At the Earth's Core

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 3

he cried, "it cannot be possible--quick! What does the distance
meter read?"

That and the speedometer were both on my side of the cabin, and as I
turned to take a reading from the former I could see Perry muttering.

"Ten degrees rise--it cannot be possible!" and then I saw him tug
frantically upon the steering wheel.

As I finally found the tiny needle in the dim light I translated
Perry's evident excitement, and my heart sank within me. But when I
spoke I hid the fear which haunted me. "It will be seven hundred feet,
Perry," I said, "by the time you can turn her into the horizontal."

"You'd better lend me a hand then, my boy," he replied, "for I cannot
budge her out of the vertical alone. God give that our combined
strength may be equal to the task, for else we are lost."

I wormed my way to the old man's side with never a doubt but that the
great wheel would yield on the instant to the power of my young and
vigorous muscles. Nor was my belief mere vanity, for always had my
physique been the envy and despair of my fellows. And for that very
reason it had waxed even greater than nature had intended, since my
natural pride in my great strength had led me to care for and develop
my body and my muscles by every means within my power. What with
boxing, football, and baseball, I had been in training since childhood.

And so it was with the utmost confidence that I laid hold of the huge
iron rim; but though I threw every ounce of my strength into it, my
best effort was as unavailing as Perry's had been--the thing would not
budge--the grim, insensate, horrible thing that was holding us upon the
straight road to death!

At length I gave up the useless struggle, and without a word returned
to my seat. There was no need for words--at least none that I could
imagine, unless Perry desired to pray. And I was quite sure that he
would, for he never left an opportunity neglected where he might
sandwich in a prayer. He prayed when he arose in the morning, he
prayed before he ate, he prayed when he had finished eating, and before
he went to bed at night he prayed again. In between he often found
excuses to pray even when the provocation seemed far-fetched to my
worldly eyes--now that he was about to die I felt positive that I
should

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