At the Earth's Core

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 14

his huge bulk and all the irresistible force of
those mighty muscles. Slowly, but surely, the stem began to bend
toward him. Inch by inch he worked his paws upward as the tree leaned
more and more from the perpendicular. Perry clung chattering in a
panic of terror. Higher and higher into the bending and swaying tree
he clambered. More and more rapidly was the tree top inclining toward
the ground.

I saw now why the great brute was armed with such enormous paws. The
use that he was putting them to was precisely that for which nature had
intended them. The sloth-like creature was herbivorous, and to feed
that mighty carcass entire trees must be stripped of their foliage.
The reason for its attacking us might easily be accounted for on the
supposition of an ugly disposition such as that which the fierce and
stupid rhinoceros of Africa possesses. But these were later
reflections. At the moment I was too frantic with apprehension on
Perry's behalf to consider aught other than a means to save him from
the death that loomed so close.

Realizing that I could outdistance the clumsy brute in the open, I
dropped from my leafy sanctuary intent only on distracting the thing's
attention from Perry long enough to enable the old man to gain the
safety of a larger tree. There were many close by which not even the
terrific strength of that titanic monster could bend.

As I touched the ground I snatched a broken limb from the tangled mass
that matted the jungle-like floor of the forest and, leaping unnoticed
behind the shaggy back, dealt the brute a terrific blow. My plan
worked like magic. From the previous slowness of the beast I had been
led to look for no such marvelous agility as he now displayed.
Releasing his hold upon the tree he dropped on all fours and at the
same time swung his great, wicked tail with a force that would have
broken every bone in my body had it struck me; but, fortunately, I had
turned to flee at the very instant that I felt my blow land upon the
towering back.

As it started in pursuit of me I made the mistake of running along the
edge of the forest rather than making for the open beach. In a moment
I was knee-deep in rotting vegetation, and the awful thing behind me
was gaining rapidly as I floundered and fell in my efforts to extricate
myself.

A fallen log gave me an instant's

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