He shook his head, and continued to watch the snow.

'Let' s go home,' I said. 'It' s late.'

'Where is home?' asked Cabot, staring into the half-filled glass. 'Your apartment, a few blocks from here,' I said, wanting him to leave, wanting him to get out of there. His mood was alien to anything I had seen in him before. Somehow I was frightened.

He would not be moved. He pulled his arm away from my hand. 'It is late,' he said, seeming to agree with me but intending perhaps more. 'It must not be too late,' he said, as though he had resolved on something, as though by the sheer force of his will he would stop the flow of time, the random track of events.

I leaned back in my chair. Cabot would leave when he was ready. Not before. I became aware of his silence, and the light subdued patter of conversation at the bar, the clink of glasses, the sounds of a foot scraping, of liquid swirling into a small, heavy glass.

Cabot lifted his Scotch again, holding it before him, not drinking. Then, ceremoniously, bitterly, he poured a bit of it onto the table, where it splattered, partly soaking into a napkin. As he performed this gesture, he uttered some formula in that strange tongue I had heard but once before — when I had nearly perished at his hands. Somehow I had the feeling that he was becoming dangerous. I was uneasy.

'What are you doing?' I asked.

'I am offering a libation,' he said. 'Ta-Sardar-Gor.'

'What does that mean?' I asked, my words fumbling a bit, blurred by the liquor, made unsteady by my fear.

'It means,' laughed Cabot, a mithless laugh, ' — to the Priest-Kings of Gor!'

He rose unsteadily. He seemed tall, strange, almost of another world in that subdued light, in that quiet atmosphere of small, genial civilised noises.

Then without warning, with a bitter laugh, at once a lament and a cry of rage, he hurled the glass violently to the wall. It shattered into a million sporadic gleaming fragments, shocking the place into a moment of supreme silence. And in that sudden instant of startled, awe-struck silence, I heard him clearly, intensely, repeat in a hoarse whisper that strange phrase, 'Ta-Sardar-Gor!'

The bartender, a heavy, soft-faced man, waddled to the table. One of his fat hands nervously clutched a short leather truncheon, weighted with shot. The bartender jerked his thumb toward the door. He repeated the gesture. Cabot towering over him seemed not to comprehend. The bartender lifted the truncheon in a menacing gesture. Cabot simply took the weapon, seeming to draw it easily from the startled grip of the fat man. He looked down into the sweating, frightened fat face.

'You have lifted a weapon against me,' he said. 'My codes permit me to kill you.'

The bartender and I watched with terror as Cabot' s large firm hands twisted the truncheon apart, splitting the stitching, much as I might have twisted apart a roll of cardboard. Some of the shot dropped to the floor and rolled under the tables.

'He' s drunk,' I said to the bartender. I took Cabot firmly by the arm. He didn' t seem to be angry any longer, and I could see that he intended no one any harm. My touch seemed to snap him out of his strange mood. He handed the ruined truncheon meekly back to the bartender.

'I' m sorry,' said Cabot. 'Really.' He reached into his wallet and pressed a bill into the bartender' s hands. It was a hundred dollar bill. We put on our coats and went out into the February evening, into the light snow.

Outside the bar we stood in the snow, not speaking. Cabot, still half-drunk, looked about himself, at the brutal electric geometry of that great city, at the dark, lonely shapes that moved through the light snow, at the pale glimmering headlights of the cars.

'This is a great city,' said Cabot, 'and yet it is not loved. 'How many are there here who would die for this city? How many who would defend to the death its perimeters? How many who would submit to torture on its behalf?' 'You' re drunk,' I said, smiling.

'This city is not loved,' he said. 'Or it would not be used as it is, kept as it is.'

He walked sadly away.

Somehow I knew that this was the night on which I would learn the secret of Tarl Cabot.

'Wait!' I cried to him suddenly.

He turned and I sensed that he was glad that I had called to him, that my company on that night meant a great deal to him.

I joined him and together we went to his apartment. First he brewed a pot of strong coffee, and act for which my swirling senses were more than grateful. Then without speaking he went into his closet and emerged carrying a strongbox. He unlocked this with a key which he carried on his own person, and removed a manuscript, written in his own clear, decisive hand and bound with twine. He placed the manuscript in my hands. It was a document pertaining to what Cabot called the Counter-Earth, the story of a warrior, of the siege of a city, and of the love of a girl. You perhaps know it as Tarnsman of Gor.

When, shortly after dawn, I had finished the account, I looked at Cabot, who, all the time, had been sitting at the window, his chin on his hands, watching the snow, lost in what thoughts I could scarcely conjecture. He turned and faced me.

'It' s true,' he said, 'but you need not believe it.'

I didn' t know what to say. It could not, of course, be true, yet I felt Cabot to be one of the most honest men I had ever known.

Then I noticed his ring, almost for the first time, though I had seen it a thousand times. It had been mentioned in the account, that simple ring of red metal, bearing the crest of Cabot.

'Yes,' said Cabot, extending his hand, 'this is the ring.'

I gestured to the manuscript. 'Why have you shown me this?' I asked. 'I want someone to know of these things,' said Cabot simply.

I arose, now conscious for the first time of a lost night of sleep, the effects of the drinking, and of the several cups of bitter coffee. I smiled wryly. 'I think,' I said, 'I' d better go.'

'Of course,' said Cabot, helping me on with my coat. At the doorway he held out his hand. 'Good-bye,' he said.

'I' ll see you tomorrow,' I said.

'No,' he said. 'I am going again to the mountains.'

It was in February, at this time, that he had disappeared seven years before.

I was shocked into clear consciousness. 'Don' t go,' I said.

'I am going,' he said.

'Let me come with you,' I said.

'No,' he said, 'I may not come back.'

We shook hands, and I had the strange feeling that I might never see Tarl Cabot again. My hand was clenched firmly on his, and his on mine. I had meant something to him, and he to me, and now as simply as this it seemed that friends might part forever, never to see or talk to one another again. I found myself in the bleak white hallway outside his apartment, blinking at the exposed bulb in the ceiling. I walked for some hours, in spite of my fatigue, thinking, puzzling about these strange things of which I had heard.

Then suddenly I turned and, literally, ran back to his apartment. I had left him, my friend. To what I had no idea. I rushed to the door of the apartment and pounded on it with my fists. There was no answer. I kicked in the door, splintering the lock from the jamb. I entered the apartment. Tarl Cabot was gone!

On the table in that small furnished apartment was the manuscript I had read through the long night — with an envelope fastened under the twine. The envelope bore my name and address. Inside was the simple note: 'For Harrison Smith, should he care to have it.' Dismal, I left the apartment, carrying the manuscript which was subsequently published as Tarnsman of Gor. That and memory were all that remained of my friend, Tarl Cabot. My examinations came and were successfully completed. Later, following more examinations, I was admitted to the bar in New York State, and I entered one of the immense law offices in the city, hoping to obtain eventually enough experience and capital to open a small practice of my own. In the rush of working, in the interminable, demanding jungle of detail required in my trade, the memory of Cabot was forced from my mind. There is perhaps little more to say here, other than the fact that I have not seen him again. Though I have reason to believe he lives.

Late one afternoon, after work, I returned to my apartment. There — in spite of the locked doors and

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