hope.”

“But look at what lies ahead of us!” exclaimed Lavac.

“I do not know what lies ahead of us, and neither do you,” the ape-man reminded him; “therefore we might as well anticipate the best as the worst.”

“A most excellent philosophy,” commented Gregory, “but a strain on one’s credulity.”

“I think it is good,” said Magra.

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