At the Earth's Core

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 102

as the most civilized woman of my
acquaintance, and finally I found myself gazing in foolish rapture at
the beauties of her strong, white teeth. Such is love.

After our repast we went down to the river together and bathed our
hands and faces, and then after drinking our fill went back to the
cave. Without a word I crawled into the farthest corner and, curling
up, was soon asleep.

When I awoke I found Dian sitting in the doorway looking out across the
valley. As I came out she moved to one side to let me pass, but she
had no word for me. I wanted to hate her, but I couldn't. Every time
I looked at her something came up in my throat, so that I nearly
choked. I had never been in love before, but I did not need any aid in
diagnosing my case--I certainly had it and had it bad. God, how I
loved that beautiful, disdainful, tantalizing, prehistoric girl!

After we had eaten again I asked Dian if she intended returning to her
tribe now that Jubal was dead, but she shook her head sadly, and said
that she did not dare, for there was still Jubal's brother to be
considered--his oldest brother.

"What has he to do with it?" I asked. "Does he too want you, or has
the option on you become a family heirloom, to be passed on down from
generation to generation?"

She was not quite sure as to what I meant.

"It is probable," she said, "that they all will want revenge for the
death of Jubal--there are seven of them--seven terrible men. Someone
may have to kill them all, if I am to return to my people."

It began to look as though I had assumed a contract much too large for
me--about seven sizes, in fact.

"Had Jubal any cousins?" I asked. It was just as well to know the
worst at once.

"Yes," replied Dian, "but they don't count--they all have mates.
Jubal's brothers have no mates because Jubal could get none for
himself. He was so ugly that women ran away from him--some have even
thrown themselves from the cliffs of Amoz into the Darel Az rather than
mate with the Ugly One."

"But what had that to do with his brothers?" I asked.

"I forget that you are not of Pellucidar," said Dian, with a look of
pity mixed with contempt, and the contempt seemed to be laid on a
little thicker than the circumstance warranted--as though to make quite
certain

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