At the Earth's Core

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 105

your ways--I
doubt if I do now. It seems incredible that you could have reviled me
so, and yet have cared for me all the time."

"You might have known," she said, "when I did not run away from you
that it was not hate which chained me to you. While you were battling
with Jubal, I could have run to the edge of the forest, and when I
learned the outcome of the combat it would have been a simple thing to
have eluded you and returned to my own people."

"But Jubal's brothers--and cousins--" I reminded her, "how about them?"

She smiled, and hid her face on my shoulder.

"I had to tell you SOMETHING, David," she whispered. "I must needs
have SOME excuse for remaining near you."

"You little sinner!" I exclaimed. "And you have caused me all this
anguish for nothing!"

"I have suffered even more," she answered simply, "for I thought that
you did not love me, and I was helpless. I couldn't come to you and
demand that my love be returned, as you have just come to me. Just now
when you went away hope went with you. I was wretched, terrified,
miserable, and my heart was breaking. I wept, and I have not done that
before since my mother died," and now I saw that there was the moisture
of tears about her eyes. It was near to making me cry myself when I
thought of all that poor child had been through. Motherless and
unprotected; hunted across a savage, primeval world by that hideous
brute of a man; exposed to the attacks of the countless fearsome
denizens of its mountains, its plains, and its jungles--it was a
miracle that she had survived it all.

To me it was a revelation of the things my early forebears must have
endured that the human race of the outer crust might survive. It made
me very proud to think that I had won the love of such a woman. Of
course she couldn't read or write; there was nothing cultured or
refined about her as you judge culture and refinement; but she was the
essence of all that is best in woman, for she was good, and brave, and
noble, and virtuous. And she was all these things in spite of the fact
that their observance entailed suffering and danger and possible death.

How much easier it would have been to have gone to Jubal in the first
place! She would have been his lawful

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