Caste of Thieves
Here are relevant references from the Books where the Caste of Thieves is mentioned.
I make no pronouncements on these matters, but report them as I find them.
Arrive at your own conclusions.
I wish you well,
"You dare to tempt me," I said, feigning anger, "as if I were of the Caste of Assassins or a common thief with his dagger in the night." I frowned at him. "Beware," I warned, "lest I take your words as insult."
Nomads of Gor Book 4 Pages 20 - 21
His right ear had been notched, doubtless in some accident. Such notching, I knew, is usually done to the ears of thieves; a second offense is normally punished by the loss of the right hand; a third offense by the removal of the left hand and both feet. There are few thieves, incidentally, on Gor. I have heard, though, there is a Caste of Thieves in Port Kar, a strong caste which naturally protects its members from such indignities as ear notching. Nomads of Gor Book 4 Page 85
Ha-Keel might have been a cutthroat and a thief but, too, he was of Ar - and a tarnsman.
Nomads of Gor Book 4 Page 199
The man, who wore a simple dark tunic and sandals, dropped out to the ground. His hair was dark and clipped short; his face intelligent, but hard. On his right cheek, over the cheekbone was the Thief brand of the Caste of Thieves of Port Kar, who use the small brand to identify their members.
Assassin of Gor Book 5 Page 96
I was in the delta of the Vosk, and making my way to the city of Port Kar, which alone of Gorean cities commonly welcomes strangers, though few but exiles, murderers, outlaws, thieves and cutthroats would care to find their way to her canaled darknesses.
Raiders of Gor Book 6 Page 6
He was pirate indeed, and slaver, and murderer and thief, a cruel and worthless man, abominable, truly Port Kar.
Raiders of Gor Book 6 Page 102
There is even, in Port Kar, a recognized caste of Thieves, the only such I know of on Gor, which, in the lower canals and perimeters of the city, has much power, that of the threat and the knife. They are recognized by the Thiefs Scar, which they wear as caste mark, a tiny three-pronged brand burned into the face in back of and below the eye, over the right cheekbone.
Raiders of Gor Book 6 Page 104
Saphrar, I recalled, had once been a perfumer from Tyros but, being exiled as a thief, had made his way to Port Kar, and thence had gone to Turia.
Raiders of Gor Book 6 Page 139
"This penalty brand," said Rask of Treve, lifting another iron from the brazier, again with a tiny letter at its glowing termination, "marks you also as what you are, as a thief."
Please, no, Master!" I wept.
I could not move a muscle of my left leg. It might as well have been locked in a vise. It must wait for the iron.
I screamed again, uncontrollably. I had been branded as a thief.
Captive of Gor Book 7 Page 310
I hung by the wrists, miserable. My thigh felt as though it were burning. Tears streamed from my eyes. I coughed, and could not breathe. I heard the voice of Rask of Treve. "To begin," he was saying, "you will receive one stroke for each letter of the word 'Liar', then one stroke for each letter of the word 'Thief', and then a stroke for each letter of the word 'Traitress'. You will count the strokes.
Captive of Gor Book 7 Page 312
Some free girls, without family, keep themselves, as best they can, in certain port cities. That her ear had been notched indicated that, by a magistrate, she had been found thief. Ear notching is the first penalty for a convicted thief in most Gorean cities, whether male or female. The second offense, by a male, is punished with the removal of the left hand, the third offense by the removal of the right. The penalty for a woman, for her second offense, if she is convicted, is to be reduced to slavery.
Hunters of Gor Book 8 Pages 22 - 23
Thievery on Gor is not much approved.
Hunters of Gor Book 8 Page 92
"You are a skillful thief," I said.
"My father was a thief," she said, "and his father before him."
Hunters of Gor Book 8 Page 93
"Is it your intention to steal further in this camp?" I asked.
She looked up into my eyes, earnestly. "No, Master," she said. "No!"
"On the contrary," I said, "it is my wish that you keep your skills fresh. You may steal in this camp where and when you wish, but within the Ahn you are to return what you have stolen."
Hunters of Gor Book 8 Page 94
"If I do not return, within the Ahn, what I steal," she asked, "what will be done with me?"
"For the first offense," I said, "your left hand will be removed."
She struggled to escape my arms.
"For the second offense," I said, "Your right hand will be removed."
Her eyes were but inches from mine, dark, dilated, filled with terror.
"Do you understand?" I asked.
"Yes, Master," she whispered.
"You are slave," I said.
"Yes, Master," she whispered.
Hunters of Gor Book 8 Page 95
"In Port Kar," said I, "there is a caste of thieves. It is the only known caste of thieves on Gor."
She looked at me.
"You will have little difficulty," I said, "in earning entrance into that caste."
"I have seen the thief's brand!" she cried. "It is beautiful!" It was a tiny, three-pronged brand, burned into the face over the right cheekbone. I had seen it several times, once on one who worked for the mysterious Others, a member of a crew of a black ship, once encountered in the mountains of the Voltai, not far from great Ar itself. The caste of thieves was important in Port Kar, and even honored. It represented a skill which in the city was held in high repute. Indeed, so jealous of their prerogatives were the caste of thieves that they often hunted thieves who did not belong to the caste, and slew them, throwing their bodies to the urts in the canals. Indeed, there was less thievery in Port Kar than there might have been were there no caste of thieves in the city. They protected, jealously, their own territories from amateur competition. Ear notching and mutilation, common punishment on Gor for thieves, were not found in Port Kar. The caste was too powerful. On the other hand, it was regarded as permissible to slay a male thief or take a female thief slave if the culprit could be apprehended within an Ahn of the theft. After an Ahn the thief, if apprehended and a caste member, was to be remanded to the police of the arsenal. If found guilty in the court of the arsenal, the male thief would be sentenced, for a week to a year, to hard labor in the arsenal or on the wharves; the female thief would be sentenced to service, for a week to a year, in a straw-strewn cell in one of Port Kar's penal brothels. They are chained by the left ankle to a ring in the stone. Their food is that of a galley slave, peas, black bread and onions. If they serve well, however, their customers often bring them a bit of meat or fruit. Few thieves of Port Kar have not served time, depending on their sex, either in the arsenal or on the wharves, or in the brothels.
Hunters of Gor Book 8 Page 304
Not five paces behind them I saw a ragged cutpurse cut the wallet of a merchant, dropping its contents into his hand and, bowing and whining, twist away in the crowd. The merchant huffed away. The fellow had done it neatly. I recalled a girl named Tina, once of Lydius, now of Port Kar. She, too, had been an excellent thief. My own coins I kept in belt pockets, within my robes, save for a small wallet at my side. I went about Tor now as a traveler from Turia, a small merchant. I checked the wallet at my side. It was intact.
Some other thieves had not done so well in the bazaar. Several right hands, severed, were nailed to a board on which salt prices were affixed.
There were no feminine hands on the board. A female thief in Tor, even on the first offense, is immediately reduced to slavery.
Tribesmen of Gor Book 10 Pages 51 - 52
Port Kar is sometimes spoken of by her citizens as the Jewel of Thassa. Other men speak of her differently, rather as a den of thieves and cutthroats, a lair of pirates.
Slave Girl of Gor Book 11 Page 377
"In what was he interested?" I asked. Surely there was little in a shop of curios to interest a thief. Would one risk one's throat and blood for a toy of wood or an ivory carving?
Beasts of Gor Book 12 Page 103
I had once owned a slave named Tina, who also had been from Lydius. It is not that uncommon a name. The Tina whom I had known was now free, an esteemed member of the caste of thieves in Port Kar, one of the most skillful in the city. She was doing well for herself.
Beasts of Gor Book 12 Pages 126 - 127
"May I present my colleague," said my lovely captor, "Sorgus."
"The hide bandit?" I asked.
"Yes," she said.
The man did not speak to me, nor look at me.
"Such men," she said, "have been useful. No longer are they confined to robbing the hides of honest hunters. We give them harvests beyond the loots which might be reaped from a hundred seasons of thievery."
Beasts of Gor Book 12 Pages 149 - 150
Ayari was of Schendi, a thief. He had been put on the work levy for the canal of Bila Huruma. Schendi was using the misfortune of the levies in order, as much as possible, to rid itself of its less desirable citizens. I supposed she could scarcely be blamed. Ayari, of Schendi, of course, spoke Gorean. Happily, for me, he could also speak the tongue of the court of Bila Huruma. His father had, many years ago, fled from an inland village, that of Nyuki, noted for its honey, on the northern shore of lake Ushindi. The incident had had to do with the theft of several melons from the chief's patch.
Explorers of Gor Book 13 Page 219
His first case dealt with a widow who had been defrauded by a creditor. The fellow was dragged screaming from the court. His hands would be cut off, as those of a common thief. His properties were to be confiscated and divided, half to the widow and half, predictably, to the state.
The next fellow was an actual thief, a mere boy, who had stolen vegetables. It turned out that he had been hungry and had actually begged work in the gardens of his victim. "No one who wants to work in my Ubarate," said Bila Huruma, "will go hungry." He then directed that the boy be given work, if he wished, in his own gardens, which were considerable.
Explorers of Gor Book 13 Page 230
"With this letter," I said, indicating the document, "you may return when you wish. I would advise you, however, should the ruling, as I would expect, be in your favor, to consider the adoption of an honest occupation. If the magistrates do not apprehend you you might, in Port Kar, run afoul of the caste of thieves. They are sometimes jealous of their prerogatives."
Explorers of Gor Book 13 Page 463
"Avoid Victoria," he said.
"Why?" I asked.
"Are you a slaver?" he asked.
"No," I said.
"Then avoid Victoria," he said.
"Why?" I asked.
"It is a den of thieves," he said. "It is little more than a market and slave town."
Rogue of Gor Book 15 Page 65
"Stop, Thief!" cried the portly fellow, his robes swirling. Darting away from him was a small, quick fellow, clutching in his hand a bulging purse, its strap slashed. In the small fellow's right hand there was clutched a dagger.
Men stood aside to let the thief run by them.
"Stop him!" cried the portly fellow, stumbling, puffing, trying to pursue the running man.
I watched, a bale of rep fiber on my shoulder, near the rep wharf.
As the running man approached me I lowered the bale of rep fiber and, as he came within feet of me, suddenly slid it before him. He struck the bale and stumbled over it, rolling on the boards. Instantly I was upon him. He slashed at me, on his back, with the knife and I seized his wrist with both hands and yanked him to his feet. He dropped the purse. I spun him about twice by the wrist and then, with this momentum, hurled him into a tower of nail barrels on the side. They cascaded down. I jerked him back, groggy. He was bloody. There were splinters in his tunic and face. I then, with two hands, broke his wrist and kicked the fallen knife to the side. I then turned him about to face me. He looked at me wildly, clutching his wrist. A bone fragment was jutting through it. I then kicked him squarely and he threw back his head, screaming with pain. I then turned him about again and, holding him by the back of the neck, ran him to the edge of the wharf where, seizing his ankle, and holding his neck, I upended him into the water below. He struck out toward the shore, then clambered toward it, getting his feet under him. He screamed twice more. When he stood in about a foot of water, among pilings, near the next wharf, he struck down madly at his legs with his left hand, striking two dock eels from his calf. Then, painfully, he moved himself up the sand, staggering, holding his legs widely apart.
"Where are the guardsmen, to apprehend him?" puffed the portly fellow, who wore the caste colors of the merchants, white and gold.
"There are no guardsmen in Victoria," I said.
"Two copper tarsks, one to each of you," said the merchant to two dock workers who stood nearby, "to apprehend and bind that fellow!"
Swiftly the two dock workers set out after the thief. Though men stood about none had attempted to steal the purse of the merchant, which lay nearby. Most of those of Victoria are honest fellows.
One of them handed the purse back to the merchant, who thanked him.
"What is your name, Fellow?" asked the merchant of me. "Jason," I said.
"Of Victoria?" asked the merchant.
"It is here that I am now," I said.
He smiled. Drifters among the river towns are not uncommon. They come from all over Gor. "You have had difficulties with guardsmen?" he asked.
"I had some difficulties with guardsmen in Tancred's Landing and Fins," I admitted.
"I am Glyco," said he, "of the Merchants, of Port Cos.
You are a bold fellow. I am grateful for your aid."
"It is nothing," I said.
Whining, the thief was dragged before us by the two dock workers. He was still in great pain. He could scarcely stand. The dock workers had torn off his clothes and, ripping his tunic, had made a rope of twisted cloth, with which they had bound his hands behind his back. They also had him on a short neck leash, also fashioned of twisted cloth, from his tunic. His right hand was bleeding, and his left leg, in two places. The leg seemed gouged. The dock eels, black, about four feet long, are tenacious creatures. They had not relinquished their hold on the flesh in their jaws when they had been forcibly struck away from the leg, back into the water. The thief shrank back from me. The dock workers threw him to his knees before the merchant.
The merchant turned to me. He handed me a silver tarsk from the purse.
"You need give me nothing," I said. "It was not important."
"Take, if you will," said he, "as a token of my gratitude, this silver tarsk."
I took it. "Thank you," I said. Several of the men about, striking their shoulders in the Gorean fashion, applauded the merchant. He had been very generous. A silver tarsk is, to most Goreans, a coin of considerable value. In most exchanges it is valued at a hundred copper tarsks, each of which valued, commonly, at some ten to twenty tarsk bits. Ten silver tarsks, usually, is regarded as the equivalent of one gold piece, of one of the high cities. To be sure, there is little standardization in these matters, for much depends on the actual weights of the coins and the quantities of precious metals, certified by the municipal stamps, contained in the coins. Sometimes, too, coins are split or shaved. Further, the debasing of coinage is not unknown. Scales, and rumors, it seems, are often used by coin merchants. One of the central coins on Gor is the golden tarn disk of Ar, against which many cities standardize their own gold piece. Other generally respected coins tend to be the silver tarsk of Tharna, the golden tarn disk of Ko-ro-ba, and the golden tarn of Port Kar, the latter particularly on the western Vosk, in the Tamber Gulf region, and a few hundred pasangs north and south of the Vosk's delta.
The merchant then looked at the thief. "I will have him taken to Port Cos," he said, "where there are praetors."
"Please, Master," said the thief, "do not deliver me to praetors!"
"Are you so fond of your hands?" asked the merchant. I noted that the thief's left ear had already been notched. That had doubtless been done elsewhere than in Victoria.
"Please, Master, have mercy on me," begged the thief.
"He has had a rather hard day already," I said, putting in a word on the thief's behalf.
"Let us then just slit his throat now," said a fellow standing nearby.
The thief squirmed. "No," he begged. "No!"
"What do you suggest?" asked the merchant of me.
"Give him to me," I said.
"No, please, Master!" whined the thief to the merchant.
"He is yours," said the merchant.
I yanked the fellow by the neck leash of twisted cloth to his feet. I thrust the silver tarsk into his mouth, so that he could not speak. "Seek a physician," I told him. "Have your wrist attended to. It appears to be broken. Do not be in Victoria by morning." I then turned him about and, hurrying him with a well-placed kick, sent him running, awkwardly, painfully, whimpering and stumbling, from the dock.
"Surely you are a guardsman," said the merchant.
"No," I said.
The men gathered about watched the thief hurrying, bound, away. There was laughter.
"You are magnanimous," said the merchant.
"He was not a woman," I said. "Too, it was not my purse he stole."