“Bring up from the first hold the two panther girls,” said I to a seaman. “Remove their slave hoods, and gags. Chain them as they were before, to the deck.” “Yes, Captain,” said the seaman. “Shall I feed them?” “No,” I said.

Seamen now climbed to the high yard, loosening the brail ropes, to drop the sail.

It was the tarn sail.

Gorean galleys commonly carry several sails, usually falling into three main types, fair-weather, “tarn” and storm. Within each type, depending on the ship, there may be varieties. The Tesephone carried four sails, one said of the first type; two of the second, and one of the third. Her sails were, first, the fair-weather sail, which is quite large, and is used in gentle winds; secondly, the tarn sail, which is the common sail most often found on the yard of a tarn ship, and taking its name from the ship; third, a sail of the same type as the tarn sail, and, in a sense, a smaller “tarn” sail, the “tharlarion” sail; this smaller “tarn” sail, or “tharlarion” sail, as it is commonly called, to distinguish it from the larger sail of the same type, is more manageable than the standard, larger tarn sail; it is used most often in swift, brutal, shifting winds, providing a useful sail between the standard tarn sail and the storm sail; fourthly, of course, the Tesephone carried her storm sail; if, upon occasion, a ship could not run before a heavy sea, it would be broken in the crashing of the waves. Gorean galleys, in particular the ram-ships, are built for speed and war. They are long, narrow, shallow-drafted, carvel-built craft. They are not made to lift and fall, to crash among fifty-foot waves, caught in the fists of the sea’s violence. In such a sea literally, in spite of their beams and chains, they can break in tow, snapping like the spines of tabuk in the jaws of frenzied larls. In changing a sail, the yard is lowered, and then raised again. In the usual Gorean galley, lateen rigged, there is no practical way to take in, or shorten, sail, as with many types of square-rigged craft. In consequence, the different sails. The brail ropes serve little more, in the lateen-rigged galley, with its triangular sail on the long, sloping yard, has marvelous maneuvering capabilities, and can sail incredibly close to the wind. Its efficiency in tacking more than compensates for the convenience of a single, multipurposed sail. And, too, perhaps it should be mentioned, the lateen rigging is very beautiful.

The two girls were brought up from the first hold. Their faces were red, and broken out. Their hair was soaked with perspiration. It is not pleasant to wear a Gorean slave hood. They gasped for air. A seaman, a hand in the hair of each, holding them bent over, pulled them past me.

The brail ropes loosened, the tarn sail dropped, opening into the wind. It was very beautiful.

In the stern quarter, behind the open kitchen, the girls were chained by the neck to the deck, to iron rings set in the heavy sanded wood. Each was given a yard of chain.

I smelled roast bosk cooking and fried vulo. It would be delicious. I thought no more of the girls.

I must attend to matters of the ship.

I held the leg of fried vulo toward one of the girls.

I sat before them, on a stool, between them and the open kitchen. They knelt. There were still chained by the neck to the iron rings. But now, too, I had had their hands tied behind then, with binding fiber.

Some men stood about, Rim and Thurnock among them. There was still a good wind, tight and sweet in the tarn sail. The three Gorean moons gleamed in the black, starlit sky. The two girls were beautiful in the shifting yellow light of the ship’s lantern, illuminating them.

I had not had then fed all day.

Indeed, I had not had them fed since their acquisition, the morning of the preceding day, though I had seen that they had had enough water. Further, I expected that Arn, and his men, had not been overly generous in feeding their fair enemies. Both girls must be half starved.

One of the girls, she toward whom I held the leg of fried vulo, reached her head toward me, opening her delicate, white teeth to bite at it.

I drew it away.

She straightened herself again, proudly. I rather admired them.

“I would know,” I said to them, “the whereabouts of the camp of an outlaw girl, and its dancing circle.” “We know nothing,” said one of the girls.

“The name of the outlaw girl,” I said, “is Verna.”

I saw recognition leap into their eyes, briefly, before they could conceal their response.

“We know nothing,” said the second girl.

“You know, or know well enough,” I said, “the location or approximate location, of her camp and dancing circle.” “We know nothing,” said the first girl again.

“You will tell me,” I informed them.

“We are panther girls,” said the first girl.” “We will tell you nothing.” I held the leg of fried vulo again toward the first girl. For a time, she ignored it, her head to one side. Then, looking at me with hatred, unable to restrain herself, she bent forward again. Her teeth, closed on the meat and she cried out in her throat, a gasp, a tiny cry, glad, inarticulate, uncontrollable, and began to bite at the leg, swiftly, tearing at it, her head to one side, the blond hair falling over my wrist. With my eyes I indicated that Rim should, similarly, feed the other.

He did so.

In moments the girls had torn the meat from the bones, and Rim and I threw the bones into the sea.

They were sill half starving, of course. They had had but a taste of meat. I could see the anxiety in their eyes, lest they not be fed more.

“Feed us!” cried the first girl. “We will tell you what you wish to know.” “Agreed,” said I to them, regarding them, waiting for them to speak. The two girls exchanged glances, “Feed us first,” said the first girl. “We will then speak.” “Speak first,” said I, “and then, should it please us, we may give you food.” The two girls exchanged glances again.

The first, then, put her head down. She choked, as though attempting to stifle a sob. She looked at me, agonized. She was quite a good actress.

“Very well,” she said, haltingly, as though her will, only that of a girl, had been broken.

She was superb.

“The camp of Verna,” she said, “and her dancing circle, lies one hundred pasangs north of Lydius, and twenty pasangs inland from the shore of Thassa.” She then put her head down, with a choking sob. “Please feed me,” she wept. “You have lied,” I told her.

She looked at me, angrily.

“I will tell,” wept the second girl.

“Do not!” cried the second girl. She was quite a good actress. Yes. “I must,” wept the second. The second was not bad either.

“Speak,” I said.

The second girl, while the first feigned fury, put her head down. “The camp of Verna,” she said, “lies ten pasangs upriver from Lydius, and fifty pasangs north, inland from the Laurius.” “You, too, are lying,” I informed her.

The two girls regarded me, furiously. They struggled in their bonds. “You are a man!” hissed the first. “We are panther girls! Do you think we would tell you anything?” “Release their hands,” I said to a seaman, “and feed them.” The girls looked at one another, wonderingly. The seaman unbound their wrists from behind their backs, and filled two trenchers, steaming now with bosk and vulo, which he thrust in their hands.

I watched them while, with fingers and teeth, they devoured the food. When they had finished, I regarded them. “What are your names?” I asked. They looked at one another. “Tana,” said the first. “Ela,” said the second. “I wish to learn,” I said, “the location of the camp and dancing circle of the outlaw girl, Verna.” Tana sucked her fingers. She laughed. “We will never tell you,” she said. “No,” said Ela, finishing the last bit of roast bosk, her eyes closed. Tana looked at me angrily. “We don not fear the whip,” she said. “We don not fear the iron. You will not make us speak. We are panther girls.” “Bring candies,” said I to a seaman.

He did so.

I tossed one to each of the girls. They took the candies. They were sitting now, on the deck, but not cross-legged. They knew that posture would not be permitted them. Their chains dangled to the rings.

When they had finished, I merely regarded them.

“You are a man,” said the first. “We will not speak. It does not matter what you do to us. We do not fear the whip. We do not fear the iron. We will not speak. We are panther girls.” I threw each of them another candy. Then, not speaking further, I rose to my feet, and left them.

On the fore quarter I spoke to Rim and Thurnock. “Tomorrow,” I told them, “briefly, we will put into land.” “Yes, Captain,” they said.

“Take the chains from their necks,” I told a seaman.

The girls looked up at me.

It was not the next night, that following my first interrogation of the panther girls, the evening of the day following that of my acquisition of the two male slaves.

We would make landfall in Lydius in the morning, an important river port at the mouth of the Laurius.

The chains were removed from the necks of the girls. They had been well treated today. They had been fed well, and sufficiently watered. After their meals, candies had been given them. They had been permitted to wash themselves, with a bucket of warm water, and to comb one another’s hair.

“Tie their ankles tightly,” I said, “and their wrists, too, behind their backs.” We had put into land briefly this afternoon. And Thurnock, and Rim, with snares, had gone into the forest. Other men had accompanies them, with water kegs. The girls, chained on the sanded deck of the stern quarter, fastened by their yard of chain, blocked by the kitchen area, and behind crates and lashed boxes, could not see what transpired.

Had they been able to see, they would have seen men returning to the Tesephone, with water kegs, and Thurnock and Rim returning too, Thurnock carrying an object on his back, bulky but apparently not particularly heavy. The object had been covered with a canvas.

The girls were thrown forward on their belly on the sanded deck.

Each felt her ankles lashed together, tightly. Each then felt her wrists jerked behind her back, and similarly lashed.

They lay before me.

“Take them to the lower hold,” I said.

The lower hold is the tiny crawl space, of some eighteen inches, between the deck of the first hold and the curved hull of the ship, divided by its keel. It is unlit, and cold and damp. It contains much sand, used as ballast for the galley. It also contains the sump, or bilge. It is a briny, foul place. The girls were carried from the deck. They were handed down the hatch to the first hold, and then, by others, handed down the hatch to the lower hold, which lies near the fore quarter of the ship. I gave the orders that they be placed on the sand well within the lower hold, which lies near the stern quarter, far from the hatch. They were so placed. The heavy grated hatch was then replaced over the opening to the lower hold. Bolts were shoved in place. Then the grating was itself covered, with two sheets of opaque tarpaulin, fastened down at the edges. The lower hold would now be in pitch darkness.

In the forests, this afternoon, Thurnock and Rim, who were familiar with such matters, the first as a peasant, and catch, returned to the Tesephone, in a cage,

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