At the Earth's Core

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 47

on the eyes and entrails, much to the
amusement of Ghak, to whom I always passed these delicacies.

Crouching beside the brook, I waited until one of the diminutive purple
whales rose to nibble at the long grasses which overhung the water, and
then, like the beast of prey that man really is, I sprang upon my
victim, appeasing my hunger while he yet wriggled to escape.

Then I drank from the clear pool, and after washing my hands and face
continued my flight. Above the source of the brook I encountered a
rugged climb to the summit of a long ridge. Beyond was a steep
declivity to the shore of a placid, inland sea, upon the quiet surface
of which lay several beautiful islands.

The view was charming in the extreme, and as no man or beast was to be
seen that might threaten my new-found liberty, I slid over the edge of
the bluff, and half sliding, half falling, dropped into the delightful
valley, the very aspect of which seemed to offer a haven of peace and
security.

The gently sloping beach along which I walked was thickly strewn with
strangely shaped, colored shells; some empty, others still housing as
varied a multitude of mollusks as ever might have drawn out their
sluggish lives along the silent shores of the antediluvian seas of the
outer crust. As I walked I could not but compare myself with the first
man of that other world, so complete the solitude which surrounded me,
so primal and untouched the virgin wonders and beauties of adolescent
nature. I felt myself a second Adam wending my lonely way through the
childhood of a world, searching for my Eve, and at the thought there
rose before my mind's eye the exquisite outlines of a perfect face
surmounted by a loose pile of wondrous, raven hair.

As I walked, my eyes were bent upon the beach so that it was not until
I had come quite upon it that I discovered that which shattered all my
beautiful dream of solitude and safety and peace and primal
overlordship. The thing was a hollowed log drawn upon the sands, and
in the bottom of it lay a crude paddle.

The rude shock of awakening to what doubtless might prove some new form
of danger was still upon me when I heard a rattling of loose stones
from the direction of the bluff, and turning my eyes in that direction
I beheld the author of the disturbance, a great copper-colored man,
running rapidly toward me.

There was that in the haste

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