At the Earth's Core

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 20

was interrupted by the appearance of several of our
captors before the entrance of the hut. Two of them entered and
dragged us forth. The perilous pathways and the surrounding trees were
filled with the black ape-men, their females, and their young. There
was not an ornament, a weapon, or a garment among the lot.

"Quite low in the scale of creation," commented Perry.

"Quite high enough to play the deuce with us, though," I replied. "Now
what do you suppose they intend doing with us?"

We were not long in learning. As on the occasion of our trip to the
village we were seized by a couple of the powerful creatures and
whirled away through the tree tops, while about us and in our wake
raced a chattering, jabbering, grinning horde of sleek, black

Twice my bearers missed their footing, and my heart ceased beating as
we plunged toward instant death among the tangled deadwood beneath.
But on both occasions those lithe, powerful tails reached out and found
sustaining branches, nor did either of the creatures loosen their grasp
upon me. In fact, it seemed that the incidents were of no greater
moment to them than would be the stubbing of one's toe at a street
crossing in the outer world--they but laughed uproariously and sped on
with me.

For some time they continued through the forest--how long I could not
guess for I was learning, what was later borne very forcefully to my
mind, that time ceases to be a factor the moment means for measuring it
cease to exist. Our watches were gone, and we were living beneath a
stationary sun. Already I was puzzled to compute the period of time
which had elapsed since we broke through the crust of the inner world.
It might be hours, or it might be days--who in the world could tell
where it was always noon! By the sun, no time had elapsed--but my
judgment told me that we must have been several hours in this strange

Presently the forest terminated, and we came out upon a level plain. A
short distance before us rose a few low, rocky hills. Toward these our
captors urged us, and after a short time led us through a narrow pass
into a tiny, circular valley. Here they got down to work, and we were
soon convinced that if we were not to die to make a Roman holiday, we
were to die for some other purpose. The attitude of our captors
altered immediately as they

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