At the Earth's Core

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 44

the tarag's
abdomen, pinning him to the floor of the arena.

The great cat clawed at the shaggy head until eyes and ears were gone,
and naught but a few strips of ragged, bloody flesh remained upon the
skull. Yet through all the agony of that fearful punishment the thag
still stood motionless pinning down his adversary, and then the man
leaped in, seeing that the blind bull would be the least formidable
enemy, and ran his spear through the tarag's heart.

As the animal's fierce clawing ceased, the bull raised his gory,
sightless head, and with a horrid roar ran headlong across the arena.
With great leaps and bounds he came, straight toward the arena wall
directly beneath where we sat, and then accident carried him, in one of
his mighty springs, completely over the barrier into the midst of the
slaves and Sagoths just in front of us. Swinging his bloody horns from
side to side the beast cut a wide swath before him straight upward
toward our seats. Before him slaves and gorilla-men fought in mad
stampede to escape the menace of the creature's death agonies, for such
only could that frightful charge have been.

Forgetful of us, our guards joined in the general rush for the exits,
many of which pierced the wall of the amphitheater behind us. Perry,
Ghak, and I became separated in the chaos which reigned for a few
moments after the beast cleared the wall of the arena, each intent upon
saving his own hide.

I ran to the right, passing several exits choked with the fear mad mob
that were battling to escape. One would have thought that an entire
herd of thags was loose behind them, rather than a single blinded,
dying beast; but such is the effect of panic upon a crowd.



VII

FREEDOM


ONCE OUT OF THE DIRECT PATH OF THE ANIMAL, fear of it left me, but
another emotion as quickly gripped me--hope of escape that the
demoralized condition of the guards made possible for the instant.

I thought of Perry, and but for the hope that I might better encompass his
release if myself free I should have put the thought of freedom from me
at once. As it was I hastened on toward the right searching for an
exit toward which no Sagoths were fleeing, and at last I found it--a
low, narrow aperture leading into a dark corridor.

Without thought of the possible consequence, I darted into the shadows
of the tunnel, feeling my way along through the gloom for some
distance. The noises of the

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