At the Earth's Core

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 17

of that awful experience.

From tree to tree the agile creatures sprang like flying squirrels,
while the cold sweat stood upon my brow as I glimpsed the depths
beneath, into which a single misstep on the part of either of my
bearers would hurl me. As they bore me along, my mind was occupied
with a thousand bewildering thoughts. What had become of Perry? Would
I ever see him again? What were the intentions of these half-human
things into whose hands I had fallen? Were they inhabitants of the
same world into which I had been born? No! It could not be. But yet
where else? I had not left that earth--of that I was sure. Still
neither could I reconcile the things which I had seen to a belief that
I was still in the world of my birth. With a sigh I gave it up.



III

A CHANGE OF MASTERS


WE MUST HAVE TRAVELED SEVERAL MILES THROUGH the dark and dismal wood
when we came suddenly upon a dense village built high among the
branches of the trees. As we approached it my escort broke into wild
shouting which was immediately answered from within, and a moment later
a swarm of creatures of the same strange race as those who had captured
me poured out to meet us. Again I was the center of a wildly
chattering horde. I was pulled this way and that. Pinched, pounded,
and thumped until I was black and blue, yet I do not think that their
treatment was dictated by either cruelty or malice--I was a curiosity,
a freak, a new plaything, and their childish minds required the added
evidence of all their senses to back up the testimony of their eyes.

Presently they dragged me within the village, which consisted of
several hundred rude shelters of boughs and leaves supported upon the
branches of the trees.

Between the huts, which sometimes formed crooked streets, were dead
branches and the trunks of small trees which connected the huts upon
one tree to those within adjoining trees; the whole network of huts and
pathways forming an almost solid flooring a good fifty feet above the
ground.

I wondered why these agile creatures required connecting bridges
between the trees, but later when I saw the motley aggregation of
half-savage beasts which they kept within their village I realized the
necessity for the pathways. There were a number of the same vicious
wolf-dogs which we had left worrying the dyryth, and many goatlike
animals whose distended udders

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