At the Earth's Core

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 15

advantage, for climbing upon it I
leaped to another a few paces farther on, and in this way was able to
keep clear of the mush that carpeted the surrounding ground. But the
zigzag course that this necessitated was placing such a heavy handicap
upon me that my pursuer was steadily gaining upon me.

Suddenly from behind I heard a tumult of howls, and sharp, piercing
barks--much the sound that a pack of wolves raises when in full cry.
Involuntarily I glanced backward to discover the origin of this new and
menacing note with the result that I missed my footing and went
sprawling once more upon my face in the deep muck.

My mammoth enemy was so close by this time that I knew I must feel the
weight of one of his terrible paws before I could rise, but to my
surprise the blow did not fall upon me. The howling and snapping and
barking of the new element which had been infused into the melee now
seemed centered quite close behind me, and as I raised myself upon my
hands and glanced around I saw what it was that had distracted the
DYRYTH, as I afterward learned the thing is called, from my trail.

It was surrounded by a pack of some hundred wolf-like creatures--wild
dogs they seemed--that rushed growling and snapping in upon it from all
sides, so that they sank their white fangs into the slow brute and were
away again before it could reach them with its huge paws or sweeping
tail.

But these were not all that my startled eyes perceived. Chattering and
gibbering through the lower branches of the trees came a company of
manlike creatures evidently urging on the dog pack. They were to all
appearances strikingly similar in aspect to the Negro of Africa. Their
skins were very black, and their features much like those of the more
pronounced Negroid type except that the head receded more rapidly above
the eyes, leaving little or no forehead. Their arms were rather longer
and their legs shorter in proportion to the torso than in man, and
later I noticed that their great toes protruded at right angles from
their feet--because of their arboreal habits, I presume. Behind them
trailed long, slender tails which they used in climbing quite as much
as they did either their hands or feet.

I had stumbled to my feet the moment that I discovered that the
wolf-dogs were holding the dyryth at bay. At sight of me several of
the savage creatures left off worrying

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