At the Earth's Core

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 1

of the desert--I was the only "white" man. As we
approached the little clump of verdure I saw the man come from his tent
and with hand-shaded eyes peer intently at us. At sight of me he
advanced rapidly to meet us.

"A white man!" he cried. "May the good Lord be praised! I have been
watching you for hours, hoping against hope that THIS time there would
be a white man. Tell me the date. What year is it?"

And when I had told him he staggered as though he had been struck full
in the face, so that he was compelled to grasp my stirrup leather for
support.

"It cannot be!" he cried after a moment. "It cannot be! Tell me that
you are mistaken, or that you are but joking."

"I am telling you the truth, my friend," I replied. "Why should I
deceive a stranger, or attempt to, in so simple a matter as the date?"

For some time he stood in silence, with bowed head.

"Ten years!" he murmured, at last. "Ten years, and I thought that at
the most it could be scarce more than one!" That night he told me his
story--the story that I give you here as nearly in his own words as I
can recall them.



I

TOWARD THE ETERNAL FIRES


I WAS BORN IN CONNECTICUT ABOUT THIRTY YEARS ago. My name is David
Innes. My father was a wealthy mine owner. When I was nineteen he
died. All his property was to be mine when I had attained my
majority--provided that I had devoted the two years intervening in
close application to the great business I was to inherit.

I did my best to fulfil the last wishes of my parent--not because of
the inheritance, but because I loved and honored my father. For six
months I toiled in the mines and in the counting-rooms, for I wished to
know every minute detail of the business.

Then Perry interested me in his invention. He was an old fellow who
had devoted the better part of a long life to the perfection of a
mechanical subterranean prospector. As relaxation he studied
paleontology. I looked over his plans, listened to his arguments,
inspected his working model--and then, convinced, I advanced the funds
necessary to construct a full-sized, practical prospector.

I shall not go into the details of its construction--it lies out there
in the desert now--about two miles from here. Tomorrow you may care to
ride out and see it.

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