the handle of the brush protruding though a hole in the cap. Such accessories are common on Gorean wagons. The «grease» in such a container is generally not mineral grease but a mixture of tar and tallow. Applied with a brush it is used, as would be mineral grease, were it more commonly available, to lubricate the moving parts of the wagon, in particular the axles, and where the rare wagon has them, metal springs, usually of the leaf variety. Some Gorean 'coaches,' and fee carts, not many, are slung on layers of leather. This gives a reasonably smooth ride but the swaying, until one accommodates oneself to it, can induce nausea, in effect, seasickness. This seems to be particularly the case with free women, who are notoriously delicate and given to imaginary complaints.

It is interesting to not that this 'delicacy,' this pretentious frailty, or what not, and such 'complaints,' usually disappear as soon as they have been enslaved. That is probably because they are then where they belong, in their place in nature. Too, looking up from their knees at their master they may realize he has little patience for such things. Similarly, circumstances can apparently make a great deal of difference. For example, it has been noted that the same person who makes a disgusting spectacle of herself as a free person traveling one way on a leather-slung fee cart is likely on the return journey, if then a slave, perhaps tied in a sack, or placed hooded, and bound, hand and foot, on the floor of such a cart, between the feet of the passengers on opposite benches, is likely to remain orally continent, even desperately so. If she does not, of course, she, within the sack or hood, heard the consequences of her own actions, after which she is likely to be kicked or struck while still inside the sack, or beaten while still in the hood, after which the sack might be hung over the back of the fee cart or she herself bound vulnerably on her stomach, her upper body over its rear guard rail. Afterwards, too, of course, eventually, she will clean both herself and the sack, or hood, thoroughly, before crawling back into the sack, to again become its prisoner, or having the hood again drawn over her head and having it fastened on her. She seldom had the same accident twice.

To be perfectly fair, however, most Goreans, and not just free women, will prefer the simple, jolting progress of a springless wagon to the often more rapid progress of a leather-slung fee cart. In the flash of lightning in which I had seen the 'grease bucket' on its hook I had also seen, under the same wagon, ahead of that to which I clung, two children in a large, suspended hide. They were peeping out, frightened. Their eyes were very large. Such hides are not unusual under Gorean wagons. It is unusual, however, to carry children, or any passenger, or even a slave, in them. They normally serve to carry fuel, which is collected here and there along the route. The children were there now, doubtless, to shelter them from the storm.

In the next flash of lightning I did not see the children any longer. They had apparently decided to pull their heads in, I did not much blame them. I recalled the brigands, now in the custody of the driver and his fellow, those who had been of the wagon of 'Septimus Entrates.' Perhaps that had been the driver's name, or the name of the owner of the original wagon, that which had fallen into the brigand's trap, where the stones had been removed, that which had slid into the ditch and overturned. Its axle had been broken. I had not, as far as I could recall, heard the name before. It was an unusual name. It suggested the sorts of names not uncommon in many of the Vosk towns, however, names reflecting the cultural mixtures of many such places, reflecting influences as diverse as those of the island urbarates, such as Cos and Tyros, on one hand, and those of the southern cities, such as Venna and Ar on the other.

The brigand's loot wagon substituted for their own incapacitated vehicle the fellows, their load transferred, had continued on their way. They had seemed like good fellows. I recalled that the brigands, after having descended to prey upon them, had been prepared to withdraw, hearing that the wagon carried a Home Stone. Those with a Home Stone in their keeping are commonly formidable adversaries. Few men will knowingly interfere with the progress of such a person, let alone threaten or attack them. Warning them that he carried a Home Stone indicated that the driver suspected their intentions. It had been that announcement, too, which had encouraged me to enter into the matter. I wondered if the driver had actually been carrying a Home Stone or if his assertion had been merely a trick to discourage predation. At any rate the driver and his fellow were now better off than they had been. they had an extra tharlarion, three extra purses and three fellows, hurrying behind them, naked and bound, ropes on their necks, whom they could now sell to the master of a work chain, perhaps for as much as a silver tarsk apiece. Hopefully, if the driver and his fellow wanted to get the brigands to such a master, they would have them hooded by the time it grew light. If they were recognized they might be treated to summary justice.

It had been a narrow thing a few Ehn ago, back on the road. I did not think a little hard labor would hurt the brigands. There were one or more work chains, I knew, in the neighborhood of Venna, to the south. She was repairing her walls. I had heard as I had come north, that Ionicus of Cos, the master of several such chains, was currently buying. Such chains, incidentally, are regarded as politically neutral instruments. Thus, Venna, an ally of Ar, might employ such a chain, even though its master was of Cos. I supposed that if the Cosians did not mind, there was no point in Venna, who could use cheap labor, becoming exercised about the matter either.

It is not universal, but it is quite common, incidentally, for Goreans to strip prisoners. There are various reasons for this. It humiliates the prisoner, and pleases the captor. It shows the prisoner that he is now in someone else's power. Too, it makes it difficult to conceal weapons. Too, there is no generally utilized type of clothing or garb for prisoners on Gor, few 'prison uniforms,' or such. Accordingly, the marking out of prisoners, identifying them as prisoners, the alerting of others as to their status, etc., which in one culture might be achieved by such garb are often, on Gor, achieved by the absence, or near absence, of clothing. The nudity, or semi-nudity, of the prisoner is likely to alert all who observe it to his status. Too, even if the prisoner should escape his bonds, he then faces the additional problem of locating clothing, and of a suitable type. It might also be mentioned, of course, that most Goreans do not approve of criminals. Accordingly, they have no objection to depriving them of clothing, and such. It says to them that they have been caught, and may now expect to be treated as they deserve.

These remarks, incidentally, pertain primarily to free criminals, and not to prisoners of war or slaves. The stripping of prisoners of war, if it is done, is generally a temporary matter, having to do with marking them out, as many Gorean soldiers, particularly mercenaries, do not have distinctive uniforms, and preventing the concealment of weapons. Whether the slave is clothed or not is at the discretion of the master. In the houses of slavers and in slave markets, beautiful women, for example, are almost always kept nude.

In another stroke of lightning, I caught sight again, of the swinging 'grease bucket, it filled presumable with tar and tallow, hanging on its strap from the axle housing of the wagon ahead of me. I thought the brigands, all things considered, would be just as happy to go south to a work gang. Perhaps, in time, they would even be released, in two or three years perhaps, when it was thought they had been exemplary prisoners, hard-working and suitably docile. Because of the storm, the rain and wind, another method of dealing with such fellows had not been suggested back there on the road, but it is not unknown. It is sometimes done as part of what is know as 'wagon justice.' I will not go into detail, but the method involves the tar and tallow, and fire. Goreans, as I have suggested, do not much approve of criminals.

I withdrew my pack from the wagon beside which I was walking and let it pass me, and then, following diagonally behind it for a moment, crossed to the left side of the road. Another vehicle passed me, then, behind me. I looked up. In a new flash of lightning I saw the stony plateau, surmounted by the inn of the Crooked Tarn. The wind and rain lashed at the right side of my head and body. I stepped from the road. There was a graveled wide place here, connected with the inn. It was at least fifty yards deep and wide, affording room where even wagons pulled by ten tharlarions might turn. A lantern was hung on a post ahead of me. I made toward it. In other flashes of lightning I saw roads wending about the plateau. There would be flat places, where wagons might camp.

I could see several wagons crowded together on the side of the plateau to my left, the lee side. Some other wagons were more ahead of me, turned away from the rain. I felt the gravel of the turn yard beneath my sandals. I paused by some of the wagons. Then I made my way again toward the lantern. It surmounted a post which was at the right corner of the wagon bridge, over the moat, ascending toward the inn gate above me. In a flash of lightning, I saw two girls peeping out from under a tarpaulin on one of the wagons. In the same instant, frightened, they had seen me. When the sky was again lit the tarpaulin was down. I had seen little but their eyes, but I did not doubt but what they were kijirae. They had the look of women who had well learned that men were their masters. I trod the wet gravel toward the left side of the wagon bridge. I paused there to look across the moat. It was some forty feet in width. The ground approaching it sloped down, gently, toward its retaining wall, only some inches in height, too low to allow a man cover behind it. In this wall, at its foot, there were openings every twenty feet or so to allow for water from the outside to drain into the moat. This pitch of the land, too,

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